Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Quantum Leap -- Episode 80: Trilogy

Sam Leaps Into:
1. Clayton Fuller, the town sheriff.
2. Will Kinman, a young man getting ready to marry his fiancée Abigail.
3. Lawrence Stanton III, the former town lawyer.

1. Save his daughter Abigail from a house fire started by a vengeful townswoman who thinks that Abigail killed her husband and daughter.
2. Save Abigail from a town lynching after she is suspected of killing a missing boy.
3. Successfully defend Abigail in court on a murder charge.

1. 8-8-55
2. 6-14-66
3. 7-28-78

Pottersville, Louisiana

Memorable Quote:
There's a 91.9% chance that Sammy Jo Fuller...is your daughter.  ~Al

I appreciate the epic quality of the story and the interweaving of plot and characters over many decades.

In previous posts I've alluded to a "future episode" which contained the scariest thing I had ever seen on television.  Well, here we are!  In particular, the moment I'm referring to occurs at the 13:50 mark of Part One when Sam is looking out the window and then a breeze compels him to turn around and he sees the creepy ghost standing in the doorway.  This scared the hell out of me when I was a kid, and I remember being afraid at night that I would see her in my house.

It's not as scary now through adult eyes, but it is still a little freaky and I can understand why I would have been frightened as a youngster.  And while that particular moment is the one that sticks in my mind, it's far from being the only scary image of that woman (Laura Fuller) throughout the three-parter.  The actress's name is Meg Foster, and a quick google search reveals that she is known for taking on scary parts -- just check out the results of her google image search.

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • It's a three parter!  I'm sure there have been other three parters throughout the course of tv history but I can't think of any off the top of my head. And for some reason I thought the Evil Leaper was involved in these episodes but apparently not.
  • The town's main street set is the same as in The Leap Back.  See if you can spot the similarities! 
The Leap Back


  • The scene at the end of Part One where Leta hunts Abigail is pretty intense. And for all I talked about Laura Fuller's creepiness, Leta Aider is reminding us all here that she can be pretty creepy too.
  • In Part 2 Abigail is played by Melora Hardin who I know from The Office and also for her rendition of Begin the Beguine in The Rocketeer.
  • If the mother of the missing kid is so mistrustful of Abigail, why did she let her babysit in the first place?
  • Great, I'm so glad that Sam is going back to see Laura Fuller.  These scenes with her in the mental institution are super spooky.
  • I have a few issues with the end of Part 2:
    • While Sam is babbling on to Al about how much he yearns for Abigail, shouldn't he be off protecting her?
    • And then he goes and sleeps with her instead of protecting her.
    • Why does he suddenly stop stuttering and turn into 100% Sam Beckett?
    • Why does he offer to turn her in if they don't find the boy?  Even if he knows they're going to find him, it still seems like throwing her under the bus and conceding that she could be guilty.
    • How did Leta and all her pent-up rage make it 11 years in the same town as Abigail?
    • The very end where Sam bares his soul to Abigail was hard to take and would have been my lowlight if not for Scariest Lady Ever.  "I love you. And no matter what happens, or whatever I say in the future, just know that for right now for this brief moment in time, we belong to each other. Please know that.  I love you."  BLAAACCCHHHHHH!  That was the sound of me vomiting on my laptop -- hold on a sec while I clean it up. Here's the thing, Sam:
      • She's only 21 while you're approaching 40.
      • You've known her (at her current age) for one whole day.
      • Just one episode ago when you leapt into her father you were acting like a father figure to her and now she's your eternal soul mate who you want to bang into next Tuesday.
      • I wouldn't have minded the dialogue so much if I felt like there was more of a legitimate relationship there, but it feels to me like they were trying to make it this epic love story without the necessary buildup or foundation. 
  • Coming into this episode (or this series) I had no memory whatsoever that Sam had a "daughter." I put daughter in quotes because it's not clear how this breaks down -- I guess Will is the biological father and Sam is the spiritual father?   In any event, after Al told Sam he was the father (memorable quote above), I let out an audible "What?"
  • Overall I'm not a huge fan of the "Sam as a father" plot line, just as I wasn't a huge fan of the "MacGyver as a father" plot line.  There's a certain amount of irresponsibility (which I similarly discussed in the MacGyver post) on Sam's part to indulge in a night of passion and then create a child whom he will not be responsible for.  And the whole notion of him being "the father" is a little kooky. Nevertheless, there were some good moments that came out of it including Sam and Sammy's conversation in the middle of Part 3 where she talks about wishing to tell her dad that she loved him, and also the ending is neat when we learn that Sammy works for Project Quantum Leap.
  • Great, a third scene where Sam gets to visit Laura Fuller.  Still looking creepy as ever, Laura!

  • Why did Clayton forbid Laura from telling her story?
    Final Analysis:
    Whew!  A lot to unpack here.  Despite this being a three-parter, it had a good flow and there wasn't much in the way of wasted moments (unlike the recent Lee Harvey Oswald two-parter). And it certainly held my attention and I was quite curious to see how it was going to all get resolved.  That said, it was way more creepy than I typically am looking for in a show, and it's not one that I would be all that excited to watch again for that reason.   It reminds me of Parker House in that I think it's reasonably well done but just not my cup of tea.  Ranking it 8th from the bottom.


    1. For some reason I went into this episode thinking it would be a dud, most likely still scarred after that horrific "Lee Harvey Oswald" episode that also ran long. But I ended up liking it more than I disliked it. The primary theme of Sam leaping into the bodies of three people connected to the same town and set of characters seemed gimmicky, but ended up setting up a compelling narrative trajectory that spanned decades involving the clearing of one person's name. I had issues with parts of it too, as I'll get to later, but overall I thought it was a worthwhile creative venture.

      You commented on the rarity of three-parters. They were reasonably rare even in the 70s and 80s but one example I remember from one of my own shoes was the season 5 premiere of "The A-Team", where they were captured and court-martialed, which was a three-parter. I never watched more than 10 minutes of "Punky Brewster" but my mind was nonetheless blown in 1986 when the TV Guide listed that show having a five-part episode! In today's TV climate, most shows are to some degree serialized meaning the entire concept of multiple-part episodes obsolete. Going back briefly to season 5 of "The A-Team", that was another series that amped up its theme song for the final season...and I must admit that one really grew on me. Ten episodes into "Quantum Leap's" new uptempo theme song, I gotta concede the new song isn't doing it for it me and I doubt it ever will.

      Back to "Trilogy", I struggled to get into it early on. I can see how as a young boy the image of Laura Fuller's ghost would be spooky but it didn't haunt me. The real-life version of Laura in the psych ward was spookier....and the actress playing her was a good choice. The actor that played the "real" Will was Travis Fine, who also played the mute Ike on "The Young Riders", which ended shortly before this episode aired. I recognized the name Melora Hardin immediately in the credits but even seeing "adult Abigail" I couldn't put a finger on who she was...until I read your writeup and saw she played Jan on "The Office". I'm surprised you liked, at least to some degree, "The Office"....it always struck me as in the orbit of "Seinfeld" which I knew you didn't like.

      Easily the lowlight for me to this arc was the incredibly creepy concept of Abigail being Sam's very young daughter who was "daddy's little girl" in every sense in part 1....only to have Sam falling madly in love with her (moments later!) when in the body of Will. You are right that they tried way too hard to come up with a love interest angle and not only was it not believable, it was massively icky! The kind of relationship the President-elect has with Ivanka! With that said, go easy on those guys who are almost 40 who might go out with the occasional 21-year-old!!!!!

      Despite that creepy context, I did like the idea of Sam spawning a daughter, as I'm not nearly as puritanical as you regarding that in fiction. I definitely did not see Abigail's little girl being Sam's kinda-sorta daughter coming, but I did see coming that she would somehow be connected to the Quantum Leap project in the future given her 194 IQ (not sure if the "supergenius" gene is really quite THAT transferable!). I also figured the girl would be Lita Ader's killer in the end--either the girl or the maid--but wasn't overly satisfied with the ending that Lita slit her own throat. If true, how would the knife not be in the hands of her dead body when they found it....and why wouldn't the presence of Lita's prints on the murder weapon at least be enough to justify reasonable doubt given that Abigail's prints would obviously be on the knife...it's her house!

      1. Whoa, a Punky Brewster 5 parter?! That's insane! The story must have been so layered and carefully crafted that it couldn't fit into a measly 3 parter.

        I liked The Office quite a bit, not enough to watch it to the end but I've seen the first few seasons on DVD. I think it's very funny and the actors and characters are great. I just didn't find Seinfeld that funny and didn't care for the characters, though I haven't seen that many episodes so maybe there are some in there that might be good.

        I'm not anti age-difference (in the Sam/Abigail relationship that was the least of my concerns), so if you have any 40 year-old friends who are dating 21 year-olds tell them that this blog is a safe space!

      2. If I'm remembering my TV Guide write-ups correctly, the "Punky Brewster" storyline in the five-parter involved a medical episode led Punky's elderly foster dad to the hospital and forced poor Punky to be sent to an orphanage.

        I lost some interest in "The Office" towards the end too. After Michael left, I had a harder time getting into the new bosses (Will Ferrell, James Spader).

        I'll be sure to tell those "friends" pushing 40 it's okay by the MacGyver Project if they're dating 21-year-olds!

    2. Nonetheless, I thought this episode worthy of the top half, and unlike "The Leap Home", am content to rank this one as a single episode rather than give separate rankings for parts 1 and 2, although I guess I'd say part 3 was probably my favorite. I'll rate it between "Nowhere to Run" and "Miss Deep South". I'm startled that you ranked it as low as you did....somehow managing to rate it below the unthinkably terrible "Lee Harvey Oswald".

      1. Yeah I think this 3 parter was well done, but if you look at my bottom 4 they all are spooky to varying degrees, and I'm just not a big fan of spooky. There are a lot of dark episodes like Deliver Us From Evil or Deadly Dreams that I really like and I'm not sure exactly what the difference is.

      2. Don't forget "Ghost Ship"....on both series!

    3. About the stuttering: Standards & Practices wasn't much on incest. The show had to have that at the beginning, to differentiate the father character from the lover character.

    4. "It's a three parter! I'm sure there have been other three parters throughout the course of tv history but I can't think of any off the top of my head. And for some reason I thought the Evil Leaper was involved in these episodes but apparently not."

      I have a possible explanation for your misunderstanding; parts 2 and 3 of "Trilogy" originally aired in a two-hour block. Later in the season, "Return of the Evil Leaper" and "Revenge of the Evil Leaper" aired in a two-hour block. You were probably conflating the two airings. Also, since there's an original "evil leaper" episode, it could reasonably be argued as a three part episode, although they obviously didn't air in succession (either notably or coincidentally, the first one is the episode before "Trilogy").

      As for other three parters, one that occurs to me off-hand is the second season premiere of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine". "Married With Children" also had a few. "Wiseguy" had a few four-part arcs, but nothing that was 3.