Leaping Off-Kilter

Pegged Jean Nightmares 2

In the late 80s, there was an unwritten Code of Scooby Doo. Televison shows liked to get a little weird around Halloween, but in the end life went back to normal and the rules of reality still applied. Sure, it seemed like it was a ghost, and the house was haunted, and the older sister was possessed. But the shows always ended with a misunderstanding explained, a hearty laugh, and spookier-than-usual theme music.

In episode 3, season 3 of Quantum Leap, evil decides to hang out the whole episode, and it doesn’t bother to explain itself. I’ll not be spoiling the twists and turns here, but I will tell you one of those twists does not fully resolve itself when the credits go past.

Also, if you watch the episode (which is currently streaming on Netflix), the whole thing is filled with evil imagery a-go-go. Goats and cats and snakes. People dying. Sanity questioned. Usually when network TV got that creepy in the 80s, it was on the mocking confines of a talk show set.

“The Boogieman,” which is the title of the episode, feels more like a short stand-alone film than the continuation of an existing series. When you watch an episode that off kilter, it means anything could happen. Usually, the Code of Scooby Doo is in play and things somehow manage to work out. But sometimes you get a diabolical hot mess like “The Boogieman.”

This episode never kept me up at night, but it got my attention. When the show dipped to commercial break ahead of the big confrontation, I realized I had no idea how in the hell time-traveling Sam Beckett was going to get out of this one. For about half a commercial break, I thought maybe this would be the one episode of TV where everything broke down and couldn’t be fixed. The show isn’t nearly that frightening when it’s over, but it made me wonder. That’s a pretty good trick.

Fans of the show even associate a sort of curse with this episode. I’ll let you research that on your own time. Not just any show gets its own curse. Nicely down, “The Boogieman.”

– Axel

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