Tuesday, December 05, 2023

Quantum Leap: A Little Magic

Ironically, Dr. Ben Song will be spending a leap in “drag,” when he time-travels to a late 1600’s Puritan community. Obviously, this leap is way outside his comfort zone for many reasons, beyond the fact that this is by far his longest leap backwards in time. Finding himself in a town between Salem and Boston primed for an outbreak of witch-trial hysteria, Song tries to counter with some modern scientific humanism. It is going to be a rocky leap in “A Little Magic,” the next episode of Quantum Leap, airing tomorrow on NBC.

“Goody” Smith’s husband has died, succumbing to a mysterious illness sweeping the town. Song would know Goody means “Goodwife” if he read Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” recently, but since Brown’s wife might have been a witch secretly consorting with the Devil (the story leaves it intentionally ambiguous), maybe it is just as well he hasn’t. Regardless, Goody Smith is about to face such accusations.

As Goody’s domestic, Ziggy figures it is Song’s job to save her. However, his 21
st Century righteous indignation lands him (or rather his host) in the soup along with Goody. Before long, Morgan McKenna, the town’s only free-thinking woman is behind bars with them, awaiting their fiery execution at nightfall.

This episode lays on the
Crucible-esque elements awfully heavily. However, it does a nice job exploring the clash between Song’s modern sensibility and the worldview of everyone else around him. This is definitely a leap in which the time-travel themes are front-and-center.

It is also a relatively self-contained episode. Ernie Hudson only gets a few minutes of screen-time this week, but his character, Adm. Herbert “Magic” Williams is back to being his old charming self, who is a positive influence on everyone else. However, it is annoying to see Ian Wright trying to conduct a séance of all things, after the episode spent so much time belittling the Puritans for elevating faith above reason. It clearly reflects a double standard against Christianity, in favor of New Age occultism.

In terms of writing, “A Little Magic” is a considerably mixed bag. It devises a clever solution for Song, but the heavy-handedness is distracting. Still recommended as an interesting time-travel jaunt, this week’s episode of
Quantum Leap airs tomorrow night (12/6) on NBC and streams the next day on Peacock.