Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Quantum Leap: Lonely Hearts Club

Neither Dr. Ben Song or Sam Beckett before him really got to take advantage of time travel. For instance, they never get a chance to hear John Coltrane or Lee Morgan in a jazz club. Finally, Song gets a cool leap, when he finds himself in the body of his favorite actor’s new assistant. It turns out Neal Russell is even more fun than he hoped. Unfortunately, he is about to become the late Neal Russell in “Lonely Hearts Club,” this week’s episode of Quantum Leap, which premieres tomorrow on NBC.

As Song tells his holographic guide (and his ex, rather suddenly so, from his perspective), Addison Augustine, Russell’s stories are hilarious. He should tell them to the Chin on
The Tonight Show that evening, but for some reason, Russell bails, perishing in a freak sailing accident. Augustine keeps telling Song to get Russell to the studio on time, but instead, he agrees to help the actor win back his ex-wife.

No, Song and Augustine are not communicating well in this episode, but of course, the super-cool Magic Williams always is. He has the team “reading between the lines” of Russell’s memoir to glean insights into its author, which is a cool bit of business. Also, Ian Wright might have really messed up again, but as usual, Jenn Chou lets him off easy.

The time-travel themes are less central to this episode, but the fandom aspect is new and interesting. It is too bad Song does not get to enjoy it more. However, through his host, he develops some appealing chemistry with Russell, played with roguish, self-deprecating charm by guest-star Tim Matheson (perhaps the biggest name to appear in the series, aside from maybe regular co-star Ernie Hudson).

“Lonely Hearts Club” teases a complication that will clearly lead to huge ongoing challenges. There is also more humor in this episode, even tough in some ways it is quite sad. Another good outing for season two, the “Lonely Hearts Club” episode of
Quantum Leap premieres tomorrow night (10/25) on NBC (and streams the next day on Peacock).