Sunday, June 26, 2016

Quantum Leap -- Episode 19: A Portrait For Troian

Sam Leaps Into: 
Dr. Timothy Mintz, a parapsychologist (aka psychic).

Prevent a widow from drowning in the same lake as her late husband.



Memorable Quote:
I'm not into necrophilia.   ~Al
At last, something sexual he's not into.   ~Sam

Not a lot to choose from here.  I like Al's futuristic green shirt/vest/tie combo.

A lot to choose from here.  I'll go with everything associated with the voice recorder contraptions (more on this below).

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • This episode features writer/producer Deborah Pratt as Troian and creator/producer Donald Bellisario in the mirror as Timothy Mintz.  Troian is the name of their daughter in real life -- I had never heard of her but apparently she's quite popular (e.g. she has 2 and a half million twitter followers).  I was curious what the name meant, and I found an interview where she said it was a family surname, and it means "woman of Troy."
  • I reached out to Deborah Pratt for any additional episode background and she said, "She [her daughter Troian] watched it when she was 4 and told me never use her name again. The whispery voice scared her a lot."
  • How can Jimmy hear Al?  I don't get it.
  • There's an earthquake that somehow only hits the mausoleum, which remains in tact after the earthquakes passes.  What was the relevance of the earthquake to the story?  I don't know.
  • I'm from Pennsylvania and I can tell you that Pennsylvania Dutch, Amish, and Mennonites don't speak with a British accent.
  • Jimmy tells Sam to leave by dawn or else there will be trouble, but the next morning he doesn't seem to care.  And wouldn't he want the psychic around if he's trying to spook Troian?
  • "Oh not me -- I'm going to LA.  I want to see this in person."  ~Jimmy.  He's talking about a "disaster area" on the television.  Is this related to the earthquake that only hit the mausoleum?  And doesn't he have better things to do than to go out of his way to gawk at a disaster area?
  • This brings us to the voice recorders.  Let's see if I can get all this straight:
    • Someone (Jimmy) recorded a high frequency voice on several cassette tapes.
    • Troian can hear the high frequency but no one else can.
    • One of the cassette tapes is sealed in one of the mausoleum graves, because what better place to transmit a frequency from.
    • The tape recorders are all linked so that when you play one, they all play in tandem.
    • Jimmy thought this elaborate electronic scheme would be the easiest way to knock off Troian and inherit her money to pay off his gambling debts.
  • Now Al is talking and Troian can hear him, and he sounds like her dead husband! Huh?!?!
  • Yep, there's another earthquake.
  • No sign of Jimmy's body, but they found all the other bodies from 100 years ago.
  • Oh, and the British Mennonite maid is a ghost.
  • And to top it off, Sam leaps into the Camikaze Kid.  I guess at the time this was filmed the next episode mustn't have been ready, but they shouldn't have had him leap into an episode that already aired during the previous season.  And couldn't this have been re-edited on the DVD/Netflix?

Final Analysis:
Well, after a season and a half we've finally made it to our first complete and utter train wreck episode.  I suppose it's a credit to the series that it took this long.  If you haven't guessed it already, I'm putting this last in the rankings.


  1. This is one of those episodes that looked pretty good in previews, but was sort of lackluster in execution. And it may have aired on Halloween. I don't remember. The weird bit where he leaps into a previous episode is probably left-over from this airing before a repeat of Camikaze Kid - the network would redo the leap endings to have Sam leaping into whatever episode aired next, even if it was a repeat, so the continuity would stick.

    As for Troian - she's one of the leads on "Pretty Little Liars". (She's actually in an up-coming QL ep too.) She's also fiancee of Patrick J. Adams, one of the leads on "Suits", which she also guest-starred on twice. She's also in this ridiculous short w/ Chris Pine: So, yeah, she's kinda popular. =)

    1. Shows you how up I am on popular culture!

    2. I only really know who she is b/c she's engaged to PJA and I'm a "Suits" fan. I've never seen "PLL". The Chris Pine thing was something I tripped over in the middle of one of those Youtube loops you can't get out of w/o closing your computer. *g*

  2. I was strangely excited to see your bad review and looked forward to seeing if I agreed with you about a really bad episode....and I definitely do. The cheesy opening set things up in a way where I figured there was the potential for a goofy but entertaining episode, but with equal potential to be terrible. It definitely ended up as the latter with the kind of incoherent mess that ranks right down there with some of the disasters from season 4 of "Miami Vice" as the most poorly done hours of television I can recall. From Jimmy being able to hear Al's voice to the random earthquakes to anything to do with those recordings, virtually nothing made sense and if I had to pick out a highlight I think I'd have to go with that perfectly coiffed late 80s mullet that Jimmy was sporting. Also cool though that we were looking at showrunner Donald Bellisario's reflection in the mirror at the beginning. Did you learn that from Deborah Pratt?

    In a way, watching this disaster unfold brought me more rewards than the soul-crushing boredom of "How the Tess was Won", but I still rate this one the worst because it's a howler unworthy of the series' legacy and "rolling calamity" has to be considered worse than simply boring.
    Now with as much trash as I talked about my least favorite episodes of "MacGyver", both "MacGyver's Women" and "Walking Dead" seemed like masterpieces compared to this steaming pile of manure. I'm curious if you feel the same about this episode versus your least favorites "Honest Abe" and "Mountain of Youth"??

    I also have a couple of theories as to why we see him leap into "Carikaze Kid" at the end. The most likely is that these episodes are being aired in their complete original form, and since this episode aired on December 13, 1989, and the next original episode didn't air until January 3, 1990, there may have been one or more reruns that aired the last two weeks in December, and one of them may have been the rerun for "Carikaze Kid". And while my other theory doesn't necessarily explain the "Carikaze Kid" leap, this episode did have a clunky Halloween feel which made me think it may have originally intended to air on October 25, 1989, but got pre-empted. The source of its pre-emption may have been the San Francisco Earthquake that occurred on Tuesday night during the World Series on October 17, 1989. The following night, the networks pre-empted an hour from their primetime schedule to show earthquake coverage and "Quantum Leap" got bumped. My guess is that "What Price Gloria?" was intended to be aired on October 18th but was pre-empted until October 25th, and this stinker of an episode may have been intended to air on October 25th but since everyone knew it was a stinker, it got pushed back to December 13th where it would have less exposure. I notice Scott Shepherd was still on the production crew for this one, which he hadn't been for several weeks prior, another indication this episode had been held over. Whatever the case, I think we can all agree that "MacGyver" ended the 1980s with a much better episode ("The Madonna") than "Quantum Leap" did.

    1. I normally check the episode's IMDB page after watching the episode and I noticed that Bellisario was listed as the guy in the mirror (I didn't pick up on it when watching the episode).

      If I had to rank them against each other, I'd put this episode below Lost Amadeus but ahead of Honest Abe and Mountain of Youth. At least in this one they were trying and taking it seriously, it's just that there were a combination of things that didn't work and it snowballed, whereas Abe and Youth were C movie farces.

      Your theory on the air date makes sense, because it seems tailor made for a Halloween episode.

    2. Uff da! Couldn't disagree with you more about that. In the solar system of stupidity, I submit you would need a special neutron telescope to spot the faintest tailwind of any scene from a "MacGyver" episode from the surface of this "Portrait of Troian" hot mess.

    3. Uh-oh, you're breaking out the Norwegian and the cosmic metaphors!

    4. There is a degree of fun to watching something this bad as you've said before though....kind of like Mystery Science Theater if you've ever seen that.

    5. And yes I was quite proud of my cosmic metaphor!!

    6. By the way, do you remember the earthquake that disrupted the 1989 World Series that I mentioned above? Not sure if you were into baseball yet then or not. I was watching the pregame live when it struck. Al Michaels was right in the middle of talking about the first two games of the series when the rumbling started. He shouted "we're having an earthquake" and then the screen went dark. Scary stuff.

    7. Yeah I'm with you, it's fun every now and then to have a good solid train wreck to write about. I was into baseball at that time, in fact Jose Canseco of the A's and Will Clark of the Giants were my two favorite players, but my memory of watching that world series is pretty vague (though I do remember a bit of the earthquake coverage). Pretty amazing that the earthquake happened the same time that two San Francisco teams made it to the world series.

    8. Right....what are the odds? Interesting choices for favorite players. Both guys were not popular with other players due to character issues. I do have a soft spot for Will Clark though because of the commercial he did on ABC on Game 1 of the 1989 World Series that aired Saturday night. "I'm Will Clark of the San Francisco Giants...and my favorite show is MacGyver!"

  3. So Deborah Pratt gives herself the starting role in this episode. She plays Troian and does a good job with the tortured character of Troian, wife of the dead Jillian. I missed the other family ties like Donald in the mirror and their daughters name as the main character. Thanks for pointing it out Nick.
    The other recognizable actress is Carolyn Seymour, who plays Miss Stoltz, the strange housekeeper. Her dress and jewelry were from another time. The cameo pin and small watch pinned to her bodice were definite give a ways. Also, the dress was a plain and very up to the neck and down to the wrist and ankles; very conservative for February 7, 1971. Her use of the phrase “red up the kitchen” was an old saying that I used when growing up in Pittsburgh. The show attributed it to the Amish or the Mennonite communities. But it used in my household on a regular basis. The first time I realized it was a regional phrase was when I went to college. I total my freshmen roommate that it was time to red up the room and she looked at me like I had two heads. Also the problem with lighting fires in the fireplace was a clue that Miss Stoltz did not want to warm up.
    Jimmy the brother was more to the 1970’s style with his polyester shirt and “BeeGee” style hair cut. When the Beatles came to town in the early 60’s, men’s hair styles were never below the ears. Now Jimmy had hair down passed his neck!
    I found it interesting that Jimmy could hear Al and that Troian could hear sounds that made the dogs howl. Very sensitive hearing ran in their family. How would this plot have worked otherwise?
    I love when Al’s handheld Ziggy communicator stalls and he has to hit it. It always gets stuck at a humorous time. For example, referring to Miss Stoltz, Al says, “She’s a house…..keeper.” Great timing.
    I liked the show but I classify it in my Grade C grouping. Plot was very difficult to believe.

    1. I like it too when Al's device stalls on a word and he hits it -- it's a small subtle detail that they could have left out and no one would notice but it adds character and humor.