Sam (Scott Bakula) ends up shooting some stick in this week’s episode to save a young woman’s bar.
Pool Hall Blues was penned by Randy Holland and originally aired on 14 March 1990. It’s 4 September, 1954 and Sam has leaped into Charlie “Black Magic” Walters, who, we learn, taught Al (Dean Stockwell) in one of his departures from the orphanage, when he was ten.
Sam is there to make sure Charlie’s granddaughter, Violet (Shari Headley) doesn’t lose her bar to a loan shark , Eddie (J.W. Smith) who is putting the lean on them. With Black Magic’s trusty pool cue, Alberta, in hand, Sam has to learn to shoot, and with a little holographic magic from Al, he just may save the day.
The original history had Violet losing the bar to Eddie when Charlie loses a game to Eddie due to his failing eyesight, but if Sam can beat Eddie in a pool shoot-out, then she may hang onto the bar, and have a better life than the one that played out for the family originally.
Teddy Wilson turns in a fun performance as Charlie’s loyal friend Grady, and I quite enjoy this episode. It looks gorgeous, the music is top-notch; everything about it just feels vibrant, and I love Sam’s reaction when Alberta meets her fate.
It also makes some important commentary on racism, while giving us a captivating story, once again, doing something that the best stories, especially science fiction ones, do best, teaching while entertaining, generating conversations and questions.
Leaping in Without a Net aired 28 March, 1990 and was penned by Tommy Thompson. Sam is Victor Panzini, a trapeze artist, and it’s 18 November, 1958. Sam is there to save a life, but he’s going to have to deal with his fear of heights first.
Sam is part of the Panzinis in a travelling circus, and in the original history, Victor’s sister, Eva (Fabiana Udenio) died performing the same stunt that claimed their mother’s life a year earlier.
They now work out of a mudshow, and of course we hear how Al ran away from the orphanage to join the circus at one point, and had a pet roach. At one point the Panzinis were on top, but now they’ve gotten a reduced act on a touring show. Eva wants to get them back where they belong, but Sam’s fears may keep him grounded.
Their father, Laszlo (Jan Triska) has some issues with both of his children, and has also strained his arm which could cause problems in the act. In fact it may lead to Eva’s death, unless Sam can learn the trapeze, and replace their father in the show. Laszlo also gets an offer to join a bigger show which causes problems between the Panzinis and the rest of the circus folk.
There’s a nice moment, when they go to see Sybil (Roya Megnot) the fortune teller, she can sense Al’s presence, and suggests that Sam has been reincarnated a number of times. It’s cool moment.
AS the episode close Sam is climbing out of a window with a basket, and as he and a woman make an escape in a pick-up, we learn that there was a baby in the basket… He’s a kidnapper… oh, boy.