Original Air date: January 17, 1990
Written by: Paul Brown & Donald P. Bellisario
Directed by: John Cullum
Leap date: November 6, 1962
This time: Sam leaps into the football field at the start of a play. Though little fault of his own, he winds up winning the game. He is Eddie Vega, one of the two players worth their salt on the team along with Chuey Martinez, Eddie’s best friend. There is much rejoicing, particularly Eddie’s dad and Chuey’s mom outside at a concession stand along with a sleazy looking guy in the stands who wins a bet.
Eddie and Chuey have a pact to go to the same school on football scholarships and Chuey is excited that the scouts saw the game. At the afterparty, Al finds out Chuey’s mother is in America illegally. Not only that, but Chuey will throw the championship game, and his future, for reasons unknown.
The sleazy guy from the game is Reuben, landlord of Chuey’s mom. She is short on rent and he has … other ways she can pay. Seeing the lay of the land, Sam tries to talk Rueben off, but it does not work as he is in the body of a high school senior. Reuben is a big-time gambler of local football and basketball games.
In the locker room after the game, Reuben bullies Cheuy into throwing the game to make up for the rent. Rueben will only bet on a sure thing and Chuey cannot promise a win, but he can guarantee a loss, and is willing to throw for a few months on the rent. Sam comes in and the three brawl, only to be broken up by the coach. Sam tries to convince Chuey to win but is told not to throw the ball to him.
At the game, Chuey overdramatizes a recovery from a tackle effectively benching himself. Down 9-14, Al gets Sam to bench himself, going into solidarity with his best friend. Chuey heads onto the field while asking Sam not to throw him the ball though Al tells Sam to do exactly that. They lose… kidding, they wind up winning.
Rueben shows up with a posse at the afterparty to evict the Martinez family. Eddie’s dad offers to pay the rent but Chuey’s mother refuses that offer. Sam tells the movers to put their belongings in the Vega home, thus bringing the families together. Rueben threatens immigration, but the Vegas are citizens, meaning that Chuey’s mom will automatically become a citizen. Sam leaps …
… outside a home. A woman gets out and they get into a car, which is shortly pelted by bullets.
Fact Check: This episode predicted the Steelers being in Super Bowl XXX.
Stop talking to yourself: Sam realizes that at times, a few minutes of observation can be of more use than Ziggy.
Only Sam can see and hear: Unlike most episodes where Al appears after Sam has a chance to flounder around in his new body, here he is on the scene right from the teaser.
Mirror images that were not his own: Sam sees Eddie Vega while in the locker room.
Brush with history: Needing to do a warmup, Sam blares some music and does Jane Fonda proud.
Something or someone: Sam and Al wonder if Sam is supposed to win the game at the top of the episode and anticipate a leap out afterwards. Since the episode is longer than five minutes, that does not happen.
It’s a science project: This series has several instances where Sam’s abilities are of use to his host. This episode has an instance of the other way where he is an amazing football player is both sending and receiving.
Let’s up the rating: Several scenes are in a high school boys locker room as evidenced by two guys is towels wacking each other with towels. Considering that most everyone else is in their uniforms, even some in helmets, one wonders exactly how quickly they changed.
One more time: “I want you to stay away from Chuey and his mom.” “I don’t think I heard you, punk.” “I’ll write it down if you can read.”
Sam and Rueben giving each other the business.
Trivial Matters: Two weeks after guest starring in Catch a Falling Star, John Cullum directs this episode.
Put right what once went wrong: ”Vega! In thirty-two years of coaching that was the ugliest pass I ever saw.” “Yeah Coach I…” “But I loved it! ROAR, jaguars!” The balance if off with this episode. The parts themselves work out well, but the family drama does not mix well with the sports saga which does not mix well with the high school drama. They don’t repel each other they just do not really sit well with each other.
It is a real pity since the pieces are well put together. The scenes with the family are great. We get the chemistry between Eddie’s dad and Chuey’s mom. The two very much sell that they are bound to be together. Chuey is played to perfection and is very believable as a high school student. We get the sense of him being in a tight spot and you can see it in his performance. It is a nice contrast to his high highs at several points in the game. The family drama scenes are well played with Rueben doing everything but twirl his mustache.
The locker room scenes do not fare quite as well. Rueben sneaks in and while there is some lip service, there had to be a better way to do that scene. The coach comes in when the script demands it, and the coach works well but generally seems to just be there as the plot requires.
There are a lot of sequences in this episode and Cullum did an excellent job. There are sports sequences that must work out and there is even a dance montage in there for good measure as well. Each part works well, they just do not seem as though they belong together.
It is hard to say how the writers could have tipped the scales to make this episode work better. We go through an entire week, although there is a lot we skip for some reason. Usually, leaps are a couple days. There is not a whole lot I would like to cut but this was before episodes could just get another fifteen minutes or a half hour when they needed it. Even if that was an option, this may not have been the episode to do it with. It still is a good one to watch.