The Great Spontini was the eighth episode of Season 3 of the Quantum Leap TV series, also the 39th overall episode in the series. Written by Cristy Dawson and Beverly Bridges, the episode, which was directed by James Whitmore, Jr., originally aired on NBC-TV on November 16, 1990.
May 9. 1974: Sam leaps into a travelling magician named Harry Spontini (the leapee Harry is played by Dan Birch), known to his fans as "The Great Spontini", a magician who often and usually performs in cheap nightclubs. His assistant is his precocious 12-year-old daughter Jamie (Lauren Woodland) who has great hopes for the act. His estranged wife Maggie (Amy Steel), who left Harry three years before, suddenly reappears with her attorney Steve Slater (Erich Anderson) announcing her engagement to Steve and asking for a divorce. As Dr. Samuel Beckett leaps into Harry, he must try to find a way to keep Jamie from being taken by her mother, who was gone for three years. To do that, Sam has to attempt a deadly magic trick in order to get the money for a permanent home for them.
Sam, whom, at first, like Al, believed that Maggie was simply looking to obtain spousal support from Harry. Harry is summoned to meet with Maggie, her attorney Steve Slater in the chambers of a one Judge Mulhearn (Michael Fairman), the presiding judge over the divorce case, concerning as to whom would have custody of young Jamie, who is ultimately placed temporarily into the Maggie's custody until Judge Mulhearn could come to a final decision; Jamie was to be dropped off at her mother's house within 2 hours.
Sam feels that he's there to reunite the family, as he also believes that Maggie is still in love with Harry, as he says to Al that he "could see it in her eyes", but has to re-think this idea when he learns - in Judge Mulhearn's chambers - that she's actually out to get custody of Jamie instead of just a divorce, declining to seek alimony, much to the chagrin of Steve, who tries to persuade Maggie to also seek, but is willing to settle just for Jamie's custody and partial visitation rights for Harry. Al tells him that unless he can change what originally happened, within several years, Jamie will become a runaway living on the street.
Sam, convinced that he is right in trying to get the warring Spontinis, that being Harry and Maggie, to reconcile, tries his hardest to show to the judge that Harry is a good parent but Al's trouble soliciting more info on the situation when then handlink begins to malfunction doesn't lend much help in the matter.
While Sam and Maggie are at the custody hearing, Jamie tries out the dreaded "Table of Death" trick. "The Table of Death" is an optical illusion trick that her and her father have been trying to master so that they can get to appear on TV and win enough money for a magic shop so that they can settle down and stop living on the road. But "The Table of Death" has got its name from that people have died on it whist performing the illusion and it is, now, as, according to Ziggy, as Al warns Sam at the custody hearing, in the now changed timeline of events, also going to kill Jamie.
Meanwhile, Back at the hearing, Maggie's fiancé and attorney Steve attempts to pull out all of the stops in trying to put all the blame of what happened to Sam/Harry not being a fit parent. Maggie then, to Steve's chagrin, blames herself as Jamie was in her care at the time as she then drops her divorce and custody lawsuit. Steve tells her she is making a big mistake, but Maggie gives back the engagement ring he gave her, ending their relationship as well.
Al tells Sam what is happening and what is going to happen to Jamie. Sam and Maggie arrive in time to save Jamie, as that harrowing situation works to reconcile the situation concering Maggie and Harry, as within a year reconciles with Harry, as the Spontini's are an act—and a family—once again.
Al switches from the early version of the Handlink to the final version during this episode. Although the final, more colorful version debuted a few episodes earlier ("The Boogieman") due to NBC airing the episodes out of order, it was clearly intended to debut in this episode. During the first scene with Judge Mulhearn, Al has difficulty retrieving data from Ziggy using the older handlink, to the point where he nearly (or possibly does) smash it apart. The next time we see Al, he is using the new handlink for the rest of the episode. With the exception of a few other episodes that aired out of order, Al uses this new handlink for the rest of the series.