Quantum Leap

Quantum Leap – The Complete Fourth Season on DVD

Quantum Leap was a television show that didn’t quite fit the mold of other television shows. Although it had science fiction elements, it wasn’t strictly a science fiction show. There were elements of drama as well as social commentary present in many of the episodes. It took events in our past and let us have a short look into what it might have been like, then whisked us off someplace else. And you can’t forget the comedy, especially when Scott Bakula had to dress up as a woman!

The premise of Quantum Leap was pretty simple. Sam Beckett is a scientist who theorized that time travel was possible within one’s lifetime and created a machine, known as the Quantum Leap Accelerator to do just this. He used himself as the guinea pig and when he stepped into the machine, he vanished.

What happened next was totally unexpected. Yes, he traveled through his own lifetime, but he ended up “leaping” into other people’s lives. Once he landed in a time and place, he had the look and voice of the person who’s life he’s taken over, although the audience only saw Sam. The person he had leaped into was back in the building where the machine had been constructed.

Al is Sam’s only connection back to the project. He appears at various times during an episode as a hologram that only Sam can see. A hand-held computer he uses gives them information on who Sam is and why he’s possibly there. Once Sam has leaped into someone’s life, he’s there until he fixes something that went wrong in that person’s life, and then he “leaps” out. Each time he’s hoping that he ends up back where he started out initially.

What was nice was that each episode pretty much stood on it’s own and had more in common with anthology series than any other. Other than Sam (portrayed by Scott Bakula) and Al (portrayed by Dean Stockwell) all of the characters and actors changed from week to week.

At the end of the third season, Sam had been receiving electro-shock treatments. The consequence of this was he began this season back where he started – in the building where he created the Quantum Leap Accelerator. Sounds like a good thing? The series would be over, wouldn’t it? Well, it’s not because somehow Al ended up changing places with Sam and is now the one leaping around. This did serve to give a bit of background and more character development for Sam as to what his life was like at the time he tested his experiment. Up until now, we’ve known a lot of Sam’s family and what his life was like growing up, but very little about him as an adult.

Throughout the season, Sam takes on a variety of roles. This is a challenge for an actor who must be a different character each week. Usually, there are some physical changes, and for the most part, Bakula manages to convey the blending of the two characters quite well. In A Song for the Soul, he portrays a teenage black girl in a vocal trio similar to the Supremes, he is seen on stage in a hot pink sequined gown, hot pink satin gloves to his elbow with hair and makeup done performing “Heatwave”. It’s one of the most hysterical things I’ve seen in a long time. If nothing else, Bakula should have received much more recognition for his acting ability during the show’s run. Bakula did win a Golden Globe for his work in 1992, and was regularly nominated for an Emmy, but never was awarded one.

One thing I noticed was the fact that Sam always seemed to leap into someone somewhere in the United States for the most part, or at least American. There was an episode back in the beginning of the third season where Sam leaped into one of his brother’s fellow squad members over in Viet Nam, but other than that it was exclusively in this country. I realize it was a matter of production and making the show conducive to American audiences, but for balance it would have been nice to see him once in a while outside the country. The language difference could have been explained the same way we see Sam but everyone else sees the person he leaped into. We may see Sam speaking English, but they hear him speaking whatever language is native to where he is. This came to my mind when he leaped into someone in Egypt during one of the last episodes of this season. It was one of the rare times when he was somewhere outside of the United States, but once again, he leaped into an American.

In addition to these, there are some very different episodes this season. At one point Sam leaps into a chimp participating in the space program. He can talk with Al, but any talking he tries to do with those running the program comes out as chimp-talk. A landmark episode this season was Running for Honor where Sam dealt with the bias against gays in the military. He and Al lock horns during this episode on opposite sides of the issue. At one point, Sam is also a Ku Klux Klan member. These pivotal social moments are what really gave the show heart as well as highlighting important issues.

This was the last season before the show effectively “jumped the shark”. Although Sam has small encounters with well-known figures such as Donald Trump, for the most part there are no high-profile encounters. He may be involved in events during a well-known event, such as when he’s a deputy sheriff during Hurricane Camille, but he never leaps into a well-known person or changes well-known events. That’s why many fans feel this is the last great season the show had.

The audio and video are good. The transfer is well-done and it’s nice to see the episodes again uncut and uninterrupted. The problem with the discs is one that has been present from the beginning of this series. Universal has pulled the majority of the music from the shows and replaced it with instrumental, unrecognizable muzak. That’s a shame because the music went a long way to setting the tone for the episode and really making me feel immersed in the era.

Quantum Leap was a great show that was family-friendly. Only the most conservative would shy away from some of the themes and at least using it to provide a platform for discussion, pro or con. People with minds that can’t handle any portrayal of life other than how they see it won’t like some of the episodes that deal with date rape, gays in the military, civil rights, and women’s liberation. For everyone else, this is a great way to explore post-World War II history with the family in an entertaining atmosphere.


EPISODE GUIDE:

DISC ONE:

The Leap Back June 15, 1945

After receiving electro-shock treatments at the end of the third season, Sam finds he has changed places with Al. Al has gone back to 1945. The person he’s leaped into shares a similar story in regard to having come home from serving his country to find his sweetheart about to marry someone else.

When Sam gets to go back to his life, fans get to see the behind-the-scenes at the Quantum Leap project and meet Gooshie, Tina, as well as Sam’s wife, Donna.

Play Ball August 6, 1961

Sam leaps into “Doc”, a minor league pitcher who is struggling with his own career as well as with several issues affecting the club. Sam is torn between helping “Doc” get back to the major leagues or helping a fellow teammate who has his own set of issues.

Hurricane August 17, 1969

Sam leaps into Archie, a deputy in a small Mississippi town lying in the path of Hurricane Camille. He must prevent the death of Archie’s girlfriend while at the same time managing to save people from dying at a Hurricane Party.

Justice May 11, 1965

In 1965 Sam had leaped into Clyde, a new inductee in the Ku Klux Klan who must try to save a black civil rights worker from being killed. Sam has a big problem with going along with how Clyde is as a means to an end.

DISC TWO:

Permanent Wave June 2, 1983

Sam leaps into Frank Bianca, the hottest hair stylist in Beverly Hills. His girlfriend’s son witnesses a murder and Sam must prevent the two of them from being killed.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt guest stars in this episode.

Raped June 20, 1980

Sam leaps into the body of a woman who was beaten up and the victim of a date-rape while she is still at the hospital following the rape.

The Wrong Stuff January 24, 1961

Sam leaps into the body of Bobo, a chimp being trained for outer space exploration. He learns that once the chimps being used in this program wash out, they are being used in head trauma experiments.

Dreams February 28, 1979

Sam leaps into the life of a homicide detective investigating a gruesome murder. In addition, he starts having disturbing dreams surrounding the case which affects him to the core of his psyche.

DISC THREE:

A Single Drop of Rain September 7, 1953

Sam leaps into the body of Billy Beaumont, a con artist who claims he can make it rain. He returns to his hometown in the midst of a drought. It will eventually ruin the town unless he can come up with a way to actually make it rain.

Unchained November 2, 1956

Sam leaps into the body of Chance Cole, who escapes from a chain gang. His fellow escapee, Jasper Boone, has been wrongly convicted of his crime and Sam must figure out a way to prove his innocence to a corrupt warden.

The Play’s the Thing September 9, 1969

Sam leaps into the body of Joe Thurlow who is having a torrid relationship with Jane Lindhurst, who has a son older than him. Joe is an aspiring actor who is giving Jane a boost of confidence for the first time in her life. The problem is that Jane’s son doesn’t approve and tries to convince her to return to Cleveland, which would be the worst thing for her.

Running for Honor June 11, 1964

Sam leaps into the body of a cadet at a Navy prep school. Tommy York seems to have everything going for him – he’s about to graduate valedictorian, he’s dating the Admiral’s daughter, he’s got track records galore. He also has an ex-roommate, Phillip, who was expelled from the school because he is gay. Sam must prevent Phillip’s death at the hands of other bigoted cadets.

DISC FOUR:

Temptation Eyes February 1, 1985

Sam leaps into TV reporter Dillon Powell who’s covering a serial killer loose in San Francisco. He meets up with a beautiful psychic who is working the case and might be the killer’s next victim.

The Last Gunfighter November 28, 1957

Sam leaps into Tyler Meanes, an aging resident of a western town who can spin quite a yarn and has painted himself as a one-time gunfighter. He spends his days doing re-enactments and living with his daughter and grandson. When his former partner comes to town and challenges him to a gunfight to decide who really did all the things Tyler claims to have done, Sam must find a way to settle the situation once and for all while preserving his image for his grandson.

A Song for the Soul April 7, 1963

Sam finds himself in the body of a young black girl who is one of the backup singers for an amateur trio during the height of the girl-group craze. The lead singer’s father, a local Pastor, is completely opposed to their singing and Sam must find a way to build a bridge between the two before his intolerance drives her to a sleazy nightclub owner.

Eric LaSalle guest stars in this episode.

Ghost Ship August 13, 1956

Sam leaps into the body of Eddie Brackett, who is the co-pilot of a plane flying through the Bermuda Triangle. They are flying a rich heir and his new bride to Bermuda for their honeymoon when she falls ill. Sam must prevent them from turning back to Virginia and continue on to Bermuda so she can be helped in time.

Due to their location, Sam has trouble making the connection with Al. When they are out of the Triangle, all is fine, but as soon as they enter it, they have problems. In addition, the pilot has issues with flying in the Triangle after a spectacular record sinking U-Boats in the area, but was the only survivor of a crew lost in the area and he has no memory of what happened.

Carla Gugino guest stars in this episode.

DISC FIVE:

Roberto! January 27, 1982

Sam leaps into the body of Roberto, a local talk-show host who seems to be a cross between Morton Downey Jr. and Geraldo Rivera with a dash of Jerry Springer thrown in. Sam must prevent the death of his asthmatic co-worker and rival when the two of them uncover trouble at a chemical plant.

Laura Schlessinger (yes, THAT Dr. Laura Schlessinger) guest stars in this episode. Watch it anyway.

It’s A Wonderful Leap May 10, 1958

Sam leaps into Max Greenman, a New York City taxi driver competing to win his own tag. Helping him out is a woman he almost killed, who claims to be a guardian angel. Sam must prevent Max from being shot on the last night he is able to drive in the contest.

Moments to Live May 4, 1985

Sam leaps into Kyle Hart, an actor portraying the hottest young surgeon on a Soap Opera. Kyle is the subject of an obsessed fan, who kidnaps him. Norma, and her husband Hank, want to have Kyle Hart father their child when they haven’t been successful conceiving on their own.

The Curse of Ptah-Hotep March 2, 1957

Sam leaps into the body of Dale Conway, an Egyptologist about to uncover the tomb of Ptah-Hotep, an Egyptian King. As Sam communicates with Al, he learns that there is no record of the tomb being found and learns that the person he has leaped into and his partner disappeared while out on a dig.

While looking for the secret burial chamber of the King, strange things start happening, and everyone begins to believe in the curse inscribed on the walls of the tomb.

DISC SIX:

Stand Up April 30, 1959

Sam leaps into a stand-up comic named Davey, who is one-half of a comic duo. When his abrupt entry on stage sends the act flailing, a waitress named Frankie who has feelings for his partner, as well as some talent of her own, saves them. Sam is there to prevent the death of his partner, Mac, who reportedly dies at the hands of a nightclub owner with designs on Frankie.

Bob Saget and Amy Yasbeck are guest stars in this episode.

A Leap for Lisa June 25, 1957

An award-winning episode where Sam leaps into Al back in 1957 to prevent the death of Al’s married lover. She is his only alibi when he is accused of the murder of another officer’s wife.

Terry Farrell and Roddy McDowell are guest stars in this episode.


BONUS MATERIALS:

” The Great 80’s TV Flashback
” Bonus Episode:

Liberation

Sam leaps into a mother and wife who is caught between her liberated daughter and traditional husband. He must somehow prevent the daughter’s death at a rally and preserve the marriage at the same time.


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