Since Quantum Leap was a late mid-season replacement show back in 1989, there were only eight episodes in the first season of this wonderful series. This boxed set is made up of only three discs. The series was an anthology where the two main characters were Sam Beckett (portrayed by Scott Bakula) and Al (portrayed by Dean Stockwell). The premise is that Beckett is a scientist trying to develop a way to travel through time. The experiment doesn’t work exactly as planned, and each week Sam was inserted into the life of another person, ostensibly to make something right . Once he makes a situation right, then he will leap again. Each time he leaps, he is hoping to leap back into his own body at the laboratory where the experiment occurred.
Al appears to Sam as a hologram, but appears to no one else. He helps Sam along with some facts of the people he’s leapt into, as well as running the situation through the computer – “Ziggy” – back at the lab to try and figure out what Sam must “fix” in that person’s life or in the time period in general in order to leap.
While Sam is occupying that person’s body, they are back in the laboratory with Al and the rest of the crew. The leaping process scrambles their brains as well. There were only a scant few times that the person was shown back in the lab during the series’ run. Most of the time the only glimpse we get at the person is near the beginning of the episode when Sam conveniently finds a mirror to see his reflection in. At the end of every show was a sort of preview for the next week, as Sam was shown leaping into a new and confusing situation.
Any familiar faces are usually only suggested or caught in glimpses, such as when it’s suggested that Nolan Ryan is pitching to Ken Fox in the pilot episode, who the boy is sitting on Dr. Young’s porch is, the “Michael” that Sam shows how to moonwalk, or who his jail-cell mate is in another episode. His involvement in actual historical event is also coincidental, such as causing the 1965 northeastern blackout in the episode Double Identity.
There are some terrific effects of Al walking through various things as he’s a hologram. There’s also a good bit of sequencing when Scott Bakula and the person portraying the person he’s leapt into are looking at each other in the mirror, perfectly in synch. The quality of the print is quite good. There are a few flaws in the print, although it is clean for the most part. More often than not, there is a deliberate effect to make the film appear to look older than it really is. In fact, in The Color of Truth, the print is so clear that the autumn leaves are reflected in the car’s windshield making it look like there was something wrong with the actor’s skin.
Each episode features Quantum Knowledge – a short introduction by Scott Bakula. The theme music and score is by Mike Post and I love it. This is definitely one of my favorite television themes.
These shows are definitely family-friendly material, generally with nothing more than the suggestion of sex, as well as nothing worse than the occasional “damn” in the vocabulary. I love watching these with my kids as they get a different perspective on our recent past.
Genesis Parts 1 & 2 * * * *
This is the pilot episode where Sam steps into the machine he’s created and vanishes. He wakes up in the body of Tom, who has a very pregnant wife. Sam doesn’t understand what has happened just yet. He looks in the mirror and sees a strange face looking back at him. When “Howdy Doody” appears on television, it finally dawns on him that he did manage to travel back in time, but ended up in someone else’s body.
This body is Air Force Captain Tom Stratton and the year is 1956. In the middle of his morning briefing, Al appears. Later on he appears again in a nearby bar. Apparently only Sam can see him. Some of his memories start to come back. It seems that the leaping process scrambled his brain somewhat and he can’t even remember his last name.
Al tells Sam that history shows Tom Stratton died trying to break mach 3 in the experimental craft. The theory is that if Sam breaks mach 3 without dying he will leap. Since Sam has no clue how to fly at all, this presents a problem.
At the end of the first half, Sam has leaps into the body of a minor-league baseball player, Ken Fox. At this point Al tells him his last name and Sam has a chance to speak to his father again before he dies.
There was a lot of ground covered in this episode since it was the pilot. Much of the entire premise of the series needed to be explained. It’s not the best episode of the series, but it does the job of setting up the situation he will be in quite well.
Star Crossed * * * *
Guest stars a very young Teri Hatcher as Sam leaps into the life of an English Lit. professor, Dr. Gerald Bryant. Apparently, the professor has a somewhat inappropriate relationship with at least one of his students.
Hatcher portrays Donna, a woman whom Sam actually knows in the future who is attending the college at this time. Although Al states that Sam’s purpose here is to keep Professor Bryand from having to marry his young student in a shotgun wedding, Sam is intent on somehow fixing what went wrong in his relationship with Donna before it starts.
The Right Hand of God * * *
Sam leaps into the life of a boxer whose contract is owned by nuns. He is also apparently on the take from a gangster. The question is whether he will take the pre-arranged dive in his next fight or not. If he doesn’t, he’ll be killed. If he does, the nuns will lose badly needed funds.
How the Tess Was Won * * * *
This time Sam is Daniel Young, a veterinarian in Texas farm country. The owner of one of the ranches tries to bait him into a contest which would hopefully end with the veterinarian betrothed to the rancher’s very tomboyish daughter, Tess. Is winning Tess’ heart the key to Sam leaping? And who is the kid sitting on the vet’s porch all the time?
Double Identity * * * *
Sam has leaped into the body of Frankie, a hunky Italian hit-man and singer who’s carrying on with a mobster’s mistress. He lands smack-dab in the middle of the mobster’s daughter’s wedding – and learns the groom just happens to be Frankie’s brother. Terri Garber of the North and South mini-series guest stars as Theresa. Scott Bakula actually did the singing in this episode.
The Color of Truth * * * * *
This is the episode I first saw and the one which hooked me on this series. Sam leaps into the body of the Morgan Freeman character from Driving Miss Daisy, or so it seems. When he sits down at the counter of a “whites only” diner, he causes quite a stir.
I didn’t know where I was, but it was obviously too far south to be a black man…
Al believes Sam is there just to stop Miss Melanie from being killed in a car/train accident the following day, but Sam believes he’s there to stir the social conscience of Miss Melanie, who happens to be the widow of a former governor of the state of Alabama.
It’s interesting to watch Sam here because he takes so much for granted as a white man that he can’t adjust to the “separate but equal” way things are at that time in the South. Most of what he does that offends, he does inadvertently, just used to the way things are in his own time.
Camikazi Kid * * * *
Now in the body of a pimply-faced Cam Wilson in 1961, Sam must stop Cam’s sister Cheryl from marrying someone who becomes an alcoholic wife-beater. Bob is a member of a group of boys who call themselves the Impalas. Jason Priestly guest stars as one Bob’s friends.
Play It Again Seymour * * *
Sam leaps into the body of Nick, a Humphrey Bogart look-alike who is a private detective in 1953. He finds himself standing over the body of his dead partner, Phil, holding a gun. Claudia Christian (of Babylon 5 fame) guest stars as the dead man’s wife, Allison, who’s also carrying on a love affair with Nick. Sam has to figure out who really killed Phil and why.
A Kiss With History: Remembering Quantum Leap
Interviews with Scott Bakula, Dean Stockwell, Producer/Creator Donald Bellesario, as they remember working on the series.
People who aren’t complete science fiction geeks will enjoy the series. It’s not heavy on the techno-babble and is in general a lot of fun. This science fiction geek loves the series, and I’m hoping that more season collections will be following in a short time.