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. 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.
- 2 Music
- 3 Episodes
- 4 Broadcast history
- 5 Awards
- 6 Other media
- 7 Home media
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
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 frontrunner, 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.
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.Sam is capable of using his own abilities, even if this is something his host normally cannot do.
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. Sam, in the past, 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.
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 and described in the pilot episode by Sam as a "little guy with bad breath", appears in five episodes including both the pilot and 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.
The theme for the series was written by Mike Post. 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).
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."
- Prologue (Saga Sell) – Music by Mike Post/Velton Ray Bunch, narrated by Deborah Pratt (1:05)
- Quantum Leap Main Title - Mike Post (1:15)
- Somewhere in the Night (from "Piano Man") – Scott Bakula (3:32)
- Suite from "The Leap Home, Part 1" - Velton Ray Bunch (3:37)
- Imagine (from "The Leap Home, Part 1") – Scott Bakula (3:05)
- Sam's Prayer (from "A Single Drop Of Rain") - Velton Ray Bunch (1:52)
- Blue Moon of Kentucky (from "Memphis Melody") – Scott Bakula (1:41)
- Baby, Let's Play House (from "Memphis Melody") – Scott Bakula (2:13)
- Shoot Out (from "The Last Gunfighter") - Velton Ray Bunch (3:03)
- Medley from Man of La Mancha (from "Catch A Falling Star") – Scott Bakula (6:18)
- Bite Me (from "Blood Moon") - Velton Ray Bunch (3:29)
- Alphabet Rap (from "Shock Theater") – Dean Stockwell (2:05)
- Suite from "Lee Harvey Oswald" - Velton Ray Bunch (14:55)
- Fate's Wide Wheel (from "Glitter Rock") – Scott Bakula (3:05)
- A Conversation With Scott Bakula (12:02)
- Quantum Leap Prologue and Main Title - Mike Post (2:19)
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
- 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
- 1991: Best TV Series Episode (Paul Brown, for "Good Night, Dear Heart")
- 1991: Fred Lord laser effects