Monday, October 03, 2022

Quantum Leap: Somebody Up There Likes Ben

In the previous series, Dr. Sam Beckett often jumped into a body just about as it was about to be clobbered by a haymaker. Sooner or later, the new leaper, Dr. Ben Song was bound to get similar treatment. He is somewhat fortunate his chin music comes from a mere sparring partner at the start of tonight’s Quantum Leap episode, “Somebody Up There Likes Ben.”

Obviously, the writers of the current continuation series are somewhat familiar with the classic Paul Newman boxing film, so give them points for cinematic literacy. The 1970s vibe is also pretty cool, but unexpected. The big non-spoilery development of this episode is the fact Song somehow managed to leap beyond his own lifetime. There will be other technical difficulties for the team that might have a bearing on the ongoing mystery as to why Song was compelling to leap without warning.

Obviously, winning Danny Hill’s title fight will most likely factor into Song’s efforts to set things right. However, he also must help the fighter’s manager-brother start dealing with his PTSD. To its credit, this episode demonstrates great empathy for Vietnam vets like Daryl Hill, who is indeed callously called a “baby-killer” during the hour-long drama.

Augustine’s holographic boxing training is cleverly executed and the period costumes are pretty funky. The only complaint this time around is the comparative lack of screen-time for the eternally cool Ernie Hudson as project director Herbert “Magic” Williams. However, the chemistry between Raymond Lee and Caitlin Bassett, as leaper and holographic contact, is starting to come together.

It seems strange the critical and Nielsen ratings for this series aren’t higher, because it adroitly retains the episodic leaping format (sufficiently so that we can still break it down week-by-week), while incorporating an ongoing season-long storyline—or at least it has so far. Ignore the critics who only have good things to say about the cast demographics.
Quantum Leap is worth jumping onboard tonight with “Somebody Up There Likes Ben.”