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.