Monday, October 31, 2022

Vintage Quantum Leap: The Boogeyman

Technically, Quantum Leaping is an act of possession. When you think about it, there should be all kinds of moral ramifications to Dr. Sam Beckett’s time-traveling do-gooding. Those were indeed addressed in the first Halloween episode of the original Quantum Leap series, “The Boogeyman—October 31, 1964,” which is visually referenced in tonight’s episode of the continuation series.

Before Stephen King, Joshua Rey, was Maine’s best-known horror author. He is a bit of a hack, but he is active in the community and a supporter of his local church. Every year, he turns his home into a haunted house. Frankly, it looks like he already owned most of the props and creepy trappings, but he shows them off to the public for the Coventry Presbyterian’s annual fundraiser.

According to Ziggy, Rey’s fiancĂ©e and research assistant, Mary Greely, will be killed that night. Rey was the only suspect, but there was never enough evidence to charge him. Sam assumes he is there to save her, but dead bodies keep piling up in the meantime. Al Calavicci starts to suspect Greely, but Beckett just doesn’t buy it. Red-headed Greeley, portrayed by Valerie Mahaffey of
Northern Exposure, just doesn’t strike him that way. In fact, something about this leap feels off, even beyond the high body-count.

Quantum Leap
is science fiction, but this episode totally embraces the horror genre, openly suggesting something might have notice of Beckett. The ending is certainly ambiguous, but it does not exactly walk back the supernatural implications of what viewer see. This is not a Scooby-Doo-style ending, which is maybe why it became a fan-favorite.

Of course, the wink-wink references to Stephen King did not hurt its popularity either. There are several easy-to-find Easter eggs in “The Boogeyman” (including the appearance of script-writer Chris Ruppenthal as Rey), as well as a whole lot of great art direction and set design work. Admittedly, the special effects now look dated, but Rey’s horror house is still charmingly atmospheric.

Plus, if viewers accept everything they see in this episode at face-value, it expanded the
Quantum Leap universe, to include supernatural dimensions. These have yet to be reflected in the continuation series, but tonight’s episode includes a sly visual hat-tip to “The Boogeyman.” Recommended as a nostalgic blast from the past for fans of the Quantum Leap franchise and King, “The Boogeyman—October 31, 1964” currently streams on Peacock and it airs late-night Wednesday 11/9 on Comet TV.