In this weeks episode of the Quantum Leap Rewatch, Cory and Tom duck and cover to prepare for the shock of their lives as they discuss the season 3 penultimate and finale episodes “Nuclear Family” and “Shock Theater.”

Return Module:

Tom had an “a-ha” moment this week while staring at the menu screen of the Blu-ray set. There’s and odd inconsistency with keeping the letters straight on the home screen versus the cover art. Weird right?

Nuclear Family:

Sam leaps into Eddie Elroy, a student at Oklahoma State, currently working for his older brother Mac, selling bomb shelters to make extra money at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Unfortunately, Al explains, due to the hysteria at the time, Mac’s neighbor Burt will be mistakenly shot during an air raid attack which turns out to be a false alarm, and as a result Mac goes to jail and the family falls apart.

Sam tries to convince the family and neighbors that the crisis will end soon and that the Russians are not our to hurt them but he does little more than upset the children and get Mac angry enough that he threatens to kick Sam out.

Just as the president is giving a news briefing, the power gets blown in the town and people begin panicking, retreating to their bomb shelters. Burt who hasn’t had his built yet begs Mac to let him in but Mac holds him off with a gun. Sam realizes that the gun being used isn’t the gun that was reported to have killer Burt and looks for Mac’s son Stevie who left the shelter to try and protect his family from the Russians, taking another gun of his father’s with him.

Stevie, terrified that Russians are attacking, can only see Burt as a Russian soldier and raises his gun to shoot him but Sam arrives and calls out the words from a safety ad that kids were exposed to and the boy drops to the ground, allowing Sam to get the gun and save the day. Mac realizes that Sam was right and decides to turn his business into a pool company, selling fun instead of fear, as Sam leaps.

Ziggy’s Data Retrieval:

Bert the Turtle was played by Kurt Fuller. He was in Wayne’s World as Russell.

This episodes unsung hero is Patrick M. Bruneau and this is his only credit.

Kiss with History:

The Cuban Missile Crisis was a very chaotic time and US citizens did have a genuine fear that Cuba would attack with the aid of Russia. Also, Bert the Turtle did advertise “Duck and Cover” to children. Check out the advertisement below-

Al’s Five Wives:

Al’s 3rd wife Ruthie used to use the word “mensch” all the time. It means “good guy”, and she never used it to describe Al. It’s origins track to German Yiddish, which is consistent with Ruthie having been described as Jewish and Hungarian in previous episodes.
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Shock Theater:

Sam leaps into Sam Biederman, a man institutionalized for manic depression, and seconds away from undergoing an electroshock therapy session given by a male orderly named Butch who decides to give him an extra high dosage due to Biederman attacking him earlier. The attending nurse, Nurse Chatam protests, but Butch does it anyway and the result is Sam losing his ego and what makes him HIM, And replacing it with fragments of the people he has leaped into.

Doctor Masters believes it to be a case of multiple personality disorder brought on by the treatment, with Biederman retreating into these other personalities due to some trauma in his past and he begins a study with several other doctors to analyze the change.

Al figures out that Sam was there to help out another patient named Tibby who needs to learn to read. Luckily Al is able to complete the mission by teaching Tibby via a rap song. Unfortunately, Sam cannot leap until his ego has been properly restored and in the future Ziggy suggests another electro shock session could get him back. Al manages to convince Sam, who has reverted to Jimmy LaMotta at the moment, to demand a treatment and Dr Masters complies. After the Doctor finds out that Butch gave the treatment without supervision, they argue while Al pushes Sam to beg Nurse Chatam to deliver the treatment to which she does, and Sam, finally leaps.

However it appears that Al leaps WITH Sam as Sam wakes up on a lawn wearing the hospital scrubs he was just wearing, and Al has changed into a military uniform. Sam beckons Al forward and to their surprise, they discover that while Al can not walk through objects as a hologram now, Sam actually can.

Ziggy’s Data Retrieval:

All the guest stars have appeared in various shows or movies but nothing that necessarily stood out. The young doctor asking questions near the end did appear in the original Robocop as Kinney but that is about it.

Interestingly, we never see a reflection of Sam Biederman in this episode. This mark the first time that has occurred in the entire series.

Whats Next?

Next weeks episode discussions are the start of season 4, “The Leap Back” and “Play Ball”.


We give thanks to some dedicated fan sights. For more information on Quantum Leap, please take the time to check out The Quantum Leap Wiki and Al’s Place.

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