Oh Boy... It's Quantum Leap...
Quantum Leap is a science fiction TV show that aired on NBC for five seasons. It stars Scott Bakula as Dr. Sam Beckett, a physicist with a theory that could make time travel possible in the very near future. Despite this, the project fails to yield any results, and the U.S. Government threatens to cut their funding. Desperate, Sam steps inside the project’s accelerator before it is ready to prove that his theory is true. When the machine is activated, he disappears.
He wakes up in the past, inside of the body of an inhabitant of that time, with amnesia relating to his own identity. He is able to speak with the Quantum Leap project coordinator, Al Calavicci, played by Dean Stockwell, through a hologram only he can see. To leap back out of this body and time, Sam must right a wrong that happened in the past, relating to whoever he has leaped into. Using input from Ziggy, the supercomputer for the project, Sam and Al must figure out what they have to fix in the past, so Sam can leap again, hoping that he will eventually be able to return to his own time.
I recently found this show while looking through the TV channels late one night. I was immediately interested in the premise, as its simple setup has many, many possibilities, but I was also drawn in by the humor and heart the show also contains. Sam and Al have great chemistry, with Sam’s serious and informed tone contrasting with Al’s sly and sarcastic tone. They bounce off of each other very well. Being the womanizer he is, Al will often make a remark about a woman we see in the episode, while Sam often tells him to knock it off. This produces the hilarious results of Sam appearing to argue with himself, as nobody else can see Al. Touches like this are what keeps me wrapped up in a show’s characters.
Ironically, Sam and Al are the only real consistent characters. Due to the Leaping nature of the show, we hardly ever stay in one place for a longer than a single episode. The characters we do see in the show are mostly good, with decent performances. The sets, however, are consistently good, with period accurate decoration and clothing being seen throughout the show’s run. I also very much enjoy the catchy theme song by Mike Post. The scoring for the episodes is also very good, with a good mix of period correct contemporary music and more standard instrumentals. Quantum Leap also uses its premise to put Sam into unique situations to give different perspectives. Over the course of the series, Sam has leapt into women, people of color, and people with mental and physical disabilities. They use this to its full advantage, by giving Sam (and the viewer) an inside perspective on the struggles these types of people had to face on a regular basis. Even if some of the social commentary has been dated since its broadcast thirty years ago, there are still some wonderful concepts that were explored very well.
Nowadays, Quantum Leap is seldom discussed in larger circles, but it does have a strong cult following. Websites like Al’s Place discuss the show and keep a sizable database. There was even a campaign by fans to get Quantum Leap released on home video, which it eventually did. There were some licensing issues with the music in the series, but most of that was corrected in the Blu-Ray release of the show. Over the years, there have been a few references to the show in other media, like a Robot Chicken sketch, or a mention on some animated sitcom. Otherwise, there hasn’t been a lot of excitement on this side of the fence.