Quantum Leap (1990/1991) – A Little Miracle and Runaway

Sam (Scott Bakula) is Reginald Pierson, the valet of one Michael Blake (Charles Rocket), a Scrooge-like character in Quantum Leap’s take on A Christmas Carol. A Little Miracle aired 21 December, 1990 and was penned by Sandy Fries and Robert Wolterstorff.

It’s Christmas Eve, 1962, and Sam is feeling a little flustered serving Blake, who is intent on tearing down a mission to build a new high-rise. It’s up to Sam and Al (Dean Stockwell), serving as one of the three ghosts, because apparently Blake can see him, to scare the businessman back onto the right track.

There’s a glimmer of hope when the Salvation Army Captain, Downey (Melinda McGraw) arrives on the scene, but Sam and Al have a lot of work cut out for them, if they hope to save Blake’s soul.

The story plays out exactly as you would expect a Christmas episode to play out, especially one based on Dickens’ classic tale, there are reminisces about the past, a possibility in the present and of course the terror of the future, thanks to Al.

The episode isn’t saccharine sweet, but it is steeped in the good will and cheer of the Holiday season, but it does have that Quantum Leap joy to it. There’s something hopeful for humanity in the tale of a such a dark, greedy soul realising that there is more to life, to being , than the accumulation of money and goods, there is love, family, friends, and wonder in all things.

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Runaway was the first episode of 1991, airing on 4 January. This one was written by Paul Brown, and Sam is the youngest kid of a family on their summer trip, 4 July, 1964. His name is Butchie, he’s 13, and his older sister, Alexandra (Ami Foster) is making his life a living hell.

Things are about to change for the Rickett family, as Butchie’s parents, Emma (Sandy Faison) and Hank (Sherman Howard) are having a tough time of it, and things are made worse when an old high school flame, Billy (Joseph Hacker) shows up. In the original history, Al informs Sam, that Emma disappeared and was never seen again.

Sam, as Butchie, must save the family, his mom, and get even with his older sister.

His father is a product of his time, chauvinistic, demeaning, bullying and it takes a lot for him to realise what he does have. ¬†Especially when it comes to Emma’s life. She wants more from her life, the woman’s lib movement is just getting started, and Hank represents a big ‘could have been’ for her. All of these things could or couldn’t lead to her disappearance and Sam has to figure out what to do.

It’s a solid episode that addresses mindsets that still exist today, and the drive of all to wonder about the road not taken, and wanting something more for themselves. The family stories are great, and the writing for the show continues to be top-notch.

Next time, Sam is involved with another kind of family, when he ends up pregnant… oh, boy.

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