Saturday, January 26, 2008

Quantum Leap: Blood Moon – review (TV Episode)

Director: Alan J. Levi

First aired: 1993

Contains spoilers

When it first aired I used to watch Quantum Leap religiously. The show had a simple premise that allowed them to keep drawing the audience back in. For those who never saw it the idea was the Dr Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula) had theorised that a man could time travel in his own lifetime. He stepped into the project’s ‘accelerator’ and leaped. The series eventually explained that it was Sam’s mind and body that leapt but wherever he leapt an aura surrounded him giving the appearance and voice of another (who was displaced to Sam’s own time).

Sam had no control over the leaps but he was always somewhere he was needed, compelled to stop something bad happening. Once his mission was complete he would leap to another time frame. His companion through this was Al (Dean Stockwell), an observer from his own time whose image was projected to Sam as a hologram only he could see.

Some of the episodes were a little schmaltzy at times but the premise ensured that you always came back to see what would happen next and the show had a virtually unlimited license when it came to plots. The fifth and final series seemed, as I watched it, to become darker and more daring in its premises and during this season we had a vampire episode, which began with Sam awakening in a coffin and his perennial catchphrase after a leap of “Oh Boy.”

Normally Sam would look into a mirror, so that he could see what he looked like in the time he found himself in, however this time there were no mirrors. He was in a castle in England and a rather Hammer-esque setting it was too. When Al appears he discovers that he is Nigel Corrington, an artist. However Al is convinced the Corrington is a vampire.

As he puts it, Corrington looks like a cross between Bela Lugosi and a sick corpse. He explains that he has a pale complexion, beady eyes and a lusful stare – which Sam points out could well describe Al as well. As Al appears through the episode we note that he starts wearing a cross and garlic – much to Sam’s disgust as he does not believe in vampires.

Al has worked out that Sam has to save Alexander (Shae D’Lyn), the recently married wife of Corrington. History shows that she was found murdered a couple of days later, drained of blood. Sam knows that it couldn’t have been Corrington, as he is in his place, and thus it must have been one of the guests at the castle, Victor Drake (Ian Buchanan) or his companion Claudia (Deborah Moore).

As things move along we hear it is the night of the Blood Moon and Corrington has invited the two to participate in a planned ritual. Drake has brought a gift of a silver dagger that belonged to Count Báthory (I’ll get to that in a sec) and it becomes clear that it was (or will be) the murder weapon. We have an idea of what Corrington looks like as there is a portrait of his ancestor that is his spitting image. Al even has Sam open the ancestor’s grave as he believes that Corrington and his ancestor are one and the same – though the opening is not completed.

Other vampire myth that Al introduces is the fact that as well as drinking blood, vampires are known to be highly sexed and lustful creatures – again Sam states that it sounds like Al. We do see Al try to ward a vampire with a cross, amusing as he is a hologram that only Sam can see.

Al also discovers that the ritual of the Blood Moon (a ten yearly event) is one that sees a sacrifice to the memory of the most famous vampire, Báthory. The background on Báthory is historically accurate, killing of maidens and being walled up, mixed with artistic licence – surviving the walling for three years by drinking his own blood and, more drastically, a sex change from female to male. Why they felt the need to make Báthory male is beyond me. As Corrington is, in their eyes, acting weak the guests turn on him and Sam finds himself tied up, to be part of a double sacrifice.

It is Claudia that will take Corrington and she goes at him with fangs – a definite “I told you so moment” from Al. However, when Sam escapes his predicament he checks her mouth and discovers that the fangs are fake. These are false vampires, though their murderous intent is very real.

As the series continues It isn’t too much of a spoiler to mention how Drake dies, as it is genre interesting. He is holding up the Báthory dagger, whilst on the roof, when it is hit by lightening. This is obviously referential to Scars of Dracula, in which Dracula suffers a similar fate. However, whilst the guests were not real vampires, doubt is cast on Corrington when Sam looks into a silver tray and sees no reflection, just before he leaps again.

The series as a whole was made, to a great extent, by the on screen chemistry between Bakula and Stockwell, as well as the camaraderie despite their obvious personality differences of their characters that really allowed the actors to spark off each other. This holds true in this episode. The episode also has a great, Gothic atmosphere born straight out of Hammer studios. The supporting cast ham it up with as much melodrama as they can muster.

For me it was a highlight episode in a highlight series and an example of a vampire episode that didn’t loose its story or become bogged down in issues from the main series' story arc. 7 out of 10.

The episode’s imdb page is here.


Kuudere-Kun said...

I watched this allot when I was young. Main thing I remember about this episode was the description of a Vampire sustaining himself off his now Blood.

That was before I'd ever learned about Bathory, so I didn't recall that.

Unknown said...

I actually own the 'Bathory Dagger' from this episode. Wish I had the wooden box it came in. Trivia: It was also used as Nancy's Wiccan dagger in the 1995 film 'The Craft'.

If you want some pictures for your blog, I can take a few and send them to you.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

that would be really kind of you Jerry