Sam leaps into Dr. Gerald Bryant, an English professor who is having an affair with one of his students. He has to prevent the two from ruining their lives by getting married to each other, but he’s reluctant to do when he learns that his former fiancee, Donna, is attending the same college. It is 12 years before she met him, from her perspective, but Sam knows they will eventually fall in love but that she will leave him at the alter on their wedding day. Sam works to ensure that Donna reconciles with her estranged father in order to help her find the healing that will allow her to follow through on their wedding, but knows that there is no guarantee that history will actually play out that way.
This is a fun episode of Quantum Leap that does as much as the opening episode to establish the premise of the series. It’s got a simple plot that is elevated by its strong ties into Sam as a character. It’ll be interesting as we go forward to see how often the episodes are purely about the situation Sam has leapt into,and how often they end up really about Sam or Al.
The resolution to Donna’s story, where she reconciles with her father, is a bit easier than it should be, which is a product I guess of the fact that this is a regular length episode. However, the benefit is that the episode doesn’t feel too long, which the Pilot threatened to do. So I didn’t mind.
There’s a fair amount of memorable dialog in the episode, more than the previous one. It starts with a bit of voice-over where Sam re-explains what the series is all about, which concludes with, “Anyway, here I am, bouncing around in time, putting things right that once went wrong, a sort of time-traveling Lone Ranger with Al as my Tonto, and I don’t even need a mask.” Later, when Oscar threatens to break his face, Sam looks at the reflection of Professor Bryant, and says, “That might help.” And later still, Sam muses, “Bunsen burners, there’s no other smell like it. They are the common denominator that make all science departments equal.”
Finally, there is the poetic line, “Between love and the noblest cause, there should be no contest.” It’s perhaps a better summary of the themes the episode than that odd bit where Sam kisses Donna on the nose at the end.
• Teri Hatcher plays Donna Eleese. She’s well known for starring in Desperate Housewives and Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. That was all after Quantum Leap. Before this episode, she’d appeared a few times as a character named Penny Parker on MacGyver, and as a Love Boat Mermaid on The Love Boat.
• Charles Walker, who plays Frank Willis, apparently once played a “Skinny Visitor” in an episode of V.
• Deborah Pratt, who is the writer of this episode and a producer of this series, is credited as making the first of over 60 appearances as the series’ Narrator (first, that is, unless you count the two part version of the series first episode). She’ll also play the voice of Ziggy the hybrid computer. However, she is not actually heard in the version of the show that I watched. Instead, the program begin with a voice over from Sam Beckett explaining the show’s premise.
Who and Where is Dr. Sam Beckett?
Professor Gerald R. Bryant, an English professor at Lawrence College in Marion, Ohio, from June 15-June 17th, 1972. On June 17th, he drives to Washington, DC, and is at the Watergate Complex.
What does Sam have to do?
It seems like Sam has to make sure that Professor Bryant and Jamie Lee don’t ruin their lives by getting married to each other. This is achieved by getting Jamie Lee to fall in love with her boyfriend, Oscar.
What do We Know about Sam Beckett?
Sam says that four of his least favorite cliches are headbands, bell bottoms, flower power, and English lit.
Donna Eleese was his girlfriend and fiance. He first met her after she left the “Starbright Project” when she was 30. There wedding was on June 5th at Old Mission Chapel. She didn’t show up, apparently because her father’s abandonment led to her to run away from long-term relationships.
One of his six doctorates is in Ancient Languages. None of them are in Psychiatry.
Sam prefers to have his burger medium rare, with no tomato and extra onion.
What about the experiment?
The first rule of Project Quantum Leap, as established by Sam himself, is to not use time travel to change your own life. Another rule, about not giving Sam classified information, is apparently important enough to get Al removed from the Project for violating it.
Weitzman is a tall skinny guy with a stove-pope hat and an Abraham Lincoln-complex who runs the committee that overseas the funding of the project.
Ziggy is again referred to as male.
Other people who enter the chamber cannot hear or see Sam, or vice-versa.
Sam’s memory is still full of holes, including about historical information such as the beginning of the Watergate scandal.
God or Time or Something
Sam refers to the “Big Guy with the remote control” who is guiding his leaps. Later, he mumbles something like a prayer when he says, “I want to go home,” and also claims that he “has connections” in terms of things working out for him in the future. He also thanks God when he is able to get in touch with Colonel Wojohowitz, but that might just be an expression. He also says that fate put him and Donna together.
The catchphrase is only heard in the recap to the previous episode, Genesis.
Sam’s Complicated Love Life
Sam works hard to avoid being amorously involved with his young student, Jamie Lee, even as he tries to ensure his own romantic happiness with Donna.
The Many Loves of Al Calavicci
Al makes a comment which indicates that he’s been married several times before. He also talks about the attractive wife of a colleague, Bartlett, who he at least shared a romantic dinner with.
Bit of Trivia
Presumably, the Tina who helped Al blackmail Weitzman isn’t the Tina who Al met at the side of the road in the first episode, as Al talk about her as if Sam knows her.
Al, annoyed at Sam for being led by his emotions, says
Don’t give me that sick puppy look. Stop it. I’ll never scratch you behind the ears again.
The Best Moment
Sam tells Donna that they are going to see her father. Although Sam punching Oscar back comes close.