Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Quantum Leap -- Episode 11: The Americanization of Machiko

Sam Leaps Into: 
Charlie MacKenzie, a naval officer returning home from Japan.

Help his Japanese wife acclimate to American society despite hostility from his mother, his ex-girlfriend, and an unforgiving veteran.


Oak Creek, Ohio

Memorable Quote:
Uh-oh, Sam.  Trouble in River City.  ~Al

I like the scene on the MacKenzie's front porch where Machiko first arrives and how it's a surprise to Sam and Al also.

The mother is as cold and unlikable as it gets (though she does redeem herself in the end).  We may have to induct her into the Rachel Bradley Hall of Fame.   

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • We learn in this episode that Sam can speak 7 modern languages and 4 dead ones.
  • Machiko can clearly speak English, so it's surprising that she doesn't know what "fat" means.  And yet somehow she knows right after she says it that Naomi lied to her.
  • Strange transition at the end as it goes directly from Machiko critically injured in the hospital to Sam and Machiko's wedding ceremony.  Feels like a scene in between was cut.  And it would be nice to know what happened to Rusty.
  • Fun little moment at the end when Al lets it slip that Sam is married, but then he saves himself by saying "just kidding." He then rolls his eyes with relief, which we can see but Sam can't.

Final Analysis:
This is my 2nd least favorite episode so far.  Like The Color of Truth, it's not poorly done but the racism and cruelty is painful to watch and not one that I enjoy.  The characters and their traits also seem a bit exaggerated and underdeveloped, whether it's the mother's rudeness, Naomi's jealous conniving, Machiko's politeness, or Rusty's hatred.


  1. The mother in this one isn't as dreadful as the mother in a couple of the others that are near this one in the timeline. (Netflix is a hot mess with how these episodes are lined up.)

    I do like this episode b/c it's well done. And Sam being sympathetic and trying to educate his family and friends that just b/c his wife is different, doesn't make her evil.

  2. I liked this one because the story held my attention throughout. I don't feel it was seamless as there were a number of things where the context was confusing. Maybe I just turned my head at the worst possible moment but I didn't pick up on what led specifically to Machiko "sitting there dying" in the racist guy's truck at the end. Beyond that, the Naomi storyline was silly and the fact that Sam led Machiko attempt to be pals with Machiko knowing Naomi was gonna be jealous and vindictive--and that Naomi didn't know what fat meant despite knowing English--all strained credibility a little. I'm also curious is the topless scene with Machiko is at all representative of Japanese culture, because that sure doesn't sound like it would be something conservative Japanese would be into. This was one of the episodes I saw in the summer of 1990 on NBC repeats though, as I specifically recall being bashful in the presence of my parents sitting in the living room with me as Naomi was pawing all over Sam or when Machiko walked around topless. Sam's complete inability to fend the lustful Naomi off was also kind of eye-rolling now that I think of it.

    But there was a compelling story about culture shock and post-World War II resentment of the Japanese here, and I concur that the episode was at its peak on the MacKenzie's front porch. I think I'm gonna wait till the end to do any more formal episode ranking because I haven't processed my thoughts enough to rate this one alongside its peers. It doesn't look like the next episode is available on either which means I'll have to skip around until a DVD set is available....hopefully when my local library orders it but I'm not counting on that.

    1. "What Price Gloria" is on hulu and Netflix if you have either of those. Google says it's on (I have my adblocker on, so it wouldn't play it for me, but *shrug*).

    2. I'll check again on Might have just been an oversight. I disabled my Adblocker for alone so I'm able to watch the "Quantum Leap" episodes on there.

    3. Rusty was throwing stuff at them -- I don't remember what, maybe bricks -- and one of them went through the windshield and hit Machiko.

  3. *Yes, Mother-in-laws have a reputation for being difficult. Fortunatly mine was not. Lenore MacKenzie could be described as the queen of mean with Naomi being a princess. Lenore was more worried about the court of public opinion and Naomi was a woman scorned.
    *I am surprised that Sam was not wearing a wedding ring. I am not sure what the Japanese customs are.
    *My favorite line was said by Machiko, "All men in Japan must be retired." Meaning that all Japanese men get waited on! This is not exclusive to Asian cultures. My Italian grandfather would wait to eat his dinner until my grandmother cut his food.
    *I think that Machiko knew what 'fat' meant. But in many cultures, to be fat is equivalent to being wealthy. It is a compliment. There is even a song to that effect in "Fiddler on the Roof."
    *The glasses that were used to serve lemonade were made of metal. My parents had metal tumblers. It was quite the rage in the 1950's. I never liked them. When drinking an icy beverage, the outside of the glass would 'sweat' more than one made of glass. And, your had would freeze. My mother crocheted covers for the outside of her tumblers. Like I said...this did not make sense to me.
    *Sam has a clean handkerchief to clean up Machiko's face at the church picnic. All men should carry a clean handkerchief to save the day and their damsel. Dad always has one and it has come in handy on many occasions.
    *Rusty was throwing something sphere-like. I don't think it was a brick.
    *As I said previously, I like surprise, happy endings. I liked the church wedding when Lenore arrives in traditional Japanese garb.

    I will not be able to rank these other than to group them.
    This one is very good...but not in my top A+ group.