Sunday, July 24, 2016

Quantum Leap -- Episode 38: Rebel Without A Clue

Sam Leaps Into: 
Shane "Funnybone" Thomas, a biker.

Save the life of a young female who is dating the leader of the biker gang.



Memorable Quote:
But the road is not made of asphalt, but of the people we meet.  And each of us is on a different journey, and that's ok.  So sometimes it's ok to get off the road we ride on wheels and just stay. Something will come of it.  Cause that's a world worth writing about too.   ~Jack Kerouac

The dual performances of Diedrich Bader (Dillon) and Mark Boone Junior (Mad Dog).  Bader steals every scene he's in and gives an Emmy worthy effort and one of the best guest starring performances thus far of the series. His character of a returning Korean War vet turned biker gang leader is multidimensional -- he's charming and likable at times but also has a big dark side which drowns out the light.  And Mad Dog is just a big jerk -- calls to mind another one of my favorite MacGyver villains: Buddy the biker from Last Stand. It would have been fun to see Mad Dog and Buddy go toe to toe -- my money's on Buddy.

It's hard to watch the scene where the bikers are wrecking Ernie's diner and then driving his son's bike around in the dirt.

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • The name of this episode comes from the movie Rebel Without a Cause starring James Dean. I don't mean to be Captain Obvious on that one but I'm not sure if that's common knowledge.
  • It's Grady from Pool Hall Blues!  In this episode his name is Ernie.
  • Fun scene where Sam draws a goofy picture of a dog to mock Mad Dog.
  • I was just reading about Bader online, and did you know he played Lawrence in Office Space?  Another fantastic performance there -- he's clearly an extremely versatile actor.
  • I love Ernie dropping the "Damn, son" after Sam takes out Mad Dog with a spinning kick.
  • Great ending with Jack Kerouac coming to save the day, and I'm glad that in the process of saving Becky, Ernie got saved also.  If Kerouac was even half as cool as his character in this episode, that'd be an accomplishment.
  • I read On The Road once (not for school but for "fun") about 10 years ago.  I don't remember much about it except I thought it was hard to read, weird, uninspiring, and had unlikable characters.  Sorry, Jack Kerouac.
  • Tonight my wife (and I) started a Hallmark Channel movie on DVR, and the lead actress was not other than Josie Bissett (Becky)!  I often record Hallmark movies for her and occasionally I get sucked in as well.  In fact, that would be a fun future direction for the blog: reviewing Hallmark Channel movies, though I don't know if the world is ready for my takes on some of those.

Final Analysis:
LOVE this episode, even more than I remembered.  Fun locale, outstanding acting, strong characters, super villains, great plot, and never a dull moment.  Interesting that Randy Holland who wrote my #1 episode Pool Hall Blues also wrote the teleplay for this one (and those were the only 2 episodes of QL he wrote). Well, that means he wrote my top 2 because I'm ranking this one #2. 


  1. Diedrich Bader was also on The Drew Carey Show.

    I don't recall liking this episode quite as much as you do. Aside from that spin-kick, I don't remember much at all. (Granted, it's been several weeks since I watched it.)

  2. I liked this one too. Good story and good acting performances as you said. I'm not familiar with Diedrich Bader but particularly when he had his shades and helmet on early in the episode, I had a deja vu feeling from him. Then it hit me that he looks like would-be star Minnesota Twins player Joe Mauer, complete with sideburns. I didn't recognize Ernie from "Pool Hall Blues" but I really liked his character and the depth of his attachment to his MIA son. One thing that wasn't clear is if Ernie's diner was frequented by these bikers regularly or if they were just passing through. Particularly if they were regulars, but either way really, I don't understand why Ernie would open up to these guys he immediately identified as thugs about the classic motorcycle he had in storage for his son. How could he not know they'd want to rip him off?

    The blond was very attractive and a pretty strong character. I had heard the name Josie Bissett before but even looking through her IMBD page I didn't recognize anything she was in. At first when they said she was 18 I thought they were trying to pass an older actress off as a teenager, but was surprised to see actually was only 20 when this episode was made. Seems like back then, young women looked quite a bit older than they do today. Not sure why but it holds up watching old shows. 15-year-old girls often looked 21 while today 21-year-olds are more likely to look 15. Anyway, by far the weakest part of the episode for me was the bizarre uninvited visit to Jack Kerouac's place. I assume Kerouac actually lived in this part of California that they were conveniently riding through at this exact moment. For the "most charismatic man in a generation", I found him to be a bullshitter worthy of a carnival barker. At least he was able to do what Sam wasn't and convince Becky to stay there and work with Ernie. I'd still have preferred something in the end that gave Ernie better emotional closure with his son rather than the Kerouac diner visit but it was still a solid episode. I'll rate it between "MIA" and "The Color of Truth".

    1. You're right, he looks almost exactly like Minnesota's own Joe Mauer. And I agree about Ernie -- that wasn't wise of him to reveal his son's classic bike. Have you ever read On The Road given your fondness for road trips?

    2. I read it in college in the spring of 1999. I remember enjoying it a little more than you but I don't remember much in the way of details.