Sam (Scott Bakula) is back in school, when he leaps into Knut ‘Wild Thing’ Wileton, in Animal Frat. This Animal House-like episode was penned by Chris Ruppenthal and aired 3 January, 1990.
It’s 19 October, 1967, and Sam seems to be Big Man On Campus, but as always, he’s there to put something right, and Al (Dean Stockwell) keeps him on point.
He’s there to stop a smart, and attractive co-ed, Elisabeth (Stacy Edwards) from making a terrible mistake when she plans a protest against the Vietnam war that causes an explosion in the college’s chemistry building, and claims a life; this ruins her own life, and Sam is there to prevent all of that.
Sam shows Elisabeth that Knut is more than a ‘jock’ and that she can be passionate about her beliefs but still live her life, and enjoy it. But, while trying to introduce her to fun with a luau, the bomb is counting down on a timer.
The human problem comes from Duck (Darren Dalton) who is leading the protests and is the one who incites the idea of violence on the college campus to bring attention to it and their hatred for the war.
Balancing the fun, with the reminder that Sam’s brother Tom, died in Vietnam, the show gets its message across and still entertains while doing it. The story and Bakula balance it all, and it’s a lot of fun.
There’s some nice tension during the bomb defusing, as well as confrontation with Duck, but Sam will have to do one more thing if he wants to leap out.
Another Mother is yet another fantastic episode, and a personal favourite (so many of them are). Written by Deborah Pratt (who pens some of the series’ best episodes), and featuring her daughter Troian, this episode aired 10 January, 1990.
Sam finds himself leaping into Linda Bruckner, a recently divorced mother of three children, troubled teen, Kevin (Michael Stoyanov), middle child, Susan (Olivia Burnette, who will return as Sam’s own sister in Season 3) and little Teresa (Troian Bellisario) who can see Sam for who he really is, as well as Al!
Sam is there to save Kevin’s life, after he is outed and made fun of for being a virgin at the hands of his dream girl, Jackie (Allison Barron), he originally disappeared, hinted at in a foreboding way by a dirty van drawing ever closer to the Bruckner’s suburb.
It’s 30 September, 1981 and there are tons of pop culture references, Raiders, Queen, Star Wars, Magnum, Jaws, the suburb and family feel as if they were lifted from E.T. Kevin and his friends play a variation of Dungeons and Dragons.
I think that’s why this one resonates with me, there’s so much of my own childhood in this one. And I can relate to Kevin, I was a geeky teen (who grew into a geeky adult).
Al gets some nice moments with Teresa, telling her stories, and looking after her while Sam tries to save Kevin, including on taking on kidnappers!
It ends wonderfully, and establishes itself as a classic episode from the off.
The episode also includes the saga sell in the prologue, voiced here by Lance LeGault (soon to be taken over by Pratt) and sells the show in a way that Bakula’s voice-over intros couldn’t quite do, though they will be missed.
Looks like Sam will have his hands full next week when he leaps into a football game…