Monday, January 02, 2023

Quantum Leap: Fellow Travelers

If you could travel through time, preventing Clifford Brown’s fatal auto accident and the plane crash that killed Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly, and the Big Bopper could be musically rewarding ways to use that technology. Dr. Ben Song will have that chance when he leaps into the body of the bodyguard working for Carly Farmer, a fictional late 1970s pop singer. However, even after he saves her from a freak stage accident, someone still murders her a few days later. Despite Song’s efforts, the killer remains lethally persistent and motivated in the “Fellow Travelers” episode of the Quantum Leap continuation series, which premieres tonight on NBC.

Despite the title, this episode does not feature the rival leaper introduced in “Salvation or Bust,” or 1950s Communist sympathizers. This is basically the
Quantum Leap take on The Bodyguard, with Farmer being a Carly Simon-like vocalist, who is starting to fall for her bodyguard, Jack Armstrong. Farmer basically understands her manager is a snake, but she does not realize he has manipulated her to turn against her former-junkie sister Jamie.

Unfortunately, someone is also about to frame Jamie for the murder of Farmer. Each time Song prevents her death, the mystery killer simply murders her “again” the next day. This happens to be a particularly cleverly-written episode, because much of the dialogue exchanged by Song and Addison Augustine, his fiancée and holographic guide, appliers both to Armstrong’s efforts to save Farmer and Song’s revelation that his unsanctioned premature leap was intended to save her life at a future date. If only he could imagine the details.

Back at Quantum Leap headquarters, Magic Williams and his head of security, Jen Chu, finally intend to get some answers from Admiral Al Calavicci’s renegade daughter, Janis. Again, they Ernie Hudson and Nanrisa Lee bring a lot of toughness and coolness to the episode, especially since this episode pays the wokeness tax with programmer Ian Wright’s silly musings on gender.

It is good to have
Quantum Leap back. “Fellow Traveler” has a nice 70s period look and it taps into widely held time travel fantasies (sort of the positive flip-side of going back in time to kill Hitler). It also continues to keep faith with the original series, particularly in this case, its references to Dean Stockwell’s Calavicci. Highly recommended, Quantum Leap’s mid-season return airs tonight (1/2) on NBC and streams tomorrow (1/3) on Peacock.