Quantum Leap – It’s a Wonderful Leap [4.18]

Sam leaps into Max Freeman, a cabbie in New York City struggling to earn enough money to get his own taxi medallion–essentially the right to go into business for himself. His quest is both helped and hindered by the presence of Angela, an exuberant woman who claims to be an actual angel. Sam wonders if she might be sincere in her claims, while Al imagines she’s mentally unstable.

Teleplay by Danielle Alexandra and Paul Brown. Story by Danielle Alexandra. Directed by Paul Brown.

Previous Episode: Roberto! Next Episode:  Moments to Live

It’s a Wonderful Leap is fun but kind of crazy episode of Quantum Leap–a little more off-beat and silly than the normal instalment. Even though there’s a whole plot about being a taxi driver and an armed robber and the drama between Sam and his “father,” the thing that really stands out about the story is Angelita Carmen Guadalupe Cecelia Jimenez, the angel “haunting” Sam and Al throughout the runtime. She’s a larger than life personality, and thus ones enjoyment of the episode is almost completely dependent on how one feels about Liz Torres’ performance.

I found the character a little “much” for a lot of the time, a bit cringe-worthy, especially at first. The constant snapping between her and Al also became quickly tiring. But as the story went along I got caught up with her zesty personality. And surrounding her there is a story with good dialogue, a well-structured plot, and a lot of heart.

The story has a simple but elegant dramatic dilemma: if Sam doesn’t drive his cab that night, his host won’t make enough money to earn his taxi medallion, but if he does drive, he will be murdered in a robbery. Sam works to avoid the robbery, but it catches up with him anyway, which leads to some rich dramatic material with his father Lenny (Jerry Adler in a good performance). It all wraps up in a strong third act, and ultimately results in a fully satisfying episode.

So, even though the angel element is an odd fit, It’s a Wonderful Leap is a good episode. It’s got a clever script and a lot of good performances from the guest stars and the regulars, especially Scott Bakula. It’s not the most serious episode, but it still works quite well.

Cast Notes:
• Vaughn Armstrong (Fred Trump) appeared in multiple episodes of Star Trek, including The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager, most notably as Admiral Forrest on Star Trek Enterprise.

• Ross Partridge, who plays the mirror-image of Sam’s host, Max Greenman, was Lonnie Byers (Will and Jonathan’s father) for a few episodes of Stranger Things.

Who and Where is Dr. Sam Beckett?
Sam is Max Freeman, a New York City cab driver, from May 10 – 12 (probably, depending on whether the end of the episode is after midnight), 1958.

What does Sam have to do?
Sam has to help Max Freeman earn the money he needs to win his taxi medallion without being shot and killed in a robbery.

What do we learn about Sam Beckett?
We don’t really learn anything except that even though Sam naturally disbelieves in angels, he becomes convinced as he sees Angelita in action.

What do we know about Al?
Al clearly does not believe in angels, and he seems pretty conversant in the processes that a New York cab driver must go through,

What about the experiment?
Not really anything.

“Driven by an unknown force…” (God or Time or Something)
In hearing about Angelita’s supposed role as an angel, Al sarcastically speculates that all the guardian angels are slacking off on the job, which is why Sam must leap into people’s lives, in order to fix their mistakes. “Kinda like God’s clean-up crew.”

“Oh Boy”
The catchphrases is heard three times. Sam says it twice–once at the start at the end of the “leap in”, and then at the end at the end of the teaser for the next episode. But Angelita also says it, right after it’s revealed that she died in 1928.

Sam’s Complicated Love Life
There’s not love-life complications this time around.

The Many Loves of Al Calavicci
Nothing is mentioned.

Other Observations
• It Oh boy at the start ater apparently hitting someone while driving

• The person Sam is trying to revive punches him in the face! At at that moment, we know we are in for a comedy.

• And there is a lot of funny dialogue, mostly from Liz Torres, although Dean Stockwell and Scott Bakula have their moments. For example:

Sam: I was trying to save your…life.
Angelita: By running me down and beating me up?


Sam: You shouldn’t move.
Angelita: You shouldn’t drive.

and this quirky moment

Angelita: Oh, it’s okay, a bug flew in my mouth. Oh, it’s okay, he’s gone now.

and maybe most classically

Angelita: I’m not loud! I’m just Puerto Rican!

• On the other hand, some of Al’s insults and fat-shaming comments to Angelita wear a little thin: “Carmen Miranda without the banana hat,” repeatedly calling her “Charo,” or saying things like, “They must serve plenty of sweets in heaven.”

• Angelita calls Al the devil!

• Lenny also gets a great line when he sees Sam talking to the invisible Al: “Either I’ve had too much Chablis, or you’re talking to thin air.” After Sam replies, “I’m talking to thin air,” Lenny says, “Good. I can have another drink.”

• It’s really nice when Angelita sings Someone to Watch Over Me, and we see the photo of Lenny’s wife. She’s very tender in that moment.

• The relationship between Lenny and “Max”, along with the memory of the dead mother, is all beautifully played.

• I like the bit here Angelita talks about having to move on to her next assignment, and Sam says, “I know that feeling.”

• Sam says it’s been about twenty years since holograms were invented. Presumably though, that’s “regular” holograms, not “Al-type” holograms.

• Oddly, young Donald Trump makes an appearance. That’s the character, not the President. He’s played by an actor named Justin Thomson.

• They make a bit of a thing about how Sam has to choose to listening to the advice of either Al or Angelita about the whereabouts and intentions of Lenny, but really Al should just be able to instantaneously zero in on where Lenny is.

• The closing music is totally different than normal–incidental music from the episode, I guess.

Sam Leaps To
Moments to Live

Favorite Dialogue
Well, there are a lot of contenders for this title (see above), but I think on reflection my favourite is Angelita telling Al why he’s never going to get to heaven:

There’s a dress code.

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

The Best Moment
I loved it when Angelita starting talking excitedly about West Side Story: “You know, that’s a musical about Puerto Ricans in New York. And you know what? They got Puerto Ricans in it. I got tickets, front row center.” It’s a tiny moment but it felt incredibly authentic to me.

Previous Episode: Roberto! Next Episode:  Moments to Live


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