After the heavier subject matter last week, The Great Spontini is a bit lighter fare (partially, though it does deal with a heartbreaking reality for families, divorce and custody battles) for Sam (Scott Bakula). Written by Cristy Dawson and Beverly Bridges, this episode first aired on 16 November, 1990.
Sam finds himself as a magician, Harry Spontini, on 9 May, 1974, with an adorable daughter, Jamie (Lauren Woodland) by his side. When Harry’s ex-wife, Maggie (Amy Steel) appears on the scene, Sam believes he’s there to put the family back together.
The original history played out poorly for Jamie, and Al (Dean Stockwell) informs him that the mission is something else. It seems Sam is there to make sure Harry keeps custody of Jamie, and that she doesn’t die an accidental death when she attempts one of Harry’s tricks to prove she can be part of the act, and get a spot on The Magician.
It’s obvious from the start that Jamie and Harry love each other very much, even if Maggie argues that it isn’t the safest, or happiest or most secure environment to raise a child in.
Maggie shows up with her new boyfriend, and lawyer, Steve (Erich Anderson), after three years for a divorce, and is adamant about taking Jamie, who wants nothing to do with Maggie since she left them. Steve is in it just to be a winner, and beat Harry, he doesn’t care about Jamie, and Sam questions his feelings about Maggie as well.
I really like Woodland’s performance in this episode, she brings the heartache of a child caught between two parents, one she loves desperately, and one she feels abandoned by, to life in a strong and believable way.
Rebel Without a Clue was penned by Randy Holland and Paul Brown from a story by Brown and Nick Harding. It aired on 30 November, 1990 and found Sam in the form of Shane ‘Funny Bone’ Thomas, a biker on 1 September, 1958.
Al informs him that he is there to save the life of a young woman, Becky (Josie Bissett) who is riding with them. She was inspired by Kerouac’s On the Road, and may become a fantastic writer in her own way, if Sam can help her avoid what happened the first time around.
It seems that sometime in the next 24 hours, Becky is going to be stabbed, but Al, and Ziggy, can’t tell Sam by whom. Suspicion falls firmly on the gang’s leader, Dillon (Diedrich Bader) who styles himself after Brando’s Wild One.
Teddy Wilson, who also played in Pool Hall Blues, plays Ernie Tyler, the owner and proprietor of a roadside diner where the gang causes a problem, while he laments the loss of his son in the Korean war, something Dillon also served in.
As Sam keeps butting heads with Mad Dog (Mark Boone Junior), one of the other bikers, he has to figure out a way to save Becky’s life without ruining her spirit. And if he can’t do it, there may be someone else in the neighbourhood who can.
Next time, Sam and Al have to scrooge a hard-nosed businessman. Oh, boy.