About Christmas TV History

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Christmas in July 2023: Quantum Leap (1990)


Merry Christmas in July! It is Day #20 in the month-long celebration of Christmas entertainment. Each day this month I will be sharing brief reminisces about Christmas TV episodes, specials, and movies that are a creative or imaginative adaptation of Charles Dickens' tale A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Just a little something different and a way for me to show off the diversity of holiday stories I've collected in the encyclopedia Tis the Season TV (the updated and expanded 2nd edition will be released soon).  

This week, let's look at especially creative examples of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" in TV episodes in which characters have read Charles Dickens' book and look to influence someone else who needs inspired with the holiday spirit! For more--see Day 15's introduction with a discussion on the TV series The Rogues, Day 16's discussion on Bewitched, Day 17's essay on the Six Million Dollar Man, Day 18's The Real Ghostbusters, and Day 19's essay on Xena : Warrior Princess.


Sam and Al have read Dickens' "A Christmas Carol."

Today's discussion is on the 1990 episode "A Little Miracle" from the sci-fi series Quantum Leap. In this third season episode, Dr. Sam Beckett discovers that he’s a valet named Pearson working for a very rich man named Mr. Michael Blake on December 24th, 1962 in New York City. Mr. Blake wants to expand his business empire by tearing down the 4th Street Mission. Sam decides to correct history and save Blake’s soul by taking inspiration from Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” 


SNL alum Charles Rocket plays wealthy businessman Michael Blake (right).

First, Pearson drives Blake in his car back to the old neighborhood to remind him of his pleasant childhood but the effort backfires. Next, Pearson convinces Blake to visit the 4th Street Mission to spend time on Christmas Eve with the people there, making merry and singing Christmas carols. Blake feels a spark of attraction for the Salvation Army’s Captain Dowling but he eventually feels manipulated. 


Sam wants to do what it takes to save the mission.

So, Sam and Al go one step further. The hologram of Al appears as the Ghost of Christmas Future to Blake while Sam pretends he can’t see the ghost. Together the Ghost and Pearson convince the frightened Blake that his future should be spent invested in people not acquiring more money.


Al, played by Dean Stockwell, goes all-in on his frightening portrayal of the Ghost of Christmas Future.

Note: this adaptation of “A Christmas Carol” sees Sam and Al familiar with Dickens’ book when they take it upon themselves to inspire Blake with the holiday spirit. However, even Blake knows Dickens’ book as he corrects Al’s Ghost of Christmas Future for carrying chains when that’s the burden of Jacob’s Marley’s ghost! Despite Blake's knowledge of Dickens' classic, the suspicious businessman still finds himself moved by the Ghost of Christmas Future and he transforms his heart.

The cast includes Scott Bakula as Dr. Sam Beckett, Dean Stockwell as Al, Charles Rocket as Mr. Blake, and Melinda McGraw as Captain Downey.


Joanna Wilson is a TV researcher and book author specializing in Christmas entertainment. More about the TV programs mentioned on this website can be found in her book "Tis the Season TV: the Encyclopedia of Christmas-themed Episodes, Specials, and Made-for-TV Movies." Her latest book "Triple Dog Dare: Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story" was released in 2016. She is currently updating and expanding the encyclopedia for an upcoming release. Her books can be found at the publisher's website: 1701 press.com

*Support this website and its research by purchasing the books at 1701 press.com


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