Quantum Leap (1993) – Liberation and Dr. Ruth

Sam (Scott Bakula) finds himsef in the form of a women’s lib protester, Margaret Sanders on 16 October, 1968. Liberation was written by Deborah Pratt and Chris Abbott, and aired on 12 January, 1993.

According to Al  (Dean Stockwell), Sam has a lot on his plate this leap, as he has to save the leader of the movement, Diana St. Cloud (Deborah Van Valkenburgh) from being shot at the next rally, and maybe get Margaret’s husband, George (Max Gail), to accept the idea of having a liberated wife, and daughter, Suzanne (Megyn Price).

But as Sam works to save lives, he may have changed things too much and put Suzanne in jeopardy.

The attitude of men at the time (some of which continues today) is not only wrong, it is offensive on every level to me. Consequently, I think it’s still a pretty important episode because it illustrates the prevalence of sexism and prejudice in the modern world.

Sam does his best to balance the household with equality, but sometimes it takes an extreme measure to change horrible standards. George is fighting to keep his family together, he loves them, but he doesn’t understand how to interact with them. I’m not saying he’s right, as mentioned I find his behaviour absolutely offensive, but I’ve never understood that kind of attitude. It’s moronic.

Sam and Suzie help resolve things with Diana, and then as the story comes to its conclusion, George begins to come around…

I quite like this episode, Pratt has always been one of the strongest writers on the series, and any time I see her name in the credits, I know I’m in for something good, and this doesn’t disappoint.

And then Sam leaps into Dr. Ruth.

Written by Robin Bernheim, Dr. Ruth aired on 19 January, 1993, and sees Sam in the form of sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer (playing herself).

While Al gets some much needed therapy in the project’s Waiting Room, Sam has his hands full playing matchmaker with two of his staff, Doug (Peter Spears) and Debbie (Anita Barone), and advising a young woman, Annie (Robyn Lively) who calls into the radio show to say her boss is pressuring her to have sex.

As Sam’s mind begins to merge with Ruth’s he is able to offer some advice to Doug and Debbie, he tries to find a way to help protect her from the unwanted sexual advances of her boss.

It’s actually a solid story, dealing with relationships, sex, harassment. Did it need to actually involve Dr. Ruth? No. It may have been a ratings grab, but the story works, especially when there is a little doubt about some of Annie’s story. Sam learns the truth, and arrives just in time to help Annie, but the leap doesn’t end there. It all rests on Al.

Al gets some wonderful moments with the doctor, and watching him rattle off different names for breasts is funny and telling about his character. His last few moments in the episode are great, and we get a mention of Beth, and knowing how the series finishes, you can’t help but wonder how the changes Sam affects on Al’s life would have caused things to play out in the following season had there been one.

The episode ends with Sam’s leap, which we don’t see, we only see who leaps into the Waiting Room, and he looks like a vampre…

Oh, boy.

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