Saturday, May 21, 2016

Quantum Leap -- Episode 4: How The Tess Was Won

Sam Leaps Into: 
Daniel "Doc" Young, a veterinarian on a ranch.

Win a series of ranch hand challenges to convince Tess, the ranch owner's hard-nosed daughter, to marry him.  Give his young guitar-playing assistant an idea for a song.  I'm not certain but I think the implication is that it's the latter task which is his true reason for being there.



Memorable Quote:
I won't breed with inferior stock, Chance.  The man I marry has to be more of a man than I am.   ~Tess

The ending is phenomenal as Sam and Al realize who the guitar-playing young kid really is (I won't spoil it if you haven't seen it), and I love the moment when the light bulb goes off and they stop in their tracks and slowly turn around.  It's also fun how Sam gets frustrated during the episode at never learning the kid's name (including one time when Tess is about to say it but is interrupted by a roar of thunder).

The premise is a little goofy -- that Tess doesn't really want to get married but she agrees to marry Doc if he can beat her in a series of ranch tasks.

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • The MacGyver guest star streak continues!  Right off the bat we see Lance LeGault as Chance the ranch owner -- LeGault took a memorable turn as Sheriff Bodine (a great MacGyver villain) in Jack in the Box and a not as memorable turn in the woeful Honest Abe.  And then we see Marshall Teague as Wayne, the rival for Tess's affection -- he starred as Morrison in Renegade and as Kid Curry in Mark's favorite episode MacGyver's Women.  That's 7 MacGyver guest stars in just 4 episodes of Quantum Leap!
  • And two other MacGyver connections:
    • The actress who played Tess was married at one time to Robert Romanus of The Prodigal fame.
    • The name of the horse shares a name with an infamous mountain.
  • I believe this is the first time in the series that we see Al's handheld device that he uses to get information and calculations from Ziggy.  Maybe if smartphones looked as cool as that I would finally get one.
  • The poker scene in the bar is great, though it would have been nice for Al to stand behind Wayne and verify his cards.  Having your own personal hologram invisible and inaudible to everyone else would make it pretty easy to win big at cards.
  • Sam seems surprised at his appearance in the mirror at the end of the episode, but are we supposed to think that he hadn't looked in the mirror at all in the previous few days?

Final Analysis:
I enjoyed this one and am putting at #2 in the rankings for now.  I like the old-school classic country setting, and the Wayne/Sam rivalry is fun while not being over the top.  I also like how Sam was starting to fall for Tess but knew that he couldn't stay and even made his feelings known to God at one point.  And the ending is awesome.


  1. I remember this one. And I remember the kid writing songs about a pig. (Assuming this is the one I think it is.)

  2. Whoa! Your #1?!??! I couldn't get into this at all. In fact, I don't really walk away with enough of an impression to even say much it was such a 48-minute nothingburger. Sorry. The best I can say is the production was solid with an effective Wild West feel. Definitely dead last for me so far. Apparently any show guest starring Marshall Teague that's not set in the present is doomed with me. I was so checked out by the last few minutes I missed whatever the big revelation was with the guitar boy. What was the surprise?

    As for Lance LeGault, his career role was as Decker on "The A-Team". About six weeks ago, I picked up that show's second season--far and away the series' prime--and loved it. The show burned out fast after that but it's easy to see why season 2 of "The A-Team" was such a huge ratings success. Anyway, I just finished a jury trial and will be going home to Minnesota for four days, unsure whether NBC's website will work right on my folks' bizarre internet. Seems unlikely I'll ever catch up at the pace you're going. I know you say you don't mind but just letting you know.

    1. Well it's now fallen to #4 in my rankings! I concede that it's not the most exciting story in the world but I dig the dusty Texas setting and enjoyed many of the scenes. The surprise was that the kid was Buddy Holly, and Sam talking about the pig inspired the words to "Peggy Sue." His plane crash (the "day the music died") happened in northern Iowa. I just looked it up and the site is in Clear Lake -- looks pretty close to your hometown.

    2. And I'm actually going to take a little QL break (just finished the first season) and want to finish my Disney countdown, so you have some time to catch up.

    3. My computer was stalling at the end but I did catch the "Peggy Sue" music a bit but missed the specific ode to Buddy Holly. And yes, the death of Holly, the Big Bopper, and Richie Valens in Clear Lake, Iowa (45 minutes south of where I grew up) remains a legend in the area. Future country singer Waylon Jennings was supposed to be on the plan but decided not to board at the last minute for reasons I can't recall. The venue they all performed in before the crash--the Surf Ballroom--is still open today and hosts popular music acts. Did you know the early 70's song "Bye Bye Miss American Pie" was an ode to the plane crash that killed them all? Another fun bit of trivia is that "Bye Bye Miss American Pie" was the longest song ever that hit #1 on the charts...over eight minutes long. That was quite a domino effect of trivia questions I just posted!

    4. I was raised on Oldies music so I know all about American Pie. And Dion (from Dion and the Belmonts) was almost on that plane too but gave up his seat to Richie Valens. Have you ever been to the crash site? I see on the internet that there's a post with Buddy Holly-style dark glasses and then some records and a guitar at the site itself.

    5. I've actually never been to the crash site, crazy as that sounds given how close it was to me.

  3. I was raised on Buddy Holly music. Peggy Sue became a hit in 1958 and it still is a toe-tapper for me with I hear it. Buddy Holly and the Crickets were an inspiration to the Beatles. John, Paul, George and Ringo wanted an 'insect' sounding name to pay homage to Buddy Holly. In fact, John Lennon recorded Peggy Sue in 1975.
    Another 1950 flashbacks: pine wood paneling in Doc's house; refrigerator with motor on top; Hank Williams singing "Cold, Cold Heart" (1951), which I remember hearing my mother sing; and popular 1950 slang expression "If I'm lying, I'm dying." To me that expression sounds perfect when said with a New Jersey accent. There is also part of the dialog that reminds me of my childhood hero, Annie Oakley. In the Broadway play, Annie Get your Gun, the song, "Anything you can do, I can do better," typifies Doc and Tess's contest.
    My two favorite lines from the show are "Bonanza was never like this," and "Calf has to be roped before you can put your brand on him." Bonanza first aired in 1959, it was on Sunday night at 9 PM. I would beg my parents to be able to stay up and watch it. Also, it was one of the first shows that went to 'color' broadcasting and it influenced many people to go out and buy their first color TV set. So, Sam's reference to it in 1956 was ahead of his time. Just like, "Women's lib is going to love you." So I guess that is three quotes.

  4. One more thought, Friday evening we went to see Paul Anka in concert. He is now 75 years old. But his voice is still strong and perfect. He sang a Buddy Holly song, It Doesn't Matter Anymore. Paul Anka wrote the song for Buddy Holly in 1958. According to Paul, he and Buddy were seatmates on a bus trip and Buddy asked him to write him a song. When the trip was over, the song was complete.

    1. That's a great song -- I didn't know that Paul Anka wrote it.

  5. SPOILERS!!!

    I think it is ridiculous that he never looked himself on mirror, when he spend a week playing Doc. Looking on a mirror is usually among the first thing Sam does and for a good reason (to get to know his host). Let alone that avoiding mirrors / reflections is pretty much impossible for extended period of time.

    I think episode handled "I will marry you, if you beat me in these ranch tasks" -premise extremely well. In the end, when Sam won, he just informed them that he didn't actually want Tess and drove away.

    Sam showed us viewers and Tess alike, that the whole premise was ridiculous and childish and if she was marrying someone, it shouldn't be over stupid game like that. Making her realize that the love isn't about games.

    As episode revealed, Sam & Al were on the wrong track all the time. Tess didn't actually love Doc, even she become delighted by Sam. In reality Sam's mission was to get Tess and Wayne together. To make Tess acknowledge and embrace her [already existing] love toward Wayne and give Wayne to courage confess his feelings and love toward her.

    One thing that nags me in this episode is that Sam didn't even try warn Buddy about his death. It is a nice ending, but sad when you know what is waiting for Buddy.

    1. Good stuff, thanks for reading and for the comments!