Sam leaps into Joe Furlow, a young actor who is involved in a romantic relationship with an older woman named Jane Lindhurst. Jane’s family are eager for her to return home from New York, believing that her relationship is doomed. Jane is a gifted but insecure singer, and Sam believes he is there to help her pursue her dreams rather than settle into the life that is expected of her.
Written by Beverly Bridges. Directed by Eric Laneuville
Previous Episode: Unchained • Next Episode: Running for Honor
The Play’s the Thing is a flawed but decent episode of Quantum Leap, working mostly thanks to Penny Fuller’s performance as Jane Lindhurst and the warmth that comes through in her relationship with Sam. Sam instantly seems to feel a genuine affection for the woman, and Scott Bakula and Lindhurst act nicely together. It’s not surprising that Sam doesn’t appear to have any difficulty with the age difference between Jane and his host–Sam’s always been a liberal sort of a guy and obviously his experience leaping has given him a broad appreciation for a wide range of perspectives. But still it would have been interesting if there had been a way for the story to have delve into that a little more–what kind of guy is Joe that he ended up getting involved with Jane, and so on.
Still, even without that, it’s an enjoyable viewing experience. The tension that Neil feels about his mother’s life choices is completely believable, and the episode allows us some tender moments between the two. There is a scene that they share that is very interestingly directed, where both are framed in mirrors that sit on a table next to each other. It nicely highlights the disconnect between mother and son.
Less believable is the character of Ted, who is so instantly dislikeable that you can’t really believe the character. Obviously, there is limited runtime for the episode and so not time for everything, but in this case Ted and his fuddy-duddy ways are too rushed to take seriously. There is time for the show’s whole “nude Hamlet” sequence, which farcical but still funny, and Sam’s humiliated reaction keeps the farce grounded.
The episode has a nice ending, with Joey and Jane’s finding success after a fashion, but in a measured way–nothing so silly as superstardom or anything like that.
• Robert Pine (Ted) was the Sergeant on CHiPs in the 1970’s. He was also Jim Halpert’s father on The Office, Magnum’s father on Magnum PI, and an alien ambassador in the Star Trek Voyager episode The Chute. He’s also the father of actor Chris Pine.
• Daniel Roebuck (Neil) was one of the marshals in The Fugitive (and its sequel US Marshals), and the doomed Dr. Leslie Arzt for a handful of episodes of Lost. He also played Jaron in the two part Star Trek: The Next Generation episode Unification.
• Craig Richard Nelson (The Director) appeared in both Star Trek: The Next Generation (A Matter of Perspective) and Star Trek Voyager (Living Witness).
• Eva Loseth (Petra) only had a handful of credited roles, but one of them was on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, in the episode Life Support, as a girl who goes with a friend on a disastrous double date with Jake and Nog.
• This is the only episode of Quantum Leap directed by Eric Laneuville, but I remember him as an actor on St. Elsewhere where he played Luthor Hawkins as a regular for many seasons. He also directed a bunch of episodes of that show, as well as lots of other television.
Who and Where is Dr. Sam Beckett?
Sam is Joe Furlow, an actor in New York City, New York, on September 9-11, 1969.
What does Sam have to do?
Sam has to help Joe Furlow find some success as an actor, and to give Jane Lindhurst the confidence she needs to pursue her dreams.
What do we learn about Sam Beckett?
Sam mentions, by mistake, that he voted in every election since Ford-Carter. We never find out if this is true about him. Sam is born on August 8, 1953 and thus was 23 years old during the Ford-Carter election of 1976. He would have been only 19 in the previous presidential election (Nixon-McGovern), but still eligible to vote since the US voting age was lowered to 18 in 1971.
Sam has a photographic memory, which has been mentioned before (Catch a Falling Star), which was also about someone in the theatre.
What do we know about Al?
Al refers to going back to Cleveland as a fate worse than death.
“Driven by an unknown force…” (God or Time or Something)
Sam whispers a “thank you” to God after
The catchphrase is heard more times in this episode than we’ve ever had before. First, it starts with an embarrassed “Oh boy,” from Sam when Neil catches him in bed with his mother. A bit later, Jane says, “Oh boy,” to which Sam replies, “You can say that again. Sam gives another “Oh boy,” when he finds out he is playing the lead in Hamlet. Then Al gives his own “Oh boy,” when Sam begins to act nude. Then Sam lets out another “Oh boy!” when everyone catches him with Petra.
And then there is one more “Oh Boy” in the teaser for the next episode, when Sam blows the relay race.
Sam’s Complicated Love Life
Sam is closely involved with Jane Lindhurt throughout this whole leap. Petra, his co-star in Hamlet, comes onto him very strongly.
The Many Loves of Al Calavicci
When Al hears the words, “Damp, musty, frigid…” he quips, “That sounds like my third wife, or was it my second or fourth… most of my wives.” Later, he says his fifth wife had a dream of skating professionally in the roller derby, but fell on her “tushy” all the time during tryouts. She later tried ice skating but it wasn’t the same, and eventually ran off with a bricklayer.
Al ogles Petra pretty severely.
• There’s a fun bit of narration from Sam at the start: “Quantum leaping through time, I’ve leaped into an electric chair, gunfights, and a variety of handcuffs. It looks like I finally rated a cushy time.”
• Sam is startled to see in the mirror how young he is!
• Neil comes alongside Sam with a very threatening, “Yeah, lets chat.” .
• Sam acts like an idiot during the Hamlet rehearsel scene
• Sam gets to use his piano playing ability.
• Good dose of realism from Al: “You’ve known her for one day. Neil has known her his entire life. And you push her too hard, and she’s gonna wish she’d never even known you.”
• Neil gets in a bit of a funny crack about the venue for Hamlet. He’s told it’s an art house, and he resonds, “Well, tell Art to get a real theatre.”
• I like it when Al tries to “cheer Sam up” after the performance: “You should be proud…the audience was riveted….It was like they were watching…a car wreck. Like it was horrible, but you were too fascinated to look away.”
• After Ted punches Sam, Al yells, “You’re lucky he didn’t give you a flying noodle kick, you nozzle.” That’s sort of funny.
• Liz is excited about Joe’s Boxer Boy underwear job, which is kind of cute.
• As usual, the end credits are over some special music from the episode, in this case some of Jane’s singing.
Sam Leaps To
Running for Honor
Jane is pretty devastated to find Sam with Petra, but takes it on the chin:
If it isn’t Petra, it’ll be somebody else. And then one day you’ll stop turning them down. I can’t compete. The only thing that sags on her are her morals.
Special thanks, by the way, to this site for the episode transcriptions.
The Best Moment
The scene where everyone finds Sam and Petra together is pretty funny, with its rapid fire burst of everyone yelling each other’s names: “Joe!” “Jane!” “Mom!” “Ted!” “Uh, Jane.” “Ophelia.” “Neil!” And then finally, “Oh boy.”
Previous Episode: Unchained • Next Episode: Running for Honor