4x11 "The Play's the Thing"

Leap Date:

September 9, 1969

Episode Adopted by: Rindi
Additional info provided by: Brian Greene


As a young man romancing a much, much older woman, Sam must convince her not to move back to Cleveland with her straight-as-an-arrow son and his wife. And somehow he also has to get through a nude version of "Hamlet."


Audio from this episode

TV Guide Synopsis
Leap Date

Name of the Person Leaped Into
Broadcast Date
Synopsis & Review
Project Trivia
Sam Trivia
Al Trivia

Al's Women
Al's Outfits Worn in the Episode

Miscellaneous Trivia
Guest Stars
Guest Cast Notes
Say What?
Quotable Quotes
Best Scene
Production Credits


Production # : 67301

TV Guide Synopsis:
Sam falls into a May-December romance as a struggling actor dating a woman twice his age, and he tries to save his career and find her a break as a singer. Jane: Penny Fuller. Ted: Robert Pine. Neil: Daniel Roebuck. Liz: Anna Gunn. Sam: Scott Bakula. Al: Dean Stockwell

New York City, New York

Leap Date:
September 9, 1969

Name of Person Leaped Into:
Joe Thurlow

Broadcast Date:
January 8, 1992 - Wednesday

Synopsis & Review:

In “The Play’s the Thing,” he becomes Joe Thurlow, the extremely fit and pretty lover of Jane Linhurst. He leaps into her comfortable bed in the fall of 1969, and has just enough time to be grateful that, for once, he’s not in handcuffs or a gunfight before Jane pounces on him for what is obviously Round Two. Sam’s playing bashful when Jane’s thirty-something son from Cleveland bursts in on them with his pregnant wife in tow. The son, Neil, is appalled: the age difference between Joe and his Mommy is fifty years.

Sam, naturally, has no problems with the age gap, taking the first opportunity to point out that older men marry much younger women all the time, with nobody batting an eye. Once he’s convinced that Joe and Jane are in love he’s all for it, but Neil sees him as a jobless, opportunistic mooch who’s going to break his mother’s heart. He disinters a well-off family friend to woo Jane back to Cleveland, and gets busy trying to undermine her faith in the dream that brought her to New York: the possibility of a singing career.

Every time Sam tries to make peace, he instead makes things worse. He bets Neil that Jane can wow a crowd with her singing, and she gets too nervous to perform. He insists he’s not unemployed—he’s playing Hamlet off-Broadway—and invites them to see the show. That night his director, in a desperate bid to save the show, sends the cast out on stage nude.

The cringe factor is in the stratosphere as Sam performs Shakespeare without a stitch on, in front of his lover, potential stepchildren, and smarmy romantic rival.

In the original history, this was too much for Joe: he refused to give Hamlet his naked all. The show folded, and Jane went home to Cleveland forever. But Sam’s triumph over stage fright brings an unexpected and off-beat reward…the chance to become a spokeshunk for Boxer Boy jockey shorts.

The lion’s share of Sam’s leaps bring him into a small circle of everyday people. They aren’t famous, or wealthy, and the tragedies he prevents are very personal: they affect individuals, families, and small communities. In season five, the show begins to diverge from this pattern: he kick-starts Elvis’s career, gets entangled with the Kennedy assassination and works for Marilyn Monroe. For the most part, however, the Quantum Leap creators considered it a point of pride that they weren’t changing the big historical events of the twentieth century.

The not so ordinary heroine of this episode is Jane—a role played with verve and a real sense of joy by Penny Fuller. In her, most of us can see our mothers and grandmothers: she has been, for thirty years, a dutiful mother and wife. Since her teens, she’s done everything conventional society expects of her. It is only now, as a widow whose son is independent, that she has made the move to New York in search of something for herself.  And even so she isn’t sure, deep down, that she’s entitled to any kind of glamorous reboot.

This is something many women struggle with, even today…believing they’re permitted to not only have emotions but to want so-called “selfish” things like attention, success and artistic fulfillment.

Sam, of course, is heroic in support of Jane and indifferent to the judgments of her family, society, and even Al (who has the gall to call Jane “long in the tooth” despite his relentless girl-chasing). Sam champions Jane’s right to sing and to love Joe, even when she’s just about given up. And when he succeeds they remain ordinary people: Joe never wins an Oscar, and Jane never gets a Grammy. Their prize, modest and yet priceless, is the happy, fulfilling life that Jane longs for.

Personal Review by Rindi:

This is a good episode - one of those episodes that show Sam’s sweet romantic side. This episode makes you want to reach your dreams and to find that one love that will support you while you do it. It’s a touching episode.



"Goin’ Out of my Head" by Little Anthony & The Imperials is sung by Penny Fuller (Jane).

"Together Forever" (cover) by Aretha Franklin plays on Jane's tape.

"The Look of Love" by Dusty Springfield is sung by Jane.

"Born to the Wild" by Steppenwolf plays in the club.

"My Cherie Amour" by Stevie Wonder is mentioned by Jane.

"Time of the Season" by The Zombies plays at the club.

"For Once in My Life" by Stevie Wonder is sung by Jane for an audition.


Project Trivia:
There is no imaging chamber door the second time Al comes to Sam.


Sam Trivia:
Sam remembers events from "M.I.A." and "Last Dance Before An Execution."

Sam says "Oh Boy!" three times in this episode.

Sam recalls voting in a Jimmy Carter election.

Sam believes it is ok for women to marry younger men just as much as men being able to marry younger women.


Al Trivia:
Al’s fifth wife’s dream was to be in the roller derby.

Al’s fifth wife ran off with a bricklayer.

Al says "Oh Boy!" once in this episode.

Al appears 3 different times in this episode and each time he has a cigar.

Al’s Women:
Al likes Petra.

He mentions his fifth wife - she was a roller derby fan.


Al’s Outfits Worn in the Episode:
1st appearance: Al was wearing a red jacket, a white button up collar shirt, a metallic bolo, black slacks, and sunglasses pin.

2nd appearance: Same outfit as #1.

3rd appearance: Al was wearing a light mustard jacket and slacks to match, metallic gold button up shirt with white spiral ovals placed sporadically over the shirt, a metallic goldish copper tie and shoes cant be seen.


Miscellaneous Trivia:
The title is a quote from Hamlet. In Act 2, Scene 2, he says “The play’s the thing; wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king” (often modernised to “…to uncover the conscience of the king”). Hamlet is saying that Claudius’ guilty conscience will reveal itself when he is watching a play that Hamlet has arranged. Source

Jane Linhurst says "Oh Boy!" once in this episode.

Sam gets Joe a job as the new Boxer Boy (a play on the underwear Joe Boxer).

The credits flash over a scene of Penny Fuller singing "For Once In My Life."



Regular Cast:
Scott Bakula as Sam Beckett
Dean Stockwell as Al Calavicci

Guest Stars:
Penny Fuller as Jane Lindhurst
Robert Pine as Ted
Daniel Roebuck as Neil Lindhurst
Anna Gunn as Liz Lindhurst
Craig Richard Nelson as The Director
Paul Collins as Rob Jackson
Eva Loseth as Petra
Deem Bristow as King
Will Schaub as Joe Thurlow (Mirror Image)

Guest Cast Notes:

Penny Fuller as Jane Lindhurst: Penny Fuller was born on July 21, 1937 in Durham, North Carolina, USA. She is an actress, known for All the President's Men (1976), Quantum Leap (1989) and The Elephant Man (1982). In 1970, starred opposite Lauren Bacall on Broadway in Applause, musical adaptation of the movie classic, All About Eve (1950). Bacall played fading Broadway star Margo Channing (Bette Davis ' role in the film) and Penny played conniving, grasping actress Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter's role). Won an Emmy Award for her performance in The Elephant Man (1982). Anne Bancroft played her role in the big-screen version. Trained for her craft at Illinois' Northwestern University.
Was twice-nominated for Broadway's Tony Award: in 1970 as best supporting or featured actress (musical) for Applause and, in 2001, as best actress (featured role - play) for Neil Simon's The Dinner Party. Made her Broadway debut in 1962 in A Moon Besieged. She later served as a starring replacement in popular '60s Broadway hits such as Barefoot in the Park, as Corrie, and Cabaret, as Sally Bowles. Has one daughter, Heather Kinlaw, who has graduated from public policy school. Penny and Paula Prentiss were both in the play, "Wonderful Town", at Northwestern University, where they were both students. She guest starred in two unrelated television series featuring a regular character named Sam Beckett: China Beach (1988) and Quantum Leap (1989).

Robert Pine as Ted
: Robert Pine is an American actor who is best known as Sgt. Joseph Getraer on the television series CHiPs (1977-1983). Including CHiPs, Pine has appeared in over 400 episodes of television. Pine was born in New York City on July 10, 1941, the son of Virginia (née Whitelaw) and Granville Martin Pine, a patent attorney. He graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1963. He is married to Gwynne Gilford, who appeared in several episodes of CHiPs as Betty Getraer, the wife of Pine's character. They have two children, actors Chris and Katie. Appeared on commercials for Priceline.com with William Shatner. His son, Chris Pine, succeeded Shatner as Captain Kirk in Star Trek. Robert has also done voice over work for Star Wars video games.

Daniel Roebuck as Neil Lindhurst: Having made his feature film debut starring in the teen comedy Cavegirl Daniel Roebuck quickly realized that there was only one direction to travel in his career. Up! Soon after Cavegirl, Roebuck established himself as one of the industry's youngest character actors with his haunting portrayal as the teenage killer, Samson in The River's Edge. Now, nearly 30 years later, Roebuck has amassed a substantial resume as an actor, writer and director. He has moved easily between all mediums having continued working on television, in movies and on the stage. His film credits are myriad, having starred in blockbusters like The Fugitive, US Marshals,and final Destination, as well as popular titles including Agent Cody Banks and it's sequel, That's What I Am, Money Talks, Flash Of Genius and so many more. Lately, Roebuck has enjoyed working in a number of horror movies - his favorite genre. He has collaborated with filmmaker Rob Zombie on Halloween, Halloween 2, Devil's Rejects, and Lords of Salem (as well as a commercial for AMDRO, the insecticide). He also appeared in Don Coscarelli's cult favorite Bubba Ho Tep as well as the director's Reggie's Tales and John Dies At The End. Daniel has also been a familiar face on television for nearly 3 decades, he was a regular for three seasons on the evergreen hit drama, Matlock, portraying attorney 'Cliff Lewis," the junior partner of the law firm headed by Andy Griffith's beloved character, 'Ben Matlock.' Interestingly, his landing the role was the fulfillment of a promise made several years earlier with his first appearance on "Matlock" in its inaugural season. At that time, Roebuck was told that Griffith had been so impressed with his work that he would be back as a regular on the show. It took five seasons, two more guest shots as different characters, and a change of networks, but Griffith kept his promise and Roebuck indeed became a series regular. He portrayed the irascible Rick Bettina on many episodes of Nash Bridges and in the fall of 2003 Daniel returned to series television as Pete Peterson, the gay owner of a local diner in A Minute With Stan Hooper. As a television guest star, Daniel has played countless characters. Some of his most memorable are a cop who literally turns into a pig on Grimm, a Romulan on Star Trek, Next Generation, a gun toting hostage taker on NYPD Blue, a cranky studio owner on Sonny With A Chance and a grieving father on Glee. He played other memorable roles on New Adventures of Old Christine, NCIS, Ghost Whisperer, CSI, Boston Legal, CSI Miami, Law And Order, Desperate Housewives and Hot in Cleveland. On the popular show, Lost, Roebuck portrayed the infamous Dr. Leslie Arzt, the aggravating science teacher whose explosive exit in the finale of the first season remains one of television's most surprising and talked about moments. He has starred in dozens of TV Movies. Perhaps his most famous turn was his critically acclaimed portrayal of Jay Leno in The Late Shift. He stepped into another pair of famous shoes when he played Garry Marshall in Behind The Camera; Mork and Mindy, The Unauthorized Story. Other Movies for television include A Family Lost, A Glimpse Of Hell, Murder At The Presidio, Shredderman Rules, A Borrowed Life, Quints and many others. Daniel's voice over work includes Christmas Is Here Again (a film he also produced),The Haunted World Of El Super Beasto and the groundbreaking video game, L.A. Noire.

Anna Gunn as Liz Lindhurst: Anna grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico after her parents, Sharon (Peters) and Clemens Gunn, Jr., transplanted the family from Cleveland, Ohio to the Southwest in the late seventies. She discovered acting in a drama class at the Santa Fe Preparatory School and was fortunate to study with two formidable teachers from the Actor's Studio as a teenager. She continued her education and training at Northwestern University's renowned theatre department, winning a coveted scholarship award in her junior year. During her time at Northwestern, Anna went abroad for a semester to study with the British American Drama Academy and had the marvelous opportunity to perform in the school's final project at the famed Royal Court Theatre in London. Anna has moved between television, film, and theatre with much ease. In 2004, Anna landed her breakout television role, playing Martha Bullock on HBO's seminal show, Deadwood (2004) and later received a SAG nomination for Best Ensemble Cast in 2006. Anna's association with Deadwood (2004) creator David Milch began early on when she first worked with him on his hit drama NYPD Blue (1993), giving a memorable performance as Kimmy, a junkie longing to escape New York to swim with the dolphins. Anna made such an indelible impression on Milch, that almost nine years later she became the template for the pivotal and complex character of Martha. Another major recurring role for Anna was on David E. Kelley's The Practice (1997), delivering a notable turn as ADA Jean Ward opposite Dylan McDermott and Lara Flynn Boyle. Her extensive television credits also include starring roles in several made for TV movies and major guest starring appearances on such shows as Six Feet Under (2001), ER (1994), Boston Legal (2004), Law & Order (1990) and Seinfeld (1989). Highlights of Anna's feature film work include the dark comedy, Nobody's Baby (2001), in which she starred with Gary Oldman and Mary Steenburgen; the film premiered at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival. In 1998, she played opposite Jon Voight in Tony Scott's summer blockbuster, Enemy of the State (1998). Her first starring role was in 1995's independent thriller, Without Evidence (1995), along side Angelina Jolie. Anna was recently in Kevin Smith's Red State (2011). Her upcoming films include Little Red Wagon (2012) and Sassy Pants (2012), for which she received a nomination at the 2012 Milan Film Festival for Best Supporting Actress. Anna is also a highly regarded and much sought after actress of the stage. In early 2009 she created the leading role of photojournalist Sarah Goodwin in Donald Margulies' world premiere production of Time Stands Still, directed by Daniel Sullivan at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. In 1999 she starred as Isabella in Measure for Measure at the Ahmanson Theatre helmed by the famed director Sir Peter Hall. In 1997, Anna was brought east to make her Broadway debut alongside Roger Rees in The Rehearsal at the Roundabout Theater. Before that she played on the LA circuit, including the 1995 American premiere of Hysteria directed by Phyllida Lloyd at the Mark Taper Forum. Before settling in Los Angeles, Anna built an impressive background performing on stage in Chicago. She received exceptional reviews in Uncommon Ground at the Northlight Theatre, and playing opposite Jeremy Piven in Keith Reddin's Peacekeeper at the American Blues Theatre. She even landed her first professional acting role, playing Lucy Lockit in the critically acclaimed production of The Beggar's Opera at the Court Theatre while still an undergraduate at Northwestern University. In late 2011, Anna immersed herself in the role of Marie Curie for Alan Alda's world premiere of Radiance: The Passion of Marie Curie, directed by Daniel Sullivan at the Geffen Playhouse and received rave reviews. She starring as Skyler White on AMC's Emmy award-winning series Breaking Bad (2008); a role that garnered Anna a 2012 Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Emmy Nomination until she won in 2013-2014, a 2012 Best Supporting Actress nomination by the Broadcast Television Journalist Association for a Critics' Choice Television Award, and a 2012 & 2013 Screen Actor's Guild Award for Best Ensemble Cast. The cast was also the recipient of the 2008 Peabody Award and won an AFI Award both in 2008 and 2011. The show was also nominated in 2013 by the Hollywood Foreign Press Golden Globe's as Best Television Drama until it won in 2014.

Craig Richard Nelson as The Director: Craig Richard Nelson was born on September 17, 1947 in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. He is an actor and director, known for The Paper Chase (1973), 3 Women (1977) and Quantum Leap (1989).

Paul Collins as Rob Jackson: Paul Collins was born on July 25, 1937 in London, England, UK. He is an actor, known for Peter Pan (1953), Dave (1993) and Instinct (1999).

Eva Loseth as Petra: Eva Loseth was born on December 20, 1968 in Chicago, Illinois, USA. She is an actress and producer, known for Quantum Leap (1989), The Dead Girl (2006) and Art House (1998).

Deem Bristow as King: Deem Reginald Bristow was an American actor known for providing the English voice of Dr. Eggman from 1999 to 2004. He voiced Dr. Eggman in Sonic Adventure, Sonic Adventure 2, Sonic Heroes and Sonic Advance 3. He passed away January 15, 2005 in San Diego, California, USA due to a heart attack. He passed away the same year as fellow Dr. Eggman actor Long John Baldry. He was succeeded by Mike Pollock since Shadow the Hedgehog.

Will Schaub as Joe Thurlow (Mirror Image): Will Schaub is known for Executive Decision (1996), 17 Again (2009) and The Setting Son (1997).

Say What?
This episode takes place in 1969. All the errors here are due to the timeline:

There is a card with a barcode on the back, but barcodes weren't used until 1974.

Stock footage contains an advertisement for the show "Sly Fox", that opened in 1976.

The Twin Towers are seen in stock footage, but were not finished until 1973.

A poster for "Happy Birthday, Wanda June", can be seen, but the play didn't open until 1971.


Quotable Quotes:

"Morning Tiger." --Jane Lindhurst

"…don’t you think maybe she’s a little um long in the tooth for you?" --Al "Her teeth look just great to me." --Sam " No, no, no, no, I mean don’t you think she’s more right for me…" --Al "Oh, no, no, no she’s much too sophisticated for you." --Sam

"Just goes to show you that (pause) some dreams are suppose to stay up in the clouds." --Al "What are you talking about, no, you can never give up on your dreams." –Sam

" …the only thing worse than lying to other people was lying to yourself." --Neil\

Best Line:
"Quantum leaping through time I’ve leaped into an electric chair, gun fights, and the variety of handcuffs. It looks like I finally rated a cushy time." "Thank You." (Talking to God) --Sam "No (pause), Thank You." --Jane Lindhurst

Best Scene:
The best scene in this episode is at the beginning when Sam first leaps into Joe Thurlow an actor. He leaps into a bed of silk sheets and pillows. He thanks God for a comfortable landing and then an older woman rolls over, his girlfriend and Thanks him back, assumingly for the night before. Sam lye’s in bed naked and shy with a woman he does not know, not exactly the comfortable situation he thought.

I also liked the scene where Sam is trying to convince Jane to sing for an audition for the jingle singer for the Boxer Boy commercials and Al says, "Actions speak louder than words Sam," and he kisses her passionately to prove he loved her and supported her career.

Production Credits:

Theme by: Mike Post
Music by: Velton Ray Bunch
Co-Executive Producer: Deborah Pratt
Co-Executive Producer: Michael Zinberg
Supervising Producer: Harker Wade
Produced by: Jeff Gourson, Tommy Thompson
Produced by: Chris Ruppenthal, Paul Brown
Created by: Donald P. Bellisario

Written by: Beverly Bridges
Directed by: Eric Laneuville

Executive Producer: Donald P. Bellisario
Associate Producers: 
Julie Bellisario, James S. Giritlian
Coordinating Producer: David Bellisario

Director of Photography: Michael Watkins, A.S.C.
Production Designer:
 Cameron Birnie
Edited by: Jon Koslowsky, A.C.E.
Unit Production Manager: Ron Grow
First Assistant Director: 
R. John Slosser
Second Assistant Director: Kate Yurka
Casting by: Ellen Lubin Sanitsky
Set Director: Robert L. Zilliox
Costume Designer: Jean-Pierre Dorleac
Costume Supervisor: David Rawley
Art Director: 
Ellen Dambros-Williams
Sound Mixer: Barry D. Thomas
Stunt Coordinator: Diamond Farnsworth
Sound Editor: 
Greg Schorer
Music Editor:  Bruce Frazier
Special Visual Effects: Roger Dorney, Denny Kelly

Panaflex ® Camera and Lenses by: Panavision ®

This motion picture is protected under laws of the United States and other countries. Unauthorized duplication, distribution or exhibition may result in civil liability and criminal prosecution.

Copyright © 1992 by Universal City Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The characters and events depicted in this photoplay are fictitious. Any similarity to actual persons living or dead is purely coincidental.

Bellisarius Productions In Association With Universal Television, an MCA Company


We must be courageous. We must be innovative. We must be. . . NUUUDE! Because The Play’s the Thing!

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