Old 02-20-2013, 04:06 AM   #1
Lightning McQueenie
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Default Trivial leaps? Or a ripple effect?

I've recently been watching the first season of Quantum Leap again, and it occurred to me how trivial some of his first few leaps were. If we look at the real reasons why he leapt into some of the situations, they include helping an old lady win Bingo, help Buddy Holly with the lyrics to Peggy Sue, help a couple stay together and to win a baseball game.

I know it's possible that the writers of the show didn't quite know what direction they wanted to go in yet, as later episodes would focus more on saving lives, but I also think that a couple more things are possible.

The first being, since Sam was so new to leaping, GFTW wasn't willing to put him into very dangerous situations to start with. But I think the more logical reason is to do with the ripple effect, that the smallest change starts a ripple. For example, maybe the couple that was brought together had children who helped save other people. Maybe the old woman used her Bingo winnings to help others. Maybe winning the baseball game opened doors for Fox to put him in a situation where he could train others. Who knows? I just wish that we'd heard more about what happened to these people and the ripples caused AFTER Sam had changed their histories, rather than the brief summary Al usually gave.

What's your opinion?
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Old 02-20-2013, 10:43 PM   #2
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I think it makes sense that when Sam was new at leaping the leaps weren't as difficult or dangerous then as he learned and gained more experience and got better at it the leaps got more and more challenging. We can still assume those earlier leaps also had ripple effects and had further reaching results than just the results in the leap itself.

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Originally Posted by Lightning McQueenie View Post
I just wish that we'd heard more about what happened to these people and the ripples caused AFTER Sam had changed their histories, rather than the brief summary Al usually gave.
Agreed. It would have been great to see both more of the direct effects of the changes Sam made and the ripple effects. Jimmy is one case where we see the direct results when Sam leaps into him again in the first Evil Leaper episode and Diane McBride in Honeymoon Express is the other. We didn't see any ripple effects. They didn't even necessarily have to spend an entire episode on it. Sam could have briefly run into someone in a leap in the 1980s who was a kid that he helped in a previous leap in the 1960s or maybe he helped the kid's family or whatever and now we get a glimpse in the 80s of what the kid grew up to be because of the change Sam made. Instead of kisses with history they could have had kisses with leaps sometimes.
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Old 02-21-2013, 02:08 PM   #3
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The idea that the leaps may have been easier at first to prepare Sam for more difficult leaps later makes sense. I don't think Sam's leaps always had to earthshaking either though...Sometimes those little things, or what might be considered little things, can make a difference. I think some of the stuff, like helping Buddy Holly write a song, and helping Stephen King with story ideas for his novels, and meeting Michael Jackson as a kid, were put in partly for a smile or chuckle and partly to bring history into the story somewhat. I don't think meeting those folks was necessarily the focus of the leaps.

As was pointed out, we did get to see what happened later from the Honeymoon Express leap and he did leap into Jimmy more than once. There was a bit of that too in the episode where Sam leapt into Al as a young man (A Leap For Lisa) and when he changed history Al was no longer the observer.

I think it would have been interesting to have some storylines about what happened after some of Sam's leaps too.
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Old 02-21-2013, 03:01 PM   #4
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I agree with the ripple effect theory. The Bartender confirms this in "Mirror Image" when he tells Sam, "The lives you've touched, touched others, and those lives, others." It may not have been the way Sam wanted it to be, but definitely the way GFTW wanted it because even the slightest change counts.
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Old 02-21-2013, 11:30 PM   #5
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I agree,there were no trivial leaps.maybe every leap didnt change the world,but everything Sam did made a world of difference in not only the lives of the people he leapt into,but all the lives touched by that person.The ripple effect. I really enjoyed the first season leaps like "The Camikazi Kid" and "Good Morning Peoria". thats one of the great things about Quantum Leap,it was always something/somewhere/sometime different each week. The chance encounters with Buddy Holly/Michael Jackson/Stephen King were just thrown in for comic relief,they weren't the focal point of Sams leaps.

I really miss this show,I remember watching it when it was first on tv,there was nothing else like it.The chemistry between Dean Stockwell & Scott Bakula was great. I was really saddened when they ended the show.I keep hoping maybe they'll make a Quantum Leap movie with Scott Bakula & Dean Stockwell before it's too late and finally bring Sam home and give the series a happy ending.
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Old 03-04-2013, 01:33 PM   #6
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Default Trivial leaps? Or a ripple effect?

Well like in Color of Truth he saves the guy he leaped into's niece (and Al saves the old lady, though I still don't completely get that aspect lol). Ok, he doesn't himself save the niece, but he's integral in her not dying. Then in Camakazi Kid, he saves Cheryl from an abusive marriage.

It is possible though that some of the leaps you mentioned were intentional in order help him "get his feet wet". Let's not forget the leap at the very beginning of Season 2 with the cat in the tree. lol

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lightning McQueenie View Post
I've recently been watching the first season of Quantum Leap again, and it occurred to me how trivial some of his first few leaps were. If we look at the real reasons why he leapt into some of the situations, they include helping an old lady win Bingo, help Buddy Holly with the lyrics to Peggy Sue, help a couple stay together and to win a baseball game.

I know it's possible that the writers of the show didn't quite know what direction they wanted to go in yet, as later episodes would focus more on saving lives, but I also think that a couple more things are possible.

The first being, since Sam was so new to leaping, GFTW wasn't willing to put him into very dangerous situations to start with. But I think the more logical reason is to do with the ripple effect, that the smallest change starts a ripple. For example, maybe the couple that was brought together had children who helped save other people. Maybe the old woman used her Bingo winnings to help others. Maybe winning the baseball game opened doors for Fox to put him in a situation where he could train others. Who knows? I just wish that we'd heard more about what happened to these people and the ripples caused AFTER Sam had changed their histories, rather than the brief summary Al usually gave.

What's your opinion?
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Old 03-11-2013, 12:14 PM   #7
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And wasn't there an episode where Sam leaped in to stop Biff Tannen from buying a Grays sports almanac?
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Old 03-11-2013, 01:21 PM   #8
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And wasn't there an episode where Sam leaped in to stop Biff Tannen from buying a Grays sports almanac?
I believe you're thinking of one of the Back to the Future movies.
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Old 03-11-2013, 02:34 PM   #9
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Quote:
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I believe you're thinking of one of the Back to the Future movies.
I was only kidding!
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Old 03-11-2013, 08:36 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Al_Calavicci View Post
And wasn't there an episode where Sam leaped in to stop Biff Tannen from buying a Grays sports almanac?
Not to mention when he leapt into Mr Peabody to educate Sherman of the dangers of time-travel :P
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Old 05-26-2013, 04:16 PM   #11
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Yeah, it was kind of a "butterfly effect." I think it was a nice touch from Bellisario that Bartender Al mentions it at the end. Sam is a "spreader of goodness." Could be a nice theory on why he decided not to go home, after all. After helping Al he finally understood his position in the world and he wanted to continue and probably at some point try to save humanity itself. Wouldn't have been the first time he had this ambition. Seems big, but now he had all the weapons to do so. He was clearly prepared.

One of the many episodes that comes to mind when you mention the ripple effect is "Thou Shalt Not..." The obvois Heimlich maneuver, which has saved a lot of people, even though that was only for a chuckle, and the important one, which is Irene and Joe writing a book together about a very human issue that will help millions and millions around the world.
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Old 04-27-2014, 03:49 AM   #12
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It's probably both. But who's to say what a "trivial" leap is? Maybe rescuing that cat in a tree made the owner happy, who otherwise might have turned out to be traumatized and eventually murder someone later in life? Maybe that's extreme, but you get the point.

If we are to take the stance that the first few leaps were designed to get "Sam's feet wet" (which would be logical even by GFTW's apparent standards), we also have to take into consideration that the "trivial" leaps still occurred well beyond the first few leaps. Case in point: "Shock Theatre" where Sam leapt in to teach Tibby how to read (among others).

The bottom line is that I think it's both. I don't believe any leap was trivial. And just because Ziggy didn't project the outcome right away, or in some cases at all, doesn't mean any leap was less validated.

Going back to the Bartender in "Mirror Image" again: "Do you really think that all you've done was change a few lives?" to which Sam replies: "Technically, yes." If we as an audience think particular leaps were trivial, this conversation reveals that Sam believed his ENTIRE leaping experience was trivial!

"At the risk of overinflating your ego, Sam, you've done more..."
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Old 05-04-2014, 05:18 PM   #13
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Respectfully I must disagree with the word trivial.
Ever hear the chaos theory which was expressed in the film The Butterfly Effect?:

"It has been said something as small as the flutter of a butterfly's wing can ultimately cause a typhoon halfway around the world."

Everything one does in life is significant in some way. Let's look at Nona's bingo game in Double Identity.
The first time when she didn't win that game perhaps she gave up on bingo. This could have led to her spending the rest of her nights alone which led to depression and illness so she died a month or two later.
Remember how much it lit up her face when Sam called her winning number? Her hope and enjoyment of the game which it's implied was at it's breaking point would be restored. So instead of giving up on the game she continues to play. Lets say this leads to her meeting a man she falls for and marries and she lives ten maybe twenty more years.

Here's another scenario using the bingo game. I'm not familiar with official bingo but am assuming you receive a money prize for winning. So lets say in the altered version Nona donated her winnings to a family whose little boy needed surgery for a hole in his heart.
In the first version when she lost the game that family might have been too short of the amount needed to provide their son with life saving surgery and thus he died.

See. Though it might not have been direct like with say Gloria, Sam still could have very well saved a life with that simple bingo game.

The only one that still doesn't make sense is the 'Peggy Sue' lyrics. Obviously Sam would not have known them had Buddy Holly not managed without him.

On the subject of why the tasks only became more direct as he progressed in leaping, lets not forget that at least in some situations Al the Bartender is right; Sam is controlling his leaps. I'll provide two quick examples:
1.) Thou Shalt Not: Al waves Sam off after successfully stoping Irene's affair but Sam says "I don't think so." Then once he reunited the father and daughter he says "Now" and leaps. Seems to me like he stayed for that because he wanted to. It was extra credit.
2.) What Price Gloria: Sam gets his 'very feminine' revenge on Buddy but pleads "Not yet" so he can relieve himself of the high heels (I'm a gal and I don't blame him, those things would murder my feet if I could even manage to walk on them, not to mention they're hideous). Then he says "I'm ready to leap now".

Obviously in these and a few other instances he doesn't realize what he's doing which is why he can't do every time but look closely at these examples, he's deciding when to leap.

Here's my theory: he started with the more simple tasks subconsciously because he had no idea what he was doing. Don't forget that at first he doesn't understand the significance of using his traveling to change lives. Hence his own little agenda with Donna in Star Crossed. Another thing you can see in this episode is that he doesn't understand the QL rules:
"What idiot made that rule!?"
You can see the heavy contrast in season 3's 'The Leap Home' pts 1 and 2 when he'd come to see the significance of the rules but chose to defy them for once again his own agenda.

So it was a learning process but I still believe GTFW had to be playing some role and could have needed him to do those indirect simple tasks to show him Al the Bartender's point of:
"The lives you touch touch others, and those lives others..."
Perhaps even his changing his own fate with Donna was intended as there is a lesson in that as well which although is not discussed in The Leap Back, is portrayed beautifully in the novel Mirror's Edge. The same can be claimed of Sam's saving Tom's life. The novel also suggests a brilliant ripple effect of that.

Ghandi once said "Everything we do in life will be insignificant, but it's important that we do them because no one else will."

I just realized that this could be interpreted as a double negative and refer to things like the bingo game which could save a dying child's life. The bingo game itself is insignificant but how it can effect someone else is why Nona needed to play and win because she's the only one who could create that effect.
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Old 05-12-2014, 12:24 AM   #14
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My window of time to edit the last post is gone but I need to make a correction, in my reference to Sam's lack of understanding in Star Crossed I used the wrong quote. That's from Tale of Two Sweeties. Somehow that mistake is common with me.
In Star Crossed he couldn't even comprehend that the rule Al recited to him was something he himself had come up with. This still makes my point.

BTW the way this scene continues with Sam insisting that he can rescind his own rule but Al contradicts that he needs the Committee's permission, I don't understand that. I do not understand the committee in the first season, their power and watch over the project, but that's off topic.
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