Quantum Leap – A Song for the Soul [4.15]

Sam leaps into Cherea, a black teenager who has dreams of forming a female singing group with her friends Lynelle and Paula. The relationship between Lynelle and her conservative and protective preacher of a father is very tense, and is destined to fall apart as Lynelle continues to pursue singing. In particular, Lynelle is sought after by the immoral club owner and music promoter, Bobby Lee. Sam must find a way to help Lynelle and her father reconcile before it is too late

Written by Deborah Pratt. Directed by Michael W. Watkins.

Previous Episode: The Last Gunfighter Next Episode:  Ghost Ship

Like some other recent episodes of Quantum Leap, A Song for the Soul is better in the set-up than it is the pay-off. I’m thinking of The Last Gunfighter in particular, where the seemingly unresolvable conflict ends up getting sorted out in a fairly forced manner. The episode spends much time exploring the breakdown between Lynelle and her father, Reverend Walters, and making that tension believable. And it does a great job taking us into both of their perspectives, especially with the nice twist of how distorted Lynelle’s memories of her mother actually are. But as the episode pushes on toward the finish line, it is increasingly clear that there simply isn’t time to give the inevitable reconciliation between the two the time it needs to be believable.

And so, quite artificially, Reverend Walters thinks that by allowing his daughter to sing, he has caused her to cut him out of her lie completely. And equally artificially, Lynelle shows up to tell him he’s wrong by simply singing to him a church song from earlier. It’s an ending that works only because we know it doesn’t make any sense to think that now that the father has given in, the daughter is going to pull away from him.

Of course, what makes up for it is Tammy Townsend’s incredible singing voice (I assume it’s the actress actually singing). She is really a delight to listen to throughout the episode. And there are lots of other good things about A Song for the Soul as well, including pretty much all of the performances. Scott Bakula and Dean Stockwell are good in their standard ways, but the guest stars really stand out as well, including Harrison Page (Reverend Walters), Tammy Townsend (Lynelle), Eriq LaSalle (Bobby Lee) and T’Keyah “Crystal” Keymáh (Paula). The young girls especially have a lot of fun chemistry together, and all the conflicts are really well set-up.

So on balance I liked the episode (more than The Last Gunfighter) but I do wish the ending could have somehow been more compelling. I like the scene in the church with Lynelle singing at the close, but the script needed to do a bit more work to make that moment feel dramatically meaningul.

Cast Notes:
• Eriq LaSalle (Bobby Lee) was a regular on ER, playing Peter Benton.

Who and Where is Dr. Sam Beckett?
Sam is Cherea, a teenaged girl living in Chicago, from April 7-9, 1963.

What does Sam have to do?
Sam has to prevent Lynelle Walters from getting involved with the immoral Bobby Lee, while helping Lynelle and her father reconcile their broken relationship.

What do we learn about Sam Beckett?
According to Al, Sam has a doctorate in reading music. Sam says his mother used to say, “God only gives us
what he thinks we can handle.” Sam quotes Khalil Gibran, and refers to him as a prophet.

What do we know about Al?
Al spent time at the Regal Theatre in its heyday, and remembers seeing the Marvelettes, Smokey Robinson, Martha and the Vandellas, and James Brown.

What about the experiment?
This is speculation, but based on the mirror image, Sam is definitely taller than Cherea, his host. No one seems to notice, even when he hits his head on a ceiling fixture that it seems she would have cleared. Later a punk calls her a “tall woman,” but I still think that the real Cherea looks a lot shorter than Sam. It implies that the “aura” people see extends not just to what Sam actually looks and sounds like, but what he even feels like.

“Driven by an unknown force…” (God or Time or Something)
No reference in this episode.

“Oh Boy”
The catchphrase is said upon arrival, and in the closing tag for the episode Ghost Ship, he tries to utter an “Oh boy,” as he is about to crash, but he doesn’t quite manage it.

Sam’s Complicated Love Life
Nothing happening here, except that the street punk tries very hard to come onto Sam as Cherea.

The Many Loves of Al Calavicci
Nothing in this episode.

Other Observations
• Classic embarrassing moment for a newly leapt-in Sam: dancing around the stage not having any idea about hat he’s doing.

• This is, apparently, Sam’s only Sam’s first (and only televised) leap into an African-American woman.

• Some good dialogue when Sam lists the reasons he can’t perform: “So first of all, I don’t know any of the songs or the routines. And secondly, I’m a man. I’m not a 16-year-old girl.” Al replies, “That never stopped you before.”

• Cute scene of Sam and Al teaching the girls to dance the routine

• I like this exchange between the Reverend and Bobby Lee. “Look, man, just because I don’t attend your church doesn’t make me a sinner,” says Bobby Lee. Reverend Walters replies, “Even though you don’t attend any church doesn’t make you a sinner. But what you said to Leda Brown’s 13-year-old daughter does make you a sinner!”

• Also between Sam and Al. “I read music, right?” “You have a doctorate in it.”

Sam Leaps To
Ghost Ship

Favorite Dialogue
Sam tries to convince Lynelle that Bobby Lee is bad news. She claims that he respects her talent. Sam replies…

I respect your talent, but I’m not gonna seduce you to prove it.

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

The Best Moment
I really liked the energetic church scene, including Lynelles singing. Of course, it all goes a bit downhill when Reverend Wlaters begins to preach his very on-the-nose sermon.

The other contender is when Sam beats up the punk on the street, and how excited Paula and Lynelle are afterwards.

Previous Episode: The Last Gunfighter Next Episode:  Ghost Ship


2 thoughts on “Quantum Leap – A Song for the Soul [4.15]

  1. ” Sam is definitely taller than Cherea, his host. No one seems to notice, even when he hits his head on a ceiling fixture that it seems she would have cleared” I’ve often wondered about this — how Sam can be there in his own body yet wear the clothes, fit into the same spaces, etc.
    I think TV series, in general, have trouble showing serious parent/child dysfunction. A lot of episodes I’ve seen over the years present some serious conflict between the two but then show it’s just a misunderstanding, everyone meant well, they all love each other, etc.

  2. In a show like Quantum Leap, it was pretty baked into the format that most things had to resolve by the end, so it often went for the simplistic resolution. I still like it, of course, but it did limit the show’s depth.

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