When a friend suggested to me that I write about TV Halloween specials, this is the first one that came to mind. I will be the first to admit that many things about this episode of Quantum Leap are cheesy, but the whole show is cheesy, and I love it unironically. I made a video of myself singing the Quantum Leap theme song and called it the song of my people, and yes I know it doesn’t have any words so I just sang syllables. I will forever be in crush with Scott Bakula. I even watched the Star Trek where he was captain. I even recorded myself singing a karaoke version of the theme from that show, which did have words. Quantum Leap was my friend when it was on USA every weeknight during my sophomore year of college when I was at my first school, didn’t have many friends, and was comforted by the adventures of Al the womanizing hologram and Sam the sentimental genius. This was before I transferred to another school and had too many friends. I should have leapt somewhere else, in retrospect.
In The Boogieman, Sam leaps into the body of a horror writer in Maine on Halloween 1964. Not that horror writer in Maine, although he is in the episode as a fictional character. Sam and Al can’t figure out what aspect of this writer’s history they are supposed to change, because they think they’re supposed to save his girlfriend’s life, but right away a handyman gets knocked off a ladder by a goat and dies without Al and his computer knowing it’s going to happen. There are other strange deaths/murders and someone is sneaking around typing about them on Sam’s hosts’s typewriter. The Presbyterian church is having a Halloween party. Nobody has seen the goat. Why is there a cat in the back seat of the writer’s Plymouth Fury when he doesn’t own a cat? Why does he own a black mamba snake? Why can’t Al walk through walls? Why is Al still not as creepy here as he was in Blue Velvet? Boogieman should be spelled Boogeyman. Nothing is going by the usual Quantum Leap rules and you are getting involved in the mystery of what is going to happen, but then there’s a big twist. Except it’s more foreshadowing for later aspects of the series than a twisted version of the show for Halloween, but audiences of course didn’t know that in 1990 when this aired.
You know what else people didn’t know in 1990? That someday a lot of average people like me who weren’t goths would have some Halloween decorations up in their houses all year just because we like them. And they certainly didn’t know that in 1964. So even though I watch this episode every year, I’m always a little put off by Sam’s disgust with the writer and his girlfriend for having their homes’ interiors done up like the Addams Family, until I remember that would have been weird back then. But then, the guy Sam leaps into also owns a poisonous snake as a pet, and that is kind of worthy of disgust especially since a nice old lady who always played grandmas (except when she played an asshole in Stripes) gets bitten by it. Unless he didn’t really own a snake because that was negated by the twist at the end. Who knows what the rules are with a show like this. We don’t really know if it was in fact a sci-fi version of Highway to Heaven or just plain old Highway to Heaven with more karate kicks and dancing, (or Renegade with fewer karate kicks, for that matter) and if I recall correctly QL didn’t really have a satisfying ending. Sam could be out there leaping right now. I wish he would leap into me and write this article.
Three more things: Joe Napolitano, who directed this episode, also directed a lot of other awesome stuff including working as an assistant director on at least three Brian De Palma films, but that does not include Carrie, which is referenced in this episode with a plot point from the movie but not the book. This is important because Sam is giving story ideas to Stephen King the fictional character.
Secondly, the girlfriend here who Sam and Al may or may not be rescuing is the same actress from Seinfeld who went off to the mental hospital with Jerry’s tax papers. So she was doing better here with a creepy snake wrangling horror writer than with George Costanza. Seinfeld didn’t have a Halloween episode, but that one where they go to the opera really should count as one.
Finally: who do you think would win in a fight between Stephen J. Cannell and Donald P. Bellisario?