Quantum Entanglement: Ranking the Leaps

Season 6 of Quantum Leap (my colloquial term for the 2022 reboot for convenience) had 18 episodes in its first season.

Season 1 of the original Quantum Leap had 8 episodes if you (correctly) count Genesis as a single 2 hour ep vs. a 2 part pilot. Tacking on the first 10 episodes of Season 2 gets us an equal number of episodes to stack rank the leaps against each other.

Note: I’ll likely update this post after the hiatus to keep the one for one, apples to apples ratings going.

Also, I’ve never liked the clickbait-y drama of counting down top lists backwards, so I’ll take it from the top. (Besides, as memory serves there aren’t many bad episodes of Quantum Leap–though in my opinion two of them are from Season 1. There’s your encouragement to scroll to the bottom…)

Quantum Leap Episode Rankings
36 Episodes: First 18 of Original 1989 Series + First Season of 2022 Revival
26 additions: Season 7 (Revival S2) + OG S2 eps 11-22 + S3 Premiere

M.I.A. (Season 2, Episode 22)
A classic all around, from Al’s attempt to hijack the leap to the heartbreaking “Georgia On My Mind” dance. Al a little more goofy/jokey than normal before realizing the red-letter-date they’ve landed on, but I like the way it’s done as a clue by personality juxtaposition. Only real quibble is the two crooks overact their parts.

Against Time (Season 7, Episode 13)
Such a great episode, continuing the long tradition of strong Quantum Leap season finales (M.I.A, Shock Theater, A Leap for Lisa, Mirror Image, Judgment Day). It has callbacks to the original, callbacks to older revival episodes, a lot of heart, and runs with the planned alternate ending the original would have used had it been renewed all those years ago. This is a franchise firing on all cylinders. My only minor gripe is the whole “I changed my name!” trope that kicks it off, but since the rest of this episode is so amazing I’ll let it slide. Final fun fact: The leap date is July 3, 1976 — same as in the script I wrote in college almost 30 years ago.

Another Mother (Season 2, Episode 13)
A long time favorite that didn’t disappoint on my rewatch. “That’s not my mommy, that’s a man.” is a quote I think of far too often. Animals seeing Al may have been added for practical reasons, but the children under 5 rule is brilliantly introduced here. Refreshing to not see the gender swap played for laughs as they often were. Possibly the most scenes without Sam or Al present of any episode
to this point.

Honeymoon Express (Season 2, Episode 1)
A soft reboot of sorts that cements the boy scout Sam juxtaposed against the wise-cracking, womanizing Al everyone remembers the series for. Features several scenes of Al in “the future” of the mid-nineties at a hearing to secure funding to continue the project. The two plots go well together, leading to a neat time-travel inspired twist ending. Interesting how showing both timelines was a rarity for the original series (and having time travel tie directly into the story even rarer) but a core component of the revival.

Jimmy (Season 2, Episode 8)
Such a fan favorite that the namesake character was revisited in three additional episodes, this leap with a lesson allows the viewer to walk in the shoes of a man with Down Syndrome. One of the first times Sam takes on characteristics of the leapee. Great scene where Al seemingly starts telling yet another story about one of his conquests before we realize he’s actually talking about his younger sister.

S.O.S. (Season 6, Episode 14)
Strongest overall episode of the reboot, rivaling many of the tried and true classics with a few nice callbacks. Perfect blending of past and present and serialized plot within a standalone leap story, including a neat trick of finishing sentences between time periods. Battleship setting feels epic and film-like. Favorite line: “If I asked a dumb question, would that distract you?”

The Color of Truth (Season 1, Episode 7)
Arguably the first classic leap with a lesson, it holds up without being too preachy even if it’s not exactly subtle. Features Al’s first side-mission separated from Sam and the first instance of someone hearing him. Fun fact: This is often remembered as a Driving Miss Daisy tribute/copy, but it predated the movie by several months.

Let Them Play (Season 6, Episode 12)
Ben Song’s first foray into a topical leap, this one makes the decision to put him alongside the subject as he becomes a basketball coach with a trans player–who also happens to be his daughter. A powerful episode that also gives the season-long mystery arc a big step forward.

The Friendly Skies (Season 6, Episode 17)
The penultimate episode of the inaugural reboot season leaps Ben into the body of a 1970s flight attendant for an airborne whodunnit–a high concept leap story I’m surprised the original never attempted. Pitch perfect script featuring heart/humor/hope and a number of clever twists subverting expectations and avoiding cliched tropes.

Pool Hall Blues (Season 2, Episode 18)
When I think about Quantum Leap, Ziggy drawing lines on the pool table and the iconic shot of Al watching the final ball go into the pocket from this episode are always among the first images to pop into my head. Grady is one of my favorite leapee sidekicks, we get a mini leap with a lesson with the bank officer scene and a fun random Sam at the piano moment. Aside from questionable use of slow motion in a few scenes at the club this one is flawlessly written & directed.

Somebody Up There Likes Ben (Season 6, Episode 3)
Ben Song follows in Sam Beckett’s footsteps, with the third episode for both landing them in the life of a boxer who needs to win a fight. Aside from the nearly identical leap-in punch-out it’s more than a remake, allowing the new series to hit a good blend of past & present day while also including a PTSD angle to fit in the aforementioned lesson leap the OG was known for.

The Leap Home, Part 1 (Season 3, Episode 1)
This one is a classic even with the leap itself outside of Sam leaping into his younger self. The set pieces around trying to save his family work very well, especially when he plays “Imagine” for his sister. I’ve always been partial to Sam’s mad angry dash through the cornfields. The makeup when Bakula plays his own father is cool in a BTTF 2 sort of way. Good continuity from M.I.A.

Off The Cuff (Season 7, Episode 9)
Another classic Alex Berger script, who also wrote “The Friendly Skies” in season 6. Natural evolution of Ben & Hannah’s story. Never expected to get a polygamy “lesson leap” subplot, albeit briefly (“A Tale of Two Sweeties” aside). Nitpicks: Too soon for a bounty hunter retread; why not just have him be a cop? Ian tells Addison she’s urgently needed in the imaging chamber, ignoring/forgetting the revolving door of holograms over the previous episodes.

Leap. Die. Repeat. (Season 6, Episode 11)
A very clever way of playing with the typical formula as Ben repeats the same leap through different leapees trying to solve a mystery Groundhog Day style. The new show is especially good at whodunnits even when not explicitly going the detective drama route, while also in peak form when the HQ storyline complements the weekly standalone story.

Disco Inferno (Season 2, Episode 2)
It pleasantly surprised me how well this one stood up in my rewatch. I remembered it as “the disco stuntman” episode, but it has a nice heartfelt plot of trying to steer his brother towards a career in music while also introducing memories of Sam’s brother Tom who died in Vietnam. In some ways this episode created the classic template for a strong standard leap story.

What Price, Gloria? (Season 2, Episode 4)
Sam’s first gender-creative experience was filmed for season 1, held back to be the season 2 premiere, and eventually settled in as episode 4 of the sophomore season. A little dated, but groundbreaking for its time and a classic in the spirit of The Color of Truth, Jimmy, and Let Them Play. Could Buddy Wright from this episode be the grandfather of Dr. Ian Wright in the new series?

Judgment Day (Season 6, Episode 18)
The season 6 finale opens in potential shark jumping territory but thankfully stays in the water. When the featured leap kicks in it’s one heck of a rollicking fun ride. I’m usually a persnickety stickler when it comes to time travel logic needing to make sense, but this episode is so much fun I’m able to suspend my disbelief more than normal. (I also hope/think/suspect some of the seemingly incongruent bits are actually secret setup for season 7; time will tell…) UPDATE: The time travel logic is actually brilliant.

Secret History (Season 7, Episode 6)
A questionable leap premise becomes a standout showcase for the entire cast. Rock/paper/hologram is a great bit, and Tom might be the best hologram so far and does the most hologrammy things. Shifting the mission from finding the formula to destroying it was clever. I’d like the Ian storyline better if it was outright blackmail vs. “you need to hold up your end of the deal” which feels out of character. I can sort of see the delayed leap out being GFTW influenced, but it’s a stretch. “The accelerator thought you needed a friend.” Awww. HINDSIGHT UPDATE: After the season finale, the bit here where Ziggy finds a report Hannah died in a lab accident fire breaks the logic of the overarching Gideon/microchip plot.

Ben and Teller (Season 7, Episode 2)
Fantastic leap story headlined by hologram Ian, great reunion with the HQ cast, decent introduction to new main character Tom Westfall. Favorite bits were the act break with the vault code, Ian embedded in the desk, and the tearful Ben & Addison reunion flipping/negating the titular pun in a cool way. Nitpicks: another delayed leap-out for subplot reasons and no leap-in to next week. Only 3 episodes of the OG didn’t conclude with the next leap-in (including the finale, excluding the cool waiting room transition from Dr. Ruth to vampire). New show has 7 out of 20 so far including both eps this season. It’s the only show on tv that doesn’t need a traditional spoilery marketing trailer. Use it!

So Help Me God (Season 2, Episode 9)
Sam Beckett channels Perry Mason in a tight courtroom mystery. The clever direction each time Al pops in is noteworthy. I always seem to confuse this with the priest episode based on titular “God” here.

Star-Crossed (Season 1, Episode 3)
Season 1 had its episode sequence shuffled vs. the originally intended production order, shifting this one to the post-pilot debut vs. later in the run. The story feels like it could’ve/should’ve been the first season finale with Sam trying to alter his own future & Al getting briefly fired from the project–though I can see why it was selected as a strong showing to air right out of the gate.

Fellow Travelers (Season 6, Episode 9)
The premiere of the second half of season 6 (man, tv schedules are weird these days) features another whodunnit, this one with Ben as a bodyguard for a 70s musician. This episode aired before the Daisy Jones and the Six tv show but after the book version. In my humble opinion as a nerdy music fan “Travelin’ On” is the best Fleetwood Mac imitation song of 2023. Sort of the inverse resolution to “Glitter Rock.”

Good Night, Dear Heart (Season 2, Episode 17)
Whodunnits are a strength of the new show, but the OG could also pull them off with this Edgar Award winning script. The murder mystery is nicely set up and executed, but the Laura Palmer-esque flashes Sam has are sort of random and unexplained. Other nitpick: Why set this leap in November to solve a murder from July 4th? Because it snowed when filming the final scene?

O Ye of Little Faith (Season 6, Episode 7)
A Halloween episode airing on October 31st starts off as a creepy horror show before morphing into a 1930s Agatha Christie style mystery. One of the coolest mirror image interactions of either incarnation. The cliffhanger reveal is a little bit of a stretch better on paper than in execution, but still gets style points for the effort.

This Took Too Long! (Season 7, Episode 1)
And we’re back! Everyone except Ben, that is. A different sort of episode blazing new ground for either series finds the leaper alone with no guide on his journey appearing in the form of a hologram only he can see and hear. In some ways it’s similar to how I always imagined a Sam centered revival might’ve kicked off. Also has some nods to LOST with a plane crash and flashbacks. The final twist (reminiscent of my old OG fan fiction for the Leap Back convention) sets that stage for what looks to be an exciting Season 7.

Family Style (Season 6, Episode 13)
Deborah Pratt wrote or co-wrote more Quantum Leap episodes than anyone else (20), including 4 already ranked above 36 episodes into this experiment. (Note to my future self — remember to update this as this experiment extends.) She added director to her QL resume with this tale of a family Indian restaurant set in 2009.

The Americanization of Machiko (Season 2, Episode 3)
Another strong showing from the beginning of Season 2 that pleasantly surprised me on a rewatch. Holds up better than I remembered, tackles xenophobia head on. Ending feels a little like an unearned cheat, but all in all a solid showing.

Atlantis (Season 6, Episode 2)
An epic leap situation and a nice easter egg callback to the original series via Samantha Stratton. The workplace drama subplot back at the project felt a little clunky but moved the plot forward. Missed opportunity for something like “Ziggy’s having trouble locating Ben anywhere on Earth…” since he wasn’t on Earth. Mildly amusing that Sam’s only astronaut leap was into a chimp who never left the planet, so this is sort of setting right what once went wrong.

Ben Song for the Defense (Season 6, Episode 15)
“Lawyer” feels like too obvious of a leaped there, done that concept. Here it works well by adding a 1980s backdrop, another dose of the revival’s whodunnit wheelhouse, and for the first time switching things up by letting head of security Jenn take a turn in the imaging chamber as the hologram. One of my main nitpicky complaints of the new series was Ben lingering on leaps longer than Sam would after his mission is done. This ep puts right what once went wrong with a borderline premature leap-out that’s really right on time when you think about it.

Nomad(s) (Season 7, Episode 8)
Great failed leap fake-out, though the fact they filmed this episode on location in Egypt before the strike started made it unlikely Ben would truly be stranded. Nice juxtaposition on Hannah waiting 6 years for Ben after Addison didn’t wait 3, as well as Hannah’s “I’m glad you get to keep doing this” immediately followed by Tom revealing “We can get him home!” Lou Diamond Philips does a great guest turn. “They’re in love” act break cliffhanger was a little forced, as was not remembering other outside of the country leaps on vehicles (Space Shuttle, Battleship, Airplane)

One Night In Koreatown (Season 7, Episode 5)
A powerful episode with some great moments, but also feels like it tries a little too hard in a contrived “script is too perfect” cookie cutter sort of way. “Since when do you speak Korean?” was hilarious. Missed opportunity to have Magic yell “Ian, center me on Dwayne!”. Why is there a bar in Magic’s office if he’s a recovering alcoholic?

Leaping in Without a Net (Season 2, Episode 19)
A fun one with heart. Nice mini-message about little people. Psychic seeing other souls in his eyes neat. Favorite random bit is Al standing up in a car and Sam asking him to pretend to sit like a normal person. There’s a continuity issue where Sam had no fear of heights as a stuntman, but a big phobia as a trapeze artist. Don’t think Swiss-cheese explains that away. Grammarian nitpick: I wish the title dropped the “In.”

As The World Burns (Season 7, Episode 12)
A hard one to rank since it aired back to back with “Against Time” as a 2-episode season finale. This one isn’t bad, but it’s also not in the same league as the one after it nor the other Hannah episodes. Still enjoyed it. Jenn’s promotion and Addison’s handling of the ending threat were good HQ bits. 9131 1/4 days is exactly 25 years including leap years. Curious if it means this leap takes place on the exact same day and month as “Closure Encounters” of if the math is just quickly estimated.

Paging Doctor Song (Season 6, Episode 10)
Great blend of the new-series mythology and an ER-style leap where 3 separate storylines converge in interesting ways. The leap-in to deliver a baby feels like a little bit of a cheat to add drama to the tag at the end of the previous episode, and Ben still lingers a little longer than he should after completing his missions. Other downside is it’s the only revival episode to not include Mason Alexander Park as Ian, as their scene was allegedly in the script but cut for time since there’s a lot of leap story going on here.

The Family Treasure (Season 7, Episode 10)
Goonies vibes in a fun romp with good callbacks to the rest of the season. Another outlandish leap that still has enough charm and heart to work as a whole. Love how the title seems to be a non-binary play on “the family jewels,” tying into the theme and a key scene. Well done, Ben Song.

Closure Encounters (Season 7, Episode 3)
Nice X-Files tribute with OG vibes and a kiss with history. Recap seamlessly worked into the final negotiation. Having “the plan” be to have the hologram spy/observe was a good twist underutilized on both shows. I wish we didn’t know Hannah would be recurring going in so it was more of a surprise later. Nits: Ben gets called out for acting out of character when he isn’t. Why leap in 300 miles away from actual mission aside from wanting to have that awkward car ride?

Animal Frat (Season 2, Episode 12)
Fun one with a solid script and good balance between the goofy fraternity and the more serious Vietnam related story. Al oddly doesn’t show up until the morning after Sam arrives. (He also sits in a chair and accidentally bumps into Sam.) Nerdy nitpick: The time travel causation seems a little off with this being one of those leaps where Sam seems to cause the history Ziggy said he was there to prevent.

Salvation or Bust (Season 6, Episode 5)
Full disclosure: I was a little nervous about deviating from the “within his own lifetime” rule but this one put my mind at ease. Same heart as a recent history leap and a story with good character & characters. Shock ending was cool; might have been better with a simu-leap between lines of dialogue. (“I know who you are…” <leap> “…stop following me.”)

The Outsider (Season 7, Episode 11)
Feels like a classic series leap. Neat how figuring out the leap date is becoming a puzzle, here making you do the math when Ben shows a day planner and says “this meeting was a couple of days ago.” Loved the fake commercial and the “Does he speak?” bits. A little predictable overall. Missed opportunity to tie Tom’s wife’s cancer into the weedkiller resolution. Second “they aren’t really dead!” twist in four episodes.

Catch a Falling Star (Season 2, Episode 10)
The leap itself and Sam’s mission feel like an afterthought, but the whole episode is so much fun with a theater production of Don Quixote (in Syracuse!) letting Scott Bakula sing. Subplot with the piano teacher is sort of a “Star-Crossed” redo. The ending with Sam & Al is a memorable, grin-inducing classic.

Stand By Ben (Season 6, Episode 8)
The new version is starting to find itself with a solid topical leap into a 1996 youth bootcamp. First time Ben overlaps with the original project. The teenagers referring to his “imaginary girlfriend” works well as a talking to a hologram coverup, and I especially like the subtle suggestion the group listened to an entire No Doubt album since shuffling required pre-meditation in the 90s.

Double Identity (Season 1, Episode 6)
Written to follow the pilot, Donald Bellisario asked to have it pushed back so as not to confuse viewers with a double leap so soon (and interestingly, for one of only two times ever). The “let’s try to retrieve Sam without really trying to figure out the purpose of the leap” plot makes a lot more sense under that scenario. This one is mostly a riff on The Godfather, but it’s so much fun I can let the movie inspiration slide. Also includes multiple instances of the classic “Al saves the day just in time” trope as well as the “you actually have one more thing to set right” twist ending.

Freedom (Season 2, Episode 16)
The grandfather is one of my favorite characters in the series and would have been a nice Mirror Image cameo. Jailbreak feels a little out of character for Sam but is necessary for the plot. The scalping threat is very out of character, but if taken as foreshadowing for how the leapee’s mind melds with Sam’s I can buy it. Random aside: I dig the guitar based musical cues throughout this one.

Genesis (Season 1, Episodes 1&2)
Middle of the pack, but if your pilot is the best episode ever you’ve got a problem. Exposition heavy as these things often are, it’s a great episode of television but not a great episode of Quantum Leap if that makes sense. Drags a little at times; probably better suited as an hour or ninety minutes vs. a full two including commercials.

A Kind of Magic (Season 7, Episode 7)
Good but not great. Sort of what I feared would happen when the “in his own lifetime” rule was removed. Not very period accurate, plus filming on the exact same Universal Backlot set as “Salvation or Bust” took me out of the story a little. I did like the sequence of three different holograms and the hat tip to “A Single Drop of Rain” at the end. The recurring “little bit funny” joke continues to amuse, and “Ziggy says there’s a 93% chance” fakeout was a clever trope inversion. “Will you be my hologram?” should be a Valentine.

What a Disaster! (Season 6, Episode 6)
Much like the original series had episode ordering altered post-production, this leap was filmed as the new pilot but later retooled to run later. Compared to the script, the present day scenes were scrapped and redone but ~70% of the leap was kept with premiere exposition cut and some clever edits for continuity. 1989 setting a nice nod to the OG. Personally I think this would have been a better inaugural leap, but I’m not a TV executive. Bonus points for the meta title referencing both the earthquake & online rumors this version of the pilot was scrapped because it was a disaster. (Spoiler alert — it wasn’t.)

The Lonely Hearts Club (Season 7, Episode 4)
Starts off as a silly little romcom, which is the kind of slapsticky episode I never liked in the original. Second half and especially the final act has a string of great scenes that saves it — book club, 2 Addison + Ben confrontations, “What if the accelerator isn’t broken?” question. The delayed leap out was avoidable if Neil didn’t enter his daughter’s house until after Ben & Addison’s conversation. Nit: Shouldn’t Addison & Ben immediately remember the 7 additional films in the new history?

Blind Faith (Season 2, Episode 5)
In this instance, a great script gets bogged down by some cheesy choices in cinematography and direction. (Example: The strangler’s first victim.) Minor qualm with not going deep enough on the topic of being blind–though when they did it was great. On the plus side, The Beatles kiss with history is seamlessly integrated into the plot. Sam goofing off with Al and nearly blowing the leap because of it was well done. Once revealed, the killer isn’t as obvious as it seems.

Her Charm (Season 2, Episode 15)
An episode with a different vibe for the original series. Nice twist with the leapee I won’t spoil here, an inverse of the twist in July 13, 1985. Sam uncharacteristically reveals who he is multiple times, and also oddly recalls reading about the original history which always feels a little like a cheat the few times it happens. There’s some comically bad music during the woods chase. Since leap out timing is a pet peeve I have with the new series I’ll admit this one also feels delayed, but GFTW needing the professor to arrive to ensure Dana was safe after Sam left checks my plausibility box.

Ben, Interrupted (Season 6, Episode 16)
A big mythology episode for the revival with a heck of a storyline, but a clunky script kept taking me out of the story as I shook my head at the way little moments were handled. (Janis back at Beth’s house for no good reason/Beth in the episode for 2 seconds; Addison asks Ian if Martinez can see her one scene after he clearly did; Ben’s far fetched escape; the shocking twist of a cliffhanger that’s all tell followed by a gratuitous tag that’s a bit of a cheat in hindsight.) Additional minor quibble: the frequency with which Ben’s name ends up in an episode title was becoming a pet peeve by this point.

Maybe Baby (Season 2, Episode 20)
Kind of a hokey episode that wraps up a little too neatly, but still entertaining. Weird Al has so little info on the actual mission, though I suppose the alias and the lying explains it. Downtown Julie Brown an awesome guest star both at the time and in retrospect. Guess Al forgot the dinosaur handlink trick in favor of sock puppets.

A Decent Proposal (Season 6, Episode 4)
My least favorite leap of the first batch of new adventures, mainly because it feels a little cartoony for Quantum Leap in a way I can’t quite put my finger on. Props for not making a big deal of the first gender creative experience, plus Magic’s “nudge” speech about being leaped into by Sam is an early classic moment that saves the episode from landing at the bottom of my season 6 list.

July 13, 1985 (Season 6, Episode 1)
The second take on a pilot episode that became the new series debut. Much like “Genesis” it’s exposition heavy by necessity, though has the opposite issue of being too short to fit it all in. The heist storyline is an odd choice for a premiere, bordering on cartoony like “A Decent Proposal” was. The undercover cop twist was a clever thing the original never did, though Sam did so once mainly to provide a fake-out leap-in of “he’s a hooker!” But nitpicks aside, IT’S THE FIRST NEW EPISODE OF QUANTUM LEAP IN NEARLY 30 YEARS! with plenty of fun callbacks to the original — and as you’ll see below better than half of the original Season 1 in my humble opinion.

All-Americans (Season 2, Episode 14)
In the first round of this apples to apples ranking exercise I declared “Camikaze Kid” the dividing line between good and bad episodes. This one challenged that premise but ultimately supported it. A by the numbers script with a few clunky moments but otherwise not bad. Out of character for Sam to tell the bookie “I think you’re why I’m here” (though that’s totally a Ben Song move). Seems the only reason Chewy had the conversation about throwing the game was because Sam had to do laps for talking to Al after the Jane Fonda workout. What happened in the original history?

Camikaze Kid (Season 1, Episode 8)
If you asked me for an example of an average / typical episode of Quantum Leap this pretty much fits the bill. Good but not quite great, yet hits all the beats of a self-contained plot where Sam & Al save the day, overcome a few obstacles and have a random kiss with history along the way. I’m really curious where this falls on the line of demarcation if/when I continue to expand this ranking list, but as of this initial writing I consider it the Mendoza Line of Quantum Leap.

Thou Shalt Not (Season 2, Episode 7)
Not sure what to say here except some you like and some you don’t is the beauty of Quantum Leap‘s versatility. Here I felt the scenario and theme were better than the episode. Al’s reveal of the leap purpose comes unusually late. The red herring about Sam’s host having an affair is good and the last 10 minutes save it from a lower ranking.

The Right Hand of God (Season 1, Episode 4)
A fun early episode that lacks the right amount of punch (pun intended). Some good bits tying in the streaker and the twist gambling resolution, but the show is understandably still finding its legs. The subplot about Al’s loud neighbor keeping him up at night is pretty lame, as is the somewhat forced Rocky montage. I gave them a pass for the Godfather episode, but can’t quite do it here.

Good Morning, Peoria (Season 2, Episode 6)
I always remembered this DJ episode as being a favorite, but didn’t really like it on the rewatch. Fun, but not very good. Best part is when proximity to the radio tower makes Al think he’s leaping.

A Portrait for Troian (Season 2, Episode 11)
I love the bit where Al makes ghostly noises since the electronic equipment inexplicably allows people to hear him, plus the first use of the later recycled “center me on Sam!” gag where Al reappears two feet from where he was standing. Also cool to have a Bellisario cameo as the leapee and Deborah Pratt acting. Otherwise, this episode is a train wreck. Trying to retcon Carolyn Seymour’s ghost into the Evil Leaper storyline as head canon is inadvertently intriguing.

Sea Bride (Season 2, Episode 21)
Way too slapsticky for my taste. Did Sam’s presence have any impact besides not getting his leapee killed? Who brings an umbrella on a cruise, let alone throws it away in the ship’s compactor? Weird cross between Seymour & Double Identity and a rare miss from a Deborah Pratt script. Also might have the most scenes without Sam or Al present of any episode. On the plus side, there’s a nice bit of M.I.A setup which the show doesn’t do between eps all that often.

Play it Again, Seymour (Season 1, Episode 9)
Honestly I’ve never really liked this episode. The Bogie references are overdone, the Woody Allen kiss with history unnecessary, and the overall hardboiled plot tries too hard to be something the show isn’t. Twist that Sam remembers reading the future novel this scenario is based on is an interesting idea that doesn’t quite work for me. Sometimes I’m surprised the show got renewed after this first season finale–but I’m immensely thankful it did.

How the Tess Was Won (Season 1, Episode 5)
Another one I chalk up to a show figuring itself out, this is basically Sam playing cowboy without a real goal in mind, culminating with the twist he’s really there to help Buddy Holly write “Peggy Sue” even though Buddy Holly didn’t actually write “Peggy Sue” himself. Al leaves Sam to ride Widowmaker alone, putting his life at risk? Al accuses Sam of having an affair with Tina? Sam’s there to marry Tess — but he failed, oh well. (And he never had a shot–strongly implied to be because he’s either hispanic, ugly, or both? WTF?) He’s also there for several days, but never looked in a mirror until the end? Leapee reflection has glasses Sam isn’t actually wearing? Ziggy knows when people cheat at cards, but gets who was cheating wrong? Just too many out of character oddities requiring suspension of disbelief. (I can see a version of events where GFTW put him there to give Tess the confidence to marry someone, but even that still feels off-brand.)

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