Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Quantum Leap: One Night in Koreatown

Riots do not just damage cities physically. They leave emotional trauma that never fully heals. The riots the burned Los Angeles’s Koreatown neighborhood were a case in point. Unfortunately, Dr. Ben Song must re-learn that lesson through the eyes of an 18-year-old Korean American teen in “One Night in Koreatown,” this week’s episode of Quantum Leap, which premieres tomorrow on NBC.

As soon as he realizes what day it is, Song understands the catastrophe heading towards Jin Park’s shoe store. At least his Korean fluency will come in handy. He wants to close early and get out while the getting is good, but the old man is too stubborn. Consequently, they will have to dig-in and barricade the store as best they can. This will be a real baptism of fire for Magic Williams, who takes over from Addison Augustine as Song’s holographic guide, because it brings back painful memories. In fact, it might just re-awaken some of Williams’ old demons.

This will be a tough leap for everyone, including the writers who labor like pack-mules to put the “right” spin on the looting of Koreatown. The episode mentions Reginald Denny in passing, but, not surprisingly, the police are portraying as more villainous than his attackers or other rioters.

Yet, perhaps in spite of intentions, we feel acutely Park’s fear of losing everything he had worked so hard to build for his family. C.S. Lee is terrific as the Park family patriarch, even when his character is poorly served by some stilted writing.

“One Night in Koreatown” is one of the more self-contained episodes. It is mostly family drama, with little time-traveling science fiction implications. Yet, it manages to show how it is average people who suffer the most mob-riots, like Luisa Rojas, a nurse who shelters with the Parks. It is also a good dramatic showcase for Ernie Hudson, who has real issues to deal with in this episode.

It also airs at a time we are seeing more and more anti-Semitic mob-actions on our streets and college campuses. Just imagine the long-term damage they will have on our national psyche. Consequently, it might be “too soon” for some viewers, but fans of the franchise will want to stay current with the new development for Williams, when the latest episode of
Quantum Leap premieres tomorrow (11/1) on NBC (and streams the next day on Peacock).