Quantum Leap (1991/1992) – Unchained and The Play’s the Thing

Unchained finds Sam (Scott Bakula) in the body of Chance Cole on 2 November, 1956. The episode was written by Paris Qualles and had an airdate of 27 November, 1991.

Sam, as Chance, is part of a chain gang, and he and another convict, Jasper Boone (Basil Wallace) a man, Al (Dean Stockwell) informs him, was unjustly imprisoned for a jewellery store robbery, are on the run.

Unfortunately, they do not get far as they are grabbed again, and thrown into the Pit. And while there, Al informs Sam that the real crook is still out there, at it seems he’s come to the prison farm Sam and Jasper on a regular basis. He delivers there.

Things are complicated for Boone, because he suffers from claustrophobia, and when he gets thrown into the confines of the Pit, he has some serious problems.

With a sadistic prison guard, Boss Cooley (J.C. Quinn) making Sam’s life a living hell, Sam has to figure out a way to prove Boone’s innocence, something the convict isn’t making easy for him.

This episode is a bit standard fare, which makes it sound bad, and it’s not, but most Leap stories have something else going on theme-wise or making some sort of social commentary. Not this time around. It’s got a wrongly accused man, a prison break, a corrupt prison guard, fights, everything you would expect from a prison story.

Sam and Al, of course, find a way to save the day, and get Boone out of prison and out into the wide open spaces that he wants to be in. Then, he leaps…

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The Play’s the Thing aired on 8 January, 1992 and was penned by Beverly Bridges. It’s 9 September, 1969, and Sam is Joe Furlow, a New York stage actor who is involved with an older woman, Jane Lindurst (Penny Fuller).

Sam as Joe is encouraging Jane to pursue a singing career, but her son, Neil (Daniel Roebuck) wants her to return home, in Cleveland, and stay there, and be a mother, and grandmother.

Al informs Sam that he’s there to give Jane the boost of confidence she needs so that she can pursue her dreams. Joe, meanwhile, is working on a production of Hamlet (with a twist), and is having a terrible time of it, while he tries to help Jane.

Neil, in an attempt to persuade his mom to come home, brings an old friend of hers from Cleveland, Ted (Robert Pine), who wants to pursue her romantically.  Can Sam keep her in New York? Can he get her to sing? Or will she head back to Cleveland and misery?

Sam does touch on the ridiculous double standard; it’s okay for a man to be with a younger woman, but not for the reverse.

There is a study in culture clash, as conservative Cleveland meets liberal New York at the end of the 60s.

This episode is gentle, honest, and a bit of romantic fun.

When everything is set to right, Sam leaps and finds himself on a track field, running a relay. Oh, boy…

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