Quantum Leap (1991) – Heart of a Champion, and Nuclear Family

Sam is one part of a wrestling team, when he leaps into Terry Sammis in Heart of a Champion. With an airdate of 8 May, 1991, Sam finds himself in all manner of trouble in this script by Tommy Thompson.

It’s 23 July, 1955 and Terry and his brother Ronny (Jerry Bossard) are professional wrestlers, portraying the baddies, a pair of Russkies in the wrestling ring. Al (Dean Stockwell) informs Sam that he’s there to get Ronny to quit, he has a heart problem, and in the original history he died in a title match.

Ronny doesn’t want to give up their shot at the title match, and knowing he has a wife and young son at home Sam may have to go to extremes to keep his brother safe. In fact, he may have to fight the entire title match himself, without letting Ronny tag in, to keep his brother alive.

Of course, we’re in the midst of the Cold War, how can professional wrestling let to Russian characters win the title match?  Oh, boy.

The episode is filled with larger than life personalities both inside and outside the ring, especially the Sammis’ Battling Russkies nemesis, Carl Shilo (Terry Funk) and his seductive, flamboyant wife, Sherry (Deborah Wakeham) and the Sammis’ mother, Lottie (Angela Paton).

It’s a lot of fun, occasionally goofy, and, as always, has a strong character story  and a lot of, well, heart, underneath it all. This ends up just being an enjoyable episode, a bit of lightness, which after the darkness (and greatness) of last week’s episode, it was needed.

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Nuclear Family keeps us right there in the Cold War era, as Sam leaps into 26 October, 1962, and finds himself in the dealing with panic and family in Florida.

Written by Paul Brown, this episode aired on 15 May, 1991.

Sam is Eddie Elroy, and his brother, Mac (Timothy Carhart) is a fallout shelter salesman. Mac finds the worry and the panic of the Red Threat and the Missile Crisis. But, trouble is going to be a lot closer to home, when fear causes their neighbour, Burt (Kurt Fuller), to be shot and killed.

This one is a fine episode, playing with Sam’s knowledge of future events. He and Al know how the events of the Missile Crisis played out but no one will believe them as terror sweeps the neighbourhood.

The episode explores the fear, and the fallacies pushed on the public to assuage that fear, duck and cover anyone?

Sam does everything he can to make sure things are safe, and that Burt won’t die, and that the family’s children aren’t terrified and know that they’ll be safe. This is one of the episodes that serves as a nice time capsule, conveying the beliefs and things of the time. We may not be able to relate to the events the characters are going through (or maybe we can) but we understand the emotions the characters are going through, and that gives us insight into the times and the eras that Sam visits.

Next week season 3 comes to a conclusion with the incredible episode, Shock Theatre. Sam leaps into find himself getting shock therapy… oh, boy.

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