Quantum Leap

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For the event related to subatomic physics, see Atomic electron transition. For the sculpture, see The Quantum Leap.
Quantum Leap
Quantum Leap (TV series) titlecard.jpg
Title card
Genre Action/Adventure
Science fiction
Drama
Mystery
Created by Donald P. Bellisario[1]
Starring Scott Bakula
Dean Stockwell
Composer(s) Mike Post
Velton Ray Bunch
Greg Edmonson
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 5
No. of episodes 96 (List of episodes)
Production
Running time 45 minutes approx.
Production company(s) Belisarius Productions
Universal Television
Broadcast
Original channel NBC[2]
Original run March 26, 1989 (1989-03-26) – May 5, 1993 (1993-05-05)

Quantum Leap is an American television series that was broadcast on NBC from March 26, 1989 to May 5, 1993, for a total of five seasons. The series was created by Donald P. Bellisario, and starred Scott Bakula as Dr. Sam Beckett, a quantum physicist from the near future who becomes lost in time following a time travel experiment, temporarily taking the places of other people to "put right what once went wrong." Dean Stockwell co-starred as Al Calavicci, Sam's womanizing, cigar-smoking sidekick and best friend, who appeared as a hologram that only Sam, animals, young children, and the mentally ill could see and hear.[3] The series featured a mix of humor, drama and melodrama, social commentary, nostalgia, and science fiction, which won it a broad range of fans. One of its trademarks is that at the end of each episode, Sam "leaps" into the setting for the next episode, usually uttering a dismayed "Oh, boy!"

Despite struggling on Friday nights in its brief first season, the show was renewed by NBC because of its impressive 18-49 demographics. The series was moved to Wednesdays where it performed well in comparison to other fan-favorite series Wiseguy and China Beach. It was moved twice away from Wednesdays to Fridays in late 1990 and to Tuesdays in late 1992 where it also performed well. The series finale aired in its successful Wednesday slot in May 1993.

In 2004 and 2007, Quantum Leap was ranked #15 and #19 on TV Guide's "Top Cult Shows Ever".[4][5]

Premise[edit]

The premise for Quantum Leap was inspired by movies like Heaven Can Wait (1978), a remake of the 1941 film Here Comes Mr. Jordan. Donald P. Bellisario, the show's creator, saw the show's concept as his way of developing an anthology series, as the genre was unpopular with the networks.[6] He felt that the concept of a person living in the body of another person to make change for the better, would work well in a science fiction setting, creating the tone for the series.[citation needed]

In the pilot episode, the viewer is introduced to Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula), a genius physicist working on "Project Quantum Leap" in a concealed government laboratory in the southwestern desert of the United States near the end of the 20th century. Beckett, with his team, had theorized that time travel was possible if the traveler only stayed within the timeframe of their own lifetime. With no successful results so far, Rear Admiral Al Calavicci (Dean Stockwell), Sam's long-time friend and senior officer on the program, is told by the government that they are looking to shut down the funding. Sam refuses to allow this, and before he can be stopped, he enters the Quantum Leap accelerator, disappearing into time.

When Sam recovers, he finds his memories to be incomplete, particularly with knowledge about himself or the project; Al would refer to this as his "swiss-cheesed memory" throughout the series. Sam finds himself in the past as a supersonic jet test pilot, appearing to others and himself in the mirror as another person, but initially attributes this to his amnesia. Al eventually makes contact with Sam, appearing as a hologram that is tuned to Sam's brainwaves so only Sam can see or hear him. Al explains the situation to Sam, revealing that the only way for Sam to return is to correct something that went wrong in the past, according to the project's artificial intelligence "parallel hybrid computer", Ziggy (voiced by co-executive producer Deborah Pratt). Guided by knowledge of what originally transpired stored in Ziggy's databases, as well as Al's own experiences, Sam is able to escape from a crash that originally took the life of the pilot, and changing history; as he does so, he finds himself "leaping", ending up assuming the identity of a different person at a different point in history. Al later states that while they had tried to bring Sam back during this "leap", they were unable to do so, leaving Sam forced to continue leaping until the team can figure out how to bring him back permanently.[7]

Sam is capable of using his own abilities, even if this is something his host normally cannot do. This photo shows an example wherein Sam leaps into a chimpanzee named Bobo.[8]

Subsequent episodes generally follow the course of one such "leap"; after initially struggling with the displacement (often concluding with saying "Oh, boy!" once he realized the situation), Sam learns from Al what originally transpired in history and what change is most likely going to allow him to leap as predicted by Ziggy, though in some cases, these have proven incorrect. Al helps Sam not only with knowledge of previous history, but also with monitoring events that Sam cannot see himself. Over the course of the series, the viewer is given insight into the nature of the leaping process, in that the person who Sam leaps into is brought to the future at Project Quantum Leap, where he appears to everyone as Sam there; in one episode, this person, a serial killer, escaped, preventing Sam from leaping until he was returned without incident to Project Quantum Leap. In the past, Sam possesses all the abilities of his own body, being able to do things that the other person may not normally be able to do. In one case, while leaping into a legless Vietnam veteran, Sam was able to walk around, though appearing to observers to be floating (this is because Sam keeps his own body with him when he leaps, but is surrounded by an 'aura' that makes him look like whoever he's leaped into). Conversely, several episodes showed that Sam's amnesia and abilities could be under the influence of the person he had jumped into. In two episodes, Sam had leaped into a mentally challenged person, and exhibited such signs himself, while in another case, he assumed the identity of a pregnant woman, and (despite Al's protests that it shouldn't be possible since "it's your body, not hers"), felt the pains of childbirth until he leaped out of her life. Also, when Sam leaped in as Lee Harvey Oswald, Sam is overwhelmed with Oswald's intent to kill President Kennedy, and is compelled to attempt the act himself (Oswald leaps back in before this actually occurs).

Because of the time travel aspect, many episodes include "brushes with greatness", alluding to famous people or incidents indirectly, such as suggesting to a 12-year-old Donald Trump that New York real estate would be valuable in the future, suggesting the lyrics to "Peggy Sue" to a teenage Buddy Holly, teaching young Michael Jackson his signature moonwalk dance, saving Dr. Henry Heimlich from choking (thus giving him the idea for his namesake maneuver), or setting in place actions that led to the discovery of the break-in at the Watergate Hotel. Two notable episodes placed Sam directly at the center of historical events. "Goodbye Norma Jean" sees Sam appear as Marilyn Monroe's bodyguard assuring that she remain alive to allow her to film The Misfits. "Lee Harvey Oswald" shows Sam struggling with retaining his identity while leaping into Oswald, and while unable to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy, is able to save the life of Jackie Kennedy (who was also killed in the original [fictional] timeline). Other episodes explore the past of the characters. Sam, in one case, is able to save his brother from being killed in the Vietnam War, but at the cost of causing Al, a prisoner of war at the time, to suffer more at the hands of the enemy. Another case has Sam helping to protect Al's first wife, Beth (Susan Diol), who had lost hope of Al's return from the war.

The nature for Sam's leaps are uncontrolled and unknown to the Project Quantum Leap team, attributing it to "God, time, fate, or whatever", but generally to "put right what once went wrong", as per the opening narration. In a trilogy of episodes, "The Evil Leaper", Sam meets a similar time traveler named Alia (Renee Coleman) who is forced to jump between people by some outside force - but in order to counter Sam's own efforts, making things worse off than they are. The final episode, "Mirror Image", finds Sam leaping into what appears to be himself, but on the date of his birth. A mysterious barkeep (Bruce McGill, who also appeared in the pilot but in a different role) appears to know much more about Sam's leaping, but in the end convinces Sam that he is in control of his own leaping, and that it is his choice to return home or not. In the episode's epilogue, Sam is shown to have returned to visit Beth, appearing to her as himself, assuring her that Al is safe and will return to her; this results in Al and Beth remaining happily married in the future, while Sam never returns home.

Cast[edit]

Dean Stockwell (left) and Scott Bakula (right) as Al Calavicci and Sam Beckett.
  • Dr Sam Beckett (played by Scott Bakula) is a brilliant physicist with six doctoral degrees. He grew up in Indiana in a loving home and had a sister who was abused by her husband. In Season 1, Sam calls his father on the telephone to tell him, while only identifying himself as a relative, that he regretted never telling his father that he loved him. Sam's father responded that "he knew," saying that a father always knows how his son feels about him.
  • Admiral Al Calavicci (played by Dean Stockwell) is an admiral in the US Navy who mostly grew up in an orphanage. Although Al is a womanizer, it was revealed in the final episode of Season 2 that his last four of five total marriages failed because he never got over losing his first wife Beth, the only woman he ever loved. She remarried, thinking he had died in Vietnam, whereas he was really being held in a POW camp. Al's often-mentioned girlfriend Tina appears in the fourth season episode "The Leap Back." Al was active in the Civil Rights Movement.
  • Ziggy (voiced by co-executive producer Deborah Pratt) is the artificial intelligence "parallel hybrid computer" that runs the project and attempts to deduce the purposes of Sam's leaps, appearing only in the fourth-season episode "The Leap Back."
  • Gooshie (played by Dennis Wolfberg) is the project's head programmer, appears in five episodes including the finale.

In each episode, a different cast of guest characters appears: the people whose lives Sam is there to "put right." Several additional characters are referred to regularly throughout the series, but are mostly unseen. Dr. Beeks, the project psychiatrist, is also frequently mentioned, but only appears in two episodes.

Music[edit]

The theme for the series was written by Mike Post.[9] The theme was re-arranged for the fifth season, except for the series finale episode, which featured the original theme music. Scores for the episodes were composed by Post (36 episodes), Velton Ray Bunch (24 episodes), and Jerry Grant (10 episodes).[10]

Soundtrack[edit]

A soundtrack album was released in 1993 titled Music from the Television Series Quantum Leap. It was released on Crescendo on CD (GNPD8036) and cassette tape (GNPC8036) in 1993. The album is dedicated to John Anderson, who played Pat Knight in "The Last Gunfighter."

  1. Prologue (Saga Sell) – Music by Mike Post/Velton Ray Bunch, narrated by Deborah Pratt (1:05)
  2. Quantum Leap Main Title - Mike Post (1:15)
  3. Somewhere in the Night (from "Piano Man") – Scott Bakula (3:32)
  4. Suite from "The Leap Home, Part 1" - Velton Ray Bunch (3:37)
  5. Imagine (from "The Leap Home, Part 1") – Scott Bakula (3:05)
  6. Sam's Prayer (from "A Single Drop Of Rain") - Velton Ray Bunch (1:52)
  7. Blue Moon of Kentucky (from "Memphis Melody") – Scott Bakula (1:41)
  8. Baby, Let's Play House (from "Memphis Melody") – Scott Bakula (2:13)
  9. Shoot Out (from "The Last Gunfighter") - Velton Ray Bunch (3:03)
  10. Medley from Man of La Mancha (from "Catch A Falling Star") – Scott Bakula (6:18)
  11. Bite Me (from "Blood Moon") - Velton Ray Bunch (3:29)
  12. Alphabet Rap (from "Shock Theater") – Dean Stockwell (2:05)
  13. Suite from "Lee Harvey Oswald" - Velton Ray Bunch (14:55)
  14. Fate's Wide Wheel (from "Glitter Rock") – Scott Bakula (3:05)
  15. A Conversation With Scott Bakula (12:02)
  16. Quantum Leap Prologue and Main Title - Mike Post (2:19)

Episodes[edit]

Broadcast history[edit]

NOTE: The most frequent time slot for the series is in bold text.

  • Sunday at 9:00-11:00 PM on NBC: March 26, 1989
  • Friday at 9:00-10:00 PM on NBC: March 31, 1989—April 21, 1989
  • Wednesday at 10:00-11:00 PM on NBC: May 3—17, 1989; September 20, 1989—May 9, 1990; March 6, 1991—May 20, 1992
  • Friday at 8:00-9:00 PM on NBC: September 28, 1990—January 4, 1991
  • Tuesday at 8:00-9:00 PM on NBC: September 22, 1992—April 20, 1993
  • Wednesday at 9:00-10:00 PM on NBC: May 4, 1993

Awards[edit]

  • Golden Globe Awards
    • 1990: Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV (Stockwell)
    • 1992: Best Performance by an Actor in a TV-Series – Drama (Bakula)
  • Emmy Awards
    • 1989: Outstanding Achievement in Hairstyling for a Series (for "Double Identity")
    • 1990: Outstanding Cinematography for a Series ("Pool Hall Blues")
    • 1991: Outstanding Achievement in Makeup for a Series ("The Leap Home" (Part 1))
    • 1991: Outstanding Cinematography for a Series ("The Leap Home" (Part 2))
    • 1993: Outstanding Individual Achievement in Editing for a Series – Single Camera Production ("Lee Harvey Oswald")
  • Directors Guild of America Awards
    • 1991: Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Shows – Night (Michael Zinberg, for "Vietnam")
  • Edgar Awards

Other media[edit]

Non-fiction
Fiction

Comics[edit]

Cover of Quantum Leap #10, art by C. Winston Taylor

Innovation Publishing produced a series of comic books which ran for thirteen issues from September 1991 through August 1993. As with the television series, each issue ended with a teaser preview of the following issue and Sam's exclamation of "Oh, boy." Among the people Sam found himself leaping into in this series were:

Issue Title Person Date
1 "First There Was a Mountain, Then There Was No Mountain, Then There Was" High school teacher named Karen Connors in Memphis, Tennessee. March 25, 1968
2 "Freedom of the Press" Death row inmate named Willie Jackson who must prevent a murder on the outside. June 11, 1962
3A "He Knows If You've Been Bad or Good..." Part-time Santa Claus who goes by the name of Nick. December 20, 1963
3B "The Infinite Corridor" Student at MIT named Matt Randall who is researching sub-atomic physics April 2, 1968
4 "The 50,000 Quest" Contestant amid the quiz show scandals August 15, 1958
5 "Seeing is Believing" Newspaper reporter/columnist who responds to a girl who has seen a UFO November 14, 1957
6 "A Tale of Two Cindys" Teenage girl with an identical twin sister February 12, 1959
7A "Lives on the Fringe" Professional golfer with the mob after him 1974
7B "Sarah's Got a Gun" Bus driver who discovers child abuse May 19, 1953
8 "Getaway" Bank robber, while the leapee tours the Project with Al 1958
9 "Up Against a Stonewall" Sequel to "Good Night, Dear Heart". Stephanie Heywood is released from prison after serving twelve years for manslaughter. June 22, 1969
10 "Too Funny For Words" Stand-up comedian who befriends a fading silent movie star June 13, 1966
11 "For the Good of the Nation" Doctor studying the effects of LSD on human subjects July 1958
12 "Waiting" Gas station attendant with a lot of time on his hands April 24, 1958
13 "One Giant Leap" Alien aboard an orbiting craft June 5, 1963

Few of the comic stories referenced episodes of the television series, with the notable exception of #9, "Up Against A Stonewall": Sam leaps into Stephanie Heywood, a central character in the episode "Good Night, Dear Heart". The story in the comic book begins with her parole, about a week before the Stonewall riots.[11]

Announced/planned sequels, movie[edit]

In July 2002, the Sci Fi Channel announced it was developing a two-hour TV movie based on Quantum Leap, which it was airing in reruns at the time, that would have served as a backdoor pilot for a possible series. Series creator Donald P. Bellisario was announced as the telefilm's executive producer.[12] In 2004, Trey Callaway produced a screenplay titled "Quantum Leap: A Bold Leap Forward" for the Sci Fi Channel that would have been a spinoff with Sam's daughter Sammy Jo Fuller as the leaper.[13]

Scott Bakula said during the TV Guide panel at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con International that series creator Donald Bellisario was "working on a script" for a projected Quantum Leap feature film.[14]

Home media[edit]

In the 1990s, some episodes were released on VHS. In the United States, including "The Pilot Episode" ("Genesis"), "Camikazi Kid", "The Color of Truth", "What Price Gloria?", "Catch a Falling Star", "Jimmy", "The Leap Home", "Dreams", and "Shock Theater". In the United Kingdom, they were mostly released in pairs, selling as "The Pilot Episode" (on its own), "The Color of Truth" and "Camikazi Kid"; "The Americanization of Machiko" and "What Price Gloria?"; "Catch a Falling Star" and "Jimmy"; "The Leap Home" and "The Leap Home Part II – Vietnam"; and "Dreams" and "Shock Theater".

1998 brought the DVD release of "The Pilot Episode", containing the episode "Genesis".

Universal Studios chose not to obtain the necessary music rights for all of the music for use in the Quantum Leap: The Complete Second Season Region 1 DVD. Some were replaced with generic instrumental music. This outraged many fans and inspired a letter-writing campaign, demanding such a modification be corrected. One being the removal of Ray Charles's "Georgia on My Mind" from the season two finalé, "M.I.A.", during a scene in which the holographic Al dances invisibly with his first wife Beth. Subsequent Region 1 DVD releases continued to feature music replacement, but Universal did begin including a disclaimer on the package indicating such (this disclaimer also began to appear on other releases of various other Universal series, such as Magnum, P.I. and The A-Team). Quantum Leap: The Complete Third Season and Quantum Leap: The Complete Fourth Season also have extensive music alterations in order to keep licensing costs low. Original music, however, is retained when the show is viewed via Netflix or Hulu's streaming library.[citation needed]

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has released the entire series on DVD in Region 1, 2, and 4. Due to the expense of music fees, songs originally heard on the show have been replaced on Region 1 DVDs for seasons 2,[15] 3[16] and 4[17] (with the original music retained on seasons 1[18] and 5[19]). Music on Region 2 DVDs is intact as originally aired for seasons 2,[15] 3,[16] and 5,[19] but not for 4.[17]

All seasons have been released on DVD in the UK; Season 1 was released on November 8, 2004, Season 2 on October 31, 2005, Season 3 on December 12, 2005,Season 4 on June 26, 2006 and Season 5 on December 26, 2006.

All five seasons are available on DVD in Australia; Season 1 was released on May 2, 2005 (music intact), Season 2 on February 7, 2006 (music intact) and Season 3 on June 7, 2006.

DVD name Ep# Release dates
Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
The Complete First Season 8 June 8, 2004 November 8, 2004 May 2, 2005
The Complete Second Season 22 December 14, 2004 October 31, 2004 February 7, 2006
The Complete Third Season 22 May 10, 2005 December 12, 2005 June 7, 2006
The Complete Fourth Season 22 March 28, 2006 June 26, 2006 November 2006
The Complete Fifth Season 22 November 14, 2006 December 26, 2006 February 21, 2007
Seasons One – Five
(The Ultimate Collection)
97 N/A October 8, 2007
(only available in R2)
N/A

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ O'Connor, John J. (November 22, 1989). "Review/Television; An Actor's 'Quantum Leap' Through Times and Roles". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-08-12. 
  2. ^ Carter, Bill (October 1, 1991). "NBC Defends Move on 'Quantum Leap'". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-08-12. 
  3. ^ Cerone, Daniel (July 15, 1990). "'Quantum Leap' Is Scott Bakula's Idea Of An Actor's Dream". LA Times. Retrieved 2010-08-24. 
  4. ^ TV Guide - The Top 25 Cult Shows Ever! May 30-June 5, 2004
  5. ^ TV Guide Names the Top Cult Shows Ever - Today's News: Our Take TV Guide June 29, 2007
  6. ^ Jenkins, Shelley (April 28, 2008). Donald Bellisario Interview. Archive of American Television.
  7. ^ O'Connor, John J. (March 30, 1989). "Review/Television; Comeback for Wimps in New Series". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  8. ^ Taken from the Season 4 episode "The Wrong Stuff"
  9. ^ "Mike Post (I) – Filmography by TV series". Imdb.com. Retrieved 2009-07-05. 
  10. ^ ""Quantum Leap" (1989) – Full cast and crew". Imdb.com. Retrieved 2009-07-05. 
  11. ^ Mangels, Andy (w, a). "Up Against a Stonewall" Quantum Leap 9 (February 1993), Innovation Comics
  12. ^ "New Leap, Tremors on Sci FI". Sci Fi Wire (Sci Fi Channel). July 9, 2002. Archived from the original on February 6, 2005. 
  13. ^ Callaway in Major, Sharon (October 2004). "An Interview with Trey Callaway, July 2004". The Observer (30) via QuantumLeap-AlsPlace.com. Archived from the original on July 27, 2013. Retrieved 2011-01-09. 
  14. ^ Holbrook, Damian (July 23, 2010). "Comic-Con: Is Quantum Leaping to the Megaplex?". TV Guide. Archived from the original on July 25, 2010. Retrieved 2014-04-02. 
  15. ^ a b http://www.quantumleap-alsplace.com/mediapages/dvdseasontwo.htm
  16. ^ a b http://www.quantumleap-alsplace.com/mediapages/dvdseasonthree.htm
  17. ^ a b http://www.quantumleap-alsplace.com/mediapages/dvdseasonfour.htm
  18. ^ http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/11052/quantum-leap-the-complete-first-season/
  19. ^ a b http://www.quantumleap-alsplace.com/mediapages/dvdseasonfive.htm

External links[edit]