Monday, January 9, 2017

Quantum Leap -- Episode 91: Memphis Melody

Sam Leaps Into:
Elvis Presley 

Give a young woman the courage and confidence to follow her dreams.  Keep Elvis's original timeline on track so as not to mess anything up for his career. 


Memphis, Tennessee

Memorable Quote:
*cough cough* That's Jingle Bells.  That's Jingle Bells.  ~Sam

Some outstanding blues/gospel music throughout this episode including all of Sam's Elvis covers and the duets with Sue Anne, and I also like the old-school country playing in the background during the opening diner scene.

Hard to think of one.  It would have been fun to hear Sam perform one of Elvis's signature, more recognizable songs.

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • Watching this episode on 1/7, which happens to be the birthday of my dear departed Grandma Sweedo.  She was a big Elvis fan, and mostly because he was nice to his mother.  
  • John Boyd West, the actor who plays Elvis's friend Red West, is actually the son of the real-life Red West.
  • I'm not sure that pressuring someone to sing out of nowhere in front of a diner full of people would be the best way to cure them of their stage fright.
  • I wrote in my Good Morning Peoria post how the diner looked like the one from Back to the Future (both Universal productions).  Well, in this episode I can confirm that they're in the Back to the Future diner -- just compare the light fixtures:

  • Fun Bill Clinton reference as the young sax player from Hope, Arkansas.
  • The outside of the diner is the same exterior that has appeared in several episodes (see Trilogy post for comparison photos).

  • The record producer is played by Gregory Itzin who appeared in MacGyver's Final Approach and also starred as President Logan on 24.
  • Funny how at Sam's diner performance at the end there are several guys just hanging out with their instruments and ready to play.  And I like the moment at 40:56 when Sam is running on the counter and we hear a woman yell out, "Watch out for that pie!"

Final Analysis:
Wow!  I had no idea this was going to be a phenomenal episode.  It's hilarious, extremely well-acted, poignant, inspiring, and has amazing music.  The small-town Southern diner and the music studio make for fun settings, and the competing plot line of Sam trying not to sabotage Elvis's career is well conceived and compelling.  Ranking it 4 out of 91.


  1. I didn't love this one quite as much as you did but it was fun, particularly with Bakula's rousing final performance in the diner. In fact I may have to watch this one again as I completely whiffed on the Bill Clinton reference. Also nice trivia that the actor who played Red West was his real-life grandson. You didn't mention it but some of my favorite scenes in the episode involved Elvis' banter with his mother. The actors had good chemistry and Sam had some good material to charm her with across the dinner table. Sorry to hear of your grandma's passing as well by the way.

    The acting and character banter was intriguing throughout but I was torn on Sam's willingness to put everything on the line to convince this stage fright-stricken starlet to pursue her singing dream. At one level, it was consistent with Sam's selfless character to go to bat to this degree for someone he connected with and believed in. On the other hand, knowing the stakes, it was frustrating as a viewer to wrap your mind around the fact that he was willing to keep Elvis from ever being discovered just because he thought this random girl with suffocating stage fright had star power. Sorry to be cynical, Sam....but anyone with stage fright to that degree lacks the self-confidence to make it that big, certainly if the consequence is squandering Elvis' legacy.

    The ending was great though, with Sam going the extra mile to impress President Logan! The diner performance was spectacular and made me wonder if any famous crooners resorted to a public performance like that as a tactic to get recognized by cynical record producers and talent scouts in real life. I wouldn't doubt if they did.

    There was a gimmicky air about the episode in that Sam was hardly ever merely leaping into the body of an average joe anymore but this was still a fun episode worth the gimmick. I'll rank it between "Rebel Without a Clue" and "Killin' Time".

    1. During the talent show there's a little kid with sunglasses who walks off after playing the sax and the announcer says something like "little Billy C. from Hope Arkansas." The Red West actor was the real-life son, not grandson -- I really liked his performance especially during the recording session when Sam was acting all weird talking to Al. Thanks for the condolences although my grandmother has been dead for almost 10 years now -- I had just thought of her since it was her birthday and she used to say that she loved Elvis because he treated his mother well.

      This is the kind of episode that for me has a high feel-good, rewatchability factor, like I could see popping this in on a rainy day and having it brighten my spirits.

    2. Coincidentally, my grandpa died on January 7th as well, in 2003. As emotionally draining as funerals are generally, there's nothing quite like attending an interment in Minnesota in January. I had another one for my uncle two years ago....on another bitter January day.

      Do you know if your grandma ever watched this "Quantum Leap" episode before she passed? I bet she'd have liked it...especially the scenes with Elvis and his mother.

    3. I doubt she had ever seen Quantum Leap -- she mostly watched game shows and soap operas.