Quantum Leap

Season 1 Episode 5

How the Tess Was Won

Aired Friday 12:00 AM Apr 14, 1989 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
90 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

August 5, 1956: As a veterinarian in rural Texas, Sam's mission appears to be winning the love of an heiress to a large ranch. Sabotaged by another suitor, Sam fails and finds that his true goal was to save the life of a sick piglet, and to help an unnamed cohort with a task he's performing.moreless

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  • As a veterinarian in 1956 Texas, Sam is unsure if his goal is to heal a sick piglet, or to win the heart of a rancher's tomboy cowgirl daughter, in which he is in a contest with a cheating rival. A bit dragged out in places, but very likable...moreless

    This review contains spoilers.

    Although probably not one of the first season's very best episodes, I really like "How the Tess was Won". It's a big slow in places, but has a nice, likable vibe, and captures the immense "fresh" feel that the show had in its first and early second season.

    In the previous episode, "The Right Hand of God", Al mentions that they had expected Sam to leap into 1956 Texas, which Sam actually does in this next episode; a nice touch of continuity.

    As a huge fan of 1980s action-adventure shows, it was nice to see the always reliable Lance LeGault ('The A-Team's Colonel Decker, and also 'Magnum, p.i.'s Buck Green) in this episode, and a change for him not to be playing the bad guy for once.

    When Sam is forced to ride the bucking bronco in the contest for Tess's affections, it is a welcome relief that Al is not the solution for this predicament. In both the Pilot and "The Right Hand of God", Al had "ghost guided" Sam, so it is a nice change that Al is not able to help Sam out here – being called away to sort out his love-life in the "present".

    There are some nice little touches in this episode, most notable the unknown young vet's assistant, who at the end turns out to be a young Buddy Holly, and – with a little helping hand from Sam – comes up with the lyrics to 'Peggy Sue'.

    It is also a surprising and refreshing change that Sam does not actually get the girl at the end of this one.

    One niggle I did have, was that when Sam finally saw his reflection, right near the end of the story, his "host" was wearing glasses – yet Sam was not. This stood out to me a bit, as usually Sam is seen wearing whatever clothing and accessories his host is wearing.

    I find "How the Tess was Won" to mostly be a really enjoyable story, but I will admit that it is too slow in places, with the plot feeling slightly dragged out to fill the run-time. (It also maybe isn't as re-watchable as some other episodes). This is the main thing that knocks my rating for this episode down a bit, but I still really like this episode, and give it a reasonable 8/10.moreless
Dean Stockwell

Dean Stockwell

Rear Admiral Albert "Al" Calavicci

Scott Bakula

Scott Bakula

Dr. Samuel "Sam" Beckett

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (2)

    • According to this episode, Sam influences Buddy Holly to change the lyrics from "piggy, suey" to "Peggy Sue," thus setting up Buddy's future hit song. However, this is not the origin of the song's name.

      The song's name was originally Cindy Lou, named after Holly's niece, and was later changed to Peggy Sue upon request of Crickets drummer Jerry Allison. Jerry wanted the song to be named after his girlfriend Peggy Sue Gerron to make up for a recent fight. The two later married.

    • Although Sam is not wearing glasses when he looks the mirror, Doc Daniel Young's reflection is.

  • QUOTES (2)

    • Sam: (Looking up at the sky) Couldn't you give them name tags?

    • Buddy: (singing) ...Oh, Piggy. My piggy suey.
      Sam: Buddy?
      Buddy: Yeah, Doc?
      Sam: Uh, why don't you try Peggy Sue? It might sound a little better.
      Buddy: Alright. (singing) Peggy Sue, Peggy Sue...

  • NOTES (2)

    • This is the first time that we see Al using Ziggy to determine Sam's mission.

    • This episode's "kiss with history": Buddy Holly. Not knowing his name, Sam uses nicknames for the guitar-playing youth, such as 'Pal', until he hears him strumming a song suspiciously similar to Peggy Sue, and settles on 'Buddy'.


    • Sam: Bonanza was never like this.
      Referencing the Bonanza TV series (1959-1973). Bonanza chronicled the adventures of the Cartwright family who owned a large ranch, the Ponderosa, in Nevada, in the 1860s.

    • The character "Buddy" in this episode turns out to be Buddy Holly, and his song 'Peggy Sue' becomes one of his greatest hits.

    • Episode Title: How The Tess Was Won
      The title of this episode is a reference to the 1962 movie, "How The West Was Won" starring Henry Fonda.