Quantum Leap – Camikazi Kid [1.7]

Sam becomes Cam Wilson, an awkward teenager whose sister Cheryl is about to marry the attractive but abusive Bob Thompson.  Sam must figure out how to help his sister see the truth about her fiancé.  In the end, he gets Bob to blow his cool by winning his car in a street race, using modern means to boost his own speed.  When Bob blows his cool, Cheryl dumps him and pursues her calling in the Peace Corp.  Sam meanwhile, helps Cam begin a romance with his friend Jill.

Written by Paul Brown. Directed by Alan J. Levi.

Previous Episode: The Color of TruthNext Episode: Play it Again, Seymour

The Camikazi Kid is a decent episode of Quantum Leap, with all of the fun that the series usually involves, although it is completely routine.  Nothing unusual or earth-shattering takes place, and we don’t learn much about Sam or Al or their project.  But still, there isn’t really anything to complain about.  The plot and characters are decent, with both the dilemma and the ultimate solution being reasonable.  And along the way, there’s enough fun to keep it from being boring.

What gives the episode whatever heft it has is Sam’s reaction to the idea of Cheryl being abused, both in the present and the future.  The detail about his own sister is a nice touch (that will come up again in a couple of years).  And there’s a largely unspoken dynamic in which we see Sam really identifying with his hosts circumstances which is interesting to watch.  And naturally, as the audience, we are right there with him.  It’s immensely gratifying to see the future wife-beater get his comeuppance.

On the other hand, the whole street racing element of the story doesn’t fully gel with the family relationship drama.  Maybe it’s just because I live in a post-The Fast & the Furious world, but that side of things is pretty tame and mellow, and feels like it could have been developed into its own episode.

Cast Notes:
• Robert Costanzo plays Chuck Thompson.  He’s had lots of other roles, including the voice of Det. Harvey Bullock in lots and lots of Batman animated episodes and movies.

• Jason Priestly, who plays Pencil, starred in Beverly Hills 90120 as Brandon for a long time.  He also played the voice of Chameleon Boy in an episode of Superman: The Animated Series.

• Richard McGonagle plays Bill Wilson.  He’s had lots of appearances, including in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Voyager, He’s also played, in various shows and video games, the voices of such nerdy characters as Mr. Incredible, Carmine Falcone, Braniac, Perry White, Abin Sur, Apocalypse, General Grievous, and Dr. Franklin Storm.

• Janet Carroll plays Janie Wilson.  She’s also had lots of appearances, including as Doris Dial, anchorman Jim Dial’s wife, in a number of episodes of Murphy Brown.

• Scott Menville, who like a lot of people in this episode has had a long and prolific career, including playing the voice of Robin in lots of Teen Titans animated series.  Here he’s the actual Cam Wilson (who of course, never speaks).

• Michael Bellisario plays a little boy.  He’s the son of series creator Donald P. Bellisario.  He’ll reappear three more times as different characters over the course of the series.

Who and Where is Dr. Sam Beckett?
Sam is Cam Wilson, a teenager, in Los Angeles, California, from June 6-8, 1961, and then for some unspecified time after.

What does Sam have to do?
Sam’s job is to prevent Cheryl from marrying Bob and ending her career in the Peace Corp before it begins.  It turns out he is also there to help Cam Wilson start a romantic relationship with Jill.

What do we learn about Sam Beckett?
Sam’s sister got married when she was 17, to a man who apparently hit her when he was drunk.

Sam normally understands how to deal with and repair cars and engines.

What do we know about Al?
Al refers to 1961 as the good ol’ days, with the immature behavior of guys and girls.

If Al is to be believed, he has got a bit of Russian blood on his mother’s side.

What about the experiment?
Nothing new!

God or Time or Something
Not mentioned this time around.

“Oh Boy”
The phrase is said both at the start of the episode, and at the very end Sam arrives in his next leap (with a dead body lying on the ground in front of him, and a gun in his hands).

Sam’s Complicated Love Life
There’s nothing physical until the kiss at the end, but Sam must help Cam Wilson move forward with his relationship with Jill, which includes giving her a kiss.

The Many Loves of Al Calavicci
Al speaks lewdly about several girls, and apparently hooked with a girl he met a car auction.

Other Observations
• Sam has a funny line a he’s trying to figure out what he’s there to do:  “You know, maybe I’m here to clear up this kid’s complexion.  Looks like he’s gonna die of terminal acne.”

• That’s a long Leave it to Beaver clip that they play on the TV.

• There’s a funny gag where just about everyone Sam runs into punches him in the arm.  When he complains about it to his “sister”, she punches him in the stomach.  It even continues to very end, when Jill gives him a congratulatory thump after his humiliated Bob.

• It’s also funny and awkward when he talks to his “mother” with her odd hair treatment and demands for a kiss.

• Sam’s rehearsal dinner speech is pretty good.

•  “Food fight!  Food fight!  I like food fights,” says Al.  Pretty funny.

• And that’s supposed to be young Michael Jackson running into Sam.  Pretty random and weird.

• Um, where are Cheryl’s parents when she is leaving for her peace corp stint?

• It’s not addressed, but when Sam starts singing with Al at the end, he must have looked crazy.

• I’ve seen it said that the episode extends to June 9, 1961.  But that’s not stated anywhere in the episode and would imply that Cheryl left for the Peace Corp on the day after she broke up with Bob, the day she was scheduled to get married. That seems hard to believe.  The alternative is that Sam stayed around in Cam’s body for a much longer time–maybe weeks, maybe months.

Sam Leaps To
Play It Again, Seymour

Favorite Dialogue
Nothing really profound or poetic this time around (although the rehearsal dinner speech comes close).  Maybe my favorite is Sam’s reaction to the first sight of himself:

I’m a dork…a dork with teeth that can pick up radio transmissions.  Oh, boy.

The Best Moment
It’s gratifying, as I mentioned, to see Bob get punched out.  But I think my favorite moment is actually earlier, when Sam confronts him because of the bruises he finds on Cheryl.  Sam’s anger feels raw and real, and Bob’s reaction genuinely startled.

Previous Episode: The Color of TruthNext Episode: Play it Again, Seymour


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