Quantum Leap

Season 2 Episode 3

The Americanization of Machiko

Aired Friday 12:00 AM Oct 11, 1989 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
73 votes

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Episode Summary

August 4, 1953: As a sailor returning from Japan, Sam brings a foreign wife to a small town. He then has to fight against the prejudice of both a scheming ex-girlfriend, as well as his mother, in order to gain acceptance of his new bride.

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  • In 1953, Sam leaps into a young sailor returning from overseas, who has his new Japanese bride in tow – and must defend his new wife from his bitter mother, scheming ex-girlfriend, and a racist local. One of my personal favourite episodes...moreless

    This review contains spoilers.

    Although I doubt it will rank on many people's personal favourites-from-the-series lists, "The Americanization of Machiko" is one of my own favourite episodes of 'Quantum Leap'.

    I have long had a love for all things from the Orient (my fondness for Japan in particular was put into me by an Uncle, who loves the country and has visited there several times). So that alone gives me an interest in this episode; but even beyond that, it is a lovely story, that shows how simple yet effective QL could be when it was on form.

    The treatment of the kindly, pure Machiko by some of Sam's family and surrounding townsfolk is heartbreaking. I haven't seen anything else the actress playing her, Leila Hee Olsen, has been in, but she captures the innocence and beauty of a character such as Machiko perfectly here.

    The plot captures much of the first season "quirkiness" vibe (that would slightly be lost as the series progressed), with a perfect mixture of humour and drama; the plot plays as a nice comedy of errors in some places, and as a more serious piece in other areas of the story.

    I will admit that there is some clunky dialogue in the odd moment (Sam's speech to Machiko about women being equal in America, whilst well intentioned, is slightly grating), but I can easily forgive this for the overall quality of the story.

    Episodes such as this sum up what 'Quantum Leap' is all about – whisking you, with Sam, off to some unknown time and place, meeting characters that you've never encountered before but in a plot that will totally draw you in and engross you for an hour.

    The final scene, before Sam leaps, where his mother arrives at the wedding, complete in Japanese gown, and bows to Machiko, is very emotional.

    Production wise, I noticed that this was another of several episodes to use the same town set that was used for 'The Dukes of Hazzard', amongst other productions. The first season classic "The Color of Truth" is another such example where it was used (incidentally, at the end of the DVD version of this episode, Sam leaps (again) into that episode; presumably, the masters that the DVD version was taken from was from a TV airing where a rerun of "Color" was next to be broadcast).

    This episode also sticks in my mind for being one of only a couple of episodes available on VHS here in the U.K. After the series had finished it's run (or possibly initial repeat run) on BBC Two in the 1990s, I remember really wanting to see more; after work one day (my first ever job!), I traipsed into town to see what was available, and found this episode (paired with the next broadcast episode, "What Price Gloria?"), and another tape of two later episodes, being sold at bargain basement price by a book/video shop that was closing down. Out of the four episodes on the tapes, "Machiko" was by far my favourite.

    Being one of my favourite episodes, I've watched it a number of times over the years, but watching it tonight on DVD to refresh my memory to review it, it held my attention as much as it ever did. I find it to be a charming tale, with some truly heart-wrenching moments regarding the treatment of kind-hearted Machiko, and still stands as one of my personal favourite episodes of 'Quantum Leap's run. For the many enjoyable viewings it has given me over the years, I give "The Americanization of Machiko" a top scoring 10 out of 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 (4)

    • Patrick Massett, who plays Rusty, later goes on to play Sam's "brother" Ralph Beaumont in Season Four's "A Single Drop of Rain".

      In that episode, he also has a physical fight with the person Sam leaps into.

    • Sam explains to his Machiko that in America, men and women are equal. In 1953, they were not equal in fact. However, this is just one of many time errors that Sam makes, like saying "awesome" before that was a commonly accepted word, doing high-fives, and talking about sexual harassment before that was an accepted phrase.

    • Rusty says that before he spent four years in Japan, he was a top baseball prospect who was scouted by the Yankees and Orioles. The Orioles didn't exist until 1953, which is the year the episode takes place. At the time Rusty would have left for Japan, the team was known as the St. Louis Browns.

    • Sam was born August 8 1953, but this leap takes him to August 4. His gestational age seems to have been considered part of his lifetime.

  • QUOTES (1)

  • NOTES (3)


    • The Americanization of Emily is a movie released in 1964 starting James Garner and Julie Andrews about an American soldier who falls in love with a British woman.

    • Sam: Oh my God! I'm Popeye!
      Referencing Popeye is a famous cartoon character created in 1927; a bald but strong sailor who often clenched a pipe in his jaw and ate spinach for incredible feats of strength.