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By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Gamma Quadrant
 -  
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
#548340
The Leap Home, Part I
Original Air Date: September 25, 1990
Directed by: Joe Napolitano
Written by: Donald P. Bellisario
Leap Date: November 26, 1969

This time: Sam leaps into a cornfield. It is a familiar sight to him as is one of the cheerleaders nearby who asks him out. He has leaped into himself, albeit a younger version. He is beyond ecstatic to see his mom, dad and kid sister Katie. Most of all, his older brother, Tom, is alive.

At dinner with the family, they discuss an upcoming basketball game. Al shows up and Sam excuses himself from Homemade Peach Cobbler. The upcoming basketball game is against their archrivals which Sam’s team originally lost. If they had won, they would have been state champs. Sam does not want to leave that quickly, tough. His dad will die in a few years and Katie winds up with an abusive alcoholic.

The next morning, he puts a plan into effect, making things healthier for his father. No cigarettes, decaf coffee, and a carb/cholesterol free breakfast. Dad does not take to the changes well, or at all, despite Sam trying to convince the family otherwise, particularly Katie who tastes skim milk and makes that yuck face. He initially thinks of skipping basketball practice but is convinced to go, more to see his buddies than prepare for the game.

At practice, Coach is eager to win the game and he brings in an outsider to get the team in the right mindset. Wearing a gorilla mask, the ringer keeps the team on their toes. As it turns out, Sam was playing against Tom!

While hunting, Sam tries to talk Tom out of Vietnam. This is hard for Tom to accept, even with Sam making good points to the contrary. When all seems lost, Sam tells Tom that he can see the future and offers proof. At first, the family indulges Sam, but Katie breaks down with the thought of Tom’s death.

After Thanksgiving dinner, Sam and Tom shoot some hoops and Tom gives Sam some pointers. Sam senses the rivalry against the other team and gets Tom to promise that if Sam wins the game, Tom will avoid service on the day of his death ,which Tom agrees to.

Sam is victorious, using the technique Tom showed, and wins the game. Unfortunately, Al finds out that Tom still dies in Vietnam. Sam leaps …

… into a swamp and is quickly ambushed along with his troop. He is in Vietnam and his brother Tom is alive.

Stop talking to yourself: Sam has a sense of déjà vu when leaping into himself.

Only Sam can see and hear: Al thinks of what he could do with his current mind in a sixteen year old body. Also, his handlink acts up in the end and takes a little too long to tell him that Tom will still die.

Mirror images that were not his own: Sam sees himself in his front door’s window and in the barn’s mirror, around the house.

Brush with history: When talking to Katie, Sam tutors her on the lingo and accidentally tells her that the Beatles will break up.

It’s a science project: Tom tells Sam to get into his opponents face while making a jump shot. Seems like a great way to make a foul, but it works.

Let’s up the rating: There are basketball practice and a match. If you like your guys young and dripping with sweat, this is the episode for you.

One more time: “You don’t believe you’re here to help your family?” “Of course I do.” “Then why are you worried about leaping if you win the game?”
A convicted Al trying to convince Sam

The Rainbow Treknection: After playing Sam’s mother, Caroline Kava saved Worf’s life in Ethics as Dr. Toby Russell.

Trivial Matters: Scott Bakula pulls a double role as Sam and Sam’s father. The prosthetics and acting are workable, but he is listed as a guest star in his own series. One must wonder what those contract negotiations were like.

Additionally, the listing is “Scott Bakula as his father” leaving us to wonder if he is playing Sam’s father or Scott’s.

For the closing credits, we are treated to a reprise of Bakula’s “Imagine” cover.

Put right what once went wrong: “You’re not changing their future, Sam. You’re just making their present miserable.” Sometimes you just need a simple episode and everything else will work itself out. This is mainly remembered for being all about Tom, but that does not give enough credit to the rest of the cast. Tom does not even show up until twenty minutes in.

So much of this episode works well. Sam has a fantastic reunion with his family. As much as we see the bond with Tom, we also see the bond he shares with Katie. There are scenes around the farm, a breakfast table scene that feels very authentic. Sam is trying to get his dad to live a healthier lifestyle while his mom is making sure Katie is not too far out. The lines overlap and it feels just like any other family. We have a nice montage over Thanksgiving and everything.

David Newsome is likeable as all heck as Tom. You have a southern boy raised right on the cusp of manhood just back from his first year in college. Olivia Burnette is no slouch as Katie and has remarkable chemistry with Bakula. Carolina Kava does not have as much to do as the matriarch, but she takes charge when she needs to and holds the family together. As his father, Bakula does an admirable job in the double role not especially eager to fully adopt the healthier lifestyle and making sure Sam does his chores while being the supportive father.

As great as it is for Sam and Tom to get along, Sam and Al have another scuffle. This time, Sam is in the driver’s seat and Al at first is darn near confrontational but does listen to Sam. It is a fun twist on the second season finale. Later he is conciliatory but is a great outsider and friend to Sam, giving him what he needs to win the game. Their conversation early on goes to the core of the series.

Music is not something I usually bring up, but we have the main theme played on the harmonica at the start of the hour and it helps ground us is what we have in store. Of course Sam was not successful in getting Tom to stay alive which leads us to a rare cliffhanger for this series.
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By The Guardian (Richard New)
 - Second Edition Design Manager
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2E World Quarter-Finalist 2021
#548612
This is such a good episode (the premiers and finales every season usually are). Sam lamenting that he can help everyone but the people he loves... Right in the feels.
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By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Gamma Quadrant
 -  
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
#548791
The Guardian wrote:This is such a good episode
Total agreement.
The Guardian wrote:(the premiers and finales every season usually are).
Without getting too far ahead of things, the key word is usually.
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By Boffo97 (Dave Hines)
 - Gamma Quadrant
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Moderator
#548794
Scott Bakula series finales do not have a good reputation... at least not for me. ;)
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By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Gamma Quadrant
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Continuing Committee Member - Retired
#549415
The Leap Home (Part 2) – Vietnam
Original air date: October 5, 1990
Written by: Donald P. Bellisario
Directed by: Michael Zinberg
Leap date: April 7, 1970

This time: Sam leaps into a swamp and is quickly ambushed along with his troop. He is in Vietnam and his brother Tom is alive. The squad arrives back at base where the Commanding Officer, Grimwald, is chatting up reporter Maggie Dawson. The guys pull a prank on her and head on out to a local bar.

He is Herbert Williams, A.K.A. Magic, the squads good luck charm. Al confirms the date, meaning that Tom will die the next day. Technically he is not there to save Tom; Ziggy believes that Sam just has to make the mission succeed. There is also little to go on beyond a code name of Lazarus. After Sam leaves, Al listens in on the operation. Their mission is upriver and involves a local defector woman named T.T.

At the bar, the squad is flirting with Dawson when Al looks up a photo essay of Dawson’s and finds out that there will be a sneak attack that night killing Grimwald. Sam makes the choice to tell the squad even though if he saves Grimwald, he might leap out before he can save Tom.

The guys mobilize but apart from Maggie sneaking out to get a shot (earning her being put under the armed watch of T.T.) there is no action. Al is flummoxed as to how Sam changed history since it was too dark for the other side to see that they were prepared. Sam is chewed out offscreen and tries radioing in as such, but the radio is turned to the wrong frequency. This will probably be important later.

Maggie seduces Sam to be taken on Lazarus. To Al’s surprise, Sam agrees. Al later finds out that if Maggie comes on the mission, she will write an article which can be pulled from the archives. It turns out that the mission is to rescue some P.O.W.s though Al cannot pull the article because Maggie died on the mission.

Maggie sneaks off while the squad goes out to complete their mission. Al tells Sam where the P.O.W.s are, but Sam has a radio they intercepted. It is set to the same radio frequency that Sam saw in the bunker meaning that T.T. is a double-agent. Just as she is about to shoot Tom, Sam shoots her. The squad leaves to avoid an ambush but Maggie hits a land mine handing off her camera before dying.

At the bar, Sam saved Tom but lost Maggie. Al and a bunch of the other guys try to take the heat off Sam, but Grimwald brings in Maggie’s final photos. It turns out she got some Pulitzer for her final picture, of the P.O.W.s being led back to holding, one of whom is Al! Tom looks at his watch and realizes that it is past his reported day of death. He tanks Sam while looking straight at him. Sam leaps …

… into a priest with a smooching couple right in front of him.

Stop talking to yourself: Sam marvels at how he can leap back to help his brother. Later, he wonders why everything has not been resolved.

Only Sam can see and hear: Al was in the Navy as well, but ship based life was different from the Seals.

Mirror images that were not his own: While getting dressed, Sam sees Magic in the mirror as well as later at the local watering hole.

It’s a science project: Al helps Sam with his gun, with a rapid-fire mount and general Navy stuff.

Let’s up the rating: Maggie knows how to flirt and pour cold water on the boys. She also hopes that her getting ready for bed does not bother Sam which it does not though it does get Al’s attention.

One more time: “You’ve got Top Secret Clearance.” “And it took place over twenty-five years ago.”
Sam wondering why Al cannot get classified data from his own department and Al telling Sam how hard it is.

The Rainbow Treknection: Not necessarily a Trek star, but we have Andrea Thompson following Claudia Christensen’s lead in playing Dawson. Thompson was Talia Winters for the first couple seasons of Babylon 5.

Trivial Matters: This being the second half of a two parter we start the episode with rare a ‘previously on’ segment.

Thompson is not the only person in this episode who would go onto greater fame later. Tia Carrere plays T.T. while Patrick Walburton is Blaster, one of the guys in the squad.

Part one was titled ‘The Leap Home” this episode adds a dash with the word Vietnam.

Put right what once went wrong: “I kind of like to think of us as academy men as fraternity brothers, don’t you?” “And not during the army-navy game, sir.” This is a two parter with two very different parts. Whereas last week we saw Sam with his family, this week we have a war drama.

Thankfully, this show does what it does best by showing off the characters early. We get a sense of how tight knit the guys are with them pulling a prank on their C.O. and Dawson is established to handle things on her end. It is helpful to see this before they go off to fight.

The only constant between these two hours is Tom. No longer the big brother who was in his hometown, he is the squad leader. He and Sam have a touching moment harkening back to the promise he made to his little brother. There is a good contrast between the two and David Newsome has another fantastic performance to show off his range.

Best of all, Al has a chance to put his navy training to use. Out of date but still with the knowledge to help Sam get through the basics. There are some heart wrenching discussions between the two as they frantically try to figure out how to save everyone. Plus, there is a great scene on the helicopter where Al is just standing in midair. He also tells Sam that he kept his wits about him in captivity. It is a nice way to harken back to the season two finale for both characters along with a bonus of foreshadowing the ending.

The writing is pretty strong, but the plotting takes a few hits in the end. Why does the land mine not completely obliterate Dawson? How is her camera still in one piece let alone able to have film that can be developed? Still, it does lead us to Tom’s revelation to tie everything together.
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By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Gamma Quadrant
 -  
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
#550173
Leap of Faith
Original Air Date: October 12, 1990
Directed by: James Whitmore, Jr.
Story by: Nick Harding, Karen Hall and Tommy Thompson
Teleplay by: Tommy Thompson
Leap Date: August 19, 1963

This time: Sam leaps into a priest with a smooching couple right in front of him. After the service, the Monticello sisters give Sam some critiques. Sam, who has leapt into Father Frank Pistano, is saved by Father John Roberts. Father John is quite a fan of ‘liquid courage’ and will soon be presiding over the funeral of a twelve-year-old, one that he baptized. Officially, the death is an accident, but Father John is not so sure.

At the funeral, most parishioners are mourning, but a young man named Tony snatches a hood ornament on his way to the service while his young brother Joey acts as the lookout.

Tony’s presence causes quite a change in the tenor of the service. Things escalate when he offers his sympathy to the grieving mother, but it does not go well, and Father Frank eventually order that the two leave. Joey tries to express remorse but cannot bring himself to do so.

Al shows up to connect the dots. Tony was involved in a lethal robbery and there were two witnesses involved. One is the young man who was buried and the other is Father John. The trial is in two days and Father John will not make it.

Sam goes to a seedier part of town to talk to Tony. Tony clearly is involved in an attempt on Father John but will not admit to it in public. Father John arrives and a fight ensues. Later, Sam has a chance to talk with Father John and discovers that in addition to reliance on alcohol, Father John was a Chaplin in the war and has that is influencing him somewhat, possibly to the point of trauma.

Joey sneaks into the church to talk to Sam. Joey initially wants Sam to get Father John not to testify. Sam cannot do that but finds out that Tony’s father is dead, and Tony has never been the same since.

Taking confession in place of Father John, Tony tries to shoot Sam. Sam has a feeling something is going on and manages to avoid most of the blow, but he is grazed. Father John goes after Tony while Sam recovers (perhaps due to a prayer from Al?) and realizes that he must stop Father John from killing Tony.

Father John holds Tony at gunpoint on the same tracks where the twelve-year-old was killed. Father John confesses that he did not witness the murder. He lied to support the other witness and intended to recant his account after the trial. Sam is able to talk Father John out of it.

Sam later consoles the now sober Father John. Al tells Sam that Tony does time but turns out all right as do Joey and Father John who are bonding. Sam leaps …

… into a photographer face to face with a lion.

Stop talking to yourself: Sam has his shortest soliloquy yet talking about how leaping requires a bit of faith.

Only Sam can see and hear: Al appears before and after the funeral service outside the church. One wonders if he was standing there the entire time.

Mirror images that were not his own: In the office with Father John, Sam sees a novice (but you young) Father Frank looking back at him.

Brush with history: Upon hearing that a young boxer has to miss practice due to work at a butcher shop, Sam tells him about a movie where a guy practiced on raw meat. The young man’s locker is labeled “S. Stallone.”

Something or someone: Despite making sure that Father John spares Tony, Sam does not leap until the next morning where he merely checks in with Father John.

One more time: “We hardly noticed the shaky legs.” “Or your heavy breathing.” “Or the sweaty palms. “Or the crack in your voice.”
The Montachelli sisters giving Sam some critiques on officiating his first wedding.

Let’s up the rating: At the bar, Tony asks his girl if she has something to give to the father and tells Sam that she has already given a lot that day.

Put right what once went wrong: “Do you want to talk about what happened today?” “No, but I got the feeling you do.” This is an amazing character piece with three fantastic actors, two of whom are young.

Going chronologically, we have Joey. Played authentically by Davey Roberts, there is a lot that this kid goes through. Being a lookout for his brother, asking for a light, finding out his father may have committed suicide, the hour has a lot for him to do. Roberts is vey authentic not winking at the camera. Everything he does is for the love of his brother and you get the sense that these two just have each other. He is thirteen going on forty.

Tony is played with perfect New York swarm. He is capable of very bad acts and the show did a fantastic job of introducing him stealing something from a car and then crashing the funeral of someone he murdered. There is also a vulnerable side with Joey. We see the guy who can murder a priest, but we also see someone looking out for his young brother. Danny Nucco turns out a terrific performance.

Father John is the center of all this. No one knows he is an alcoholic and Sam realizes that there are some very real demons he is facing. We find out about the war and how much Father John cares for his congregation. The scenes with him and Sam are not just business or religion; these two are deep friends. The transformation from priest to drunkard to murderer is one that you can see develop over the course of the hour. He is not too preachy, but Sandy McPeak pours his heart out.

James Whitmore Jr got a bit heavy handed with the directing (the thunderstorms are a little too convenient and the boxing metaphor is just too cleanly set up) but just lets the actors do their thing. Tommy Thompson did a great job fully fleshing out and writing his, Karen Hall and Nick Harding’s story.
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By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Gamma Quadrant
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Continuing Committee Member - Retired
#551175
"One Strobe Over The Line"
Original Air Date: October 19, 1990
Written by: Chris Ruppenthal
Directed by: Michael Zinberg
Leap Date: June 15, 1965

This time: Sam leaps into a photographer face to face with a lion. He is photographer extraordinaire, Karl. Also on set are up and coming model Edie and Helen, Edie’s agent. Edie is having problems keeping at it (the ad executive, Byron, is ready to replace her) so Helen gives her some pills.

The shoot ends quickly, and Sam gives Edie a lift home. It turns out she is not planning on modeling forever. She hopes to buy her dad some farm equipment, put her sister through school and become a vet one day. The two bond over similar situations and families. Al arrives and tells Sam that the ad agency is teetering on bankruptcy. In three and a half days, Edie dies in a combination of pills and alcohol.

Sam fumbles his way through the next days’ shoot, with a huge thanks to Karl’s assistant and Al. Edie needs some more pills from Helen, particularly since there is a dinner with some big kahunas that night. At dinner, Sam notices Edie is not eating but drinking quite a bit. Helen also calls Sam away to make out, something that the two engage in quite often, but this time Sam refuses. Helen comes clean about the drugs but after being confronted, she threatens Edie.

At Edie’s apartment, Edie confesses to being addicted. Sam offers to help her get clean. One sober montage later and they are ready for the shoot. Edie and the lion are showing signs of fatigue, but Sam is at least able to provide coffee to the former though not before Helen sneaks in some pills.

Edie gets into the shoot to the point where she indulges in some champagne and has the idea to antagonize the lion. A chase ensues but Sam is able to fend off the animal. Sam confronts Helen and finds out about the drugs Edie is taking. Sam needs her to be engaged and moving to get the drugs out of her system. Everyone leaves Helen alone, Edie goes back to her farm. Sam leaps …

… into a man with candlelight reading a book from 1898.

Stop talking to yourself: While leaping can be like photography, leaping does not quite make one a professional photographer.

Only Sam can see and hear: Surprisingly, Al appreciates photography. Unsurprisingly, he likes the ones with hot models.

Mirror images that were not his own: Needing to take a break after coming face to face with a lion, Sam sees Karl in the dressing area mirror.

Brush with history: This category is usually reserved for Sam, but an ad executive makes reference to Cheryl Tiegs or Twiggy.

It’s a science project: There is an art to photography, but Al seems to think that Sam can just have attitude and have his assistant do the set up/tear down.

Let’s up the rating: There are two women featured in this episode and both of them try to seduce Sam.

One more time: “How do you feel?” “Fine.” “That’s interesting because you seem like a country girl tired from a long day of milking cows.”
Helen being not exactly supportive with Edie.

The Rainbow Treknection: After guest starring as Edie, Marjorie Monaghan guest starred as Number One on Babylon 5. In between, she was Freya on Voyagers’ “Heroes and Demons”

Trivial Matters: Edie either has seven cats or five cats two of which are able to move around without making a sound, change the color of their fur and gain weight in an instant.

Al says that Edie dies due to a combination of drugs and alcohol. The episode implies that she is eaten by a lion which is a far cry from an overdose.

Put right what once went wrong: “Just think of them like aspirin. They’ll make you feel better. And I promise you won’t ever have to take them again. Come on, I cross my heart.” The eighties and nineties had all sorts of episode about drug addiction. Well maybe Little House on the Prairie avoided that but Star Trek: The Next Generation had a couple to make up for it. They generally ran the gamut from good to not good.

This hour features a strong sequence of Edie trying to sober up. The score gets downright Hitchcockian while Monaghan plays the effects perfectly. It starts out where she cannot get comfortable leading to paranoia and later, she frantically searches for her pills. Finally, she conks out for over a day. It is an amazingly effective sequence that is all to familiar to anyone who has to get clean or anyone who knows someone who is getting clean.

Monaghan and Bakula have fantastic chemistry together. Acting is tough especially in a show like Quantum Leap where you rotate your cast every episode but here that works since this is the first time these two characters have met. It is a pleasure to see them work together.

The rest seems to be there to support the drug plot. The abandonment of Helen, the photo shoot, a montage of a photo shoot, a dinner scene. All effective (more or less) but also window dressing. It is very good watchable window dressing but window dressing nonetheless through it is fun to see Bakula direct a photography session. The ad execs never really gel and Helen’s seduction of Sam/Karl kind of pops up out of nowhere and disappears as quickly but the tentpole is strong and the rest is supportive.
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By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Gamma Quadrant
 -  
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
#552034
The Boogieman
Original Air Date: October 26, 1990
Written by: Chris Ruppenthal
Directed by: Joe Napolitano
Leap Date: October 31, 1964

This time: Sam leaps into a man with candlelight reading a book from 1879. Wondering exactly when he is, he looks around the house and, on a stairway landing, is accosted by two spooky figures causing him to tumble down the stairs.

They are Stevie, his assistant and Mary, his fiancée. He is Joshua Rey, occult author extraordinaire. They rouse him but soon Stevie has to leave. Mary has a talk with Sam about killing off a character in an upcoming work. Apparently, there is not much for the story or character without that happening.

A man named Tully is working on one of the upstairs windows. Sam goes to talk with him, noting a goat at the foot of the ladder. Soon, Tully falls to his death. In recounting things to Sheriff Masters, there is problem since there are not any goats in the area. Al shows up and says that Mary is found dead that night in their house. Sam/Josh was the prime suspect, but Sam will not do that. Mary was the only other person at the house and is Al’s prime suspect.

Town gossip Dorothy comes over for a visit and is attacked by a deadly pet snake when alone in the kitchen. Mary is spooked as is Sam, especially when the typewriter upstairs is seemingly updating a manuscript with the deaths. Al confronts Sam about Mary being the killer and Mary overhears leading her to confront Sam. A skull flies off a shelf and Mary has a seizure.

Sam and Al go to Mary’s house to find evidence one way or the other but run into the suspicious Sheriff Masters. Both suspect the other but neither has proof, though Masters does glance at Al’s general direction at times.

Driving home, a freak accident with a car following him, a cat, a goat and Stevie result in Sam swerving off the road. In the aftermath, Sam cannot find the goat or the cat. Stevie explains that his car stalled, and he was stranded, though that does not explain why he put on a pumpkin mask to flag down a passing driver.

Suspecting something afoot, Sam goes to the hospital only to find a crashed police cruiser on the way there with Masters dead. Back at his house, Sam finds the Sheriff’s truck outside along with Stevie telling him that Masters and Mary are inside. Dismissing Stevie, Sam enters to rescue Mary. Masters enters but Sam grabs his wrist, at which point he transforms in Al who says “Baaa!” Sam has already figured out something was going on, but all the pieces come together when Real Al comes through the imaging chamber door. Fake Al does not like someone putting right what he put wrong and reaches out to choke Sam. At Real Al’s urging, Sam returns the favor …

… and wakes up at the bottom of the staircase. Mary and Stevie comfort Sam while Real Al says that Sam is there to save Tully at which point Sam rushes up and does so, though the goat is nowhere to be found. Sam leaps ...

… onto a bus as Miss Sugar Belle.

Fact check & Brush with history: Assistant Stevie’s last name is King. His car sometimes has a mind of its own. He is interested in psychokinesis and has a dog named Cujo. That last bit is odd since the novel was not inspired by a pet.

Stop talking to yourself: Sam finds that leaping leaves him kind of like being a scarecrow. Later, Sam tries to piece the clues together but comes up short.

Mirror images that were not his own: After getting the wits knocked out of him, Sam sees Joshua Rey in the mirror. This being in Sam’s head, we do not get the audio jingle.

Something or someone: Although he saves Tully, Sam gets to hang around long enough to find the identity of his assistant.

It’s a science project: Brilliant scientist Doctor Sam Beckett believes that a person with epilepsy can have a form of psychokinesis. Right ….

One more time: “Just look at her eyes.” “Maybe she’s wearing contact lenses. Maybe she’s a great poker player. I knew a once you could look him in the eye and couldn’t tell whether he had four of a kind or busted flush.”
Sam and Fake Al arguing superficially about Mary’s innocence.

Trivial Matter: The notion of someone who would put wrong what once went right will come up later.

Put right what once went wrong: “One of these days, I’m going to write the scariest book in the whole wide world except then nobody would probably buy it.” Lat season had a Halloween episode that quickly became my least favorite hours of the series. Even with that low bar to clear, this is a strong episode that has all the trappings of a good spooky tale. Murders, mysteriously appearing animals. Flying skulls. A creepy sheriff.

Dean Stockwell has a chance to shine in this. You can tell that there is something off with some subtle clues. There is no effect for the door or handlink and the costume is different. It is more than that as Stockwell rarely looks down at the handlink and is forceful that Mary is the killer. It is enough to tell you that something is going on but not nearly enough to outright cry foul. As much as this is Bakula’s series to shine, Stockwell does fantastic work here. After the proverbial mask is pulled off his face in the end the effects help sell the menace, but Fake Al gets really creepy. Evil Devil is not a common role for actors but Stockwell goes there and excels. Having Al be the villain (even Fake Al) is genius. The best thing is that on repat viewing it stands up as you can see more of Al being just a bit off.

The writing is excellent even with a couple deaths thrown in there though the script does give us glimpses of them before they die so that they can have an effect on us. There is not a lot of time, but Tully and Dorothy’s deaths do sting a bit mainly because we know them a bit. Mary, Stevie and Masters are all handled well, too. There are trappings of late eighties horror soundtrack but they work.

A huge step up from the prior horror episode and a great hour for whatever season of the year.
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By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Gamma Quadrant
 -  
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
#552840
Miss Deep South
Leap Date: June 7, 1958
Written by: Tommy Thompson
Directed by: Christopher T. Welch
Original Air Date: November 2, 1990

This time: Sam leaps onto a bus as Miss Sugar Belle. At the winner of the 35th Miss Deep South Pageant, Sam gets some tips from Pageant Director Peg Myers, a veteran of several beauty pageants including Miss Southern Belle. He also literally runs into fellow contestant Connie, a fresh face at pageants who could not let the opportunity pass her up. They are met by Clint Beaumont, pageant photographer, who takes a bit of a liking to Connie that goes slightly beyond professional.

As it turns out, Sam and Connie will be roommates. Connie shares that she hopes to go to Hollywood with her winnings, something Beaumont can might help her with. Al arrives and says that not only will Connie not win, she will not even finish. She disappears and is never heard from again.

After a rehearsal, Connie goes off to talk to Beaumont. Per Al, Beaumont will take some illicit pictures which will embarrass Connie. Sam believes that if he is by her side, he can make sure Connie is all right. Al mentions that Darlene, the leapee, used the money she won to become a cardiologist which means that Sam must do well in the pageant and come in at least third.

Coming back from an interview, Sam finds Connie and determines that Beaumont has already taken the pictures. There is still time to convince him to get rid of them. At the swimsuit photo shoot, Sam confronts Beaumont and gives the evidence to Myers. She will look at the pictures, but due to regulations, the person on film will be disqualified.

Myers keeps Beaumont, since she can not get another photographer last minute, and removes Connie from the roster. It turns out Beaumont took pictures of her back in the day. Sam confronts Beaumont and gets the compromising film. Beaumont is fired and Connie is reinstated.

Wondering why he has not leapt, Al says that Sam is a solid fourth which will not do the trick. He performs Great Balls of Fire for the talent competition to the amazement of the crowd and the confoundment of the judges. Sam winds up winning! He leaps …

… into a comfortable position with a girl. Three guys approach the couple to make some trouble.

Only Sam can see and hear: Al shows up at the orientation which causes undue attention towards Sam. One wonders if they could have waited like five minutes or something to talk privately.

Mirror images that were not his own: After getting a lesson in walking (which he does not excel at) Sam sees Darlene Monte in the hotel lobby mirror. Lots of mirrors in the hotel room get duty this episode. With a total of five shots this is a record so far.

Brush with history: Jerry Lee Lewis is appearing at the hotel next week. Though the sign prominently displays June 24, the leap date of the episode is June 7.

Something or someone: Despite doing what it takes to win, Sam gets to hang around to be crowned the thirty-fifth Miss Deep South.

Let’s up the rating: Sam changes out of his talent show outfit.

One more time: “The bus leaves in ten minutes.” “So you’ll take the next one.”
Sam convincing Connie to stay.

Trivial Matter: Tony Dow and Jerry Matthers show up archival footage from Leave it to Beaver. Back then, shows had longer seasons and there was a new episode airing in July.

Put right what once went wrong: “Didn’t anyone ever teach you the proper way to walk?” “Was I doing it wrong?” “Not if you’re planning on becoming a truck driver.” Most episodes of Quantum Leap have had a singular goal. Solve a murder. Help this person. Sure, there are side paths her and there, but they are all in effort to an overall goal. It is refreshing here to have two goals with little overlap.

The pageant is a fun piece to have on display. There are laughs but there are also familiar trappings like a judge a little too eager to get measurements, talent that is questionable and a total bitch who hides the fact that she is disgusted at not winning. Although little more than glorified window dressing, these come across fairly well. Bakula plays the comedy but surely someone who is a martial artist and singer will be able to do basic choreography.

That does not distract from the sleaze ball Beaumont. The show gets all credit in the world for showing the aftereffects including Myers going along with it up to a point. It is great when she puts her foot down and while there is some sympathy for Beaumont as Sam hangs him out the window, the acting and writing are spot on. As amazing as the climax is, it is worth noting that we see the effects on Connie. She feels dirty and hops right in the shower crying and Sam is the only one who can comfort her. As much as we are supposed to feel ire towards Beaumont, Connie gets a lot of sympathy.

I would be remiss for not mentioning Darlene’s mother. She appears as little more than a glorified cameo at the start of the episode to set the stage but is ebullient at her daughter’s accomplishments. Also, Al is surprisingly subdued, considering. He likes the pageant but does not take things too far. He is an advocate of Connie and it is refreshing to see him in that role. The scenes with Sam and Connie are great at building a true friendship and it is great to see the two bonding above and beyond the pageantry. It certainly helps that the first meeting of their characters was in this episode, but it is played beautifully.
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By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Gamma Quadrant
 -  
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
#553536
Black On White On Fire
Original Air Date: November 9, 1990
Written by: Deborah Pratt
Directed by: Joe Napolitano
Leap Date: August 11, 1965

This time: Sam leaps into a comfortable position with a girl. Three guys approach the couple to make some trouble. They rough Sam up a bit, one of them being Sam’s leapee’s brother Lonnie. Lonnie does not approve of the interracial relationship and sends the girl, Susan, on her way.

Taking Susan home, Sam is confronted by her father, Police Captain Brewer. Brewer makes it clear that he does not approve of Ray/Sam dating Susan out of concern that she will be hurt.

Al shows up and tells Sam that they are trying to figure out what Sam is there to do but the Watts Riots will happen soon. After being told about Susan, Al determines that they broke up shortly after the riot and Ray dropped out of medical school.

Sam goes to a party where an old flame tries to hook up, but Lonnie breaks up the festivities. He tells the crowd about the patrols and encourages them to stand up for themselves. Susan arrives driven by her housekeeper. She does not want to stay with her father and Sam lets her stay with him, especially since there is an outside chance she will die in the riot.

As things get out of control, Ray’s mother, Mama Harper, comes in. She tries to be supportive but is worried, especially since Ray might go to Boston upon graduation while they would much prefer he do great work in their hometown. Lonnie shows up and one of his friends is hurt. Sam offers to stich him up but while there are medical supplies around, the best care is at the clinic. They decide that Sam can be of best use there and they head down as a group.

After a busy session, including a mother that refuses to let Susan operate on her young son, Susan begins to disbelieve that they will live a normal life together. Lonnie brings in a friend who is too far gone and dies. Upset, Lonnie says that if another African American dies, he will kill Susan and takes her hostage.

Trying to find her in the streets, Captain Brewer finds Sam being roughed up. Brewer lets Sam take him to Lonnie. At the scene, Brewer orders a sniper while Sam tries to talk Lonnie out of martyrdom. Sam succeeds but the sniper shoots Lonnie. Brewer charges in when Sam declares that he has to stay, and Susan wants to stay with him. Sam leaps …

… into a small box. A sword is thrust in and he emerges from the trick as The Great Spontini.

Only Sam can see and hear: With all the chaos, Ziggy has a hard time getting a lock on Sam and let alone Susan.

Mirror images that were not his own: After getting roughed up, Sam sees Ray in the mirror. He also sees himself in Ray’s apartment and on the street to rescue Susan.

It’s a science project: There is a lot of medical terms in this hour.

One more time: “Of course they’ll be human, child. I’m talking about race.”
Mama Harper trying to talk some sense into Sam/Ray and Susan.

The Rainbow Treknection: Ron Taylor who would go on to be Klingon Chef Kaga is Papa D, one of Lonnie’s buddies.

Oh, and Captain Brewer is played by some guy names Marc Alaimo.

Put right what once went wrong: “Ray’s staying here. Taking care of his own people.” Once again, the actors, writing and production team come together to deliver a great episode about race relations, this time showing how bad things can get when they spiral out of control.

The African American perspective is something that most of the viewing audience does not always see and everything comes together here. These are not just random people on the news on the other side of the country there are names we can associate with them.

Gregory Millar puts on a fantastic performance as Lonnie. He starts out only wanting what is best for his brother and quickly gets caught up in the riot. We never lose sight of the brotherly love but do see Lonnie going to a dark place. He is working for the betterment of the community and wants his brother, who he is putting through medical school, to stay in the area where he can do the most good.

Deborah Pratt delivered another great writing credit. While we do not get all the details with the riot, we see the leadup through regular eyes. No one on screen was the cause and in fact there is a party going on early on. The participants are oblivious to the recent event, dancing the night away and someone flirting with Sam. We see things escalate with the power, and then phones, going out. We get to know Lonnie’s friends so when Papa D dies, it carries weight.

Joe Napolitano did a fantastic job directing. The line between stock footage and original material is blurred nicely. The moments leading up to the action are done well and he lets the actors do their jobs.

This being a Star Trek site we cannot avoid talking about Marc Alaimo’s Brewer. He does not have a lot to do, but his scene near the top of the episode with Bakula is great. He wants what is best for his daughter and is at the end of his rope though he is still being as cordial as he can be with Sam/Ray while still being superior. When he talks about keeping Susan safe you can see the man who will threaten Garak over Ziyal and hold Kira accountable.
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By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Gamma Quadrant
 -  
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
#553941
The Great Spontini
Original Air Date: November 16, 1990
Written by: Cristy Dawson & Beverly Bridges
Directed by: James Whitmore, J.
Leap Date: May 9, 1974

This time: Sam leaps into a small box. A sword is thrust in and he emerges from the trick as The Great Spontini. His tweenage daughter/assistant, Jamie, walks him through the rest of the act. They have hopes of getting on a bigger stage and settling down but are nomadic at present.

Sam/Harry’s ex-wife, Maggie comes in along with Steve, the fiancé/lawyer. They give a dress to Jamie and divorce papers for Sam, neither of which are appreciated. It does not help that Maggie vanished without a trace three years ago.

At the hearing, Steve waives financial obligations but askes for sole custody of Jamie. The judge grants temporary custody to Maggie and orders Sam to bring Jamie over that evening. The drop off goes well, or at least as well as Jamie’s passive aggressiveness (openly saying she hates the place, faking a stabbing with a trick knife) will. Sam tries to reconnect with Maggie, and they have a moment, but it is broken not too long before Steve shows up with a huge teddy bear and a promise to win custody.

The formalized hearing does not go well for Sam but Al interrupts saying that Jamie broke out and is attempting the Table of Death which will be fatal. Sam abandons the hearing, but Maggie is hot on his heals hearing that Jamie might be in danger.

After a madcap drive through downtown Phoenix (sidewalks and all) Sam recues Jamie. Back at the hearing, Steve takes the opportunity to recommend formal child endangerment charges, but Maggie will have none if it, dismissing the case and Steve. He connects with Maggie and leaps …

… into a biker gang and soon careens off the road.

Fact check: Bill Bixby got a name check. Before he played a guy who magically transformed into the Hulk, he was a more traditional magician.

Stop talking to yourself: Sam does not like leaping into a contortionist position with swords being stuck in.

Only Sam can see and hear: In the hearing, it would be great for Al to relay basic information about Jamie to Sam (schools attended, Jamie’s birthdate, etc.) but the wi-fi goes out and Al pretty much kills his smartphone, er handlink. He gets a more colorful upgrade later which will continue throughout the series.

Mirror images that were not his own: In the dressing room Sam sees Harry Spontini in the mirror. Impressed, he gives a slight flourish.

It’s a science project: There is a science to magic though Sam blows through several acts at the top of the show while not revealing anything to the audience, amazingly, though a plethora of props fall out.

Let’s up the rating: Granted there is probably never a good time for your ex to barge in unannounced but making out with a lounge singer before being served with divorce papers is probably up there.

One more time: “Better luck next time, butthead.” “My sentiments exactly, butthead.”
Jamie and Al cussing out Steve the only way it would get past the censors.

The Rainbow Treknection: Before pulling a trick on the Enterprise as Kieren MacDuff in Conundrum, Erich Anderson was Steve.

Put right what once went wrong: “Steve’s also my attorney.” “Watch your wallet, Sam.” I’m of two minds of this episode. On one hand, the acting is spot on. One of the standouts is Lauren Woodland as Jamie. She can get a little too nineties-kid at times, but she handles her role with maturity. The girl has been through a lot, but she loves her father, and you can see that in her performance. She sees that there are few alternatives but holds herself well between being exasperated at not getting a choice and being passive aggressive with Maggie. She helps Sam get through the act at the top of the episode and knows her way around a magic trick. Smart and precocious, she is helpful in making the hour watchable if not outright enjoyable.

Maggie is also played well by Amy Steel. She did leave but did so to better herself and wanted to come back. It is pretty sudden, but she clearly wants to have both her ex and daughter back in her life. She should have been pissed off at Jamie in the house but got over it. She made every effort to bond with Jamie and Sam gives her all the credit in the world. It is great that they become a family again in the end.

The same cannot be said of fiancé douche Steve. Oh, Erich Anderson plays the role well, pulling legal maneuvers out of thin air and being an asshole in the process. His maneuvering in the informal trial is strong and he does not really have much to do outside the courtroom. He is interested in the win but there are actual people involved. He does not take the feelings of Jamie into consideration and barely acknowledges Maggie’s. He is the driving force for no real discernable purpose other than to be the antagonist. He is interested in the win, not the family. Even a few words would have ben helpful to make him more believable.

The writing is horrible. In what world can a lawyer spring custody rights in the middle of an informal hearing? How does he present evidence without showing it to opposing counsel? How does Al not have everything ready to go for the trial? How does he not know the trial will not go well? Why is Jamie not present in the custody hearing?

For that matter, Steve brings up child endangerment and kind of has a point. Jamie snuck out and put herself in mortal danger to prove their case. How would that work exactly? What kind of magic contraption does not have some sort of failsafe? How does the judge not bring Sam up on charges, regardless of Maggie dropping them? Jamie may have been under Maggie’s care, but she committed the act due to Sam/Harry’s influence.

Such great characters bogged down by horrible writing.
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By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Gamma Quadrant
 -  
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
#554333
Rebel Without a Clue
Original Air Date: November 30, 1990
Story by : Nick Harding & Paul Brown
Teleplay by : Randy Holland & Paul Brown
Directed by: James Whitmore, Jr.
Leap Date: September 1, 1958

This time: Sam leaps into a biker gang and soon careens off the road. One member, Mad Dog, is pretty pissed off and wants to rough up Sam, but the leader, Dillon, orders him not to, though there is some influence from Dillon’s girl, Becky. Mad Dog still damages Sam’s bike.

Sam makes it to a local diner named Ernie’s. There, Becky finds that Dillon does not appreciate her poetry. The proprietor, Ernie, hears that Dillon is a Korean Veteran and talks about his son, Darryl, who is due to come back, but with the war finished over five years ago, pretty much all he has is optimism. Sam goes to clean himself off and Al tells him that Becky will be stabbed to death in twenty-four hours.

Sam has a moment with Becky. Her mother is dead, and her dad is a deadbeat. Her wanderlust led her to Dillon. The gang shows up and despite some light pleading from Sam, Becky goes off with them. Ernie watches as Sam repairs his bike also mentioning that he is holding out hope for Darryl to come back. Al says that his remains will be returned in two years and Ernie will die two months later.

At a stop, Dillon plans to steal Ernie’s bike. Becky objects but that turns Dillon on. As he begins to plan, Sam shows up and Becky rides off with him. They stay the night above Ernie’s garage and discover that Ernie has been keeping birthday and holiday presents for his son. Sam tries to talk Becky out of the gang, but she has none of it.

At Al’s suggestion, Sam goes to local author Jack Kerouac, a hero of Becky’s. Sam tries to get him to convince Becky to not stay with the gang, but an inebriated Kerouac finds that against all he believes in.

Back at Ernie’s to rendezvous with Becky, Sam finds the gang beat him to it. They parade Darryl’s bike, make a mess and beat up Ernie. A fight ensues with Sam emerging victorious and the cops coming to arrest the gang. Ernie needs some help at the diner and Sam, with an assist from Kerouac, convince Becky to stay. Sam leaps …

… into a man helping someone into their boxers.

Fact check & Brush with History: Sam meets famed beatnik novelist Jack Kerouac. Though he could have had a cabin in California at this time he would eventually go to Florida.

Stop talking to yourself: Dr. Sam Beckett, brilliant physicist, defender of minorities, looks down on bikers.

Only Sam can see and hear: Al’s first car was a bike so he is able to get Sam back on the road.

Mirror images that were not his own: While gathering his wits, Sam sees Shane "Funny Bone" Thomas in the bike’s mirror.

It’s a science project: Sam is able to service the bike unassisted.

Let’s up the rating: Sam helps out serving food at Ernie’s, gets catcalls at being the new waitress and gets a smack on the ass.

One more time: “There’s nothing to it. Your rear brake is with your foot over there, here’s your front brake, throttle, there’s your clutch over there, there’s your gear shift, one down, three up, neutral’s between one and two, you kickstart it with this thing, pchounk, only when it’s in neutral and get it washed.”
Al’s crash course on biking.

Trivial Matters: Diedrich Bader is Dillon in this episode before he was on The Drew Carey Show, American Housewife or the voice of Batman.

Teddy Wilson played Jimmy in Pool House Blues. Evidently, they liked him because he is Ernie in this episode.

The title is a reference to the cinema classic Rebel Without a Cause.

Put right what once went wrong: “Not exactly Brando, but you kind of look like a wild one.” I am not sure who the writer on staff is that is a fan of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, but it gave us a fun hour.

The gang is a fun group to hang out with in smaller intervals. They gave Ernie some good business and were only moderately jerks. Dillon has leadership qualities keeping everyone under control and letting in new members. He does not freak out when he discovers that Sam drew a caricature of Becky. Mad Dog is a solid asshole, and the script gives him ammunition to hate Sam. All in all it feels like a rough and tumble biker gang that goes just far enough.

Becky plays her wanderlust well. She is eighteen but does not know what she wants to do with her life. Like a lot of young Americans, she found solace in a poet and wanted to explore. It takes her icon to bring her back down. She had a great scene with Sam explaining why she was looking for something. Kerouac is only there for two scenes on opposite ends of the sober spectrum, but he loves his work and takes responsibility for his influence.

Ernie ties everything together. The emotional center of the show, you can see him gravitating to Becky and the two gel. He will turn out to be the mentor she needs, with Kerouac helping on occasion. He plays an entirely different character than before, but he leaves everything on the film. This is not a show that can recycle guest stars, though sci-fi shows can get away with a bit more due to prosthetics (Vaughn Armstrong, James Solyan, Wayne Alexander) but I was thrilled to see him on screen again in a very entertaining and fun hour with a lot of fun moments. There was no weak link in the cast.
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By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Gamma Quadrant
 -  
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
#554696
A Little Miracle
Original Air Date: December 21, 1990
Story by : Sandy Fries
Teleplay by : Sandy Fries & Robert A. Wolterstorff
Directed by: Michael Watkins
Leap Date: December 24, 1962

This time: Sam leaps into a man helping someone into their boxers. He is Pierson, personal valet to tycoon Michael Blake. Blake made a fortune buying up businesses, automating them and spinning out a profit at the cost of putting a lot of people out of business.

Captain Laura Downey of the Salvation Army approaches Blake to protest his tearing down of their Mission. Doing so will give Blake a huge plaza but he has to tear down their building by the end of the year to maintain his permit. Al comments on Blake … and Blake responds. Al quickly disappears and most everyone else is confused. With Ziggy’s help they are able to fix things, but Al says that Sam is not there for the Mission, he is there for Blake.

Recognizing a Scrooge, Sam hatches a plan and goes to Downey to put it in action. Sam drives Blake to an appointment and Blake reminisces over a box of photos planted there. As the memories turn dark, Sam stops the car in the Blake’s childhood neighborhood. A literal walk-through memory lane, including running into an old chum helps matters, but Blake sours.

Blake is despondent and Sam is conflicted. Al sees that the plan worked a bit but now, Blake has to be shown the present. A trip to the site of Blake Plaza does not especially help but nearby carolers do. Going to the Mission, Blake is resolute to tear down the mission, but Downey gets them to join in the choir. Things look good as Blake and Downey bond. The odds go up and then start to go down. An innocent question snaps Blake back. He leaves is a fury and threatens Sam/Pierson’s job.

Sam has a talk with Al about what to do next. Going full Dickens, Sam hatches a plan. Decked out in an outfit and makeup, Al appears to Blake as the Ghost of Christmas Future. They travel to the site of Blake Plaza. Al shows Blake Plaza and a newscast foretelling the fall of Blake, driven mainly by an unrelenting quest for profit. The plaza is sold, and he dies penniless. As Blake breaks down, he sees a light shining on the Mission. Per Al, Blake and Downey marry. Though Blake Plaza is built he incorporates the Mission. Sam thanks Al for the light, but Al cannot take credit. Sam leaps …

… into a tween on a family road trip.

Fact check: The newscast mentioned that the “New York Knick’s have done it again,” though that season was not that great for the team.

Stop talking to yourself: What better way to open a Christmas episode than with holiday themed shots and a monologue about being in service to someone?

Only Sam can see and hear: Al saves the day by appearing to Blake. Blake believes that Al is mixing characters with Marley’s chains, but does not mention that it is the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, not the Ghost of Christmas Future.

Mirror images that were not his own: After fumbling through the morning routine, which pretty much entails doing the most mundane tasks for Blake (dressing, putting on the napkin for breakfast, etc.) Sam sees himself in the mirror and exhales a long-deserved sigh.

Brush with history: As Blake and his assistant discuss war with Russia, Sam predicts the two will become allies.

Something or someone: Sam and Al have enough time to give each other holiday greetings and stand around a bit before Sam leaps.

It’s a science project: Thus far, only young children and animals can see Al. Blake can too since his brainwave is pretty close to Sam’s. Ziggy is able to do a workaround.

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow: It may be a Christmas episode, but Al is decked out in a Hawaiian shirt. It is July where he is. With the long lead time required to make these episodes, Russel T. Davies played Christmas Carols in April.

One more time: “Look at that. Khrushchev at Disneyland. Why don’t they just invite him to the Pentagon and go through the files?”
Blake looking at the morning headlines

The Rainbow Treknection: After being a huge asshole in Quantum Leap as Blake, Charles Rocket played a slightly less though still asshole-like guy in The Disease as Captain Jippeq.

Put right what once went wrong: “I have more art than the Guggenheim.” After being one in two with Halloween episodes, Quantum Leap decided to go with a Christmas one.

This hour puts a lot of weight on Dean Stockwell’s shoulders. Usually second fiddle on the show, Al is generally there to support Sam, but he gets to take a more reactive role this week. Stockwell clearly revels in the final act, happily being able to directly interact with people other than Sam. The costume helps and he is able to do some neat tricks be appearing and disappearing after letting Blake jump through him. The scenery is chewed but it is chewed well. It is great to see him take a larger role in the final solution to the episode.

Charles Rocket makes Blake a perfect asshole. He exhumes arrogance and as the primary antagonist he loves taking people down and enjoying it. He takes the dialogue and spits it out at everyone. Every line is more sinister when he says it. There is contempt for everyone else, both those he is evicting and those in his employ. Early on he addresses an old man with the mission presuming he is Captain Downey. Not skipping a beat when showed otherwise he chews her out. Downey is adequately played along with Calloway, another of Blake’s flunkies. These two would have no qualms about taking an old ladie’s purse if they could get away with it. As Max Wushinski, Robert Lesser plays an old buddy of Blakes and is ecstatic at seeing an old chum. The two reminisce and Wushinski does not charge them, yet Blake still overpays. It is a glorified cameo, but the two play off each other magnificently.

The writing does not have a good plot to put on top of their onscreen talent. For one, the story is credited to two writers, and it shows. Blake has huge shifts in his mannerisms, going from sympathetic to aggressive on a dime. It is almost as if one writer was writing, got up to get some coffee and the other sat down and just took things in another direction. The shifts are just too jarring.

As good as it was to see Stockwell, the ‘Christmas Carol in a hour’ can work but does not here. It would be much more successful if they had focused on one section. Putting in everything is a bit much especially when they drive the point home several times in script. Not just that but this defies what the series has shown us thus far. The changes to the future are instantaneous so we should not magically see the odds decreasing, especially at these slow rates. I am happy that we got to see this group on screen, I just wish they had a bit stronger material to work with.
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By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Gamma Quadrant
 -  
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
#555215
Runaway
Original Air Date: January 4, 1991
Written by: Paul Brown
Directed by: Michael Katleman
Leap Date: July 4, 1964

This time: Sam leaps into a tween on a family road trip. As Butchie, his older sister, Alex, will take every opportunity to torture him, Mom Emma will attempt to keep the peace and dad Hank is having a ball as they go through all fifty states, though one presumes they will not drive to all of them.

After being reminded of the personal hell that is a long ass road trip with your family, Al arrives and tells Sam that Emma runs away from the family that evening and is never heard from again. At that moment, they see Emma embracing newly widowed father and old chum Billy. Hank joins and the two heave a … measuring contest which Billy (got his doctorate, teaches, and has multiple job offers) handily wins over Hank (dropped out of college and owns his own chicken plant). Hank takes the family off but not before Billy can give them a card and invite them to dinner when they stop by the area.

Driving to their next destination, Sam ‘accidentally’ loses Billy’s card but, fortunately, they pass by a stuck Billy on the road. After some discussion, Hank turns around to offer a hand. Hank fixes the car, not getting nearly enough points as he thinks, and Emma gets another card.

After an argument in the car, they pull over and Emma takes a moment to herself. Sam approaches her and finds out that Emma is worried about the soon-to-be-empty-nest. Sam encourages her to go back to school.

At Camp Chipmunk (!) they run into Billy again. Al says that if Emma does not stay, Alex gets pregnant as a teen and Butchie drops out of high school. Al still does not know what happened to Emma but figures she ran off. Sam tries talking to Hank a little later, finding out that Emma dropped out of school to give birth to Alex. Hank tries to give it another go, but it does not work, and Emma runs off.

Sam confronts Billy, but Emma is not with him. They agreed to stay friends and Al finds out that a woman’s remains would be found thirty years later; Emma did not run off never to be heard from again, she fell off a cliff! Hank and Alex arrive and together, they save Emma. Things turn out well. Emma goes to college and gets her doctorate. Still not leaping, Sam turns the tables on Alex. Sam leaps …

… onto a gurney being rushed into the delivery room.

Fact check: Hank has an instant camera to take a picture. There were instant cameras in the mid-sixties, but they did not look like the model Hank has. At least that my crank research team can find.

Stop talking to yourself: Sam faces his greatest adversary yet: A bored bullying big sister.

Only Sam can see and hear: Usually Sam and Al are able to have a somewhat private chat. A road trip does not provide that opportunity, so Sam talks to Al while Alex chimes in.

Mirror images that were not his own: After being called a little brother, Sam looks at Butchie in the rear-view mirror. He also sees a picture taken with some monkeys at Wild Willie’s.

Brush with history: Seeing Emma read The Feminine Mystique, Sam encourages Emma to go back to school, talking about the growing feminist movement in the sixties.

It’s a science project: Sam gets the idea to tie a rope around a nearby tree to save Emma.

Let’s up the rating: Billy is that cool sexy single dad for everyone to drool over.

One more time: “How do you expect to make first string with sissy reflexes?”
Hank not entirely understanding how band works.

The Rainbow Treknection: If you think that Hank is a good mold for a Klingon, you are right. Sherman Howard would later play T’Greth on Voyager’s Prophecy and challenge another Quantum Leap/Trek alum, Robert Duncan McNeil.

Trivial Matters: One of the tricks to shooting a car ride is to put it in front of a screen on a closed set. Quantum Leap has a fun effect where Al is standing outside the car. Normally this would destroy the illusion, but here it works. Though they do have to shoot some b-roll of the card flying out of Sam’s hand.

Al is surprisingly levelheaded with Sam being thirteen, a record low for leapee ages. He marvels that Sam is old enough to be his own father.

We find out that orphan Al’s dad ran out on him.

Put right what once went wrong: “Mom, Butchie looks like he’s going to puke.” “Alex, a lady doesn’t say ‘Puke.’ She says ‘Throw up.’” “Yeah, well it looks like he’s going to do that, too.” One of the things I love about this episode is that Al is dead wrong. He presumes that Emma leaves Hank, but she does not, at least not on purpose. We see Billy getting several wins over on Hank and presume to figure it out but that is not the case. The twist with her falling off a cliff is genius, though it is odd that they did not check their work sooner.

The final scene with the rescue is great. The setting of fireworks means that they can have cool lighting and sound to freak out Emma even further. The on-set lighting effects are on point along with a composite shot of fireworks. Alex freaking out, shots of the rope nearly giving way, everything combines to a great overall sequence.

The acting is strong too. Sherman Howard sells the false bravado of Hank, a guy just trying to make it on his own and be a provider. He does not put down his guard too often but deep down loves his family. He even got Emma a nice ring for her fifteenth but of course cannot just come out and say that he loves her. Sandy Faisen gives us enough to believe that she might run off with Billy and you can hear the exasperation in her voice when she says that she wants more out of life. Joseph Hacker gives Billy enough manliness to be a good match for Emma but ultimately does not become a homewrecker. There is a scene where he pats Emma’s leg, and it gets taken blown out of proportion. Hank tries to sock him, but it does not work. The script gave them what they need, and they play it perfectly.

As Alex, Ami Foster gets to torture Scott Bakula so she can cross that off the bucket list. She does not serve a huge plot purpose, but she has the annoying sister trope down pat. What else do they expect a fifteen-year-old girl to do on a family road trip? She gives a wedgie, tosses a milkshake on him, verbally taunts. This is an all-around good episode. The only quibble is the implication that Hank purposefully for Emma pregnant to keep her with him. Get rid of that and we have got a winner.
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By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Gamma Quadrant
 -  
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
#555654
8½ Months
Original Air Date: March 6, 1991
Directed by: James Whitmore, Jr.
Written by: Deborah Pratt
Leap Date: November 15, 1955

This time: Sam leaps onto a gurney being rushed into the delivery room. The doctor is insistent that the baby is coming but Sam convinces everyone that he is not going to deliver a baby under any circumstances.

As sixteen-year-old Billie-Jean, Sam gets a ride back with a friend named Dottie. Dottie owns a beauty parlor and one of her clients is furious that Dottie left in the middle of a procedure, especially since the baby did not come. Also unhappy is Keeter, Dottie’s beau.

Al arrives and says the Billie-Jean originally gave the baby up for adoption and regretted it so Sam must find some way to keep the baby. He also says that Ziggy thinks Sam might be there to deliver the baby if he does not leap out before the baby is due. Billie-Jean’s mother is deceased, but her father, Bob, is nearby. Bob will take her back only if she gives up the baby.

Left with few alternatives, Sam wonders if he can keep the baby and have Dottie look after them while Billie-Jean finishes school. Keeter does not like this and leaves. Dottie is incredulous since she promised Keeter that Billie-Jean would leave when the baby comes. Unbeknownst to her, Keeter leaves her regardless, per Al, but Dottie will have none of it.

Almost every door closed, Sam finds out that Effie, Dotty’s assistant knows the baby’s father, Willis. It turns out that teenage Willis works for Bob. Also, Willis is going to college on a scholarship but needs to work for room and board.

Going into labor, Dottie and Effie are changing the tire on the car. Effie goes to get Bob and Keeter is too drunk ad disinterested to be of use. Dottie does the change on her own while Effie gets Bob to take an interest. He makes it to the emergency room and agrees to help Billie-Jean. He marries Dotty and they raise the baby as a family. Sam pushes and leaps …

… into a time machine going to the future.

Stop talking to yourself: The silent car ride home from the hospital is spent with Sam trying to piece together the clues as to who he is.

Only Sam can see and hear: Al is pretty certain that Sam will not deliver a baby.

Mirror images that were not his own: After sliding on and off the delivery table, Sam sees a very pregnant Billie-Jean Crockett looking back at him.

Brush with history: Sam thinks that a pink hairdo will be great in the punk eighties to which the very unhappy client replies that she does not know where ‘aidees’ is.

It’s a science project: Nausea, vomiting, back aches, nearly constant urination, cravings, Sam sure does have a lot of effects of pregnancy.

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow: In the waiting room, Billie-Jean freaks out. Dr. Beeks finds her too traumatized to answer questions.

Let’s up the rating: Bob and Dottie were an item back in the day.

One more time: “I’m going to, Al!” “Young lady you watch your language.”
Sam to al about the impending birth, an attendant reminding him to be ladylike.

The Rainbow Treknection: Anne Haney made a career out of paying no-nonsense older women. Here, she is a no-nonsense adoption agent while in Deep Space Nine’s Dax, she was no-nonsense judge Els Renora. She does have a softer side seen in episodes like The Next Generation’s Survivors as Rishon Uxbridge.

Put right what once went wrong: “This little tyke’s coming whether you cooperate or not.” “No, I feel better, I’m fine.” It takes a very skilled director to take up acting duties in the show they direct. We are at the approximate midpoint of Quantum Leap and James Whitmore Jr. directed this hour and guest starred as Bob. Lots of writers have appeared onscreen but mainly as mirror images, a corpse and the like, certainly not to degree that Bob is here. This could easily have caused something to fall flat.

Thankfully, that did not happen. Deborah Pratt wrote an excellent script and Whitmore let the actors do their work. The writing is strong giving each character a moment to shine. Even Leola who starts of the hour pissed at her purple hair (!) pitches a fit swearing up and down she will not return while everyone knows she will be back. Young Tasha Scott has plenty of sass as Effie but that comes in handy where she just bluntly tells Bob that Effie’s older sister died giving birth. Hunter von Leer’s Keeter does really not want to be involved and chides pretty much everyone. Philip Linton has a scene as Willis, but the young man shoulders the role well.

Dottie and Bob are the emotional cores. Whitmore has a pretty good acting resume, and he tries to lay down the law with Billie-Jean. He has options but those will not be good for everyone. He initially puts the blame on his daughter but realizes that she needs someone to love her and be a father. Lana Schwab left it all on camera. Trying to keep her life together, she has a lot of southern charm and knows her clientele, her town and her family. She can get away with a lot due to her personality which sines along with some great dialogue all the way through. It is heartbreaking to see her pining after Keeter when he really could not care less.

A teenage pregnancy does not seem like it would be a slam dunk of an episode, but the cast and crew came together to (pun intended) deliver. The script is smart having Al need to tell Sam that he cannot deliver a baby. Al is our eye and ears into the waiting room, and he gives us a good play by play to the point where he is convinced as the episode draws to a close.
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