Oh boy, it seems Al and Sam have swapped places and personalities…
It’s a fun but poignant episode of this time travel TV show where Dean Stockwell’s in the army now and is not a hologram anymore.
Quantum Leap Season 4 Intro w/Teaser, here7ic
I was sad to learn of the passing of Dean Stockwell. Stockwell was an actor who for years, I’d meant to revisit in his series Quantum Leap (1989-93). I’d only seen a couple of episodes of this show in the 1990s but had wanted to revisit it properly one day.
I loved the show on my first viewing, which was sadly late on in the final series – in the days before I had a television, DVD player and access to boxsets – and immediately adored its premise, storylines and the on-screen rapport and camaraderie between the leads, Dean Stockwell and Scott Bakula.
I sadly then had forgotten about it, until now after I heard of Stockwell’s passing. Now I’m writing this wrong by reviewing him in this episode from Season 4, Ep 1, The Leap Back – June 15th 1945. The premise is as always nattily explained in the opening credits – and in this trailer – and it seems it’s another of those experiments gone wrong scenarios and the plot is partly summed up here by IMDb…
During a government experiment into time travel, a scientist finds himself trapped in the past, “leaping” into the bodies of different people on a regular basis and sorting out their problems whilst trying to get back home to his own time.
The scientist in question is Sam Beckett (Bakula). He is given support from his trusty workmate, Admiral Al Calavicci (Dean Stockwell) who appears as a hologram.
This episode is a treat for a newbie to the show. It explains the premise beautifully albeit in a role reversal kind of way. After a bolt of lightning, Al is the one who is inhabiting a man’s body and Sam is the hologram, so both find out more about each other’s roles. Al still has the communication device, so they can’t find out his reasons for being there as it won’t work as it hasn’t been invented yet!
Their problems are discovered as they have returned in time to June 15th 1945 before Sam was born. It seems Sam can’t inhabit bodies and have experiences from before his birth. It starts off as a fun time for Sam who delights in walking through on-screen props and giving Al advice on how to act in situations, knowing only he can see him. This joy is seen in this quote found on IMDb HERE;
Sam: Revenge is mine, thus sayeth the hologram!
Stockwell as Al discovers – with Sam’s guidance – that he is inhabiting the body of Captain Tom Jarret, a former World War II army man who has returned home a hero. Tom was believed dead, and his girlfriend, Suzanne (Amanda Wyss) had been waiting for him for years. She is now all set to marry a meathead, Clifford (Robert Prescott) in two days. Al as Tom reunites with Suzanne… he proposes to her and she accepts, as Al thinks that’s his reason to be there.
So to stop this glitch in their personalities, Sam and Al write a letter to be delivered to a workmate in the future. They explain their problem and ask if he can open a door for Sam to go through to return home. However, after going home, he is reunited with his wife, Donna and they spend precious time together.
Then Sam finds out that Al is there to stop the suicide of Tom and Suzanne but as they are then still alive, this could mean murder. As we watch both of them knocked out by Clifford, this means Al is stuck in the past. Al can’t return home unless Sam puts himself in Al’s body… so he has a dilemma of saving his friend’s life or staying with his wife, as time runs out.
I picked this episode after reading that Stockwell plays an important role in this story. His predicament explains the show premise effectively, as we discover Sam’s usual role in the show, through him. Stockwell is a wonderful guide. At first, he is perplexed and baffled at who he is and his motivations for being there and Stockwell’s performance is delightfully played. He seems to relish in this beautifully written episode.
It’s played as a comedy of errors first as Al and Sam discover they have swapped personalities and abilities. This is seen to fun effect as the pair meet another character Mike, who can see Al but not Sam in this scene from the script via IMDB HERE…
Mike: You look terrific! Considering.
Admiral Al Calavicci: Considering? Considering what?
Mike: What? Tom, you just spent three years in a POW camp. They didn’t feed you much, did they?
Admiral Al Calavicci: Bowl of rice a day.
Mike: Germans fed you rice?
Admiral Al Calavicci: The VC (Viet Cong).
Sam: Al, Al, you’re not Admiral Al Calavicci; you’re Captain Tom somebody, and you better start acting like him until Ziggy tells us what you’re here to change.
Admiral Al Calavicci: Oh. How?
Admiral Al Calavicci: [typing on his dead hand-link] There’s nobody home.
Sam: Don’t look at me, look at him!
Sam has Al’s eye for the ladies and is looking forward to “hitting the powder room” when he discovers he can’t be seen by anyone but Al. Al is sad to learn he no longer has his lustful thoughts about pretty women and says;
Admiral Al Calavicci: [notices a sexy woman passing by on the street] This isn’t fair. Sam, a beautiful body like that and I’m just thinking pure thoughts? Damn it!
Later as Tom, Al enjoys a snog (and more is implied) with the pretty blonde that was Tom’s girlfriend. However, Sam is torn as he returns to the experiment room and sees his wife again, who he clearly loved.
I really enjoyed watching Stockwell in his reversed role and he seemed to relish this part fun yet dramatic episode. So now I’m going to take a leap in the dark and go back in time to watch more of his role in this series but in the body of a hologram this time.