Monday, June 20, 2016

Quantum Leap -- Episode 16: Jimmy

Sam Leaps Into: 
Jimmy LaMotta, a man with special needs who is living with his brother's family.

Get a job and keep it by earning the respect of his co-workers.


Oakland, California

Memorable Quote:
We're not going to lose Jimmy, right?  ~Al

It's great to see Sam land a few good shots on Blue.  Although the other guys watching the fight don't seem adequately surprised enough that Jimmy put down the baddest guy in the yard.

Another mean mom! 

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • I like Frank -- he's a strong character, well layered, and very well acted by John D'Aquino.
  • I'm not as much of a fan of Connie (as mentioned above in the lowlight).  That's now 3 very unlikable Moms in just the first half of season 2!
  • The antagonist of the episode is played by Michael Madsen who's been in a lot of things -- I recognized him from a small part in Die Another Day (I would know since I've seen all the Brosnan Bond movies at least 10 times).
  • Great scene where Al gives Sam a pep talk and brings up the story of his sister. Stockwell is an excellent actor and I always like when he takes center stage and when we learn more about his back story.
  • Interesting that Sam uses the Heimlich and CPR in back to back episodes.
  • I was in Best Buddies during all 4 years of college.  It's like Big Brothers/Big Sisters, only for people with special needs.  It's a great organization, and my buddy happened to be named Jimmy.

Final Analysis:
Solid episode.  It's a well-written, creative script and the story is emotional and uplifting.  I like how they portrayed Sam's klutziness as a result of people viewing him a certain way, and the harder he tried the more he fed into their perceptions.  I'm ranking it 6 out of 16.


  1. I really like this episode. It's well done and handles the subject matter nicely.

    And I told you there was another mean mom. Maybe you should make a 'Meanest Moms' list too. B/c I'm sure there are a few more.

  2. Excellent episode. My favorite so far. In the fall of 1989, there was a drama called "Life Goes On" that premiered starring a mentally challenged young man being mainstreamed into his sisters' high school, so perhaps the timing of that series inspired this episode. I also like how Sam was finding himself inadvertently living down to the low expectations of those around him with his klutziness and thus really getting a feel for the treatment of mentally challenged adults by those around them. It was one of the real upsides of this show's creative premise to put the main character into so many different roles and share such a diverse range of human experiences.

    I was a little surprised you liked it so well due to the cruel treatment Jimmy was getting from everybody, which you have docked major points for in the racially themed episodes. Michael Madsen was indeed in everything back in the day and I've liked him in most of his roles. Back in 1998-99, he had a short-lived dark comedy/crime drama called "Vengeance Unlimited" about a shady vigilante that was an absolute scream. Unlikely that it ever comes out on DVD as it only lasted 16 episodes but if it ever does I'm first in line to buy it. I may even settle for a bootlegged copy someday if I'm positive it will play on my DVD player.

    Back to "Quantum Leap", I also liked that we finally saw a different side to Al. I've found him pretty one-dimensional (no pun intended) thus far, so hearing his story about his sister and how Jimmy's trajectory is so peronalized for him has been by far his high point in the series for me. The only semi-weak point for me is Jimmy's salvation story as his heroics were all Sam's work instead of Jimmy's, meaning that his detractors are likely to revert to their original opinion of him now that Sam has leapt out his body. I get that that's the conceit of the show and that Sam's antics as Jimmy saved him from being institutionalized, but it wasn't as rewarding as it would have been from a narrative standpoint if Jimmy himself had found his own salvation. Nonetheless, really good episode and indicative of the best of what this show's formula has to offer.

    1. Now that you've got the DVD you're cranking out these QL's! Must be nice to not have the ads in your life any more.

      I remember Life Goes On well -- my mom used to watch it and I would watch it with her on Sunday nights. I actually met Chris Burke (Corky) in college at a Best Buddies event.

      As for liking this episode over the others, it seems inconsistent since I probably didn't explain very well on the others why I didn't care for them. It was more than people being treated badly, it was more like the stories didn't do much for me and didn't make it worthwhile. I'm sure that makes sense and that all my opinions/rankings are perfectly and logically consistent!

    2. It's a combination of having the DVD and it being the weekend that's helping me crank out the episodes. Considering the weather is poised to ruin my Saturday night plans, I'll probably be able to crank out two more episodes tonight.

      You said you found "The Wonder Years" too depressing to watch so I'm surprised you liked "Life Goes On" because I remember far more hard-core downer episodes of the latter than the former.

      I was also surprised you didn't mention Al's revelation about his sister in your review. Seemed like that was a major growth moment for his character and helped Sam find his inspiration to press on. For me it was the high point of the episode, but I liked just about everything. I had seen several episodes from the first half of season 2 in the summer of 1990 but definitely not this one.

    3. I didn't like Life Goes On -- it was pretty depressing! I just watched it because my mom did. I did mention Al in the review (4th bullet point). And after this weekend you're going to be ahead of me -- I have to pick up the pace!

    4. Wow...I must have had groggy eyes this morning to miss that bullet point.

      I like depressing stuff....shows, movies, songs. All of it.

  3. Scott Bakula demonstrates what a versatile actor he is. He plays a young man with special needs, which in the 1960’s was called ‘retarded.’ I cannot imagine any other actor playing the role of Dr. Sam Beckett. Mr. Bakula is called upon to play children, women, animals, and men in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors. He is wonderful in the roll of Jimmy.
    I had a cousin who was mentally slow. As a young teenager, he could not speak. He was placed in an institutional home. I remember the sadness that this caused my aunt and uncle. I remember the family discussions and tears. The family dynamics was portrayed very accurately and with a great deal of sensitivity.
    This episode also brings out the passion in Al as he remembers his sister, Trudy. This episode adds more complex layers to the main characters. Dean Stockwell was wonderful as he talked about his sister and the break-up of his family.
    The staging was perfect. Beatles poster, Bullwinkle slippers, and Coco Puffs were very popular in 1964. Also, Connie wore a ‘wrap around’ skirt. This was an easy to sew pattern (back when clothes were made at home) and it was very popular. Connie teased and heavily sprayed hair was also very typical of the 1960’s. “My Guy,” sung by Mary Wells was released in 1964 and was a chart topper. It was made even more popular in Whoopi Goldberg’s film, Sister Act in 1992.
    My favorite lines were: “I’m slow; I’m not deaf,” and “If you die, you’ll never get to see Star Wars.”
    Sam also brings his medical knowledge into the show. As in the "rabbi" show when he uses the Heimlich maneuver, now he uses CPR.
    Yes, Nick I did like "Life Goes On." Just another example of great music (Beatles) associated with a show. Heads up MacGyver! Alright, I just commingled the two shows in your blog.