Quantum Leap – All-Americans [2.14]

Sam leaps into Eddie Vega, a high school football star, shortly before a championship game which his friend Chuey is fated to purposely lose.  He discovers that this is because Chuey’s landlord is pressuring his family for money.  Sam has to figure out how to help Chuey do the right thing and avoid throwing away his future.

Written by Paul Brown and Donald P. Bellisario. Directed by John Cullum.

Previous Episode:  Another MotherNext Episode:  Her Charm

All-Americans is another enjoyable episode in Quantum Leap‘s second season.  This time around, Sam is in one of his youngest hosts so far, high school student Eddie Vega.  And while Sam was apparently a football player in Animal Frat, this is the first time we see him play.  It gives us another classic Quantum Leap fish-out-of-water opening, with Sam arriving just as he’s about to be run over by the defense.

It’s a great start to a lively story full of fun moments and characters that we quickly grow to care about.  The relationship between Chuey and Sam (as Eddie) is one of genuine humor, friendship and brotherhood, and quite enjoyable to watch.  Chuey’s motivations for throwing the game are believable and sympathetic, as is Sam’s attempts at (and eventual success to) dissuade him.  There’s just the right amount of heart to everything–so that we can connect with the characters emotionally, but it never gets bogged down in sentiment.

All the performances are good, including in particular Richard Coca as Chuey.  I also enjoyed the role that Robert Benedetti had as the coach.  Interestingly, the episode is directed by John Cullum, the actor who is maybe most famous for playing Holling Vincoeur in Northern Exposure, but who also just guest starred as John O’Malley in Catch a Falling Star, just a few episodes ago on this series.  It’s his only directing job listed on his IMDb page.  I wonder how that came about?  However it happened, he and the production team were successful at crafting an episode that while not being particular “important” for the development of the series, remains highly watchable and enjoyable to watch.

Cast Notes:
• Pepe Serna plays Manuel Vega.  He was Reno Nevada in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai, which was awesome.

Who and Where is Dr. Sam Beckett?
Sam is Eddie Vega, a high school student and football player in El Camino High School in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California, from November 6 – 13, 1962.

What does Sam have to do?
Sam has to help local high school football star Chuey Martinez not throw away his future by purposely losing a big football game.

What do we learn about Sam Beckett?
Sam speaks Spanish.

What do we know about Al?
Nothing much, except that he lost his virginity before he was 16.

What about the experiment?
There’s nothing in particular new here.

God or Time or Something
There are no particular references.

“Oh Boy”
The catchphrase is heard twice during the football game Sam is playing at the start of the episode.

Sam’s Complicated Love Life
Carla is smitten with Eddie–Sam’s host–but Sam doesn’t take any particular advantage of this in anything we see in the leap.

The Many Loves of Al Calavicci
Al “checks out” the cheerleaders, including Carla.  He make it very clear that he lost his virginity before he was 16, and implies that there were some romantic encounters while he was 16 that were very positive for him.

Other Observations
• Deborah Pratt provides the opening narration for the first time (which was introduced last episode, but then recorded by a male actor).

• Al arrives within minutes of Sam’s arrival, which is the fastest we’ve ever seen him show up.

• Sam and Al at first think they are there to just win a football game, which is funny because it is so simple, but also because presumably the team won anyway in the original history, since they would not have been in following game otherwise.

• There’s a lot of funny humor in this story, including Sam being pounded by his teammates in the celebratory ritual, and Chuey teasing Sam by checking his vision.

• So, apparently in 1962, there is no diet soda, and no twist-off tops to soda bottles.

• Um, I guess Mrs. Martinez had her child when she was pretty young.

• There’s a reference to the pop group Menudo, who released their first album in 1977.

• Interesting though brief discussion on immigrants in America, about how Mrs. Martinez snuck across the border when she was nine months pregnant.  “I mean, that- that’s the story with our country. Mothers and fathers go through all kinds of hardships just to see that their kids get a better break than they had.”

• “How come you aren’t out there acting my age?” says Al, saying that he will always be 16 at heart.

• There’s also a reference to Jane Fonda and her workout videos.

• I like how Al pops in and out as Sam runs around the track, in order to keep up with him.

Sam vs. Ruben is cool.  The coach telling Ruben off–a giant man–is great

• OK, Chuey is #86–I’m pretty sure there was a #86 we can see playing at one point while Chuey had sidelined himself.

• Al references watching the Steelers in Superbowl XXX.  In real life, this happened in 1996, and the Steelers did play.

• Al has a nice line describing Chuey and Eddie’s friendship:  “It’s like me and you.”

• I like it when Al tells Sam to duck during the game, so an opposing player jumps over him.

• “Celia can sleep with my dad,” says Sam.  Yikes!  Talk about awkward. Well, it all worked out, I guess.  I like Celia and Manuel as a couple, and they seem to genuinely love each other.  Al announces that they have four more children and make a lot of money from their catering trucks.  I remember the show having lots of such “future reports” from Al, but actually they haven’t been so common.

• Sam knocks Ruben down with the football team’s victory salute–awesome!

Sam Leaps To
Strangely, it’s Color of Truth again, for the third time.  They must have really liked that episode.

Favorite Dialogue
I like it when Sam is asking Al why Chuey would ever throw away his football career, something that seems unimaginable to him, and thus assuming that Ziggy must have made a mistake.

That-That kind of data is locked in the human heart.

Special thanks, by the way, to this site for the episode transcriptions.

The Best Moment
I really enjoy all the funny interaction with Sam being inadvertently “beaten up” by the football team, but my favorite scene is Sam and Ruben’s fight in the locker room, followed by the coach’s intervention.  That guy is huge, and seeing Ruben discreetly back off is very satisfying.

Previous Episode:  Another MotherNext Episode:  Her Charm


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