Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Quantum Leap -- Episode 17: So Help Me God

Sam Leaps Into: 
Leonard Dancey, a defense lawyer.

Win a not guilty verdict for his client Lila, a black woman accused of murdering her white lover who also happens to be the son of the town's power broker.



Memorable Quote:
The best Ziggy could come up with is you're here to Rhett Butler.  ~Al
No, no way.  Tell Ziggy to shove that.  ~Sam

Great climatic scene when Ms. Sadie reveals the truth to the absolute shock of the people in the courtroom.

The scene where Sam encourages Myrtle to testify by quoting the Bible is a good scene on the surface, but its impact is reduced when we never end up seeing Myrtle testifying. 

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • It's good that they eventually settled on a standard opening to these episodes, because the "Leaping about in time..." voiceover just seems like repetitive filler.
  • I think Sam could have made a better excuse to leave the courtroom than to say that his fly was open.

Final Analysis:
Great episode!  I like courtroom dramas (e.g. A Few Good Men is one of my all time favorite movies), and this story is very gripping and well crafted -- there's never a dull or wasted moment, and I was compelled to keep watching to see what would happen.  The characters are great, the acting superb, and it's nice to see justice served in the end.  Putting this at #6 of 17 in the rankings.


  1. This one is very 'To Kill a Mockingbird' - at least the Atticus Finch side of it. There's lots of parallels and it mirrors pretty well.

    I like courtroom stories too (some of my fave shows are L&O, Suits, JAG, L&O:SVU - well, before they all but dumped the lawyers...).

    "A Few Good Men" is an amazing movie.

  2. This was a decent episode but didn't rock me to my core by any means. The best part of it was the degree to which they captured the atmosphere.....the steamy Louisiana summer in a world before air conditioning where everyone's faces were constantly covered in sweat yet men and women still seemed to dress in multiple layers with scarcely an inch of exposed skin right down to their fingers for the ladies. Minus the surplus clothing, the timing was perfect for me since I walked around at the Des Moines Arts Festival in 95-degree heat yesterday covered in sweat. I had seen this episode before in the summer of 1990 but the only part of it I remembered is Sam's stall tactic by telling the judge he couldn't argue because his fly was open.

    I guess I didn't see coming that Ms. Sadie was the real killer so they worked that climax in pretty nicely....and helped to clarify what I found odd that Myrtle so steadfastly refused to put her hand on the Bible and testify. It was all pretty solid but lacked the sizzle for me of some of the legal drama on "L.A. Law" and "The Practice". I'd probably rank it in the middle, but the top half.

    1. You're right that they captured the heat very well -- I was actually wondering if they were setting that up to be a plot point, like somehow the heat was going to figure into the mystery.

    2. "L.A. Law" is nothing *but* drama... oh man that show. Not that that's a bad thing. It's what it was meant to be - and yup, I've seen all the episodes of that one too. (And it makes me giggle that the guy who created "Suits" is a big fan of "L.A. Law".)

    3. I remember "The Practice" more than "L.A. Law" as I was young when that was on originally and it was too "adult content" for my mom to let me watch it most of the time, but I did enjoy the dozen or so that I watched over the years.

      And to Nick, I forgot to mention that you missed a guest star from a "MacGyver" episode.....Robert Dryer who played one of the bailiffs in the episode--specifically the one who kept taking Myrtle back to her cell after she was done talking to Sam--also played Stroud in the MacGyver episode "Off the Wall".

      I hope to be back early in the morning with a "Catch a Falling Star" review.

    4. Good call -- I'll update the list.

  3. The seriousness of the show was emphasized by the lack of 1957 music. No lighthearted tunes playing in the background to distract from the drama in the court room.

    This episode was stuffed with racial segregation and lack of racial equality. Black people, who were observing the trial, were standing in the back of the courtroom; racial slurs were used to refer to black people; and there were no black people capable of serving on the jury because none of them were registered voters.

    My favorite line was said by Sam. “The jurors are Lila’s equals.”

    The title of this episode was the key to the mystery. Myrtle and Delilah will not testify because they have to swear to tell the truth on the Bible. They are God fearing people and will not tell a lie under oath. Delilah doesn’t want to tell the truth because she is protecting someone very dear to her. I want to follow up on Nick’s comment. I think Sam was prepared to call Myrtle to the stand. He did not expect Miss Sadie to confess to the murder. Even Sam was surprised when Miss Sadie said that she shot her son.

    The show sets were perfect. Southern Life in the 1950’s was full of southern belles, who wore white gloves, wide brimmed hats and made pecan pie and fried chicken. The summer heat of Louisiana was amplified with electric fans, hand held fans, handkerchiefs to mop ones brow, and the underarm sweat marks on the sheriff’s shirt.

    Two actors/actresses that I recognized from older TV series, were William Schallert and Ketty Lester. William Schallert played the father in the Patty Duke Show. I loved this show, where Patty Duke played Patty and also played her identical cousin, Cathy. Much like Halley Mills in the Parent Trap, one person played two people who looked alike. William Schallert died this year; he was 94 years old. Ketty Lester played the recurring role of Hester Sue in Little House on the Prairie.

    One problem that I had with the show was the timing. The murder took place on July 15, 1957 and the courtroom was called to order on July 29, 1957. Two weeks is a short time to prepare for a murder trial even if the defendant is supposed to plead guilty. But that is not my main problem. If Delilah was beaten so badly that Houston Cotter almost killed her, how did she heal so quickly? It can take weeks for bruises to fade.

    This is definitely is in my A+ group. I haven’t seen this episode in decades. But I remembered it from start to finish. A great show gets seared into my memory.

    1. Thanks Mom, great comments and good point about Myrtle testifying.