Sunday, July 31, 2016

Quantum Leap -- Episode 40: Runaway

Sam Leaps Into: 
Butchie Rickett, a 13 year old kid on a family road trip.

Save his parents' marriage and keep his mother from running out on the family.



Memorable Quote:
Leaping around in time, I've run up against some pretty tough characters: violent bikers, mafia hitmen, psychotic killers.  But never anyone quite as menacing as a big sister.  ~Sam

Both the mother and the father were memorable, three-dimensional characters, and I like how their relationship evolved throughout the show.

While I was glad to see the bratty sister get some justice at the end, I thought Sam holding her by one leg over a steep well was a little extreme.

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • I love traveling, but a 9000 mile road trip in the back seat of a small car would not be my idea of fun.  And poor Butchie even has a hat that says "Butchie."  Fun fact -- my Dad's nickname in his family growing up was "Butch."
  • When I saw the title I figured that "Runaway" by Del Shannon would feature at some point and sure enough it did.  I don't know many of his other songs but he had a great voice in this one.
  • That scene at the end with the mother hanging off a cliff with the fireworks exploding over the lake is pretty surreal.

Final Analysis:
Excellent episode with a fun setting (the Western campgrounds), great acting, and strong characters. Also it was a good depiction of the dawn of 60's feminism and the struggles that many women had in breaking free from their repressive lifestyle.  Ranking it 11 out of 40.  


  1. I really liked this one too for all the reasons you did and had many of the same takeaways. The characters were three-dimensional and I'm really glad for the twist at the end that the mother didn't simply leave her family and decided against accepting the advances of the high school flame...and that her real reason for disappearing was an accident on the rock face. The aforementioned seen amidst the fireworks was very exciting and suspenseful. It reminded me of an equally exciting and suspenseful scene from a "MacGyver" episode you trashed that I liked...."Twenty Questions". Anyway, I'm a road trip guy as well but 9,000 miles on a cross-country trip with a bickering family and a bratty sister would be a fate worse than burning in hell for the rest of eternity. I also found it amusing that Hank said they "didn't have the money" for the mother to take junior college courses circa 1964 (they probably cost about $7 a semester back then) but could afford the cross-country road trip that required lodging reservations months in advance and all the other bells and whistles Hank said he provided for her. Anyway, the combination of solid character drama and a suspenseful ending puts this one pretty high for me. I'll rank it 4th between "The Leap Home, Part 2" and "What Price Gloria?"

    A few other nuggets. This was the last first-run episode of "Quantum Leap's" half season Friday night misadventure. It aired January 4, 1991 (interesting that they did a 4th of July episode in January) and took two months off before returning to its old Wednesday night time slot on March 6, 1991. Again, "QL" is lucky it had such a big fan high up in the network brass with NBC programming executive Brandon Tartikoff because ratings were pretty consistently not good, especially when it ventured away from that Wednesday slot.

    Also, the actor who played Hank looked immediately familiar to me. It was Sherman Howard, who played Lex Luthor on the syndicated "Superboy" series which ran from 1988-1992, meaning he was playing Luthor at the same time he was guest-starring in this "Quantum Leap" episode. Lastly, I'm a fan of the song "Runaway" and my biggest association with it was from the outstanding Michael Mann-produced 1986-88 NBC cop show "Crime Story" set in the early 1960s, with a fedora-wearing Chicago cop following mob boss Ray Luca to the Las Vegas casinos in obsessive pursuit of him. Luca was played by Tony Dennison who was Michael Scofield and Lincoln Burrows' father on "Prison Break". Great cast and great series all around. "Runaway" was its theme song.

    1. Yeah, not a big "Twenty Questions" fan. If the reboot brings back Wilt Bozer, maybe they'll bring back Lisa Woodman too and we can have "Twenty-One Questions" where Lisa's daughter is having teen angst problems (and maybe even falls for young MacGyver) -- not that I'm at all recommending that as a plotline.

      One big reason that I wouldn't be a fan of a long car trip like that is that I get carsick if I'm in a small car like the one they were in. Once when I was a kid and going up to a soccer game over an hour away, I was in the middle seat in the back between my friend and my Mom, and I threw up all over my friend's dad's company car and even worse, my friend's precious TIGER handheld video games.

      I can see how the actor playing the father would make a good Lex Luthor. And despite the fact that I'm enjoying QL I can understand why its mature subject matter didn't catch on with mainstream America, and if they ever tried to reboot it, it would be even harder in today's world to compete for ratings against the likes of "The Bachelorette."

    2. I just watched that theme song you listened to -- they could have used some much better lighting on that one. I recognized a few names including Dennis Farina (Midnight Run), Bill Smitrovich (Life Goes On), and Bill Campbell (The Rocketeer). Have you ever seen Midnight Run? That's an underrated movie.

    3. Ironic that you mention bad lighting as Michael Mann produced this show and won a truckload of Emmys for his production values and lighting. It was a great show. It was Dennis Farina's first major role although he played classic crime boss Al Lombard on two episode of "Miami Vice". I haven't seen "Midnight Run". What year did it come out? I'm assuming you've heard that Farina passed away a few years ago.

    4. Midnight Run (1988) is a fantastic movie and definitely worth watching -- De Niro in his prime and a great cast of characters.

  2. "Twenty Questions" is one I always had fun with....though I can see why others didn't. Rough story about tossing your cookies all over your friend's "Tiger" game. That would be a disaster all around. I got an upset stomach from car sickness before but never fully lost my lunch. Did your older sister ever mess with you as badly as Alex did to Butchie?

    1. I have two older sisters, and while we had our moments like any siblings they never messed with me like Alex did to Butchie.