Sam leaps into Darlene Monte, who is competing in the local “Miss Deep South” beauty pageant in the 1950’s. “Her” roommate is Connie Duncan, a simple girl whose life is destined to be ruined by an unscrupulous and manipulative photographer. Sam must help get back nude photographs of Connie back, whilst also making sure Darlene has the same success in the beauty pageant that she did in the original history.
Written by Tommy Thompson. Directed by Christopher T. Welch.
Sam leaps into a woman…is this the third time? What Price, Gloria? and Another Mother. Yes, it’s the third time, and this is certainly the funniest iteration so far. Not only is Sam a woman, but he is a beauty pageant contestant, which is frankly, a hilarious situation for him to be in. He gets to participate in dance numbers, to pose wearing a swim suit, to deal with creepy old men judges…all the classic things that one imagines could go along with a beauty pageant.
But often Quantum Leap at its best dealt with the idea of Sam coming to accept and even appreciate the situation he finds himself in, and Miss Deep South does this in the most amusing way possible: by having Sam actually win the contest. It’s actually kind of sweet seeing him tear up at the news, and his line about wishing his sister could have seen this is especially interesting, given that there weren’t really any references to her prior to that.
The main “plot” of the episode deals with Sam attempting to help Connie deal with the creepy photographer Clint Beaumont, and eventually discovering the secret of the former winner turned pageant manager. It’s a necessary reality of the show that Sam is generally always positioned to be somebody’s “savior”. And where that was not a big deal in the 1990’s, today it always feels a little odd to see all these other characters, especially women, black people, and other potentially marginalized groups, needing to be “rescued” by Sam. And Connie, and even Peg, are definitely take on “victim” roles here.
But if you can accept that as a product of both the 1950’s (when the episode takes place) and the 1990’s (when the episode was made) than it all works pretty well. Connie and Peg are both reasonably well developed characters, and are performed well by Heather McAdam and Nancy Stafford. The photographer, Clint Beaumont, is a bit more one-note and obviously creepy, but it’s certainly satisfying to see Sam beat him up and then hang him out a window!
Scott Bakula does a good job with the episode. There’s not a whole lot for Dean Stockwell as Al to do aside from ogle the girls, but Bakula and Dean Stockwell have a funny dance together during the practice talent competition. We also get to hear Scott Bakula sing again, this time belting out Great Balls of Fire, which becomes a fun way to close off the episode’s action.
• David A. Brooks (Clint Beaumont) was a regular in the Babylon 5 spin-off show, Crusade, as David Allen Brooks.
• Nancy Stafford (Peg Myers) was a regular on St. Elsewhere for a while, and also Matlock.
Who and Where is Dr. Sam Beckett?
Sam is Darlene Monte from June 7 – 8, 1958. He starts off in at the bus station in Louisiana, then travels to Montgomery, Alabama that same day and for the rest of the leap.
What does Sam have to do?
Sam has to prevent his roommate, Connie Duncan, from have her life ruined by sleazy photographer Clint Beaumont. He also has to help his host to maintain her third place position in the Miss Deep South Beauty Pageant. Given that Sam eventually wins the Pageant, it may be that that was part of his task.
What do we learn about Sam Beckett?
Sam has presumably not seen a black and white TV since he was little.
What do we know about Al?
Al was in flight school in 1955, when he had an affair with a beauty queen.
What about the experiment?
Nothing is explicitly stated, but a contestant walks through hologram Al, and seems to get a bit of a buzz from the experience.
Also, Al leers at all the women he sees, but he never comments on Sam looking attractive to him in the same he did in What Price, Gloria? Is it possible that since then, Al and the project engineers have worked out some way for Al to see Sam as he really is when on the leaps?
God or Time or Something
Nothing is highlighted this time around.
The catchphrase is heard at the start of the story, but not in the teaser for the next episode, which has an altogether more serious feel to it.
Sam’s Complicated Love Life
Sam is not romantically connected to anyone this episode.
The Many Loves of Al Calavicci
In 1955, Al was involved with beauty queen who had been named “Miss Tail Gunner.” He leers at numerous women in this episode, including Connie Duncan.
• Darlene’s mother has a funny line about earrings right at the start. “If you would have forgotten this, you would have looked pretty foolish.”
• Sam has a funny response to Al claiming his comments about “Miss Tail Gunner” were a compliment. “On what planet?”
• This is a very amusing episode, with lots of funny bits of Sam trying and failing to act like a woman: with the way he walks, with the way he shakes hands, and so on.
• He’s also funny when he is caught out at the orientation meeting, and is super-confused. “Whaaat?”
• Sam is very awkward at unzipping Connie’s dress, and quite funny when he’s trying to block Al’s view. Of course, if he really wanted to, Al could just walk right through Sam.
• Clever line with Sam thinking about electricity running through his body.
• More funny bits: Sam is terrible at making a speech. Al telling Sam to sit down, and then stand back up. Sam dressed as Carmen Miranda. Sam in his swim suit is pretty absurd, which I guess just highlights how ridiculous it all is
• Peg Myers’ breakdown isn’t completely believable
could be here to see this.
Sam Leaps To
Black on White on Fire
There are a number of funny lines, but I’m not sure of my favorite. I guess I’ll for Sam’s surprisingly personal comment at the end, just before he leaps.
I just wish Katey could be here to see this.
Special thanks, by the way, to this site for the episode transcriptions.
The Best Moment
Sam and Al doing the Carmen Miranda dance is hard to beat. But the end, when Sam wins, and is confused, speechless and crying…that’s just pure gold.