Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Quantum Leap -- Episode 56: Permanent Wave

Sam Leaps Into:
Frank Bianca, owner of a trendy hair salon.

Save the lives of his girlfriend and her son, a murder witness.


Beverly Hills, California

Memorable Quote:
But you didn't do anything!  ~Client
Why mess with perfection?  ~Sam (and Al)

I enjoyed the part (referenced in the memorable quote) when Sam cuts one hair off the lady's head and says that he's done.

During the scene when the sniper is shooting through the window, Laura just keeps walking even after multiple gunshots and it takes Sam to pull her down to the floor.  It would be one thing if she just froze, but her continuing to walk straight ahead is hard to believe.

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • This is the first of three episodes directed by Bakula (and they're the only directing credits of his career).
  • It's Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the kid!  This is his second MacGyver Project appearance (the first was in Angels in the Outfield).
  • And it's Doran Clark as the mom!  She has been on the blog before also (re: The Heist). 
  • I like the reference to Captain Galaxy and Future Boy.
  • In episodes like this where Sam is living in a house with other people, it makes me wonder how he can survive without drawing attention to himself, like by not knowing what drawer the forks are in or where he keeps his socks.
  • The detective makes my skin crawl -- he's gotta be the bad guy, right?
  • Right!  But I didn't see the Chloe twist coming at all.  Seems odd that the assistant hairstylist would be the criminal mastermind of a drug/murder ring, but I guess it was a good cover for her.
  • The climactic scene is reminiscent of Her Charm with the cabin hideout in the woods and the nighttime shootout.
  • Why is Sam throwing out father and marriage talk?  Shouldn't he let Frank make that decision and also experience the proposal?

Final Analysis:
A true middle of the road episode -- not overly distinctive or memorable but not bad either. Ranking it 34 out of 56.


  1. This episode is a big question mark for me, with plenty to like but a story that seems to be complete hokum. Maybe I missed key details in the plot on my original viewing so I'll ask a series of questions to see if you (or anyone else reading) can clarify for me before I give my ranking....because for entertainment value this one ranked pretty high but I'm gonna dock serious points if the story was as poorly constructed as it felt like on my original viewing.

    I liked the suspense and action, especially at the end, and I also liked the authentic-looking mid-80s atmospherics with the high-fashion L.A. culture as a backdrop and the kid about my age in 1983 playing with the Rubik's cube. Actress Doran Clark did a much better job of acting in her role here than she did on "The Heist" IMO, even though it was insane and illogical to me that even when a sniper is shooting through the window of her home that she thought it would still be more dangerous to call the police (one of many problems I had with this episode's narrative).

    My love-hate relationship with Al suffered another blow in this episode as he was acting like a clown for much of the hour, particularly when he was riding shotgun in all of those people's cars towards the end of the episode trying to talk to them even though he knew they couldn't hear him. I did like how Sam was taunting him by groping those twin blonds, even though that seemed out of character for Sam. Like you I could see it coming from a mile away that the detective was the villain, but I'll given them props for the Chloe twist (with her as a villain and the relevance of her name spelled backwards) as I didn't see that coming at all. Again, it made little narrative sense but it was fun TV. Like you, I thought it was wildly inappropriate for Sam to propose to Doran Clark right before he leaped. Poor Frank gets his body back just in time to find out some other pretender just proposed to his girl in his name??!? What's up with that?

    Now for the narrative questions I have that will determine what, if anything, I missed in the exposition here and how I ultimately rank this one. If Chloe already had it in her to kill as was clear by the ending, why did she hire this police detective to do her dirty work? And was he really a police detective or was that all a ruse? Why did Chloe arrange to get herself shot by the sniper in Frank's apartment....what purpose did that serve? And most importantly, Sam/Frank gave this detective his address. If his objective was to silence the kid, why couldn't he have just walked up the stairs from the business and find out what the kid knew and/or shoot him? What was the purpose of continually begging Sam/Frank to have him bring the kid in? And why were the cop and Chloe trying to bait the mom into going to the cabin at the end? When they're already shooting through the window of Frank's apartment, why not just finish the job there? Much as I liked the action and suspense in this episode, the level of plot incoherence I felt like I was experience is pretty disqualifying.

    1. You raise some good questions. I can try to play devil's advocate, but I don't disagree with you.

      Q: Why did Chloe hire the police detective?
      A: To try and keep some distance and not get her hands as dirty.

      Q: Was he really a police detective?
      A: I think so (but obviously a dirty one) since they were talking about calling the station.

      Q: Why did Chloe let herself get shot?
      A: She actually makes a comment on that when she reveals her true colors -- "that'll teach the bastard to take a shot at me."

      Q: Why couldn't they have killed the mom and kid earlier?
      A: I think of your statement about "making little narrative sense but was fun tv" just as in almost every episode of MacGyver the bad guys could just shoot him but instead decide to lock him in a room.

    2. Hmmmm....not sure "MacGyver" ever had a plot hole quite as big as a villain with the address of the person he's after--an address immediately upstairs from where he's repeatedly standing--who somehow fails to find the individual he's after. I have to dock major points for this massive contrivance and rank this one between "Star-Crossed" and "Sea Bride". This episode could have been about 15 positions higher but I can't reward writing that sloppy.

  2. Poor Harry Groener is always a bad guy. He's the evil Mayor on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" in season 3.

    I get a little bit of a 'Witness' vibe from this one - little kid who witnesses a crime, has to hide from the bad guys who want to kill him.

    Also - the greenscreens behind Sam's car on the way to the cabin... super super bad. /o\