Hoping that his next leap would be the leap home… Quantum Leap. Awesome. That is all.
If you never caught Quantum Leap then you clearly don’t watch enough TV. Here was a show that was forever repeated. I’m not sure if I ever saw its first run, or even if I ever even seen a season in sequence. I fondly remember this show when growing up, then years later I caught it showing on SyFy and more recently it’s been showing on ITV3 and Watch in the UK.
For some reason I always seem to catch the same episodes but I always enjoy them, so decided that buying the full box set would be beneficial to my viewing pleasure.
Quantum Leap is a TV show that was shown from 1989 – 1993, spanning 5 seasons. The show was about a scientist, Dr Sam Beckett (played by Scott Bakula), who comes up with the theory that a person can time travel within their own lifetime. But before the experiment can be fully tested his funding is pulled and he enters himself into his own experiment and leaps back in time, waking up in someone else’s body.
This leaping caused Sam to have amnesia or ‘the Swiss cheese effect’ as they call it; he barely remembers anything about the project or himself. The good thing is he’s not alone in this – his friend and partner in the project Admiral Al Calavicci (played by Dean Stockwell) – appears as a hologram that only Sam can see. Together with a supercomputer that Sam built named Ziggy; they have to figure out what Sam is doing there and how they can get him home. They surmise that Sam has been sent by a higher power to right the wrongs in people’s lives, the things that should have went right the first time round.
Reading what I’ve just written sounds cheesy, it does this show no justice. It may have religious connotations with him being a possible agent of God sent back to correct mistakes, but essentially this is a top notch Sci-fi show coming from the bright mind of Donald P. Bellisario – who created Airwolf, NCIS, JAG and Magnum P.I.
Season 1 is only 8 episodes long – with an extended pilot episode – and to be honest it starts a little sketchy. In the pilot episode you care little about Sam and Al and what happens to them, the man he first leaps into is in mortal danger but you don’t really feel it and the effects are a bit dull.
It does take a few episodes to get up and running.
At first it feels pointless that a brilliant scientist has gone back in time but can use none of his superior knowledge because of the ‘Swiss cheese effect’, very soon though Sam starts to regain parts of his memory and these help him solve what would seem to be simple problems.
The acting is great and right from the start you can tell that Scott Bakula is really something special – in each episode he leaps into someone else, usually in the middle of an awkward situation; he never knows who this person is and has to play it Bogart until he figures it out.
Dean Stockwell went into the show straight off the back of an Oscar nomination for a supporting role in ‘Married to the Mob’. Apparently his good friend Dennis Hopper told him not to go onto the TV series as he would pick up more film work because of the nomination, Stockwell decided to do it anyway and ended up being nominated for 4 Emmys and winning a Golden Globe for his role as Al.
Al brings believability to the world – he’s old enough to have lived in the times when Sam would have just been a boy and you truly trust that he knows what he’s talking about after spending his teenage years in the 50’s.
Being a Sci-fi show you would expect a lot of special effects, but this show was more a drama than an action piece – the only real effect is when Sam leaps he is shrouded in a bright blue light and when Al appears it’s through an invisible door that emerges from nowhere (this is explained as Al entering an imaging chamber where he can see what Sam sees and Sam can see him)
The other effect that is used to a great degree is Al being a hologram. This means he walks through things constantly, it’s a neat effect and they play a little jingle pretty much every time he does it. It’s not really cheesy but probably didn’t need to be used quite as much.
As I said this show was less about the effects and more about the sets. Not growing up in America I can’t really tell you if the sets are at all great, but to me they look authentic – when Sam is in the 50’s it looks like the 50’s, when he’s in the 70’s it looks like the 70’s etc etc.
The one thing that my wife pointed out is the fact that in every episode they have Sam look into a mirror to see who he is. This is an effect they have never quite gotten right, it’s not easy to have 2 different people mirror each other, it takes mimes several years to perfect this so to me it’s just a small quibble.
Each episode is different, the problems Sam faces and the things he does. The standouts are definitely the last 4 episodes: ‘Double Identity’, ‘The Colour of Truth’, ‘Camikaze kid’ and ‘Play it Again, Seymour’.
Personally, my favourite episode is ‘Camikaze kid’, Sam leaps into a teenager in 1961, his mission is simple – stop his sister from marrying her boyfriend. As the episode goes on its revealed that her boyfriend is beating her up and they would go into a marriage of violence resulting in her dying at the hands of her husband. This episode has a great soundtrack, great story and a fantastic car race at the end.
All in all season one leaves you wanting more, it ends on a great cliff-hanger that’s less ‘oh my God’ and more ‘I’d like to see more’. Its definitely a show I suggest you pick up. This season having only 8 episodes is fairly cheap and is a great starting point.
Season One is a great starting point but lacks the punch of later seasons and the friendship between Sam and Al isn’t really shown to its full potential.