Sunday, May 22, 2016

Quantum Leap -- Episode 5: Double Identity

Sam Leaps Into: 
Frankie La Palma, a mafia hit man in love with the Don's mistress.

Get Frankie and Teresa's relationship out in the open without incurring the wrath of the Don. Help Frankie's grandmother get her first ever win in bingo.


Brooklyn, New York

Memorable Quote:
If I'm lyin', I'm dyin'.   ~Teresa

The barbershop scene is great when the Don asks Sam in Italian why he is in the barbershop and Al has to feed him lines.  Funny stuff.

While I like the idea of Sam causing the blackout of 1965 (which was a real thing), it would have made more sense for his brothers to have to plug in the hair dryer somewhere in New York City instead of Buffalo.  That's a 7 hour drive, and I'd believe that quantum leaping is real before I'd believe that two brothers would drive 7 hours one way in order to plug in a hair dryer at a random house without knowing why.

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • The MacGyver guest star streak continues once again -- it's Joe Santos as Sam's father, Tony La Palma.  Santos appeared as reformed hit man Jimmy the Eraser in The Eraser and Back From The Dead, and sadly he passed away two months ago.
  • The opening is straight out of The Godfather with an outdoor Italian wedding reception outside of a mansion. 
  • The brothers look a little too old to be shadow boxing and slapping each other around.
  • The makeup people did a good job of make Al look sweaty (he was hot because Ziggy turned off the air conditioning to cut costs).
  • The street in Buffalo looks a lot like the one in Back to the Future, and they very well could be the same since Back to the Future was also filmed at Universal Studios.
  • Terri Garber (who plays Teresa) does an excellent job.  I don't know if she is part Italian but she really makes for a convincing Italian-American woman.
  • And Bakula is great too.  I love when he tries to speak Italian (especially as someone who minored in Italian in college), and it's funny when he starts to assume their mannerisms.  Just like RDA and MacGyver, it's hard to imagine anyone else in the role of Sam Beckett -- Bakula is perfect for it.
  • Just when I was wondering why the episode was called "Double Identity," Sam did the double leap.  That was pretty cool and something I wasn't expecting.
  • My grandmother was quite the bingo player back in the day, and it actually did take some skill the way she played it (paying for and monitoring 15+ cards at once).

Final Analysis:
This is my new #2 -- great characters and dialogue, clever script, and I love the Italian accents and slang.  5 episodes in, and I'm really enjoying the series -- they don't make tv like this any more, that's for sure.  


  1. I enjoyed this one. Quite an improvement from the last episode and a good mix of humor and suspense throughout, especially in the barbershop scene which is also my favorite. I don't fully explain why Al isn't there at Sam's beckon call and he has to rely on incredibly convenient timing to save him from certain death the way he did in the barbershop scene, but it was nonetheless amusing. Pretty good performances from the mob family. I wasn't aware of the blackout of 1965 until I read it on your writeup here so I didn't recognize the specific historical context of the hair dryer bit. It was a pretty clever double switch and fast thinking on Sam's part to realize why he had taken the role of the Don, even though I have a feeling the Don still wouldn't accept Frankie and Teresa's relationship so readily after switching back. Still, a good hour of television and I think I'd rank this one as my new #2 as I still liked the pilot better. Also, you minored in Italian in college?

    Five episodes in and my adult "Quantum Leap" experience is closely mirroring my boyhood "Quantum Leap" experience thus far, entertained by one episode and bored out of my mind the next as I was with the previous episode. I didn't watch the next episode originally but remember it being looked at as a fairly iconic moment in the series' trajectory, both due to the subject matter and the fact that it was the first episode on Wednesday night where it spent most of its run. Hopefully the streak of running hot and cold for me ends with the next one.

    1. Yeah, it would be a lot easier if Al was just there the whole time -- he's a pretty big ace in the hole for Sam in that he can go behind closed doors and hear what people are talking about. I think in a future episode it is mentioned that there are some power issues (like it takes a lot of gigawatts to send him down) which is why he isn't there more, though I may be misremembering that. And I think you're right that the Don probably wouldn't be too happy once he returns to his body.

      I was excited to see Joe Santos' name come up in the opening credits, though his character didn't really serve a purpose in the story. And I minored in Italian because I wanted to do a language, and two of my grandparents spoke Italian so I chose it. I don't remember most of it at the moment but hopefully I could pick some of it up if I practiced a little.

    2. You could grab DuoLingo if you have a smartphone - it'll let you refresh your Italian and it's free. When I remember to play with it, I use it to brush up/increase my Italian vocab. I had about a semester or so's worth of Italian during my summer study-abroad in college. =)

      I get a little cranky when people pronounce 'capisce' wrong. Even more so when the characters are speaking Italian all over the place.

    3. I don't have a smartphone -- I'm one of the last holdouts!

    4. Re-learning Italian - clear reason to get one. =)

  2. I had a friend who lived through the 11/09/65 east coast blackout. She was stranded most of the night in a Manhattan department store. She slept on the escalator with many other people who could not see their hands in front of their faces.
    My favorite lines in addition to "If I'm lying, I'm dying," are
    1.I did not know that the A&P supermarket was Greek
    2. If I'm lying, I will give you my first born grandchild. Then in surprise, the groom says, "Angela told you."

    One mistake that I found was the movie theater marquee. Doctor Zhivago was not released until December 1965.

    The episode also revealed a common women's undergarment when Teresa was fixing the bocce balls. When she bent over, we were shown her garter belt. This was pre-pantihose. Every woman had a multipe garter belts. The advantage was that if you go a 'run' in one stocking, you did not have to throw out the other stocking. When you get a 'run' in pantihose, the whole thing is worthless.

    I also like when Sam lets slip a word from the future like, Awesome.

  3. One of my favorite episodes of QL!

    Notice the one joke from this episode that probably everyone misses: Sam tells Teresa that she was "awesome" behind the furnace at St. Francis. Later, when Sam and Al are talking during the church bingo game at the end of the episode, Sam casually walks over to the furnace and looks behind it! It's very subtle that most viewers miss it, but it makes for a good laugh if you catch it!