Thursday, June 30, 2016

Quantum Leap -- Episode 21: Another Mother

Sam Leaps Into: 
Linda Bruckner, a divorced mother of three.

Prevent the disappearance of Kevin, his 15 year-old son.


Scottsdale, Arizona

Memorable Quote:
Mom!  How?  ~Kevin
Girl Scouts.  ~Sam

I'm partial to the ending where Sam uses martial arts to take down the bad guys.  It's fun to think of them getting beating up by a mom.  

I thought that Jackie flipped too quickly from convincingly stringing Kevin along as part of the prank to then suddenly deeply caring about his feelings. 

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • This is the first episode with a more standard intro before the leap in, though it's not the familiar intro that we'll soon see before every episode.
  • And this is first leap in the 80's and thus the latest leap we've had so far.
  • The actors playing the kids in this episode are great.
    • Kevin is played by Michael Stoyanov, the older brother on Blossom.  And this isn't the first time that Blossom has been mentioned on this blog.
    • Susan, the middle child, is played by Olivia Burnette who I remember from The Torkelsons.
    • Teresa is played by Troian Bellisario, daughter of series creator Donald Bellisario and writer/producer Deborah Pratt (in fact Pratt wrote this episode).  Troian does an impressive job here especially for only being a 4 year-old (I have a 3 and a half year-old and the thought of giving him that many lines to execute on a big time network show is hard to imagine).
  • I like the wrinkle of kids under 5 and animals being able to see Sam and Al for who they really are (thanks to the kids' "natural alpha state").  That element adds a lot of soul to this story.
  • Poor Kevin, he's already having a bad day (which is going to get much worse), and then his little sister calls him "the school joke."  That's harsh.  In fact, I remember as a kid this episode was hard to watch because I felt so badly for Kevin.
  • I like the nod to Raiders of the Lost Ark (Kevin says he's going to go see the movie with his friends).
  • How does Ziggy know that one of the bullies is still a virgin?
  • We learn here that Sam knows judo, karate, taekwondo, and something that Al calls "Muy pui" (maybe he means muay thai?).
  • That high school cafeteria looks like the wild west.

Final Analysis:
My new number three episode.  This one made an impression on me as a kid, and it's a masterful story that evokes some emotions and also has a nice ending.  And the Al/Troian dynamic takes the episode to another level including the memorable scenes where Al sings her the "inchworm, inchworm" song and then has to say goodbye at the end with the Dvorak theme playing in the background.

By the way, my #1 all-time favorite Quantum Leap episode (at least when I was 12) is on the horizon and will be upon us sooner rather than later!


  1. This is one of my fave QL episodes. I couldn't even point to why. It's a really good story. Also - the mother kicking people's butts is a pretty great element.

    I did always think the little girl was adorable - though I didn't know it was Troian until much later. Her interactions w/ Al are great. And I love "That's not mommy, that's a man."

    1. Yeah, that's a great line. I haven't seen Troian in anything else but based on this episode I'd say she's a natural actor.

    2. She's in 2 episodes of "Suits" (s4 and 5) as an attorney. That's the only other thing I know I've seen her on so far, since I don't watch PLL.

      She's funny on instagram though. And she and PJA are stupid-cute together. =)

  2. I enjoyed this one too. It wasn't my #1 but probably around #5. The little girl did kind of steal the show and her line delivery was fantastic, as was the chemistry with Al. The final scene with her was a little superfluous from a story side (why did Sam have to wait for the little girl to be able to identify hologram dinosaurs before he was able to leap?) but well worth it just for the scene. Kind of surprised that with her father being who he is that she didn't go on to be a higher-profile child actress. Not too many four year olds show that degree of star power. I never watched "Blossom" (and shame on you if you was up against "MacGyver"!!!) but I did recognize the middle sister. I would never have connected her to "The Torkelsons" as I never watched that show but the girl has a recognizable face.

    I figured you'd pick up on the 1981 "Raiders of the Lost Ark" reference but you didn't mention endless "Magnum, PI" promotion which was a little gratuitous since "Magnum" was of course a Donald Bellisario show. I don't begrudge him a little advertising for his empire though.

    While I enjoyed much of the teen angst bubbling over in this episode, connecting the Dungeons and Dragons game to all of these dopey "friends" of Kevin's trying to humiliate him as a virgin was not the strongest part of this episode for me. I remember that environment, and it was the sexually active kids who liked to rub the virgins' noses in it publicly.....while the other virgins just put their heads down and hope they didn't get picked on next. I can't imagine these dorky D & D dweebs trying to convince the school that Kevin was the only virgin among them. Unlike you, I thought Jackie was pretty solid though, straddling the line between being coerced into a prank she was uncomfortable with and genuinely starting to like Kevin. Her transformation in the cafeteria was a little over the top but it was a fun scene. And oh how I miss those 80s and 90s era Wild West lunchrooms. I'm sure in today's schools if a kid even held the hand of someone of the opposite sex he or she would be expelled for assault and battery. And still not sure how I felt about those child rapists. It definitely lent a dark side to the narrative, although one that seemed pretty out of left field. Nice to see Sam go all Jackie Chan on them in his dress and heels though.

    Good episode. I can see why it would be a favorite and am curious which episode yet to come will be your all-time favorite. The guy narrating the opening segment sounded familiar....but I can't place him!

    1. I think Bellisario references his other shows in all his shows. One of the minor-ish leads from "JAG" is a huge "Quantum Leap" fan.

    2. I was just now listening to an interview/audio commentary with Deborah Pratt about this episode on "The Quantum Leap Podcast."

      She says that when Dean Stockwell saw that Troian was going to be in the episode, he said something like, "What is she doing here?" with the implication being that she was too young and should enjoy being a kid, and Stockwell was speaking from experience as a former child actor. Pratt said that Troian got a lot of offers but as a result of that conversation with Stockwell, she made an effort not to expose her too much more to the business at that young age.