Quantum Leap

Season 1 Episode 9

Play It Again, Seymour

Aired Friday 12:00 AM May 17, 1989 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
95 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

April 14, 1953: With looks that could double for Humphrey Bogart, Sam is Nick Allen, a private investigator looking for the murderer of his partner and, if he doesn't find the answer in time, himself. The case is solved with a number of Casablanca references as Sam launches a new pulp novelist along the way.moreless

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  • Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of

    As a private detective, Sam has to solve a murder case, before he becomes the next victim. It is a nicely done noir-esque episode, with a not-to-subtle homage to the sleuthing film roles played by Humphrey Bogart.

    Fan opinions on this episode tend to be less-then-thrilled. As the last episode in the first season, it does not really do much to answer or advance the larger story threads in the series. I appreciate why this episode gets an average or slightly above average rating.

    It does not touch upon the philosophical-theological issue of whether or not God or time is directing this time traveling experiment. The audience does not really learn more about the Quantum Leap project, and it does not really address any serious social issue, . alcoholism, domestic abuse or discrimination.

    The look and tone of this particular episode is unique, trying to capture the essence of a classic Hollywood films about big city, "dames" and "private dicks".

    Where as other episodes generally shot for looking like a particular period in history . a University campus in 1972), this episode is less about history and more about Hollywood, namely how films in the film noir genre looked and felt.

    For example, classic film noir movies did tend to have a slower pace (in comparison to modern contemporary summer Blocksters).

    As a homage to the film noir genre, it is a great episode. I wish that future episodes had tried to go the film noir route, but it didn't happen. I do understand why the episode does not rank higher among many fans.

    The twist at the end of the episode is that Sam really only needed to inspire a young author to write detective novels. Really? It was not enough that he saved lives and crack a murder case.

    No, Sam needed to inspire a shy, neurotic kid to become semi-successful (not too successful, mind you) pulp fiction novelist. I guess that is a better fate for the young nerd them being murdered, but of all of the great (or even moderate) wrongs to help right in history....

    Is God or time or the fates a big fan of 'true crime' detective novels?moreless
  • In 1953, Sam leaps into a Bogart-lookalike private eye, whose partner has just been murdered, who is in a romance with the dead man's wife, and who is followed by an over-enthusiastic idolising paperboy. Not bad, but my least favourite of the season...moreless

    I suppose "Play It Again, Seymour", is a fair episode in itself. It is by no means 'Quantum Leap's weakest episode, not by a long shot. But, for some reason, this one has never really done as much for me as the other episodes from the show's short but excellent first season.

    The story, with Sam leaping into a 'Casablanca'-esque scenario, is okay I suppose, but to be honest I never found it all that interesting, and the plot was a little dull at times for my personal taste.

    There are several versions of this episode; the DVD version uses the re-edited version with pre-opening credits lead in scene, and the second season version of the opening credits. I don't know why this was included on the DVD version, but I like to have everything as originally broadcast. (Though I suppose when considering some of the musical changes on other episodes, this is a relatively small quibble).

    This is probably my least favourite episode of QL's first season. Not to say that it's *terrible*, but most of the other episodes are of such high quality that this one rather pales in comparison, in my opinion. Personally I wish that the season had finished on the far stronger (and more audience pleasing) previous episode, "Camikazi Kid".

    As I say, not the worst ever 'Quantum Leap' instalment, but I can only muster myself to give this one a lower than usual 7/10 – and that is for the few good moments.

    -----First season review-----

    Considering it was only brought it in as a mid-season replacement, the first season of 'Quantum Leap' really hit some giddy heights.

    Its strongest episode is definitely the classic "The Color of Truth", with Sam leaping into a black servant in the 1950s Deep South. Personally, I would rank the lovely "Camikazi Kid" as coming in a close second.

    Not sure what I'd rank in number three position; the likes of "The Right Hand of God" and "Double Identity" both have their strong points. As covered in my above review, "Play It Again, Seymour" is the only episode that I didn't fully take to. Although it might well have fared better tucked into one of the longer season's runs, as the finale to the (great) first season, to me, it feels somewhat of a damp squib; I really wish they have closed with "Camikazi Kid" instead.

    The nature of 'Quantum Leap', with Sam's "swiss cheesed" brain, and jumping into a different scenario every episode, meant that the show was allowed to experiment, and this format allows to find it's footing more gradually than other shows. But even so, for the most part, it feels to have been on form from the off, with nearly all instalments feeling as if they would fit in at just about any point of the show's five season run.

    The season has some interesting religious overtones. Creator Donald P. Bellisario also included such overtones in other hits, including 'Magnum, p.i.' and his original version of 'Airwolf'. But they are particularly prominent in QL's first season, and at some points, we almost wonder if God is just bouncing Sam around in time, putting him in awkward situations, simply as a joke.

    I really enjoy the quirky comedy-drama nature of these early episodes. As the show progressed, it would develop more towards serious and more far-reaching storylines. Of course, this was needed for the show's growth and to keep it fresh; but at the same time, it is the delightfully quirky nature of these early instalments that I really remember from the series.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)

    • Although Woody Allen (Allen Konigsberg) only looked about twelve or thirteen, he was actually seventeen in April of 1953.

    • Sam was born August 8 1953, but this leap takes him to April 14. His gestational age seems to have been considered part of his lifetime.

  • QUOTES (2)

    • Sam; Allison didn't blow anyone away.
      Al: How do you know? How do you know?
      Sam: Instinct.
      Al: Yeah, well my instinct tells me that that broad has you tied in knots this way and....
      Sam: Your instincts got you married five times, right?
      Al: That... your swiss cheese brain remembers.

    • Al: Sam...you know, Allison could be the killer.
      Sam: No.
      Al: No? Why are you saying no? (Reading) Because her body could part the red army?
      Sam: No. Because we've got Clapper.
      Al: Careful, Sam. There was no cure for that in 1953.

  • NOTES (5)


    • Sam: Who did the readers suspect?
      Al: Everybody, from Joseph Stalin to Colonel Mustard
      Colonel Mustard is a fictional character from the board deduction game Clue, one of the six suspects of the murder being investigated in the game. This game became a comedy film with the same name in 1985.

    • Episode Title: Play It Again, Seymour
      This is a reference to the 1942 movie Casablanca, starring Humphrey Bogart which has the (misquoted) line, "Play it again, Sam."