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"Play It Again, Seymour"
Quantum Leap
Episode No.   Season
9 1x09 One
Episode Information
Original Broadcast Date May 17, 1989
Network: NBC-TV
IMDB: IMDb logo.png Play It Again, Seymour
Written by: Tom Blomquist, Scott Shepherd, Donald P. Bellisario
Directed by: Aaron Lipstadt
Leap Information
Leap Date: April 14, 1953
Place: New York City, NY
Leapee: Nick Allen
Chronological Information
Preceded by: "Camikazi Kid"
Followed by: "Honeymoon Express"

Play It Again, Seymour was the 9th episode of Season 1 of Quantum Leap, also the ninth series episode overall. Written by Tom Blomquist, the episode, which was directed by Aaron Lipstadt, originally aired on NBC-TV on May 17, 1989.


It's the early 1950s and Sam has leaped into the body of a New York City private detective, Nick Allen. Apart from the fact that Allen bears a striking resemblance to Humphrey Bogart, Sam feels that he has leaped into a cheap pulp novel, something that proves to be all too accurate when he realizes that he knows the story and is constantly having a sense of déjà vu. With his partner murdered, Sam has to not only find the murderer but launch the career of a prospective writer.

Plot summary[]

April 14, 1953: Sam leaps into a New York City area private detective with an uncanny resemblance to the Hollywood screen legend, Humphrey Bogart. He must not only find the killer of his detective partner but also avoid becoming the killer's next victim.

As Sam leaps in, he is holding a gun and standing over the body of a dead man with a bullet in his back. The police burst into the room and place Sam under arrest. While he is taken to a prison cell, Sam discovers that he is a private detective named Nick Allen (the leapee is played by Tony Heller) and that the dead man was his partner, Phil Grimsley. Looking in the mirror of his holding cell, Sam is astonished by the striking resemblance his counterpart shares with Humphrey Bogart. Al tells Sam that his mission is to most likely find Phil's murderer, which offers Sam relief as it means he is not the killer.

Sam begins experiencing a feeling of déjà vu and predicts that he will be set free as the bullet that killed Phil does not to match his gun. Moments later, his prediction comes true as a detective enters the room to release Sam from prison. Al believes Sam's prognostication was simple coincidence, but Sam doesn't think so.

As Sam arrives at Gotham Towers, the apartment building where Nick lives, he continues to experience an inexplicable familiarity with his surroundings. Before meeting them, he is correctly able to identify three men standing around in the lobby: Lionel (Paul Linke), the building supervisor, Chuck (Steve Nevil), the elevator operator, and Seymour (Willie Garson), a nerdish boy who works at the news stand and hero worships Nick. Both Lionel and Chuck offer condolences over Phil's death and ask about Phil's widow, Allison Grimsley (Claudia Christian), for whom both men hold an attraction. Seymour tells them that he heard a "dropper named Klapper" was responsible for Phil's murder. He is confident that Sam will find the killer.

Sam rides the elevator to his office along with Chuck. Chuck asks him if he'll ask Allison on a date for him but, realizing that his request was distasteful, quickly recants. Sam walks away, shaking his head in disgust. Before entering his office, Sam's sense of déjà vu informs him that someone dangerous awaits him. It is Allison, Phil's attractive bombshell of a widow. Allison throws herself into Sam's arms. She says that, upon hearing that he was arrested, she was worried the police might have discovered the two of them were having an affair. Sam asks if she knows anybody named Klapper, and Allison responds that she heard Phil having a nightmare about him once. Though she is saddened by Phil's death, she is pleased that, with his passing, the two of them can finally be together.

After Allison leaves, Sam begins searching through the office and finds an autobiographical manuscript Nick had been authoring. Sam now realizes that he has read the published book, thus explaining his déjà vu and how he knows all the people in Nick's life. Sam tells Al that, according to the book, Nick and Allison were deeply in love but too loyal to Phil to act on their feelings. He believes that he must find Phil's killer so the two of them may live happily ever after. Unable to remember how Nick's book ended, he asks Al to locate a copy to help him find the killer.

As Sam leaves his office, Seymour tells him a source has revealed that Klapper will be appearing at the Blue Island club that night. Seymour eagerly wishes to join him on the hunt for the killer. As the two prepare to step into the elevator, the lift is absent and all that sits below is a long shaft. Sam clings to the cables and pulls himself away from certain death. He turns to see Seymour slumped unconscious against the wall, having fainted at the sign of danger. Lionel and Chuck investigate the faulty elevator. Chuck says that the safety latch was broken. However, Lionel says Chuck is to blame for not doing his job properly and monitoring the lift.

Seymour apologizes for Sam's near-death experience and admits that he has always been a jinx. He was abandoned as a child and raised in an orphanage where he grew up mostly in a library. Seymour reveals that he wants to be a detective just like Nick.

When they arrive at the bottom of the stairs, Allison is waiting. She tells them they cannot go to the Blue Island, as that is where Phil went the night he was killed. Sam says he has to go in order to find the killer. Allison insists on coming with him.

That night, the three of them go to Blue Island. Seymour now says that his source reveals that Klapper may be a woman. As Sam goes to the bar to order drinks, Al produces the book that Sam has read. It is a murder-mystery book that was never completed by Nick, as he was killed before publication. Al tells him that Nick was murdered at LaGuardia Airport that night and that, after his death, Allison and Seymour were never seen again. Sam suggests that the murderer must have killed them and hid the bodies. However, Al believes that Allison killed Nick, fled with Seymour, and then murdered him too. Sam is angry that Al would suggest that Allison is the murderer, while Al accuses Sam of allowing his hormones to guide his thinking. Sam lashes out at Al, saying that he is the one who allows hormones and alcohol to cloud his judgment. Al is offended and uncomfortably leaves Sam behind, warning him to stay away from LaGuarida Airport.

Since Klapper has not shown up at the Blue Island, Sam, Allison, and Seymour decide to leave. While Seymour races off to hail down a cab, a gunman emerges from the alleyway and begins firing at Sam. Sam dives for cover and escapes with only a graze to his cheek, while the gunman gives up and flees. When Seymour finally arrives with a cab, Sam blames him for taking so long to arrive. He also accuses Seymour of being a nerd and tells him to stop pestering him. They return to Nick's apartment where Sam goes off to get his gun, while Seymour flees from the cab, hurt and embarrassed by Sam's comments.

When Sam returns to the lobby, he finds Seymour sobbing. Sam apologizes for his comments and claims to have made them to stop Seymour from coming with him to find Klapper. As the two return outside, they find the cab containing Allison is missing.

Sam and Seymour catch a cab to LaGurdia Airport. Sam takes the opportunity to apologize to Al for offending him. He also admits that Al may have been right, and that Allison may in fact be the killer.

When they arrive at the airport, Sam tells Seymour they should split up. While Sam is mistaken for Humphrey Bogart by a young Woody Allen (Kevin Mockrin), Seymour is confronted by Lionel, who pulls a gun on him and forces him into the airport hangar. Lionel has Allison tied up in one of the planes, and soon chokes Seymour to unconsciousness. Al guides Sam to the plane, while Lionel fires random ammunition in his direction. Lionel confesses that he killed Phil so he could be with Allison. When Lionel finally runs out of ammo and has to reload, Sam arrives, sticks a gun in his chest, and arrests him.

Lionel is taken away by police, while Sam comforts Allison. Allison figures they might as well use the tickets Lionel purchased to go away together. Sam tells Allison to board the plane and that he will join her. As she walks off, Seymour approaches him and admits that, after nearly being killed by Lionel, he is no longer interested in becoming a detective. Sam suggests that he become a crime writer instead. Seymour keenly accepts the idea and walks off. Though Sam is eager to join Allison on the plane, Al reveals that Sam's mission was to help launch Seymour as a novelist and that, having done so, it is time to leap...

Kisses with History[]

Sam meets a young Woody Allen, who would have been 17 years old at the time.

Sam introduces the term "main squeeze" into the vernacular.


More or less, a similar technique was used, as with the pilot episode of Quantum Leap, some of the background uses stock footage as one can see the different quality from the background as with the foreground.

The Science of Leaping[]

This is one of only three times that Sam leaps beyond his birthdate of Aug. 8, 1953. The other two were the episodes "The Americanization of Machiko" (Aug. 4) and "The Leap Back" (June 15, 1945). In the latter, Sam was able to aim his leap into Al's time period, but no explanation is given for how Sam was able to technically leap outside of his lifetime in the other examples. It's possible that Sam could leap in after his date of conception, but this is only a theory.

Mike Badger Evans Says: "The author is wrong here there were not three but four episodes set outside his own timeline." The four episodes were:

  1. "Play It Again, Seymour" (1x09)
  1. "The Amaricanization of Machiko" (2x3)
  1. "The Leap Back" (4x01)
  1. "The Leap Between the States" (5x20), when he leaped to September 1862.

Actually the author may be right but for the wrong reason. I regard Sam having leaped outside his timeline 3 times as on "the Leap Back", Sam did not Leap , Al Did. Therefore, the time would have been within his timeline.

No, No.  The second poster is exactly right!  Sam DID leap to a time before his birth in "The Leap Back."  Although the episode did primarily focus on Al's leap, Sam leapt into Tom Jarrett at the very end of the episode.  The explanation given was that he had enough of Al's brain matter in his head to leap out of his own lifetime.

Sam's birthday is given explicitly as August 8, 1953 in "The Pilot Episode," and is repeated many times throughout the series.  "Play It Again, Seymour" and "The Americanization of Machiko" taking place while Sam was in the womb (without saying so explicitly) may reflect Bellisario's own pro-life viewpoints.  At no time in the series does the generally liberal-minded Sam Beckett endorse or even mention a woman's right to choose, except obliquely in "8 1/2 Months," in which he claimed to have a feeling that carrying the child to term was the right thing to do.

However, "Mirror Image," in which Sam symbolically leaps not just to the date of his birth, but to the moment of this birth, seems to suggest his birth is the focal point rather than his conception.  Of course, by this time, the series had evolved in other ways from its original inception as well.

Donald Bellisario has stated that the reason that Sam was able to leap outside his own lifetime in such episodes such as "Play it again, Seymour" and "The Americanization of Machiko" is because Sam's life began at the moment of conception rather than his actual birth.

  • Another component to this that could help explain things is the fact that in the final episode, Sam is told he has the ability to control his leaps. To whatever extent it's true, which given the ending would suggest it's at least partly true, then the reason Sam largely leapt within his own lifetime might have been because that had been his entire theory for leaping, which was meant to be confined to travel through time within his own lifetime; and as such he may have subconsciously restricted himself. If he wasn't consciously aware of how much he was influencing the leaps or restricting them, it's also plausible the occasions he defied those limitations were the result of some other factors that played into his leaps, like whatever drew Sam to the people and moments in history where he was most needed; or it could be chalked up to his swiss cheese brain not remembering when he was born during those instances.

Behind the Scenes[]

  • Guest star Claudia Christian would go on to star in the popular and acclaimed sci-fi series Babylon 5.
  • Willie Garson (Seymour) would return to the show in Season 5 to play Lee Harvey Oswald in the episode of the same name.
  • The end of this episode featured a leap-out into the events of "What Price Gloria?" when originally aired. This episode had in fact already been shot (Hulu lists the episode as part of the first season, and uses the code 0111), and was intended as the next year's season opener. However, "Honeymoon Express" was eventually aired as the second-season premiere, and "Gloria" was pushed back to the fourth episode of the season. In reruns on the USA Network and the Sci-Fi Channel, a new leap-in was manufactured from the end of "Seymour" to the beginning of the main action of "Honeymoon Express." Ironically, Sam actually has a leap in between those two episodes - as a fireman at the beginning of "Express" - but no leap-in footage was shot.
  • Sam mentions Magnum P.I., which doesn't make sense to anyone by that year. Donald P. Bellisario, the writer of most of the episodes in Magnum P.I. is also a co-writer of this episode of Quantum Leap.


  • Young At Heart
  • You, You, You
  • Blue Moon
  • Red Sails In The Sunset
  • As Time Goes By