A place for complete-off-topic conversations that have nothing to do with Star Trek. The rules still apply here, stay civil.
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By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Gamma Quadrant
 -  
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
#529178
The Color of Truth
First aired: May 3, 1989
Written by: Deborah Pratt
Directed by: Michael Vejar
Leap Date: August 8, 1955

This Time: Sam leaps into a fifties era diner. Innocently taking a seat at the counter, he seems to be causing quite a stir, particularly some young men sitting in a booth. He looks up and sees the face of an elderly African American gentleman staring back at him. Two of the two young men from the booth, Toad and Billy Joe, go to teach him a lesson, but Sam is saved (read shooed out) by the proprietress.

Outside, he sees his boss, the widowed Ms. Melny. As Jesse, Sam cannot win or even get a word in edgewise. Al shows up and tells Sam that Ms. Melny will die when her car collides with a passenger train the following day, something Sam must avoid.

The next afternoon, Nell, Jesse’s granddaughter, drives his car home, but Toad and Billy Joe run it off the road thinking it is Jesse driving. Nell is hurt pretty bad but the two troublemakers run off to stay out of trouble. While driving Ms. Melny on an errand, they see the wreck. The nearest hospital is designated for whites but is much closer than the one Nell would normally have to go to.

At that hospital, the staff doesn’t want to treat Nell but Ms. Melny is insistent. They do, but call the Sheriff, who is Billy Joe’s father. While Ms. Melny ensures that Nell gets a proper treatment, Sam/jJsse is arrested. Hearing about what happened, Ms. Melny gets into her car and drives to the jail, unknowingly towards her fate. As she approaches the intersection, she narrowly avoids the train.

Ms. Melny comes to get Jessie out of holding. The Sherriff offers his apologies and ensures that this will not happen again. After asking Jessie to pick up her lunch at the diner she comes in and asks that he sit at the counter with her. Sam leaps …

… into a teenager during a race.

Stop talking to yourself: At the top of the hour, Sam gives a nice recap of his leaping experience, accompanied by footage.

Only Sam can see and hear: Al has a history in the civil rights movement and knows a lot about southern cooking. Also, he is convinced that Ms. Melny heard him at the end.

This is the first time that he asks Gooshie to center him around someone other than Sam.

Mirror images that were not his own: Sam sees himself in the diners’ mirror, in the diners’ window and the rear-view mirror of a car within the opening moments. His face is reflected in the Sheriff’s closing office door, which would make its way to the opening credits eventually.

Brush with history: Not quite Sam, but Al mentions an experience in Selma. It is unclear if he was at the famous march there.

One more time: “I’ve never said that word, Jesse. Not to your face or behind your back.” Ms. Melny rebuking Sam/Jesse.

The Rainbow Treknection: Susan French is magnificent in this episode as Ms. Melny but she appears in Man of the People as Sev Maylor. They cannot all be winners.

This episode is directed by Michael Vejar. While this is his sole credit on Quantum Leap, he has directed several episodes of The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise along with some episodes of Babylon 5.

Trivial Matters: While each episode ends with a teaser for next, this one is quite different from the events we see. Last week, we saw Sam look up. This week, we see him make the chance to sit down before looking up along with a lot for reaction shots.

Put Right what Once Went Wrong: “There’s got to be some sort of mistake.” “Biggest mistake of your life, boy.” Such an amazing episode of television. The show hits all the points it needs to make and is running on all cylinders.

Susan French carries a lot of the burden as Ms. Melny Tafford. She owns the role and you know who she is from the opening moment. She is a pillar of her community and can pull her weight around, but only does so when necessary. She is keenly aware of which fights to take. Very sure of herself you either get along with her or you do not. It is an absolute pleasure to watch her and is definitely worth experiencing.

The rest of the cast is a little more limited in their scope, certainly not as developed as Ms. Melny, but they play their roles well, though Kimberly Bailey is a standout as Nell. This young lady is giddy with the opportunities ahead of her. The ‘groups’ do a great job acting as well, from the bigoted townsfolk, to the moderately understanding Sheriff, to Jesse’s Family. Vejar did a great job directing, too. The environment is established early on, quickly and effectively. Even the music in on point, particularly when Sam rushes Nell to the hospital.

There is a great moment when Al is in the car trying to get Ms Melny to stop. Whether she hears him or not is debatable, but there is ammo given in to both sides. Al is at his best in this episode by far for the entire series. His asides are minimal, and he has a history with the civil rights movement which is a fun surprise. Plus, he knows how to cook chitlins.

There is a lot of harsh language in this. The n-word is uttered. A lot. By Caucasians. The language is very authentic to the time and place. Writer Deborah Pratt would win an award for her work and it is well deserved. As liberal as this show would get, I’m doubtful they would be able to do this in the end of the 2010’s or early in the 2020’s but I’m grateful they were able to get this on air.

Simply a fantastic hour of television.
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By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Gamma Quadrant
 -  
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
#529778
Camikazi Kid
Original Air Date: May 10, 1989
Written by: Alan J. Levi
Directed by: Paul Brown
Leap Date: June 6, 1961

This time: Sam leaps into a teenager during a race. As Cam Wilson, he takes a loss then goes to a local burger joint where he runs into some hooligans who call themselves the Impalas. Cam’s sister Cheryl shows up, elated at being accepted into the Peace Corps. She will go with her fiancé Bob after the wedding. The Impalas, at their leader Bob’s instruction, strip Sam and throw him into a dumpster, but he is later helped out by Jill, a local tomboy.

Al arrives and says that Sam is there to break up Cheryl and Bob. She doesn’t make it to the Peace Corps and he becomes a mean drunk. While speaking to Cheryl later, Sam finds out that Bob has already been abusive.

At the wedding rehearsal, Sam makes an impassioned speech at how amazing Cheryl is. He also finds out that Bob has no intention of joining the Corps, being offered a job and a house from Bob’s dad.

At Al’s suggestion, Sam races Bob for ‘Pinks’ as a show of dominance. With a little help from Jill and Al, he wins. Bob responds by trying to run over Sam, wrecking his car in the process. Cheryl gives him back the ring.

Sam sees Cheryl off and then sees Jill all dolled up. They smooch and Sam leaps …

… into a detective with a gun over a dead body.

Stop talking to yourself: Sam ponders the preparations that leaping requires. He later laments being the adult at the kids table, though there are several other teens there.

Only Sam can see and hear: Al is unable to help Sam get free from the dumpster and get clothed. Sam returns the favor by offering Al a bite of a burger.

Mirror images that were not his own: Sam looks in the side mirror of his car and isn’t impressed with what he sees.

Brush with history: Sam and Al unknowingly show a young Michael Jackson some moves.

Something or someone: Despite making sure Cheryl does not marry Bob, Sam doesn’t leap until he kisses Jill, at least a day later.

It’s a science project: Al’s secret weapon in the race? Nitrous oxide.

Let’s up the rating: Sam is stripped then thrown into a dumpster.

One more time: “A person brave enough to answer President Kennedy’s call, to ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country. I’m so proud of you for having the courage to go out and make a difference in the lives of people less fortunate than ourselves.”
Sam/Cam offering a toast to his sister.

The Rainbow Treknection: Remember Commander Harkins of the Pathfinder Project? He was played by Richard McGonagle who guest starred here as Cam’s dad.

Trivial Matters: A Pre-90210 Jason Priestly is one of the Impalas. He makes no impression.

The writers have not determined that young kids can see Al as there are several kids who are in Al’s area but do not mention him at all. Heck, young Michael Jackson does not even see him!

Put right what once went wrong: “It’s the Mom-mobile!” Years ago, I was chatting with a principal about a production at his high school. He described the show as ‘Grease Uncut’ dealing with a lot of the hardcore issues the musical all but glossed over. Sometimes, the details were intense. This episode does not go quite that far, but it takes its cues from Grease.

There are so many great moments in this episode. There is a great scene early on with Cam’s parents. Dad is teasing his son, adding some authenticity to their relationship and Mom is stern with Cam, though she is later as stern with Cheryl. She chastises him for hiding a Playboy and demands a kiss. She is also fantastic later devastated when Cheryl wears a wedding dress from Bob’s mother. These would normally be bit parts, but it allows the actors more moments to explore their characters. They are time fillers, but well-acted

The wedding rehearsal is a fantastic scene, too. Bob’s dad running late, Sam’s speech, getting pudding thrown at him, eavesdropping in the restroom, running into Michael Jackson, challenging Bob; there is a lot but it all works. Sam’s speech, quoted above, is fantastic as the music swells. Bakula does great work along with composer Velton Ray Bunch. Almost the entire cast is involved, and they all make their mark, particularly the asshole teens being asshole teens.

So much more works, from Sam giving Cheryl a talk about how awesome she is in yet another great scene, the burger joint scene where Sam is teased and fed. It helps ground the episode and while it is filler, it does not feel like it. There is enough in the environment and from the actors to sell the era.

As to the main plot, it is a little thin, but offers the great moments mentioned above. The one point that sticks out is when Cheryl lets Bob and Cam duke it out over a race. She has been established as a strong woman, having already worked on Kennedy’s campaign and going off to help the less fortunate. This is not the character who will sit by and let the Strong Men fight for her future. She almost disappears from the scene entirely when the challenge happens. It does not entirely detract from a very entertaining hour but seems to be there because the plot requires it.
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By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Gamma Quadrant
 -  
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
#530336
Play It Again, Seymour
Original Air date: May 17, 1989
Story by : Donald P. Bellisario & Scott Shepard & Tom Blomquist
Teleplay by : Donald P. Bellisario & Scott Shepard
Directed by: Aaron Lipstadt
Leap Date: April 14, 1953

This time: Sam leaps into a detective with a gun over a dead body. As Detective Nick Allen, he is soon taken into custody where Al shows up. The body is Nick’s ex-partner Phil and Al is fairly certain that Sam needs to find out whodunit. Sam has this odd sense of déjà vu about the situation.

Being freed as the bullet didn’t match the gun, Sam heads to his office, where he recognizes some of the people in the lobby; Lionel the building supervisor, Chuck the elevator operator and Seymour the nerdy news stand seller, the three of whom suspect The Clapper of being Phil’s killer. He also meets Allison, Phil’s widow. She is very into Nick, them having had an affair and all. After she leaves, Sam looks through Nick’s desk and finds a manuscript based on the events. He realizes it is not déjà vu; he read the published book.

After surviving an attempt on his life, Sam and Allison follow a lead to the Blue Island Nightclub with Seymour tagging along. Al shows up with the book. Unfortunately, the book has no ending and is part of a contest to figure out whodunnit. Also, according to the book, Nick gets shot in the back by The Clapper at LaGuardia Airport that night. Al suspects Allison, but Sam shoos him off.

They are attacked on their way out and in the cab ride back, Sam lays into Seymour for being such a nerd. Stopping to get his things, he grabs Phil’s as well. Going back out, he runs into Seymour and apologizes. The Clapper takes Allison to LaGuardia, so Sam and Seymour follow. They split up and Seymour runs into Lionel, revealed to be The Clapper. Seymour is taken hostage and Sam follows. Lionel had a thing for Allison and plans to take her away. As Lionel tries to shoot him, Al guides Sam to get the drop.

Allison takes the tickets Lionel bought and the plans to go off together with Nick. As they head to the plane, Sam helps Seymour become a writer. Sam leaps …

… into a bubble bath of a female executive.

Stop talking to yourself: Sam reflects that leap ins can be very good and very bad.

Only Sam can see and hear: When in jail, a drunkard wakes up, sees Sam talking to himself and thinks nothing of it. Al is also instrumental in assisting Sam at the end of the episode, as it helps to have a hologram in a shootout.

Mirror images that were not his own: While in holding, Sam gets a look at himself.

Brush with history: Sam runs into a young Woody Allen. He also possibly introduces the term ‘nerd’ and the phrase ‘main squeeze’ into the vernacular.

Let’s up the rating: Allison is all over Nick.

One more time: “Sam, this is dangerous.” “Allison’s in there.” “That’s why it’s dangerous.”
Sam and Al arguing about what could happen at LaGuardia.

The Rainbow Treknection: Willie Garson played Seymour here and would go on to play Riga, one of the Moenan scientists in Voyager’s Thirty Days.

Trivial Matters: Most episodes lead into the next one. The end of this one would not be seen until the fourth episode of the second season for reasons that will become obvious in the premiere of season two.

Claudia Christian is recognizable in looks alone as Allison. She played Commander Susan Ivonava on Babylon 5 and plays an entirely different character here.

Put right what once went wrong: “This isn’t what it looks like. He was already dead when I got here.” “Anyone besides you and him to corroborate that?” The ‘find your killer’ genre has taken root in the past few years. Mainly with the video game genre, this was a little ahead of its time. All in all, it is a fun noir detective romp with all the trimmings. You have the femme fatal, the nerdy follower, the close calls, the nicknamed killer and a lot of jargon.

By no means is it perfect. There are a few too many characters and set pieces. Part of the mystery should be who does the killing, but we only know two characters, Seymour and Allison. Allison is way too obvious and Seymour … I just cannot see him doing it. That regulates the role of killer to some guy we have seen little of with few clues leading us to that conclusion.

The plot is a little breakneck. Not for the first time, Al does not have all the answers, though that would lead us to short-episode-syndrome. He is as in the dark as Sam but the two work well in the climactic fight. Claudia Christian is great as Allison and Willie Garson puts on a fantastic performance as Seymour.

We have Sam and Al getting into a bit of a fight. After seeing the two work together throughout the season, it is good to see that they do not always click. These two are the only two characters we see every week and though they have a preexisting relationship, having them disagree and needing time to cool off is a fun beat to have.

As a weekly episode, this would work.

As a season finale, it is a bit of a diminishing farewell. It does not really cap things off and it does not make me wonder what can happen over the summer. It also does not take me to a place where I would want to park myself in front of the TV come Fall. This is just an odd note to end off on.

That will do it for the first season. Next week we will have an overview of season one as a whole and jump on the Honeymoon Express thereafter.
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By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Gamma Quadrant
 -  
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
#530927
Quantum Leap First Season
Original Air Dates: March 26 – May 7, 1989

This Time: In an attempt to travel through one own lifetime, things didn’t entirely go to plan. Dr. Sam Beckett found himself exchanging bodies with random people throughout history. While he has had an impact on major events, he mainly seems to be at his best when he steers things in a better direction than originally happened.

He has been a college professor, a frontier doctor, a teenager, a detective and even a couple members of a gang. He is met Buddy Holiday, Woody Allen and helped bring about one of the greatest political scandals in the past fifty years.

Sam is not alone in his efforts; his one and only constant companion is Al, who appears as a hologram that only Sam can communicate with through the science of brainwaves. Al is a cheat sheet, letting Sam know what will happen.

He needs all the help he can get because in addition to randomly going through time, he has no memory of who he is. Even a trip to a farm does not bring him back to his senses. The eight stories of the first season chronicle his efforts to see if her can get home.

Favorite Fact Check: From Genesis: Taking place around a historic test flight, though the Mach 3 threshold was broken on the day the episode takes place, the pilot was Captain Apt. Several other details line up, including the plane being an X-2 and not making it past the flight.

Favorite stop talking to yourself: From How the Tess Was Won: Sam reflects on how leaps can start off rewarding or not. He also finds it easy to locate his home in the openness of Texas. There is also a reflection on how to calm a horse. He notes that his slow dancing skills are sub par.

Favorite only Sam can see and hear: From The Color of Truth: After finding out Sam leaped into an African American, we learn Al has a history in the civil rights movement and knows a lot about southern cooking. Also, he is convinced that Ms. Melny heard him at the end which wound up saving her life.

This is the first time that he asks Gooshie to center him around someone other than Sam.

Favorite Mirror Images That Were Not His Own: From Star-Crossed: Sam looks at Dr. Bryant in the mirror and does not see someone resembling Tom Cruise. At all.

Favorite brush with history: From The Color of Truth: Not quite Sam, but Al mentions an experience in Selma. It is unclear if he was at the famous march there.

Favorite it’s a science project: From Genesis: Sam finds a way to prevent Peg from inducing premature labor six months into her pregnancy which would be fatal to her. He convinces the doctors to put alcohol into her IV which gets her almost instantly drunk.

Favorite tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow: From Genesis: We get a glimpse of 1999 in the teaser when Al picks up a female acquaintance and drives her to the project. What happens afterwards is probably somewhere between what we later learn of his time with women and the fact that she doesn’t have security clearance. We also briefly see Gooshie, one of the scientists.

Favorite let’s up the rating: From Star-Crossed: Student Jamie-Lee and Professor Dr. Bryant have been busy. Apparently, they have consummated their relationship in his house, and the belltower. Plus, there are all sorts of … ‘marital aids’ in a Bryant’s cabinet, much to Al’s delight.

Favorite one more time: From How the Tess Was Won: “I won’t breed with inferior stock, Chance.”
Tess telling her dad that her romantic standards are higher than the local ranch hands.

Favorite Rainbow Treknection: From Genesis: Series star Scott Bakula would go on to star in Enterprise and his costar, former child star Dean Stockwell, guest stared in an episode of the first season. They would also reunite in NCIS: New Orleans under Quantum Leap creator Don Bellasario.

Favorite Trivial Matters: From Genesis: Sam asks Al to step around objects rather than walk through them. Presumably, this would make things easier on the effects department, though moving people through solid objects is fairly cheap.

Put Right what Once Went Wrong: “… Went a little … caca.” First seasons can be rough. No one really knows where the show will go and even with a plan in place, there are a thousand ways it can go wrong. Add in the factors against this specific plot (only two members of their regular cast, few standing sets, etc.) and it’s clear that the network gave them a green light to see what the show is and hoped that they didn’t stumble.

One of the strengths of this show is the writing. There was a rough draft of Grease, a cowboy romance, a civil rights piece, a mafia drama and a wodunnit. There are very few shows that can turn on a dime like that, even fewer that the audience will keep coming back to. It is telling that the second episode is a farce at the start and winds up being a compelling drama.

Of course, the best writing in the world is not worth a thing if the actors can’t bring them to life and week after week, the guest stars delivered. On most shows, it is not that bad if the guest stars fall through the cracks since they can be salvaged by the main cast, but that trick won’t work on this show. The acting is fantastic with the high note being the amazing Susan French in The Color of Truth. Thankfully, the writing gives a lot of what could be throwaway roles a good moment to shine. In The Camakazi Kid, the writers gave the parents good character bits and you can see this with all the episodes.

The weak link is Al, or rather his libido. It is a character trait that has not aged well and if it was off putting in the eighties, it is even more off putting in the twenties. The only way to swallow it is to accept that the targets of his interest are in on it but we cannot really be sure it is always the case.

The Color of Truth is my favorite of the bunch, but I would have to look hard to find a stinker. That is an impressive feat for a first season, granted a short one, but they got off the ground. They did not do anything wild past the pilot, aside from attempting a return trip which ended up helping that story, but really did not have the time to.

I (and this rewatch) am back for season two, but not rushing to my screen in anticipation.
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By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Gamma Quadrant
 -  
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
#531673
Honeymoon Express
Original Air Date: September 20, 1989
Written by: Donald P. Bellisario
Directed by: Aaron Lipstadt
Leap Date: April 27, 1960

This time: We start at a hearing to fund Project Quantum Leap. The senators are dubious that a higher power is responsible for Sam leaping around history. Yeah, saving the life of a test pilot is cool and all, but for forty-three billion dollars, no major events have been changed. In particular, the committee chair, Senator Weitzman, does not see it as an adequate means of public funding, despite Al staunchly defending the project and Sam.

Meanwhile, Sam ‘rescues’ a cat for a little old lady. He leaps …

… into a man kissing a beautiful lady on a train. He is Tom McBride, she is Diane and the two are newly married. He is a cop and she is getting ready to take the bar. She is all over him, but Sam tells her to study.

Al appears and tells Sam that a U-2 aircraft will be shot down in a couple days, almost single handedly extending the Cold War. Sam needs to call off the mission, something Diane’s father can help with as he is a golfing buddy to the President. Sam is not sure about that being what he is supposed to do, and Ziggy believes that he must help Diane pass the bar.

Going back to Diane, Sam finds that she is being accosted by Roget, Diane’s ex-husband. He is having a problem letting go but literally brought a knife to a gunfight. He is clearly not over her but leaves. She tells Sam about how nasty Roget was, him being a smuggler with a bunch of thugs.

Back at the hearing, the Committee is ready to render the verdict, but Al begs for a forty-eight hour grace period to change history, staking the fate of the project and his career on preventing the launch of the U-2.

Sam and Diane share a dinner only to be interrupted by Al, who is still insistent that Sam prevent the launch of the U-2. Sam tells Al about Roget which Al did not know about because they are out of funds in their research department. Al will move things around, but still wants Sam to work on Diane calling her father.

He tries to get out of the romantic encounter by telling Diane the truth, but she believes he is role-playing. They are stopped when Diane catches a glimpse of Roget. He got on the train at a stop and Sam leaves to confront him. After being shoulder-checked in the hallway, he approaches Roget to calm things down, but it does not work. Roget threatens him and Al says that Tom will be found dead, stabbed through the heart. Sam tells the conductor about the threat so as to alert the authorities. Al does not want that to happen since if he leaps before Diane calls her father, the project is over. Al comes clean and Sam realizes that this might be their last conversation.

Thinking they will be safe locked in their cabin until they arrive at the station, Sam asks her to call her father when they arrive. Diane says that her father is out camping for the week and out of phone contact during that time! Resigned and helping to distract her, Sam quizzes her on the matters of law.

On the way to send a message, the conductor is knocked out by Roget’s thug. As the two break into Tom and Diane’s cabin, the emergency brakes are pulled. Sam jumped out the window and Diane is hidden in an overhead compartment. Roget gets pinned under the train and the train starts moving again, but not before Roget gets back on board. The thug tries to accost Tom, but it does not work out.

Roget holds Sam at gunpoint and Diane offers to exchange her life for his. He is touched, but as he pulls the trigger, Diane moves the gun, causing Roget to be hit by the ricochet.

In the hearing, Senator Weitzman reads from a history book proving that history is unchanged. In a last-ditch effort, Al testifies about Diane being saved. Weitzman says that he was a protégé of Diane’s father, but that is seem as a poorly veiled attempt to pull at his heart strings. It does not help that Diane ran against Weitzman and lost to him thirty years ago. He is ready to render his verdict.

Roget being out of the picture, Tom and Diane settle in. He asks her about amendments, but she missed the fourteenth amendment, an important fact that could have cost her half her constitutional rights answers and the exam. Sam leaps …

As the verdict is rendered, Al is crestfallen util Senator Weitzman is instantly replaced by Senator Diane McBride, who announces that the funding request is granted. After the adjournment, the Senator remembers an encounter but feigns/claims that she cannot place it.

… into a disco.

Fact check: The U-2 incident is a real thing that was very messy.

Mirror images that were not his own: In the bathroom, Sam sees the handsome Tom McBride staring back at him.

Stop Talking to Yourself: Sam asks a higher power if he is supposed to sleep with Diane and asks for a sign, wherein Diane shows up in lingerie. After taking care of Roget, he asks to either leap out or for ‘something or someone’ to look the other way.

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow: We spend a lot of time in this episode in the future. Though we only see the inside of a courtroom, it is sprinkled throughout the hour.

Let’s up the rating: Sam spends the episode not sleeping with Diane.

One more time: “He’s not alone Admiral. He has God.”
Senator Weitzman to Al in the hearing.

Trivial Matters: There are callbacks to Genesis, The Right Hand of God, The Color of Truth and How the Tess Was Won. Additionally, Weitzman (or rather, Weitzman‘s wife) was referenced in Star-Crossed.

This is the third episode (After Genesis and Double Identify) to break the ‘one leap per episode’ rule. Yeah, we will try to keep score.

This episode broke the pattern that we are accustomed to, but Sam utters his signature phrase twice at the start of his leap.

Put right what once went wrong: “Do I need to read any further, Admiral?” “No, sir.” “Good.” Once a show gets into a rhythm, it can be very tempting to stick with it and not have any variance. Especially in a show that has as interesting a concept as Quantum Leap. I came down hard on the first season finale being fairly run of the mill, but it was still an entertaining hour of television.

Honeymoon Express proved that not only were they willing to mess with a formula, they could do it well. They experimented with it in Double Identity, but here they alter the almost the entire structure of how show and it works. We do not start with a leap or a voiceover; we start with a cold open into a hearing. It offers a good summation of the series and has Al protecting the Project to the best of his abilities. His quarrel with Weitzman is felt throughout the episode and Warren Frost is great as a grumpy old man. He enjoys yelling at Stockwell. Despite their characters rivalry, the two are great together.

Sam and Al got into it at the end of season one, and it is heartbreaking to see Sam realize that their journey together might end. There is a great moment between the two and Sam understands why Al was so forceful to get Sam to stop the U-2. Bakula and Stockwell are the only two regular actors and it is nice for them to have a moment.

The courtroom drama works better than the train story, but Sam has time to be with his leapee’s wife and save her from a murderous ex-husband. Time is taken to give Roget a character, telling Sam that he is not going to back off. They flesh everyone out and give Sam an excuse not to go through with his honeymoon duties.

Not everything works. Bakula and Alice Adair do not have that great chemistry, but Adair at least does not fawn over him. Adair also really does not know how to play her older version, though that is only seen for a few moments at the very end. Not just that, but we know that the series will not end since it is the season premiere. There are no stakes to the trial since we know the project will remain funded somehow. Imagine this as a season finale; that would have been amazing.

Toying with the carefully curated formula is risky and Quantum Leap will not tinker with it too often, but this was one of the first versions and it worked in spades.
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Second Edition Design Manager
By The Guardian (Richard New)
 - Second Edition Design Manager
 -  
2E World Quarter-Finalist 2021
#531881
I loved that episode. Besides some of the "social" firsts, like being another race or a woman (which we don't get to see played out until later), the first season was a little straightforward when seen in retrospect. From here on out, the season premiers and finales could always be counted on for a personal story and there were quite a few more where you could say, "You know, the one where Sam was..." I love to see variations on a theme.
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By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Gamma Quadrant
 -  
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
#532576
Disco Inferno
Original Air Date: September 7, 1989
Written by: Paul Brown
Directed by: Gilbert M. Shilton
Leap Date: April 1, 1976

This time: Sam leaps into a disco. There is a creepy guy looking for someone. Sam tries to blend into his surroundings, but is shot by the creepy guy, falling back into a window…

… and the director yells cut! Sam is Chad Stone, a stuntman in the ‘low budget’ film Disco Inferno. His father, Ray, is the stunt coordinator and berates Chad’s younger brother, Chris, for not making sure the safety mat was in the correct position. The director has words with, and fires, Ray only to offer the two sons an opportunity to work. They stand with their father and walk off the set.

Al appears, having the time of his life on set. Ziggy is on the fritz, but Chris will die in two days. They do not know how or where, but it will happen. When reminded to be a good big brother, Sam remembers his big brother, Tom. Al is forbidden from revealing more.

While the Stone family packs up the next day, Ray talk about an upcoming stunt for the movie Earthquake. At their place, Sam hears Chris jamming on a guitar. They have a heart to heart moment, but are interrupted by Shannon, a girl from the set who was all over Chris. While watching an episode of Saturday Night Live, Shannon displays a good bit of knowledge about the upcoming election, being part of the League of Women Voters.

On the set of Earthquake, Sam looks down off the ledge he is supposed to jump off. Another spurned lover pushes him off the building … only to fall onto the stunt mat. Chris is furious at not being able to do the stunt, as that would have gotten him a card.

The family and Shannon go to a restaurant bar to try spinning a tune. Ray is not interested but gives it a listen. The crowd loves it, but Ray is not convinced. Sam tries to encourage Ray to encourage Chris, but it only ends up with Chris punching Ray. Sullen, Chris signs up for a stunt on Disco Inferno. Sam and Al later talk about brothers, only for Sam to remember that Tom died in Vietnam.

Chris is MIA the next morning, but Sam is able to talk to Ray, who is on the fence. Ultimately, he will not relent. Chris brought Shannon to the set and is ready to do the stunt. It gets too out of control, but Sam arrives just in time to save the day, with help from Al.

Afterwards, the four are watching television, when Al show sup with no idea why Sam has not leaped. Chris’ future is still up in the air, though Ray thinks Chris is all set with his card. Al recognizes the famous video with President Carter tripping on the bottom of the stairs as he gets off Air Force One. Sam bets Chris’ future on Carter tripping. He does and Sam leaps …

… into a sailor coming back from a tour.

Fact check: This was the date that Carter tripped on the stairs. It was not the date this particular episode of Saturday Night Live aired, though.

Stop talking to yourself: Sam is not happy to be in a disco for the leap in. He similarly not enthused about the seventies on average and wonders if a mood ring works.

Mirror images that were not his own: While getting acclimated to the set, Sam looks at himself in the mirror.

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow: Ziggy is so messed up, he put extra zeroes on everyone’s paycheck. Several took a vacation.

Let’s up the rating: After the opening stunt, Sam takes his shirt off. And he has a hickey. Chad had affairs with at least two of his costars from set.

One more time: “Every girl I’ve ever met goes crazy for him. “I’m not every girl.”
Chad and Shannon

Put right what once went wrong: “Sorry I’m blanking on your name.” “You didn’t blank on it in your trailer last night.” Back when Deep Space Nine’s His Way premiered, there was a clue that the episode had too much time to pad with four musical numbers. There is kind of the same thing here with a music number plus portions of Saturday Night Live, a basketball game and Carter tripping on the stairs.

Not much happens in this episode.

The family is just not that interesting. Kris Kam is adequate as Chris, but too often comes across as boring. In the date night scene, he is worried that Chad will steal Shannon, but he is just dull. Michael Greene is better as the tough guy father, but not by much. You never really buy into them being family which is a dealbreaker for the heart of the episode.

Like any good episode of the series, the writers put in some scenes to get some good character moments, but those are the ones where Ray is most sullen. Just when he gets close to a breakthrough, he brushes it off. It is a pity since even some of the most boring episodes can be elevated by good writing or casting.

There are a few nice touches such as Chad being quite the ladies’ man and a bit with promise rings that ultimately goes nowhere. There is also Al geeking out at the era and movie set, but there is not a whole lot to recommend here. For anyone who knows about film production, a lot of the cheap scares are entirely artificial. The stuntman is not just there hanging around the set before he gets shot. They just film the guy getting shot quickly. There is some sort of warning before the guy falls off the set. It helps if the stuntman knows that they are filming.

The biggest filler is the revelation of Tom. It creates some nice moments between Al and Sam, particularly Al who knows but cannot simply come out and tell Sam. It is supposed to help Sam bond with Chris, but the focus is on a guy that we do not see, and it gets hard to care about. Tom will become more important in the series, but it just falls flat. This probably looked good on paper, but even Bakula and Stockwell cannot save it.

Even the song was not that great.
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By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Gamma Quadrant
 -  
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
#533262
The Americanization of Machiko
Written by: Charlie Coffey
Directed by: Gilbert Shilton
Original Air Date: October 11, 1989
Leap Sate: August 4, 1953

This time: Sam laps into a sailor coming back from a tour. He is Charlie (a name he gets from his duffel bag) and his ecstatic dad, henry MacKenzie, picks him up, taking him back home. As they drive off, they do not see a Japanese woman picking up her bags and calling “Charlie-San!”

At said home, Charlie’s mother, Lenore, prepares some lemonade while Charlie’s old flame, Naomi, wait for his return after two years. Father and son arrive, and Naomi is all over him. After being left alone, Al shows up and says that Naomi and Charlie will be miserable together.

A local cop shows up and the family comes out. It seems that he picked up the woman, Machiko and took her to the MacKenzie’s as she is Charlie’s wife. Later, Machiko offers Lenore a kimono, but it is not accepted. Henry is eager to get to know Machiko, but Lenore is less than pleased. Beyond less than pleased. It does not help that the only room available for Machiko belongs to Charlie’s deceased sister.

Machiko puts in the effort. Cleaning the kitchen, cooking breakfast; neither of which Lenore is appreciative of. Sam tries to get Machiko to be more … American. Men and women can work, women can drive and all that. After a driving lesson, they pick flowers for Lenore to appreciate.

While doing chores, Sam takes his shirt off. Cue Naomi showing up in skimpy clothing ready to rekindle their romance. Meanwhile, Machiko is also feeling warm working outside on the farm, so she takes off her shirt, too. Cue Henry, Lenore and the reverend showing up to marry the pair.

After the frenzy (and commercial break), Al explains from his time in Japan, that women in the fields would take their tops off to stay cool. The reverend is shocked (his wife fainted) but still invites the whole family to a local picnic. Not wanting to be embarrassed, Lenore refuses to attend. Naomi has a talk with Sam about the Mackenzie’s dead sister who Sam realizes committed suicide.

After attempting to break things off with Naomi, she takes it upon herself to Americanize Machiko. Her work comes to fruition when she calls the Mayor’s wife fat. She quickly realizes the error of her ways, but the damage is done.

Home from the picnic, a storm comes in. While making preparations for safety, word reaches Lenore about Machiko’s faux pas. Absolutely furious, she will not even listen to the explanation. Machiko runs off, where she is picked up by a local asshole named Rusty. A former AAA baseball recuit, the draft killed his prospects. After four years in the Pacific theater, he became an alcoholic. Thankfully, Sam arrives in time to save her, but she is hurt.

At the hospital, she is on the road to recovery, but doubt’s Lenore’s remorse. She cannot embrace another ‘daughter’ that the town would snicker at behind her back. Eventually, she runs out.

At the chapel for the ceremony, Lenore is absent, though makes a late appearance ... in the kimono. Sam leaps …

… into the bubble bath of female executive.

Stop talking to yourself: Sam hates that once things go well and everyone is happy, he leaps out, leaving him discombobulated. He likes Charlie’s dad, who is a lot like Sam’s.

Mirror images that were not his own: Sam sees the handsome face of Charles Lee MacKenzie in the town’s window.

Something or someone: For some reason, Sam cannot leap until he sees Lenore in the Kimono, despite having done the work already.

Let’s up the rating: Working under the hot sun, Machiko cools off by taking off her top, in public.

One more time: “I’ve always loved the farm in the summer. The smell of corn. Wheat rustling in the breeze. The sounds of calves mooing after their mothers. It always takes me home.” “Personally, I’d rather be in Vegas”
Sam to himself and Al to Sam about the farm.

The Rainbow Treknection: Before playing the wiley mature Alisia who fooled Martus but not Quark in Rivals, K Callan played Lenore MacKenzie.

Put right what once went wrong: “I met this woman wandering Main Street and she claims that she’s married to your son.” Last week had a problem being too short, this week we have the opposite problem.

It starts off strong, too. When we see Machiko, we know here it is going. There are the expected comedy bits and the expected dramatic notes. Dad is giddy. Mom is pissed. With only an hour to tell the story, the early beats are there. It helps that they have talent in front of the camera. Wayne Tipitt is great a Henry. The happiness at seeing his son, learning about Machiko, he is having a blast.

Speaking of Machiko, Leslie Ann Olsen is fantastic. She plays a fish out of water perfectly with Japanese customs but trying to acclimate to America. There is still a lot of work to be done, but the beginning is there. She explains where she is coming from and plays wonderfully off her co-stars. She has good scenes with just about everyone

It all falls apart in the final act. There is just too much going on with Naomi’s influence, Rusty being a kidnapper, the storm. So much happens so quickly that it is hard to keep up. This is not Avengers: Endgame where everything neatly comes together after an appropriate amount of set up. This is rushed and they tried to set up Rusty but there is not enough time and giving us the exposition at the end is too little too late. We got enough with him giving Machiko nasty looks earlier. Naomi is also very one note and does not really have much to do.

The worst casualty of this is Lenore. She just seems to be going through the motions in the last third, up until the ending scenes. K Callan did perfectly well up until that point, but the comparisons to Susan French are inevitable. She is good, but not great.

At the end of the hour, I am not eager to go to the next episode with that fumble at the end.
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By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Gamma Quadrant
 -  
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
#533908
What Price Gloria?
Original Air Date: October 25, 1989
Directed by: Alan J. Levi
Written by: Deborah Pratt
Leap Date: October 16, 1961

This time: Sam leaps into the bubble bath of female executive. Sam is Samantha Morton with a roommate (and officemate) named Gloria. Gloria rushes off for an errand before work, laving Sam to get used to being a woman, the youngest female executive at their company. Al shows up with no information, but to help get Sam into character.

They work at the National Motors Corporation. Sam is the personal secretary of Buddy, who is the boyfriend of Gloria. Buddy also recently got promoted, which was something he promised would let him divorce his wife and marry Gloria. Buddy comes in and calls Sam into the office. He tries to get his paws all over her, but Sam politely refuses.

In the restroom (Sam is told to put on some makeup), Al discovers that when Gloria finds out Buddy will not marry her, she commits suicide.

The next morning, Buddy has a meeting with his boss, Ted. One gets the impression that he is kissing up to Ted about as much as he is pawing at the female executives in his company. Sam makes several points about the next model but is rushed off to get some coffee. While getting it ready, Gloria begs Sam to go out to a movie so that Buddy can come over for a date. Running a little late, Buddy is pleasantly surprised to see the two are roommates.

Taking Buddy’s dog Bubbles for a walk (why he brought his dog to a date is an exercise for the viewer) Al reminds Sam that Gloria is worried being a single lady in her late twenties. At a double date, Sam’s date, Dick, is all over her while Gloria’s is a lot more down to Earth, though a young divorcee. Gloria sees Buddy and his wife at the same restaurant. Gloria talks to Buddy’s wife, only to find out that the two have an open marriage and Buddy is not going to divorce. Gloria rushes out in embarrassment.

Sam finds her standing out on the ledge of their apartment. He talks her off the ledge, literally, but does not leap, despite Gloria marrying Parker, her half of the double date, and joining a design program. Al thinks there is one more thing Sam has to do. Dressing very attractively, he seduces Buddy, then reveals that he is a man. Buddy is beyond confused and repulsed. Sam leaps …

… into a pianist receiving a round of applause.

Stop talking to yourself: The somewhat paradoxical rules of how to handle a leap are part of Sam’s opening narration. He also admires the time period while bemoaning his new role in it. The fashions of women in the era are considered wearable torture devices.

Only Sam can see and hear: We get the impression that Al rushed over to ogle at Sam(antha), which is creepy on several levels.

Mirror images that were not his own: Sam looks in the mirror after taking a bath but also while getting changed. He also gets a glimpse in the final seduction scene.

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow: This is the first mention of Dr. Beeks, the psychologist for the project. If I were to magically be transported into someone else’s body and have to sit around while they ran my life, I would want to talk it over with someone, too.

Let’s up the rating: By leaping into a bubble bath, Sam is dripping wet and naked for the first big chunk of the episode.

One more time: “What about Fuel Economy?” “Miss Stormer has a point. What about it, Buddy? Seven miles to the gallon?” “Maybe eight, but I got that covered. See, what I’ve done is reduced the trunk and I enlarged the gas tank. This baby will hold forty gallons.”
Sam, Ted and Buddy in an executive meeting.

Trivial Matters: This is the first episode with Sam leaping into a woman.

It is also the one of the first appearances of Al’s new door. Prior episodes have either avoided it entirely or had something moderately translucent, but this is the first time we see a bright blue light.

Put right what once went wrong: “Aren’t you the same girl that said they day I get that gold band is the day I quit work, start shopping and eat anything chocolate?” Sam’s first leap into a woman plays as well today as it did thirty years ago. This episode bears more than a passing resemblance to the first draft of the Me Too movement.

Sam’s work and disgust at what a single woman has to go through puts in in his and her shoes. There is also a point made that women didn’t know that they didn’t necessarily have to get married to have a good life. Add in working at a car company in the sixties producing yet another gas guzzler, and this hits the right points.

The guest characters are all great, starting with Jean Sagal as Gloria. Being Sam’s best friend, we have a great optimistic view of the sixties. Matt Landers is dickish as Sam’s date Dick, but John Calvin plays Buddy as a sleazeball to the point that the final scene with him getting his comeuppance is a fun coda. You can see him pulling the strings around him to get his perfect life with his meeting and convincing his wife to have an open marriage, though said wife is having an affair with a tennis instructor, so the marriage is open all around. The set decorators are also in on the fun; at the double date, the men have soup while the women have salad.

I am not sure how well the ending plays for today’s viewers. The women’s rights movement was in full force in the nineties, but the LGBTQ movement was still burgeoning. What we get is great, but it had the potential to be so much better given what we now know.

This is another home run from Deborah Pratt, after last season’s The Color of Truth.
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By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Gamma Quadrant
 -  
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
#534686
"Blind Faith"
Original Aire Date: November 1, 1989
Written by: Scott Shepard
Directed by: David G. Phinney
Leap Date: February 6, 1964

This Time: Sam leaps into a pianist receiving a round of applause. Quickly realizing he leapt into a blind man, he is led offstage by his seeing eye dog, Chopin. The audience is clamoring for an encore, which is an issue for someone who is not a professional piano player. He quickly plays chopsticks. The audience warms to it giving him another thunderous applause.

His friend, Michelle, walks him offstage wondering what he will play tomorrow night. The two walk home and the camera lingers on a newspaper with a headline about a third woman strangled in Central Park. This will probably be important later.

Sneaking in (and grabbing some academic books along the way) Michelle is confronted by her mother, Agnes. She ‘encourages’ her daughter to get a steady job in a field where she can support herself.

Al arrives and says that after the performance the next night, Michelle is strangled in Central Park. The next day, Agnes sneaks into Sam’s apartment and catches the supposedly blind pianist reading. She blackmails him into staying away from her daughter.

At the main event, Al arrives and saves the day. Turns out, Sam can play the piano! The event is a rousing success, but Agnes sneaks in and tells Michelle about the ‘scam.’ As Sam leaves the hall to run after her, he gets too close to a paparazzo and is blinded, albeit temporarily.

Distraught, Michelle runs into the killer in Central Park. She fends him off long enough to stab him and run away. She finds her way to Pete, an officer and a neighbor of Sam’s. But there is a wound on his back; he’s the killer! She screams and Chopin sicks Pete while Sam cuffs him.

Agnes arrives with little sympathy. She tries to trick Sam, but he is still unable to see. Agnes runs off, but Michelle runs after her. Al says Michelle is physically fine but needs help emotionally. Talking to Agnes, Sam encourages her to be less overbearing and nurture Michelle’s desires. Mother and daughter reconcile and Sam leaps …

… into a disc jockey, who is quickly told to read the commercial.

Stop Talking to Yourself: The leap in is always a surprise. He also wonders how he can get away with a performance worthy of his leapee.

Only Sam Can See and Hear: Al saves the day by bringing in sheet music for Sam and telling him to play. An interesting fact is that Al needs to be touching the music stand for Sam to see it. It begs the questions of what would happen if he touched the wall of the imaging chamber.

Mirror Images That Were Not His Own: At the apartment, and in preparation for the big concert, Sam gets a look at Andrew Ross.

Brush with History: This revolves around the famous performance by The Beetles on The Ed Sullivan Show. This is pulled off with a convincing double through a car window.

Something or Someone: This category is usually reserved for the leap out, but the timing for the leap in is fortuitous. It is at the very end of the movement and Sam plays chopsticks well enough to foreshadow his eventual musical ability.

Let’s Up the Rating: Agnes is … just kidding. Other than a not-very-well done look at a passing woman, this show is pretty tame, sexually speaking.

One More Time: “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a sense of smell that sensitive?” “Not with my husband’s feet.”
Michelle marveling to the waitress and receiving a witty retort.

Trivial Matters: The crowd that Sam plays to is done entirely with stock footage. It is cheaper than employing a boatload of extras and the foley artists do the rest of the work. If not for the film grain, it would have been much more successful. And if they had not used the exact same footage for successive performances.

It may seem as though the overlap between being a musician and astrophysicist is a small one, but many gifted mathematicians (and scientists) are also great musicians.

This episode has a long break without Sam or Al where Michelle talks to her mother, establishing their relationship. This is an outlier but lets us see the relationships between characters without the benefit of Sam.

Put Right What Once Went Wrong: “Mind if I ask you a question?” “As long as it’s not about anything personal or professional.” This has one of the best performances I have ever seen. One of the actors is very in their element, has excellent reactions and is entirely in character. With very little dialogue, they steal every scene they are in. Chopin is played to perfection. Even though he can see Al, he has great reaction shots, even during the leap out. It is a joy to watch.

Oh yeah, there are human characters in here, too. They are a little less successful, particularly with the identity of The Killer. Using TV logic, we have to be introduced to them before finding out who they are, since a random guy won’t have that much impact on the viewer, and we’ve met three characters, two of which are mother and daughter. It is pretty obvious that Pete will do the deed and while they try and introduce him earlier as a friendly fellow, it’s not a surprise when he is revealed as the killer.

Also in the not-nearly-as-successful-as-intended category is Agnes. Played as a Miss Havisham light, to borrow form Dickens’ Great Expectations, you can see what the writers, and actor, were going for, but Jennifer Rhodes confuses sternness for parenting. There’s little emotion, even at the end during the reconciliation. Her whole act of sneaking into the apartment (“You left the door open.” As though that is an excuse to barge in!) is there for plot convenience. There is the afore mentioned scene which tries to explain the mother-daughter dynamic, but it fails due to the distantness.

It is too bad because the final act hits some great beats. Sam is blinded and the show does a great job with the effect, switching viewpoints in the middle of sentences and Sam being forced to rely on his senses, though he mainly relies on Al. He also has some good scenes with Michelle. Cynthia Bain is okay, but at her best when nervously kissing Sam on the cheek. Unlike other episodes, their lack of chemistry really is not an issue since there is such a disparity between the two.
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By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Gamma Quadrant
 -  
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
#535394
Good Morning, Peoria
Original Aire Date: November 8, 1989
Written by: Chris Ruppenthal
Directed by: Michael Zinberg
Leap Date: September 9, 1959

This time: Sam leaps into a disc jockey. After looking at his surroundings, and Tutti Frutti playing, he knocks down a lot of records and is quickly told to read the commercial. He fumbles through the segment and clashes with his boss and radio station owner, Rachel. Sam is told by a colleague that the leapee, Chet, has always has eyes for Rachel but she is consumed with making the station a success.

As Sam leaves for the day, he runs into Rachel arguing with an advertiser named Fred. Fred does not like Rock and Roll causing an issue with the station being a rock station. The argument goes on but results in Fred pulling his advertising dollars.

Al shows up saying that the station will go under in a year, ruining Rachel. They need to keep the station afloat, meaning Rock must stay. Sam’s car is vandalized with a message not to play that genre and Sam realizes the challenge he has before him.

The next day, Sam breezes through the morning show, to the amazement of Rachel, their colleague and even Al. He is a hit with the local teenage population literally dancing in the street, though the older crowd is considerably less excited. Things go well until someone hurls a brick through the window, damaging the equipment.

Sam fixes console, getting everything back to broadcast condition. Fred follows through on a threat to ban Rock in the town. Rachel is ready to throw in the towel, but Sam decides to barricade themselves in the station and continue playing Rock as a form of protest. Fred is fuming, openly asking the police to barge in and shut them down. The mayor is against this, it being an election year and all, so Fred considers other methods.

The station does fan the flames when they use Fred’s own words from an editorial against him. Fred cuts the power, but Rachel has an old generator, which the duo uses to get power back. Fred calls threatening other advertisers he can convince to walk, but Rachel counters by threatening to call the press and get Fred on the front page. It seems as though the situation is attracting attention, regardless.

Rachel and Sam have a romantic moment, but Fred cuts the transmission cable. After a call from Fred to gloat, Sam gets inspiration and can get them back on the air, to the pleasure of the crowd outside!

The next morning begins with a clash between police and the teens. Fred takes an axe to the front door. Sam calms everyone down by reading about the end of World War II. This takes the wind out of Fred. Rachel and Chet marry. Sam leaps …

… into a rabbi during a Bat Mitzvah.

Fact check: Rock and Roll was freaking out the adults by being popular with teens. Role Playing Games and video games would follow.

Stop talking to yourself: Sam enjoys having someone to help guide him through a leap. There is a clue to the time period with Eisenhower being president.

Only Sam can see and hear: Al is very much in his element getting Sam into DJ mode.

Mirror images that were not his own: When taking a closer look at the commercial he is supposed to read, Sam sees his reflection in the stand. Why that particular stand has such a reflective surface is an exercise for the viewer.

Brush with history: Fifty-year-old Chubby Checker guest stars as a twenty-year-old Chubby Checker. There are not a lot of guys that could pull this off, but he does.

It’s a science project: With the transmitter being cut, Sam finds a way to fix it with the aluminum from the gutters. Because he’s just that awesome.

Let’s up the rating: When in the dark, Sam touches an inappropriate part of Rachel’s body. He claims he was looking for the doorknob. Rachel says the doorknob is usually lower.

One more time: “The FTC announced a campaign to end misrepresentation in advertising. Executives at The Himalaya Bra Company could not be reached for comment.” “Ohh, neither could my girlfriend.”
Sam telling a joke on air and Al elevating it.

Trivial Matters: A pre Home Improvement Patricia Richardson guest stars in this episode as Rachel. If you thought she and Bakula had great chemistry, it might be due to the fact that they starred briefly on a sitcom called Eisenhower and Futz.

While fixing the transmitter, Al goes all bright blue and thinks he might be leaping. It is a joke, but nicely foreshadows a couple future events.

Put right what once went wrong: “... The first amendment also guarantees the freedom of speech and since Mr. Beaman admits that Rock and Roll is at least in some form speech, half articulate speech to be exact …” Years ago, the series Pushing Daisies would have all sorts of interesting methods of killing people and the studio asked for the team to help a guy having a bad day. This is the Quantum leap equivalent of that.

After Teen Drama, Cowboy Romance and Solve Your Own Murder, what is left to do but absurdist comedy? You know how this episode is going to turn out in the first ten minutes. You do not know exactly what trick Wile E. Coyote will do to get the Road Runner, but it will happen and won’t work. I had taken several episodes to task for being predictable, but this is not that kind of situation; this is entirely absurdist. Nothing happens for a huge chunk of this hour but that is perfectly okay.

Most of this relies on the shoulders of Rachel. Patricia Richardson is fantastic as Rachel. Years before Jill Taylor, she had another role as a strong woman. She stood up for herself and the station but also has the vulnerability when it is asked for and falls in love at the end of the episode. She is the emotional core of the story with a strong exterior hoping to not let her sensitive side come out too often or too much.

They would not be worth their salt if not for a good antagonist. Fred is exactly that, doing everything he can, and then some, to bring down the station. Cutting the power. Cutting the transmitter. He is pulling all the stops, quite literally. The script does a great job of letting us check in with him very now and then.

This episode is just fun moment after fun moment. Bakula has fun behind the microphone and Al gets a chance to rely less on being and infodump future events on more on personal interactions. This is a show that can do to some dark places, and this was a rare reprieve.
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By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Gamma Quadrant
 -  
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
#535771
"Thou Shalt Not..."
Original Air Date: November 15, 1989
Written by: Tammy Ader
Directed by: Randy Roberts
Leap date: February 2, 1974

This time: Sam leaps into a rabbi during a Bat Mitzvah. At the reception afterwards, he finds, Irene, Sam/Rabbi Basch’s sister-in-law, asking Joe, his brother, to dance, but he declines not wanting advice from his brother or his Rabbi. Al tells Sam that Irene is about to ruin her life by having an affair in thirty-six hours.

At dinner that night, things are tense already when the topic of Danny is brought up. He passed away years ago, but the family is clearly not ready to deal with it, not even holding a funeral service. Seeing that there is a lot of work to be done to keep the family together, Sam asks to spend the night. As Irene prepares a room, Danny’s former room, the two get close, convincing Sam that he is the man Irene has an affair with.

At a bake sale, Irene runs into Bert, the man she ended up dancing with at the Bat Mitzvah. He is writing a book about the loss of a loved one, having lost his wife earlier. At the same time, Sam meets with a woman who was not faithful to her husband after talking with Bert following the death of her own father.

Irene thanks Sam as both a rabbi and brother-in-law. They concoct a plan to go to a beach house over the weekend just her and Joe. This does not go over well with Joe who has work to do over the weekend. Furious, Irene runs off to the beach house by herself. Al shows up and tells Sam that Bert is a scammer, using the book as an excuse to seduce women. He was never even married! Realizing that Bert is the ones who Irene has an affair with, Sam rushes off.

Sam saves Irene from making the horrible mistake, only to be caught by Joe in an embrace with Sam. They two hash/punch it out and Bert’s book is never published after the truth about his methods comes out, courtesy of Irene. The family decides that it is time to have a funeral for Danny. Sam leaps …

… into someone getting ready for an interview. Looking in the mirror, he sees someone developmentally handicapped.

Stop talking to yourself: Sam reflects on the fun he had last leap, including meeting a rock legend.

Only Sam can see and hear: Al is beyond majorly instrumental with helping Sam survive a Bat Mitsvah both in terms of the required blessing and the ‘optional’ dancing afterwards. He also says that his relationships have always been great but no so with the marriages.

Mirror images that were not his own: In the opening moments of the episode, Sam sees himself in the mirror as a Bat Mitzvah happens all around him.

Brush with history: When someone starts choking in the bake sale, Sam assists him with breathing. The person he saves? Dr. Heimlich.

Let’s up the rating: For an episode centered around a one-night-stand, there’s not a whole lot of skin on display here.

One more time: “If all the men in all the world could freely … socialize with all the women in the world, there would be no war.” “Until their wives found out.” “Good point.”
Al and Sam discussing the virtues of monogamy.

The Rainbow Treknection: Years before being a potential love interest for Odo in Broken Link, the season four finale of Deep Space Nine, Jill Jacobson poured her heart out as Shirley to Sam Beckett as Rabbi Basch.

Put right what once went wrong: “Oh vey, I’m the rabbi.” This has a fantastic ending. The funeral service is shot and acted well. Moments feel organic and a blessing is sung. Joe comforts his daughter and the family is a strong, cohesive unit. It is a private ceremony, and the family reconciles, finally laying to rest a long-standing issue. Not much needs to be said and the actors say a lot without uttering a single word.

The final act is strong, too. All the parts come together, from Bert being a scumbag, to Joe getting his feelings out and recommitting to Irene, a fight between the brothers, all the pieces in the episode come together quite nicely. The beach house is a nice setup and change of pace from the suburbia we have seen earlier, and the dimly lit room is a nice tone along with the dark beach.

It is also refreshing that the villain is an older, less in shape guy who seduces women. This is not the typical villain we see in the media and is a nice change of pace. Him being found out leads to hastily covering his tracks, but it is too late. Solving an affair is a nice change of pace from solving a murder and there is a twist where Sam suspects he is the other person.

Pity the rest of the episode is so shoddy.

We do not even know who the main characters are until almost ten minutes in. The Bat Mitzvah is for Sam’s niece, but that is delivered with a throw away line. We get Sam and Joe’s relationship, though by that point, we have already met the characters and by then, it is just seems a little too late. There should not be a banner explaining the relationships of thedr main characters, but hidden in this scene, it is pretty possible to miss. It helps set up their dynamic, but we do not find out Irene is married to Joe until they are at the family house, and that is central to the plot.

On top of that, the acting is just horrible. The family members confuse despondency with blandness. There is some variation and emotion here and there, but it is not enough to really move the needle. At times it is incredibly boring to watch, particularly Joe who just seems tired instead of exasperated. They are getting over a loss, but they could have a little more energy, particularly after a family celebration.

How did Bert know that Irene would be at the beach house? How did he know where the beach house was? Why is Bert pulling off the same scam in the same town and getting away with it? There are too many coincidences and while there is a good ending, it takes too long to get there.
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By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Gamma Quadrant
 -  
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
#536203
Jimmy
Original Air date: November 22, 1989
Written by: Paul M. Belous & Robert Wolterstorff
Directed by: James Whitmore, Jr.
Leap date: October 14, 1964

This time: Sam leaps into someone getting ready for an interview. As Jimmy, his brother Frank worked hard to get an interview with Mr. Samuels at the dock. Looking in the mirror, Sam sees someone mentally handicapped. Frank is optimistic, but Connie, Frank’s wife, is nervous about Jimmy.

Al arrives and says that Jimmy has the mental IQ of a twelve-year-old. Ziggy is working on what Sam is there to do, but thinks he needs to mainstream Jimmy to prevent institutionalization.

On the job site, the dock workers pick on Sam. At the interview, Sam impresses Mr. Samuels and is hired. The first day goes well, but he takes his share of grief from the others, particularly a guy named Blue. The day continues to go bad when Sam/Jimmy gets involved with some of the kids in the neighborhood. It gets worse in the evening, even with Frank doubting him.

At work, Blue has some trouble not getting the numbers right on the crates. Later, while Sam is moping, there is an accident when some water is left on the floor causing an accident. Unfortunately, this means that Mr. Samuels has no choice but to let Jimmy go as a safety precaution. Frank stands with his brother in solidarity, but both are fired.

At home, Frank tells Connie the news. He will try to get another job, but he has to take Jimmy back to the institution, at least until he can get Jimmy another job. According to Al, that does not happen, and Jimmy lives out his life institutionalized. Unbeknownst to Frank, Sam steals the keys to the truck to get his job back. Unbeknownst to Sam, Frank’s son Corey follows though Connie and Frank hot on his trail.

At the dock, Sam confronts Mr. Samuels over Blue. Sam reveals Blue’s dyslexia and dishonesty, causing the brothers to be rehired and Blue to be fired. Blue retaliates, causing Corey to fall into the water. Frank recues him and Sam provides CPR. Frank is grateful and Connie accepts Jimmy. Sam leaps …

…. into a defense counsel on a murder trial.

Stop talking to yourself: Sam sees how fates are entirely predetermined. He also remarks how he never had a job interview and how loyal Frank is as a brother.

Only Sam can see and hear: Al is a staunch supporter of Sam throughout the episode, being a shoulder to cry on as well as support.

Mirror images that were not his own: Shortly after being told to get dressed for his interview, Sam sees Jimmy looking back at him in the mirror.

Brush with history: Sam tells Corey the story of Star Wars as a bedtime story.

It’s a science project: Sam recommends that the roast defrost in the microwave, but they weren’t commercially available at this point.

One more time: “I can’t do anything right. I feel like I’m hurting Jimmy more than helping him.”
Sam to Al being exasperated.

The Rainbow Treknection: None of the guest cast appeared in Trek, but Whitmore directed a pair of Enterprise episodes.

Trivial Matter: Some years ago, a group of scientists tried to pass the Turing Test. They had subjects communicate with a computer thinking it was an actual person. They chose a twelve-year-old boy specifically because he could claim to know everything but not be expected to know anything.

Put right what once went wrong: “I’m slow, sir, not deaf.” After covering racial diversity and gender diversity, how can you do diversity among Caucasians? This seems to be the result of that prospect and is particularly rough on Sam.

Picking a mentality of a twelve-year-old is genius. Al explicitly tells Sam not to do anything differently, but it takes a deep toll on Sam. He just cannot seem to do anything right, even the simplest tasks. It eats Sam with nearly everyone in the cast being aggravated with him at one point or another. Al has a personal stake in it, having an experience with abuse of the mentally disabled.

The acting is entirely on point. Laura Harrington’s Connie is trying to be a patient wife and mother, but even she has her limits. Connected to Jimmy by marriage, she lets him stay for Frank, but can only go so far. The dinner table scene is great when Sam accidentally breaks a dish. Connie says it is all right but her tone and body language speak otherwise. As Corey, Ryan McWhorter does typical kid stuff, but is admirable. His chronological age is similar to Jimmy’s mental age, giving them a fun link. Michael Alldredge and Michael Madsen as Mr. Samuels and Blue receptively represent the dock workers, but those are collectively some of the best extras. One even gives Sam the side eye when talking to Al.

John D'Aquino is fantastic as Frank. He has a balancing act with Connie, being the loving husband and brother. He has a balancing act with the dockworkers, being a college and brother. He even has problems with Jimmy, but you can see the bond that the two share. You can see it breaks his heart when he has to take Jimmy back.

Too bad the ending does not make sense. Sam endangers Corey. That alone should sour Connie. He also stole a truck, which should sour Frank, even if they got their jobs back. Speaking of which, why does Mr. Samuels listen to Jimmy anyway? He has been fired and Jimmy’s made more than his share of mistakes in aa many days. There is no way this should work.

Still, there is a good portrayal of a working-class family in the sixties. The acting is great, and the drama is there with a great way to spend the hour.
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By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Gamma Quadrant
 -  
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
#537023
So Help Me God
Original Air Date: November 29, 1989
Written by: Deborah Pratt
Directed by: Andy Cadiff
Leap Date: July 29, 1957

This time: Sam leaps into a defense counsel on a murder trial. He enters plea of not guilty, triggering an uproar. The judge has both counsels come to his office.

As Leonard Dancy, he is defending Deliah Berry, an African American housekeeper, from the murder of her boss’s son. Prior to the leap, Leonard struck a plea bargain, but now that is off the table.

Sam gets a ride home from The Captain, the deceased’s father and someone with undue influence over the town. The father is distressed but encourages/threatens Sam to think about it. Leonard’s betrothed also tries to convince Sam to reconsider, mainly to join the country club.

Al shows up not entirely sure what Sam is there to do. For his part, Sam is invested in proving Delilah’s innocence, certain that there is more going on that it appears. Visiting his client in jail, Sam goes over the confession. He tries to get more information, but she is adamant, and loud, about her guilt. At the Police Station, Sam throws his weight around and gets the documentation for the case.

He goes to the victims’ house to speak with Myrtle, one of Delilah’s former coworkers. At first slow to recount to details, but Delilah and Houston, the victim, had a very rocky relationship. She did not witness the events directly but claims that Houston was abusive to Delilah. Despite having crucial information, Myrtle refuses to testify.

In court, Sam complains that the all-white jury will not give an African American a fair trial in the deep south. The problem is that to serve as juror, you must be a registered voter. There not being one, Sam is forced to consider the jury Delilah’s equals. There is an issue with the admissibility of the confession; it was made under duress and when looking at it, Delilah is illiterate and cannot read the confession.

Sam is convinced Delilah is trying to protect someone else, when Myrtle shows up, claiming involvement from The Captain but offering no other details. Leonard calls Sadie to the stand. The court is uneasy at putting a grieving widow on the stand, but Sam produces a subpoena. Under oath, Sadie confesses to seeing Houston attack Delilah and Sadie shooting him in response.

Finally innocent, Delilah jumps on a bus out of town. Leonard got accolades and both wish each other off. Sam leaps …

…Into the makeup chair. He is rushed to the stage as the curtain opens.

Fact check: Sam initially objects on the grounds that Delilah was not read her Miranda Rights. Problem is, they will not exist for another few years.

Stop talking to yourself: Sam revels in making the right choice at the right time. He also has an instant dislike to The Captain.

Only Sam can see and hear: With Sam’s legal knowledge is explicitly Perry Mason, Al is useful in filling in the gaps.

Mirror images that were not his own: In the judge’s chambers, Sam sees himself sweating like a pig.

Something or someone: While some triggers for the leap can seem arbitrary, here, Sam gets a chance to see Delilah off.

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow: Leonard is freaking out all night at the prospect of being in the future.

Let’s up the rating: Judge Haller sees how someone like Delilah can cloud the judgement of someone like Leonard. Also, his fiancé lets Leonard play Rhett Butler.

One more time: “Beau, I’m defending a woman accused of murder. Now, if you and Sheriff Lobo don’t start cooperating with me, I’m going to get a U.S. District Judge to subpoena your files and charge you both with obstructing justice.”
Sam, putting his legal acumen to use.

The Rainbow Treknection: Decades after playing Federation undersecretary Nilz Baris, William Shallert plays Judge Haller.

Put right what once went wrong: “Damn it Leonard, she’s guilty.” “You’re going to have to prove it.” Your enjoyment of this will depend on how much a fan of a courtroom drama you are, but this is one compelling episode. You get the sense that Sam is Delilah’s last hope of getting through the case, that he leaped in at the last possible moment.

There are great moments in and near the courtroom. Partly learning as he goes, Sam does a more than admirable job at defending Delilah. At times, he even has to defend her from herself. He knows that the deck is stacked against him with the whole town practically ready to render a guilty verdict. Sam is quick to learn and proves to be a force. As Judge Haller, Schallert is good at letting Sam have a fair trial.

As with The Color of Truth, the guest cast does a great job of painting in a tapestry to set the stage. Kathleen Noone is supportive as Sadie, at least initially and in public later. She is very stoic in her final confession. Bryne Piven is pleasantly smarmy as The Captain. You see through his southern charm early, but Sam has to go through the support he has from the town. The acting is aces all around, even with the extras going above and beyond, particularly when Sam goes to The Captain’s mansion.

This has to be a period piece and it brings back some of the darkest moments in our history. Everyone pulled out all the stops to give us another great hour of television.
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By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Gamma Quadrant
 -  
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
#537718
"Catch A Falling Star"
Original Air Date: December 6, 1989
Witten by: Paul Brown
Directed by: Donald P. Bellisario
Leap Date: May 21, 1979

This time: Sam leaps into a makeup chair. The stage manager rushes him to the stage as the curtain opens. Thankfully, he is an understudy, Ray Hutton. Unfortunately, the lead actor, John O’Malley, star of Don Quixote’s touring production, is quite a fan on the bottle but does show up in time.

Al arrives just in time to watch the opening number. As it turns out, in three days, O’Malley will trip on some stairs to his death. Sam just has to make sure he does not go on for that performance.

Sam sees his old piano teacher, Nicole, his first crush from when he was fifteen. He believes he has a chance to reconnect with her, but she will only know him as Ray, and it appears those two did have a somewhat romantic history. She is there to understudy for Dulcinea, the female lead. The current actress in that role, Michelle, is worried about being more permanently replaced.

At a rehearsal, O’Malley manages to have Nicole play Dulcinea at a local benefit performance. Michelle is upset, to the point where she insinuates that Nicole is sleeping with O’Malley, even recruiting another actor, Manny to put the finishing touches on the ruse.

Nicole figures out what happened second hand and is devastated. Sam and Nicole prepare for their performance while they reconcile as O’Malley finally shows up. He is drunk and trips … but is caught by Sam, something that must have been exciting for the audience. After the performance, he leaps …

… into a graveyard. Looking around, a woman appears as if out of nowhere.

Stop talking to yourself: Sam quotes The Bard about theatre.

Only Sam can see and hear: Al turns out to be quite the fan of musicals. Acting helped get him out of the orphanage. He also shows up at rehearsal with the script, useful for Sam who has a photographic memory.

Mirror images that were not his own: Upon leap in, Sam is looking straight into a makeup mirror. This must be a record.

Brush with history: Not really a person, but the writers get their money’s worth out of licensing Man of LaMancha.

Something or someone: After saving O’Malley, Sam does not leap until the end of the performance. Someone or Something must be a connoisseur of the arts.

It’s a science project: Cold cream is great for cleansing stage makeup and an unknown substance (which is probably not peanut butter) takes care of spirit gum.

Let’s up the rating: As Nicole gets fitted, the costumer tells her not to have the shawl too high and we get a shot of cleavage.

One more time: “I am John O’Malley. After seven hundred and seventy-three performances of Don Quixote I shall … not sally forth tonight.”
O’Malley, after his fall.

Trivial Matters: Ernie Sebella has a small role in this as Manny who plays Sancho, one of the leads. You may remember him as the manager of the Malibu Sands Beach House from Saved by the Bell or as Pumba.

In a rare instance of breaking the fourth wall, the closing credits are played over a curtain call. Bakula, Stockwell, Bellisario, Watt, they all take bows and get accolades, along with other members of the crew.

Put right what once went wrong: “You were an actor.” “Don’t say it like it’s a disease. Acting is the world’s second oldest profession.” The acting in this episode is amazing. This show has casting in the bag, though that is necessary. Normally, you can have a weak link in the guest cast or even a weak guest cast. As long as your series leads hold up, you are all set. Not so much with this series, though it’s not a surprise that a bunch of actors would be most comfortable and best as playing a bunch of actors and crew.

And the acting is great. We get several performances from the opening and closing numbers to “What do you want of me.” Michelle Pawk is great at that number. The only solo song in the episode, she cannot rely on the ensemble and conveys a great range of emotions. She has some great scenes with Sam as well; those two have great chemistry. John Cullum plays O’Malley to drunken perfection. He has a storied history on stage and screen and crates quite the impression. He is in top shape throughout the hour. Really, the actors are all great in their supporting roles.

Too bad the script is so poor. The story goes all around, from a love story to a love pentagram to an episode of Quantum Leap. There is little in terms of resolution. We see the aftereffects of the various loves, but those do not as much not get followed up on as they simply go away. Sam and Michelle have a bit of a fling, but that is not followed up on. Sam saves O’Mally and then sticks around for the performance for no compellingly good reason the show can be bothered to explain.

Worst of all, we have seen what happens when Sam tries to interfere with his own history. It is odd for him to argue the losing point with Al, particularly when neither of them really has any say in the matter. At no point do they consider Michelle’s feelings at all and it is icky to have Sam make out with someone while she thinks he is someone else.

So much great acting talent wasted.
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