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.