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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Second Edition Design Manager
By The Guardian (Richard New)
 - Second Edition Design Manager
2E North American Continental Quarter-Finalist 2023
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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Second Edition Playtest Manager
By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Second Edition Playtest Manager
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
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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Second Edition Playtest Manager
By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Second Edition Playtest Manager
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
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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Second Edition Playtest Manager
By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Second Edition Playtest Manager
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
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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Second Edition Playtest Manager
By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Second Edition Playtest Manager
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
"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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Second Edition Playtest Manager
By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Second Edition Playtest Manager
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
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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Second Edition Playtest Manager
By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Second Edition Playtest Manager
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
"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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Second Edition Playtest Manager
By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Second Edition Playtest Manager
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
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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Second Edition Playtest Manager
By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Second Edition Playtest Manager
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
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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Second Edition Playtest Manager
By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Second Edition Playtest Manager
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
"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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Second Edition Playtest Manager
By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Second Edition Playtest Manager
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
A Portrait for Troian
Leap date: February 7, 1971
Story by: John Hill & Scott Speherd
Teleplay by : Donald P. Bellisario & Scott Shepard
Directed by: Michael Zinberg
Original Air date: December 13, 1989

This time: Sam leaps into a graveyard. Looking around, a woman appears as if out of nowhere. She is Troian, a woman who believes her deceased husband, Julian, is trying to communicate with her. To prove it she hired Dr. Timothy Mintz, who Sam just leaped into.

Back at the family mansion, the housekeeper, Miss Stolz, makes it clear she does not like Sam. Troian’s brother, Jimmy, gives Sam a similarly icy reception, but more so thinking that he is feeding into her insanity and scamming her.

Al arrives and is creeped out by the setting. The house has a history of … oddities. Troian was a successful author, but after her husband died three years ago, she never got over it. Troian will drown herself in the same lake as Julian which Sam must prevent.

Troian wakes up to strange sounds and wet footprints in her bedroom. Following them, she goes to Julian’s study. There, she finds a painting she did for her husband’s last book. A neat trick since she threw it into the lake.

Mysterious paintings appear drawing Troian to the mausoleum where an earthquake hits, though Sam rescues her. In a visit to the remains of Julian, Sam finds a cassette player hooked up to a radio transmitter. Playing it produces a sound so high-pitched that only dogs can hear it, along with some women. Troian is not crazy; the voices are real.

It turns out Jimmy has been trying to get Troian to die for an insurance scheme. The two struggle, but Sam shows up to save Troian. During the struggle, three bodies ride up from the lake seemingly freed during the earthquake. They are Julian, but also a former wife and butler who drowned over a hundred years ago while they were cheating. The wife bears a more than striking resemblance to Miss Stolz who fades away. Sam leaps …

… into a kegger.

Stop talking to yourself: Sam compares leaping in to the impossible dream of Don Quixote.

Only Sam can see and hear: Al plays both Fox Mulder, believing in ghosts and Dana Scully, trying to find a logical explanation. Also, Troian and Jimmy can both hear him.

Mirror images that were not his own: While Jimmy and Troian argue over credentials, Sam looks at Dr. Mintz in the mirror.

Brush with history: Sam makes a passing reference to Indiana Jones, and though Troian in a writer, she probably wasn’t involved in the creation of the franchise.

It’s a science project: Jimmy is established as a techie, fixing the TV and using the radio transmitter to rig cassette tapes. The dog howls heard might be warnings of the earthquake.

Let’s up the rating: Sam teases Al about his proclivities in the mausoleum.

One more time: “I thought I could drive you to the funny farm, but I can see that’s not going to happen. You see I got this IOU to these bad dudes in Vegas.”
Jimmy ripping off the proverbial Scooby Do mask.

The Rainbow Treknection: Carolyn Seymour played a pair of Romulans (Toerth and Taris) along with Mirasta Yale. She has had quite the storied history on screen.

Trivial Matters: There are some really big cameos in this. Series creator Donald P. Bellisario is Sam’s mirror image and writer Paul Brown is one of the bodies in the end.

The biggest guest in this episode is played by Bellisario’s then wife and writer of the series, Deborah Pratt.

Put right what once went wrong: “What happened, the storm knocked the power out?” “No, it was the Boogeyman.” I am a fan of Deborah Pratt the writer. She has written my favorite hour thus far, The Color of Truth, and has almost made a name for herself as the social justice queen with What Price Gloria? and So Help Me God. Robert Picardo wrote the Doctor centric Life Line episode and Jonathan Frakes cut his teeth directing several episodes of Trek, even through to this day. One of his earliest challenges was Cause and Effect which was a mess to put together even for a full-time director. Roxann Dawson and Robert Duncan McNeil are other 'directorial graduates' of Trek.

Deborah Pratt is not quite as successful. She has a history of acting with a stint on Magnum P.I. and Airwolf (both Bellisario productions), but she confuses despondent for bland. So much of this is a slog to go through and it is not helped by Pratt. Other than a scene where she is somewhat jovial, it is just boring to watch. She is grieving, but more goes through the motions more than anything else.

It is pretty obvious that Jimmy is the one behind everything. She is not doing it to herself and Stoltz is not either. Having a pool of three suspects including the victim is not that suspenseful with these clues around. Seymour is great at being mysterious and creepy, but does not go much beyond that, though she does freak out Sam and Al. The script does not really do any favors. If not for needing a quote for this review, I would not really remember much.

It is not all bad. There is a moment where Al asks to be centered on Sam and he moves a few feet in the same shot as Sam rushes in. He is more spooked than Sam knowing the history of the house and he has a fun moment where Sam teases him about proclivities, but it does not salvage the episode.

The worst hour of the series thus far.
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Second Edition Playtest Manager
By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Second Edition Playtest Manager
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
Animal Frat
Original Air Date: January 3, 1990
Written by: Chris Ruppenthal
Directed by: Gilbert Shilton
Leap Date: October 19, 1967

This time: Sam leaps into a kegger. He is Knut “Wild Thing” Wileton, a brother in Tau Kappa Beta. The fraternity also likes to throw water balloons out the window; amazingly that will be important later.

Al shows up to say that Sam is not there for academics. A local group on campus, led by Elizabeth Spokane, will detonate a bomb in the chemistry building to protest the Vietnam War but the building has someone in it, leading her to hide for the rest of her life. He must prevent her from doing that though the task is made harder after his brothers hit her with a water balloon. Sam tries to apologize, but is blocked by Duck, the male group leader. Duck is dubious but agrees to let Sam help but only under his watchful eye.

In class, the bothers are being general assholes while Elizabeth is trying to talk to the professor about the college’s support of the war. The brothers challenge him to take Elizabeth to a luau party which Al agrees with since that would keep her away from the bombing site. Sam uses his intelligence to convince Elizabeth to accompany him on the condition that he pass out some fliers.

At the luau, Sam finds out that Elizabeth planted the bomb on a timer. As it turns out, a pledge, Scooter, is in there! Everyone rushes to save him, not knowing that Scooter already came back. They successfully defuse the bomb, but history is not changed. Duck has a second bomb as a failsafe. Sam finds it, but there is no time to defuse it though they can toss it out the window like a water balloon.

Elizabeth gets back on the right track, but Sam doesn’t leap. The brothers have him jump into a pool, something Wild Thing survived but was paralyzed. He is successful. Sam leaps …

… into a mother preparing dinner while kids are arguing.

Stop talking to yourself: Right before leaping into a kegger full of drunken students, Sam talks about how rewarding leaping can be.

Only Sam can see and hear: Al is useful in the brothers successfully putting cherry bombs in the girls toilets.

Mirror images that were not his own: Right before waking up the girls in his bed, Sam gets a look at Wild Thing.

Brush with Fame: Sam says that the Vietnam War would be stopped by a coordinated campaign of media and protests with thousands.

Let’s up the rating: The brothers sneak into the girls’ building and there are appropriate lingerie shots.

One more time: “I’m trapped in the body of a troglodyte. I don’t want to graduate in it, I want to leap out of it as soon as I can.”
Sam to Al bemoaning the leap.

The Rainbow Treknection: Before appearing on Voyager as Michael Jonas, Raphael Sbarge played one of the brothers here. Though there, he was trying to betray the ship and here is trying to save it.

Trivial Matter: Quantum Leap and Star Trek were not the only long running shows Sparge appeared on. He has a stint on 24 in season six and starred early on Once Upon a Time’s run as Archie Hopper/Jiminy Cricket.

Put right what once went wrong: “Hey, where are you going?” “I’ll get the notes from you later.” “Notes?” All the trappings of Animal House are here, down to the ladder falling although in this case it is not for that reason. We are constantly reminded of the fact that this is a fraternity throughout the hour. Between two parties and three pranks they writers keep the gags coming. There is even foreshadowing of the events in the climax. I am not sure how much acting is required for a bunch of young guys to act like jerks, but they sell it. While there are serious consequences that Sam is trying to avoid, we never lose sight of the setting.

The drama parts of the episode are good too, though they can drag at times. Let us face it, an anti-war protest isn’t that exciting right after a raid on the girls. There is little chemistry between Sam and Elizabeth while Duck comes across as a jerk. It is hard to see people following him. The parts are well-written and a nice contrast to the comedic segments. The anti-war setting feels like it could have used a few more extras as it somewhat pales to the fraternity.

The ending just strikes of Short-Episode-Syndrome. The whole pool jump is just an added antic that does not really add much especially with the other antics. It is just there to add to the runtime as it could have been deleted entirely without batting an eye. There is no reason Al cannot exposit what happens to in the future to Sam other than to pad the runtime. It is just tacked on. For that matter, we just know what happens to Elizabeth and to a lesser extent Sam. We do not know what happens to the brothers or to Duck. Did he face any consequences for trying to blow up the chemistry building? We will never know.

This episode is well-written and well plotted. There are clever things in here and while it is not something I will run back to watch, I did enjoy it. Balancing comedy and tragedy is not easy, but they did thread the needle here.
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Second Edition Playtest Manager
By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Second Edition Playtest Manager
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
"Another Mother"
Original air date: January 10, 1990
Written by: Deborah Pratt
Directed by: Joseph L. Scanlan
Leap date: September 30, 1981

This time: Sam leaps into a mother preparing breakfast while kids are arguing. Tween Susan and teen Kevin are arguing over a Queen T-Shirt while family dog Wookie ate the head off toddler Theresa’s doll. Theresa calls for her mother, apparently able to see Sam for who he truly is. Susan looks after her sister while Kevin tries to have a moment with his mother.

The kids go off to school for the day, leaving Theresa to Sam. It appears she can see Al, too. They send Theresa off for a moment, but Al says Kevin will disappear within twenty-four hours. Sam does not know how he can keep up with Kevin since there is a full schedule, but Al can keep an eye on the boy.

Spying on, er, observing Kevin, Al finds that his entourage is trying to set him up with a fellow student named Jackie, but Kevin is somewhat inexperienced in wooing. Sam burns dinner, so the family goes out to eat.

Coming back, Sam plays table tennis with Kevin, to moderate success. He then tries to turn the subject to romance, including a brief mother-son dance, though that is somewhat less successful. Not being able to talk with his mother, Kevin talks to his sister. That does not go well either and he begins heading out to his friends, but Sam tries to keep Kevin at home to avoid fate.

Grounded Kevin sneaks out and goes to Jackie. She tries to be friendly, but Kevin proves too inexperienced causing her (and his hidden entourage) to laugh. Embarrassed, he runs off unknowingly followed by a creepy van. Afterwards, Jackie expresses regret. Sam comes and finds out what happened. He goes off in search of Kevin.

Kevin is bound and gagged by duct tape in the creepy van. There are two creepy guys driving with no good intentions. Sam catches up with them and causes a stop. It does not take Sam too long to dispatch the two leaving ‘mother’ and son to reunite.

Sam tries to calm Kevin down, but it does not seem to work too well. At school, Kevin enters nervously and gets teased, but Jackie kisses him, rendering the point moot. There is not much left for Sam to do, though Al is able to have one last moment with Theresa. Sam leaps …

… into the football field at the start of a play.

Stop talking to yourself: Sam remembers fighting with his siblings.

Only Sam can see and hear: Al gets lots of opportunities to shine spending time with Theresa and Kevin. One of his best moments comes when Kevin’s friend mocks Kevin for being a virgin and Al looks it up and tells him that the young man himself is still a virgin.

Mirror images that were not his own: While the kids are arguing, an exasperated Sam sees an exasperated single mother in the kitchen mirror. One of the creepy guys sees her in the rear-view mirror and mistakes her for an easy mark.

Let’s up the rating: One of the creepy guys rips opens Sam’s blouse to get a view of her chest. Of course, we ironically get to see Bakula’s chest.

One more time: “That’s not my mommy, that’s a man. So’s the guy in the yucky shirt.” “This is my favorite shirt. This is cutting edge stuff” “It’s yucky!”
Al arguing fashion with a four-year-old

Trivial Matters: Despite a young Michael Jackson, this is the first instance of kids being able to see Al being specifically called out. It is a good gag but requires Al to appear without the requisite sound effect.

Having her parents appear two episodes prior, Troian Bellisario plays Theresa.

The show Magnum P.I., another Donald Bellisario production, gets mentioned and shown, Susan does not want to miss it, but Sam assures her it will run for eight years.

Put right what once went wrong: “Your mommy had to go away for a little while but she’ll be back real soon.” This is a surprisingly fun little episode. Sam and Al get to play Mister Mom(s) and they do an effective job. There is a good balance of both making sure everything gets done and the ever-looming presence of something bad happening. Joseph L. Scanlan does a great job by interspacing the creepy van to remind us what is going on. It first makes an appearance after Sam finds out Kevin will go missing but before we know the creeps driving it.

As much as the episode is Sam and Al trying to fix things, Kevin gets a lot of screen time. The teeny bopper bits come off as well as can be expected, but the actors are young though top notch. Granted they do not have huge stretches of acting, but the entourage is believable, and Jackie does seem regretful for what she puts Kevin through. Michael Stoyanov plays Kevin perfectly. There is the smarminess and the cockiness only a fifteen-year-old boy can get away with. He plays well both with his peers and his mom.

Theresa is absolutely adorable. A child actor can be rough, to the point where writers will use them almost as a prop, but she has already spent time around the set in general along with Bakula and Stockwell specifically. She is not a prodigy but says her lines and plays off her co-stars well. Al in particular takes quite a shine to her, to then point where Sam cannot leap until they have a final moment.

Stuck in the middle is Susan who just does not get all that much to do, but has some key points in the plot and has her moments. Plus, juggling three kids is a whole heck of a lot more work than two and it would be odd to have a teenage son and toddler, so Susan helps thread that needle.

A nice change of pace with suburbia becoming a focus for an hour. Al has a lot more to do than usual from watching Kevin to watching Theresa, but he is smarmy in the former and sweet in the later.
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Second Edition Playtest Manager
By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Second Edition Playtest Manager
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
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.
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Second Edition Playtest Manager
By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Second Edition Playtest Manager
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
Her Charm
Original Air date: February 7, 1990
Directed by: Christopher T. Welch
Story by : Paul M. Belous & Robert Wolterstorff
Teleplay by: Paul M. Belous & Robert Wolterstorff and Donald P. Bellisario & Deborah Pratt
Leap date: September 26, 1973

This time: Sam leaps outside a home. A woman, Dana Barringer, gets out. As FBI Agent Peter Langley, it is his duty to protect her as she is moving residences for witness protection. They get into a car, which is shortly pelted by bullets. Thankfully, the two are bent down and avoid getting shot. As a guy gets out to verify the situation, Sam pulls into reverse and high tails it out of there. Dana wants to go to the FBI headquarters, mainly to complain about Sam/Peter, but he is more concerned about the gash on her head.

After the emergency room, the two arrive at the headquarters where Al can fill Sam in on the situation. Dana was secretary for Nick Kochifos, a shipping manager who handles illegal merchandise. He liked her to the point of promoting her where she saw the inside of his operation and turned him into the authorities. Nick bought off the jury and has been looking for revenge ever since. He kills her at 3:18 that afternoon.

Peter’s supervisor, Greg Richardson, tells Dana that they will get her a new identity and location, but she will have to go to a safe house escorted by Peter. She almost refuses but it is better than nothing. Outside the building Nick, the gunman from earlier, and a goon sit in a car. They are confident they will get her because they have a man on the inside.

Greg briefs Sam on the plan, though Sam knows Dana will die on the planned route. He tells Greg about his misgivings, but they are the only two who know about the plan. If there is a leak, it is one of them. Needing an alternative, Sam remembers a professor with a nearby cabin. This will take them away from the recorded site of Dana’s death, so they head off in a laundry truck, unaware that they are being followed.

After the deadline comes and goes, Sam wonders why he has not leaped. Dana wakes up from a nap and the two bond. Not able to have more that eight seconds of not being a complete bitch, Dana notices that they are not headed to Boston and is furious with Sam. Nick gets impatient and tries to run them off the road. Sam has Dana throw laundry bags out the back which runs Nick off the road.

Al shows up telling Sam that each time he moves with Dana, the time and place of her death changes. It will end when either Nick or Dana dieing. They try to escape, but they are stuck due to running out of gas and a broken gas gauge.

As Sam and Dana grow close, she sees a matchbook and runs off. Sam realizes that the matchbook has Nick’s private number. He is the inside man! A chase ensues and ends with Sam telling Dana that she is safe with Sam but not necessarily Peter. She is confused but comes with him. In the climactic shootout, Sam shoots Nick, whose goon drives off with the wounded Nick.

In the cabin, Sam gives her the gun and tells her to keep it trained on him until the professor gets there. Peter goes to jail, but Dana gets into a law firm, one partnered by Sam’s professor who owns the cabin. The professor enters and just as Sam can tell him that Quantum Theory works, Sam leaps …

… into a police interrogation room where he is decked. Two officers escort him back to cell with an old Native American. In the mirror, he see’s he is also a Native American.

Fact check: As a nice touch, the FBI office has a picture of President Nixon. It helps sell what would otherwise be another boring office set.

Stop talking to yourself: At the door in a suit and sporting sunglasses, Sam accurately guesses he is not there for a date. He surmises, also accurately, that he will be stuck with Dana for quite some time.

Only Sam can see and hear: Between being ignored by Sam, not being told how hot Dana is and keeping track of Dana’s death, Al is very frustrated in this episode.

Mirror images that were not his own: As Sam gets into a car, he sees Agent Peter Langley in the mirror. He gets another look later in the office.

It’s a science project: As Sam tries to catch a gun, he fumbles into the lake. Fortunately (and amazingly!) he is able to keep it above the water to prevent it from getting waterlogged.

Let’s up the rating: After flinging himself into the river, Sam towels up.

One more time: “Peter, you’re not that cute. Didn’t anyone tell you that men aren’t supposed to be that vain?” “Didn’t anyone tell you it’s not nice to be rude and pushy?” “I don’t want to be nice, I want to get the hell out of here while I can. Now start the car and drive!”
Dana berating Sam/Peter who finally gives a retort after fifteen hours of her being mean to him.

The Rainbow Treknection: Before playing Aaron Connor in The Masterpiece Society, John Snyder was Nick Kochifos,

Trivial Matters: We find out Sam graduated M.I.T in two years. Like that is impressive or something.

Put right what once went wrong: “Two hours in emergency gave me enough time to locate FBI headquarters and hopefully get Dana Barringer into someone else’s hands. Anyone else’s hands.” Dana is such a total and complete bitch. She will draw defeat from the jaws of victory despite the fact that Sam saves her life. She will go on and on about the most minute detail and constantly berate Sam/Peter for every little thing. She has contempt for the FBI (though to be fair, she did try doing the right thing but wound up getting the bad end of the stick) and their agents.

Dana is absolutely deplorable and I love every minute of it! Played to magnificence by Teri Austin, she and Bakula absolutely sparkle on the screen. They have great chemistry, and she does not step off the gas for a moment. Her dialogue sparkles since she cannot go eight seconds without complaining. She is also not a one trick pony: the quieter moments are great as well. The script is fantastic, and it is difficult finding a specific piece of dialogue to quote.

She is not the only great character in this. Nick, Richardson, even the extras in the hallway are great. We have enough time with Nick to see that he is not a simple mustache twirling bad guy adding some dimensions to him. The action climax is a masterstroke with solid directing by Christopher T. Welch. We have great cinematography on the road trip as well.

Too bad there is a huge gaping plot hole. Peter is the mole in the FBI, but Sam does not know that. Why is Nick able to track them? If it is hardware specific to the FBI then why can’t the agency find them? There is no way Peter had that much foresight to plant a tracker before the leap. But that would lead to a short episode.

It is a pity because otherwise this is a very well-constructed episode. The car chase is great and makes use of the laundry bags. The entirety of the opening act establishes the situation well. There is a good mystery as to why Nick keeps finding them. The revelation that Sam is the mole (or rather, leapt into the mole) is a great twist, one that could almost never work on another show.
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