Season 2, Episode 19
Date of airing: April 26, 2000 (UPN)
Nielsen ratings information: 2.3/4 in Households
Apparently it wasn’t enough for the writers to continuously rip off movie ideas, because now they have to get into ripping off TV show ideas. Thankfully, ripping off QUANTUM LEAP is a cool idea for the show, especially since one time travel science-fiction show is ripping off another time travel science-fiction show, so this time around it was more than appropriate. The episode was luckily very solid, but it could have been a lot more funnier. The writers could have gone nuts with the premise of Parker slipping into the body of Pope Sylvester and just made one huge comedic episode out of it. Parker could have done more in the Pope’s body than just smilingly listening to the sinning stories of an attractive lady and the writers could have done a lot more with the Pope’s Cardinals and Fathers in the mix, who were both intrigued and worried about the Pope’s current behavior. At the end of the day, this episode was essentially just about Parker in the body of an old man, and it wasn’t even a particularly splendid episode of Sam Beckett trying to fix time, although this episode certainly made me hungry to begin watching QUANTUM LEAP. I need more shows to watch that come from the 1980s and 1990s.
But whatever. The reason for the backstep is once more sort of ridiculous, as well as conveniently developed by the writers to force an actual backstep event. There are always secret negotiations going on somewhere, and in this particular case the Pope was trying to broker freedom between Christianity and the Muslims, although I have no clue if that premise is ever going to be part of real life. As a Jew, Jared Kushner has tried here and there to fix the Israel and Palestine issue and we all know how that one has worked out so far — seeing Christians and Muslims had in hand is a dream for every religious person on this planet, but also fiction for this particular episode of television. Okay, to be exact, it’s the back story of this particular episode of television, because all that one did was create the backstep event, so that Parker can play Sam Beckett for an hour.
Parker as the Pope was great though. Sadly, a few even greater ideas were left behind (most likely because of the running time and the fact that a story had to be told), but at least some comedy came out of the premise, beginning with the aforementioned attractive lady confessing her sins, or Parker trying to make Olga and Ramsey kiss his ring. I liked the scenes of Parker having to deal with the unknown of being the Pope and an old human being at the same time, all while being in the middle of a backstep event, which means Parker was essentially doing one of his missions here. In hindsight, I was very happy to find out that none of the Pope’s staff was involved in the assassination plot and that the villain was just a lone gunman having had conversations with the devil. Sometimes it looked like some of the Pope’s staff wanted to get rid of him, maybe even stop the peace negotiations between the Christians and the Muslims, but besides the weird looks of some of the Cardinals, it was pretty much non-existent in the story. But who knows, maybe it was in the script one day, but then it was cut in favor for some Olga/Pope action.
What I did mind a little was the fact that the few Cardinals around Parker did not have one single problem with their Pope hanging around with people and saying stuff that makes everything seem weird and not normal for a Pope (okay, maybe it’s not weird — the GOP shows us how many damns they give when Orange Hitler Donald Trump speaks or tweets). The Cardinals could have asked themselves (in a comical way) why Olga was so important for the Pope. The Cardinals could have wondered why their Pope was suddenly gone (did they know he went with Olga and his new friends? Were they thinking he was kidnapped, and they just didn’t want this fact to be public?), and the Cardinals could have been generally part of the story. Yes, the writers would have taken the story seriously if they would have taken my notes into consideration, but I believe there is a lot of comedy hiding behind those plot points, and yet the writers were only focusing on the obvious — minus the thing that made me believe for a few seconds that a Vatican member was in on the assassination plot
And finally, the laziness has showed again. They haven’t gone into the boomerang effect, and they haven’t gone into the fact that Parker in the body of the Pope could have never survived that backstep. The characters explained it away with “We don’t know why this happened.” Also, why did no one except Olga and Donovan ask what the Pope was doing in NeverNeverLand? The characters take everything for granted, and they never ask themselves question about what just happened. Like the Pope driving into the hangar and asking Ramsey to kiss his ring and then his feet. If I were part of that scene, my mind would just go WTF?