|Created by||Donald P. Bellisario|
|Narrated by||Deborah Pratt|
|Theme music composer||Mike Post|
|Composer(s)||Velton Ray Bunch|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||5|
|No. of episodes||97 (list of episodes)|
|Producer(s)||Donald P. Bellisario
|Running time||45 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Belisarius Productions
|Distributor||NBCUniversal Television Distribution|
|Picture format||SD: 4:3 (broadcast/DVD release)
HD: 16:9 (streaming)
|Original release||March 26, 1989– May 5, 1993|
Quantum Leap is an American science fiction television series that originally aired on NBC for five seasons, from March 1989 through May 1993. Created by Donald P. Bellisario, it starred Scott Bakula as Dr. Sam Beckett, a physicist who leaps through spacetime during an experiment in time travel, by temporarily taking the place of other people in order to correct historical mistakes. Dean Stockwell co-stars as Admiral Al Calavicci, Sam's womanizing, cigar-smoking companion and best friend, who appears to him as a hologram.
Quantum Leap follows the narrative of Dr. Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula), a brilliant scientist who has become stuck in his past as a result of a time travel experiment gone wrong, and his attempts to return to his present, the late 20th century, by altering events in the past for the better, with the aid of a hologram of his friend Admiral Al Calavicci (Dean Stockwell), monitoring him from Sam's present.
In the series premiere, Sam has theorized the ability to travel in one's own lifetime and is the lead of the government-funded Project Quantum Leap, operating from a secret laboratory in New Mexico; Al oversees the project for the government. When Al learns that funding for the project is in danger of being pulled because no demonstrable results have come from the project, Sam takes it upon himself to step into the Quantum Leap Accelerator to prove the project works and is sent into the past. When Sam gains consciousnesses, he finds himself suffering from partial amnesia, and more surprised to find that his appearance to others, including what he sees in the mirror, is not his own face. He finds that Al has come to his aid as a hologram that only Sam can see and hear, as it is tuned to his brainwaves. Al, working with the Project's artificial intelligence Ziggy (voiced by Deborah Pratt), determines that Sam must alter an event in the current period he is in so as to re-engage the Quantum Leap process and return home. Al helps Sam overcome some facets of his "Swiss-cheese memory" and provides information on history as it originally happened. He also updates Sam on future events and relates possible outcome probabilities using a handheld communication device in contact with Ziggy. The device is often temperamental and must be struck a few times as it emits electronic beeping and whirring sounds before the information is revealed. With Al and Ziggy's help, Sam is able to successfully change history and then leaps out, only to find himself in the life of someone else in a different period of time.
Episodes in the series subsequently follow Sam's reaction to each leap (typically ending the cold open with him uttering "Oh, boy!" on discovering his situation), and then working with Al and Ziggy to figure out his new identity and whom he needs to help in order to "set right what once went wrong" and trigger the next leap. An episode typically ends as a cliffhanger showing the first few moments of Sam's next leap (along with him again uttering "Oh, boy!" on discovering his situation), which is repeated in the following episode's cold open. Though initially Sam's leaping is believed by Al and the others on the Quantum Leap team to be random, the characters come to believe in later seasons that someone or something is controlling Sam's leaping, and this is a central focus of the show's finale episode, "Mirror Image".
When Sam leaps, his body is physically present in the past, although he appears to others as the person he leaped into. In one case, after leaping into a Vietnam veteran that had lost both legs, Sam could still walk normally but appeared to others as if he was floating. Sam's body and mind may become jumbled with those he has leaped into. In one situation, he leaped into a women near the end of her pregnancy and felt her birth pains, while in another episode he leaped into the body of Lee Harvey Oswald and felt intense pressure to assassinate John F. Kennedy, despite knowing it was the wrong thing to do. Similarly, the person that Sam has leaped into is brought into the future, where they appear as Sam to the others; they are normally kept in an isolated waiting room to prevent them from learning anything about the future, and they return to their own time when Sam leaps.
In most of Sam's leaps, the changes he makes are small on the grand scale, such as saving the life of a person who might otherwise have died, or helping making someone's life better. Selected episodes have shown more dramatic effects of his time travels. In one episode, Sam's actions ultimately lead to Al's death prior to the Project, and Sam finds himself suddenly aided by a new hologram, "Edward St. John V" (played by Roddy McDowall), and must work to prevent Al's death. In another episode, when again the Project's funding is threatened, Sam helps a young woman successfully pass the bar; this results in her becoming one of the members of Congress who oversee the Project and in the restoration of its funding. In the episode involving Lee Harvey Oswald, while Sam and Al do not prevent the assassination of Kennedy, Sam's actions prevent Oswald from making a second shot that killed Jacqueline Kennedy in the original fictional history.
Because of the time travel aspect, many episodes allude to famous people or incidents indirectly, such as Sam suggesting to young Donald Trump that New York real estate would be valuable in the future, suggesting the lyrics of "Peggy Sue" to a teenage Buddy Holly, showing young Michael Jackson his signature moonwalk dance for the first time, giving Dr. Henry Heimlich the idea for his namesake maneuver by saving him from choking, and setting in place actions that lead to the discovery of the Watergate scandal. Two notable episodes place Sam directly at the center of significant historical events, one being the leap into Oswald. In "Goodbye Norma Jean", Sam appears as Marilyn Monroe's bodyguard, who saves her life and convinces Marilyn to remain alive for her starring role in The Misfits. Other episodes explore the past of the main characters, like Sam saving his brother from being killed in the Vietnam War, and saving Al's marriage to Beth.
In the final episode, "Mirror Image", Sam leaps through spacetime as himself (without replacing another person), arriving at the exact time of his birth, where he meets a mysterious barkeep (Bruce McGill, who also appeared in the first episode in a different role). The barkeep is aware of Sam's situation and assures him that Sam himself controls the very nature and destinations of his leaps ("to make the world a better place"), and that Sam is always able to return home at any time he truly wants to. In the final episode's epilogue, Sam is shown to leap back to visit Al's wife Beth as himself again, assuring her that her husband (who was a prisoner of war at the time) will return home to her; this results in Al and Beth remaining happily married in the future, while Sam continues leaping, never returning home.
Cast and characters
- Dr. Samuel "Sam" Beckett (played by Scott Bakula) is a quantum scientist with six doctoral degrees. He grew up on his parents' farm in Elk Ridge, Indiana, with an older brother (Tom) and a younger sister (Katie). Sam's idol is Albert Einstein.
- Admiral Al Calavicci, USN (played by Dean Stockwell) is a womanizing U.S. Navy rear admiral and Sam's best friend, who grew up in an orphanage and was later active in the Civil Rights Movement. At the time of Sam's leaps, Al spends his free time with his lover and the project's medical technician Tina Martinez (played by Gigi Rice), who appears in the fourth-season episode "The Leap Back".
- Ziggy (voiced by the narrator and co-executive producer Deborah Pratt) is the self-aware artificial intelligence "parallel hybrid computer with an ego" that runs the Project Quantum Leap, and helps Sam throughout his leaps; appearing in the fourth-season episode "The Leap Back".
- Irving "Gooshie" Gushman (played by Dennis Wolfberg) is the project's often-mentioned head programmer, who is said to have bad breath. He appears in five episodes, including the finale.
- Dr. Verbena Beeks (played by Candy Ann Brown) is often mentioned as the project's psychiatrist. She appears in two episodes throughout the series.
In each episode, a different cast of guest characters appears, mostly the ones that Sam replaces with his leaps. Several other additional characters are referred to regularly throughout the series, but are mostly unseen.
Development and production
The main premise for Quantum Leap was inspired by such movies as Heaven Can Wait and Here Comes Mr. Jordan. Series creator Donald P. Bellisario saw its concept as a way of developing an original anthology series, as anthologies were unpopular with the networks.
The theme for the series was written by Mike Post. It was later 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 and Velton Ray Bunch.
A soundtrack album was first released in 1993, titled "Music from the Television Series Quantum Leap", dedicated to John Anderson, who played Pat Knight in "The Last Gunfighter." It was released by GNP Crescendo on CD and cassette tape.
|1||Prologue (Saga Sell)||Mike Post, Velton Ray Bunch
Deborah Pratt (voice over)
|2||Quantum Leap (Main Title)||Mike Post||1:15|
|3||Somewhere in the Night||Scott Bakula||3:32||Piano Man|
|4||Suite from the Leap Home||Velton Ray Bunch||3:37||The Leap Home, part 1|
|5||Imagine||Scott Bakula||3:05||The Leap Home, Part 1|
|6||Sam's Prayer||Velton Ray Bunch||1:52||A Single Drop of Rain|
|7||Blue Moon of Kentucky||Scott Bakula||1:41||Memphis Melody|
|8||Baby, Let's Play House||Scott Bakula||2:13||Memphis Melody|
|9||Shoot Out||Velton Ray Bunch||3:03||The Last Gunfighter|
|10||Medley from Man of La Mancha||Scott Bakula||6:18||Catch a Falling Star|
|11||Bite Me||Velton Ray Bunch||3:29||Blood Moon|
|12||Alphabet Rap||Dean Stockwell||2:05||Shock Theater|
|13||Suite from "Lee Harvey Oswald"||Velton Ray Bunch||14:55||Leaping on a String|
|14||Fate's Wide Wheel||Scott Bakula||3:05||Glitter Rock|
|15||A Conversation with Scott Bakula||Scott Bakula (interview)||12:02|
|16||Quantum Leap (Prologue and Main Title Reprise)||Mike Post, Velton Ray Bunch||2:20|
The Quantum Leap series was initially moved from Friday nights to Wednesdays. It was later moved twice away from Wednesdays to Fridays in late 1990, and to Tuesdays in late 1992. The series finale aired in its Wednesday slot in May 1993.
The most frequent time-slot for the series is indicated by italics:
- 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
On 16 June 2016, Scott Bakula made a brief reprise of his role as Sam Beckett on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Stephen Colbert makes reference to an episode where Sam Beckett has leapt into the body of a 1950s New York cab driver, whose comment about investing in New York real estate is heard by a young Donald Trump. Using a handset to talk to Ziggy, Stephen Colbert leaps back as a hologram to help Sam Beckett attempt to change the future.
In the 1990s, some episodes were released on VHS. In the United States, these included "Genesis" (two-part pilot episode), "Camikazi Kid", "The Color of Truth", "What Price Gloria?", "Catch a Falling Star", "Jimmy", "The Leap Home" (two-part episode), "Dreams", and "Shock Theater." In the United Kingdom, the episodes were mostly released in pairs, selling as "Genesis" (two-part 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" (two-part episode); "Dreams" and "Shock Theater."
Universal Studios chose not to obtain the necessary music licensing for all of the music for use in the "Quantum Leap: The Complete Second Season" Region 1 DVD; subsequent releases featured music replacements, with Universal's inclusion of a disclaimer on the package indicating as such (this disclaimer also began to appear on other releases of various other Universal series). As of at least 2015, the series streams on Netflix and on Amazon.com.
|Season - DVD name||Episodes||DVD release date|
|Region 1||Region 2||Region 4|
|Season 1 - The Complete First Season||9||June 8, 2004||November 8, 2004||May 2, 2005|
|Season 2 - The Complete Second Season||22||December 14, 2004||October 31, 2005||February 7, 2006|
|Season 3 - The Complete Third Season||22||May 10, 2005||December 12, 2005||June 7, 2006|
|Season 4 - The Complete Fourth Season||22||March 28, 2006||June 26, 2006||November 2006|
|Season 5 - The Complete Fifth Season||22||November 14, 2006||December 26, 2006||February 21, 2007|
|Seasons 1–5 - The Complete Series
(The Complete Collection)
|97||November 4, 2014||October 8, 2007||N/A|
Despite its struggling start with poor broadcast timings, the series had gained a large 18–49 demographics of viewers. In 2004 and 2007, Quantum Leap was ranked #15 and #19 on TV Guide's "Top Cult Shows Ever."
|1989||Primetime Emmy Award||Outstanding Cinematography for a Series||Roy H. Wagner||Genesis, Part 1|
|Outstanding Achievement in Hairstyling for a Series||Virginia Kearns||Double Identity|
|1990||Quality TV Award||Best Actor in a Quality Drama Series||Scott Bakula|
|Golden Globe Award||Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series,
Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV
|Primetime Emmy Award||Outstanding Cinematography for a Series||Michael W. Watkins||Pool Hall Blues|
|1991||Quality TV Award||Best Actor in a Quality Drama Series||Scott Bakula|
|Best Supporting Actor in a Quality Drama Series||Dean Stockwell|
|Edgar Award||Best Television Episode||Paul Brown||Good Night, Dear Heart|
|DGA Award||Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Series' - Night||Michael Zinberg||The Leap Home, Part 2 - Vietnam|
|Primetime Emmy Award||Outstanding Achievement in Makeup for a Series||Gerald Quist
|The Leap Home, Part 1|
|Outstanding Cinematography for a Series||Michael W. Watkins||The Leap Home, Part 2 - Vietnam|
|1992||Quality TV Award||Best Actor in a Quality Drama Series||Scott Bakula|
|Golden Globe Award||Best Performance by an Actor in a TV-Series - Drama||Scott Bakula|
|1993||Quality TV Award||Best Actor in a Quality Drama Series||Scott Bakula|
|Young Artist Award||Best Young Actress Guest-Starring in a Television Series||Kimberly Cullum|
|ACE Award||Best Edited One Hour Series for Television||Jon Koslowsky||A Song for the Soul|
|Primetime Emmy Award||Outstanding Individual Achievement in Editing for a Series,
Single Camera Production
|Jon Koslowsky||Lee Harvey Oswald|
- Barrett, Julie, The A–Z of Quantum Leap. Boxtree Ltd., London 1995. ISBN 0-7522-0628-1
- Chunovic, Louis, Quantum Leap Book. Boxtree Ltd., London 1993. ISBN 1-85283-866-3
- Schuster, Hal, The Making of Quantum Leap. HarperCollins, London 1996. ISBN 0-06-105438-0
- Robitaille, Julie, The Ghost and the Gumshoe. Corgi, London 1990. ISBN 1-85283-397-1. Re-published in U.K. by Boxtree Ltd., London 1994. (Novelization of "Play It Again, Seymour" and "A Portrait of Troian")
- McConnell, Ashley, Quantum Leap: The Novel. Ace Books, 1992. ISBN 0-441-69322-9. Re-published in the UK as Carny Knowledge. Boxtree Limited, London 1993. ISBN 1-85283-871-X
- McConnell, Ashley, Too Close for Comfort. Ace Books, 1993. ISBN 0-441-69323-7.
- Robitaille, Julie, The Beginning. Boxtree Ltd., London 1994. ISBN 1-85283-392-0. (Novelization of the pilot episode)
- McConnell, Ashley, The Wall. Ace Books, 1994. ISBN 0-441-00015-0.
- McConnell, Ashley, Prelude. Ace Books, 1994. ISBN 0-441-00076-2.
- Melanie Rawn: Knights of the Morningstar. Ace Books, 1994. ISBN 0-441-00092-4.
- Melissa Crandall: Search and Rescue. Ace Books, 1994. ISBN 0-441-00122-X.
- McConnell, Ashley, Random Measures. Ace Books, 1995. ISBN 0-441-00182-3.
- Storm, L. Elizabeth, Pulitzer. Ace Books, 1995. ISBN 1-57297-022-7.
- Henderson, C.J. and Laura Anne Gilman, Double or Nothing. Ace Books, 1995. ISBN 1-57297-055-3.
- Walton, Barbara E., Odyssey. Boulevard, 1996. ISBN 1-57297-092-8.
- Peel, John, Independence. Boulevard, 1996. ISBN 1-57297-150-9. Re-published in the U.K. as Leap into the Unknown. Boxtree Ltd., London 1996 ISBN 0-7522-0137-9.
- Storm, L. Elizabeth, Angels Unaware. Boulevard, 1997. ISBN 1-57297-206-8.
- Davis, Carol, Obsessions. Boulevard, 1997. ISBN 1-57297-241-6.
- Schofield, Sandy (Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch), Loch Ness Leap. Boulevard, 1997 ISBN 1-57297-231-9.
- Kent, Melanie, Heat Wave. Boulevard, 1997 ISBN 1-57297-312-9.
- Defillipis, Christo, Foreknowledge. Boulevard, 1998 ISBN 0-425-16487-X .
- Peterman, MindySong And Dance. Boulevard, 1998 ISBN 0-425-16577-9.
- Davis, Carol, and Esther D. Reese: Mirror's Edge. Boulevard, 2000 ISBN 0-425-17351-8.
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:
|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 quantum 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 seeing 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 mafia 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"||An extraterrestrial aboard an orbiting spaceship.||June 5, 1963|
Few of the comic stories referenced episodes of the television series, with the exception of the ninth issue, "Up Against a Stonewall."
There have been occasional announcements of plans to revisit or restart the series. In July 2002, the Sci-Fi Channel announced its development of a two-hour television film based on Quantum Leap, which it was airing in reruns at the time, that would have served as a backdoor pilot for a possible new series, with Bellisario as executive producer. During the TV Guide panel at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con International, Scott Bakula said that Bellisario was working on a script for a projected Quantum Leap feature film.
- "TV Guide Names the Top Cult Shows Ever". TV Guide. June 29, 2007.
- Cerone, Daniel (July 15, 1990). "'Quantum Leap' is Scott Bakula's Idea of an Actor's Dream". Los Angeles Times.
- Jenkins, Shelley (April 28, 2008). "Donald P. Bellisario Interview". Archive of American Television. Published in the article on April 12, 2012.
- Connor, John J. (March 30, 1989). "Review/Television; Comeback for Wimps in New Series". The New York Times.
- Chunovic, Louis, The Complete Quantum Leap Book, Citadel Press (1995)
- O'Connor, John J. (November 22, 1989). "Review/Television; An Actor's 'Quantum Leap' Through Times and Roles". The New York Times.
- Carter, Bill (October 1, 1991). "NBC Defends Move on 'Quantum Leap'". The New York Times.
- "Quantum Leap - Soundtrack". Amazon.com. November 19, 1993.
- The Late Show with Stephen Colbert's official YouTube site. Uploaded 16 June 2016. Accessed 24 June 2016
- "Quantum Leap: The Complete Series (Region 1)". Amazon.com. November 4, 2014.
- "Quantum Leap - The Complete Collection (Region 2)". Amazon.com. October 8, 2007.
- Mill Creek's Details, Artwork for 'Seasons 1 and 2' Re-Release
- "Quantum Leap - Awards". The New York Times.
- "Quantum Leap, Awards". IMDb. Based on the original citation. NBC.
- Zeman, Phil (January 19, 1995). "Quantum Leap Comic Guide".
- "New Leap, Tremors On Sci-Fi". Syfy. July 9, 2002. Archived from the original on July 9, 2006.
- Holbrook, Damian (July 23, 2010). "Comic-Con: Is Quantum Leaping to the Megaplex?". TV Guide.