Saturday, July 30, 2016

Quantum Leap -- Episode 39: A Little Miracle

Sam Leaps Into: 
Reginald Pearson, a butler/valet.

Redeem his boss, a Scrooge-like developer who wants to replace a Salvation Army with one of his own buildings.


New York, New York

Memorable Quote:
He saw you!  How can he have seen you?  He actually saw you!  ~Sam

The scene referenced in the memorable quote where Blake sees Al for the first time -- I love Sam and Al's stunned reactions.

The ending was anticlimactic and didn't do much for me, maybe in part because Al was dressed like a ghost and screaming.

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • Our first December episode!  All we need now is January and we'll have all the months covered.
  • It was clever to make Al the ghost of Christmas future, even if it was convenient that Blake somehow is the first person (who's not a child) that is able to see Al.
  • And it's fun to see Sam in the role reversal of "guy who doesn't see Al" (even though he's just pretending).
  • If you stick around to the very end of the credits, Bakula and Stockwell say "Merry Christmas everyone."

Sandy Fries, episode writer.

I’m a spiritual person, so I wanted to get a strong sense of spirituality in that Quantum Leap episode. There’s also a quote I agree with which I will paraphrase: "If you believe the world is good you are right. If you believe the world is bad you are right. Same world." I have seen this proven over and over again in my life. Because of this, I wanted to have a "Rorschach Test" ending that made the viewer think "wow… was that star in the sky a miracle?" If you think it’s a miracle, it is. If you think it’s not a miracle, then it isn’t for you, but I think it’s still a miracle that you are not ready to perceive. If you look at things the way I try to, almost everything is a miracle…from the "little miracles" of supposedly mundane things, like a firefly or blade of grass to the great big cosmic miracles, like the creation of planets. The writing I’m most proud of is writing that might be a catalyst for viewer thought and action…so maybe that was achieved for some people who watched the episode. It also had some funny scenes mixed in with the "heavy" material. I think laughter is a miracle and an important way of getting viewers to consider the more heavy elements of the story.  I remember being in a story meeting with about seven writers, producers Etc. from Quantum Leap and thinking "wow…this is very, very cool!"

Final Analysis:
All series need to have a Christmas episode, and now we can check that box for Quantum Leap. It's a decent episode and it's nice to hear Christmas music and get in the Christmas mood, but Blake's transition at the end didn't resonate much with me emotionally, especially compared to The Madonna, MacGyver's Christmas episode that gets me in tears. Ranking this one 27 out of 39.


  1. I remember the first time I saw this mostly wanting to deck the rich dude - is that Blake? I usually like the 'ghosts of x-mas past/present/future' set ups and I do like Sam and Al scaring the bejeezus out of Blake. Like most of the QL eps - we don't get the follow through. Does Blake stay 'turned good', or does he go back to his 'old ways'? How complete was his 'change of heart'?

  2. I mostly agree with you that this episode was just okay. The Christmas storyline where a primary character gets "scrooged" is pretty much the ultimate cliché but I will say it was a clever idea within the context of this series for Al to be the "ghost of Christmas future", since Al was a ghost anyway. Unfortunately, it required the completely unexplained plot twist that Blake could see Al to make it happen. And while it was clever in concept, the execution was pretty silly and it was hard to tell whether it was intentional or not. Blake's character ran a little too hot and cold for him to be fully believable as a scrooge. It didn't take much Skid Row nostalgia for his hard heart to melt, and his transition back to a grouch at the shelter was too abrupt. And while there was supposed to be an undercurrent of romantic tension at various points between Blake and the Salvation Army "Captain" gal, she had seen his dark side so upclose and it made it very hard to believe she'd fall in love with him. Watching this in the middle of summer may take something away from the holiday season effect but it's hard to imagine me getting choked up even on Christmas Eve watching this. "MacGyver" definitely got the better of "Quantum Leap" in the Christmas story department by orders of magnitude. I guess I'll rate it in between "Her Charm" and "Disco Inferno" in the bottom third so far.

    A few brief asides on the cast. The actor who played Blake was Charles Rocket, an early cast member on "Saturday Night Live" in the very early 80s who was considered a complete disaster, but went on to redeem himself with several TV and film roles. He committed suicide in 2005. The redhead Salvation Army gal was played by Melinda McGraw, who I most remember for playing Cyd, Tony Scali's long-time partner on "The Commish". And lastly, I got a vibe right away seeing Al's dopey disguise as the "ghost of Christmas future" from the drunk dad character on the vulgar 1980s children's show "You Can't Do That on Television" on Nickelodeon. You may have lucked out and were young enough to miss that one but it was the perfect show for a pre-teen to annoy the hell out of their parents with. They only have full episodes available on You Tube so I wasn't able to isolate the "drunk dad" clips but in the linked video there's a very brief shot of the "drunk dad" character at the breakfast table between 1:30 and 2:00....and there's a more extended scene with him at the 7:30 mark on the video. Check it out and see if you don't agree that "Christmas ghost Al" was very similar to this character.

    1. Oops...more like the 7:00 mark on the video.

    2. I checked out your video and it does look similar to Al. I can't say I saw or remember too much on Nickelodeon other than Double Dare.

    3. "You Can't Do That On Television" was typically on right before "Double Dare" on Nickelodeon so it's surprising you missed out on it entirely. It was the kind of show you'd have to be 8-11 years old to get any enjoyment at all from though.