Monday, January 29, 2024

Quantum Leap: Off the Cuff

It is hard to believe Dr. Ben Song has leaped into 1970 to save a slimy lawyer like Kevin Zatt. Even Zatt describes himself as immoral pond scum. At least, as lawyers go, he is an honest one—except maybe when he embezzled from his clients, including a powerful arms dealer. Fortunately, Song had previously leaped into another bounty hunter, so he is somewhat prepared for “Off the Cuff,” the latest episode of Quantum Leap, which premieres tomorrow night on NBC.

Zatt is a fast-talker, who never stops talking. Song’s new bounty hunter host was not a talkative sort, but, of course, Song engages more. However, he is still not very trusting, having learned from “A Decent Proposal.” Nevertheless, as the bad guys keep ambushing them, Song and Zatt form an alliance on their
Midnight Run-like trek across Jersey.

Eventually, the odd couple take shelter with Zatt’s grown foster-brother, who made-good, becoming a doctor. Meanwhile, back at Quantum Leap HQ, the team ponders the discovery of a piece of potentially game-changing but-not-ready-for-primetime code from a mysterious DARPA project. The hanging question is where is Hannah Carson, the woman Song is apparently “entangled with,” through love (or something like it)?

“Off the Cuff” is a solidly entertaining bickering buddy episode in the Stephen J. Cannel tradition (as if Song were Rockford and Zatt was Angel). It moves along nicely and also advances the overall storyline more than just a bit (of course, the big secret news drops right at the end, because that is how it always works).

Raymond Lee and David Clayton Rogers get a nice bantering rhythm going as Song and Zatt. Peter Gadiot also has a nice scene as Tom Westfall, the Quantum Leap project’s new DOD guy (and Addison Augustine’s new boyfriend). Ernie Hudson is under-utilized in this episode, but his megawatt charm still shines in his too brief scene as Admiral “Magic” Williams. We can also use more Magic, right?

“Off the Cuff” does not lean into the time-travel themes as much as some episodes, but its snappiness will appeal to genre fans nonetheless. It is a good outing that deftly sets up a potentially serious subplot for future episodes, but the general tone makes a decent stand-alone leap. Recommended for fans and fresh viewers, “Off the Cuff” airs tomorrow (1/30) on NBC (and streams on Peacock the next day).