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Quantum Leap

Posted by Big Boo on January 18th, 2012

Quantum LeapQuantum Leap was a science fiction TV series that first aired in the US in 1989, so I guess it only just qualifies as a subject for this site, but I feel it deserves a space here as I have good memories of watching it.

Scott Bakula played Dr. Sam Beckett, a scientist who in the year 1999 invented the Quantum Leap accelerator, a device that allowed time travel within the lifetime of the person travelling. Faced with having his funding cut Sam tests out the machine by using it himself, and so begins his travels through time.

Trouble is, something went a little wrong (or caca as the original introduction to the programme put it) and whilst Sam does indeed travel through time, he does so by having his consciousness jump into the bodies of people from the past.

Seemingly stuck, and initially not knowing where he is due to his “swiss cheesed” memory, he soon comes to rely on his erstwhile assistant Al Calavicci (played by Dean Stockwell). Al is broadcast back through time in the form of a hologram, and tries to help Sam out in whatever predicament he finds himself in.

The pair soon come to realise that in order for Sam to leap again, he must first put something right in history that initially went wrong the first time around. Al uses Ziggy, the Quantum Leap computer, to try and discover what Sam must do, presenting possible options for Sam, each helpfully given a probability that it is the correct course of action to take.

Whilst having an obvious science fiction slant due to the presence of time travel and holograms, the show also had a far more traditional feeling about it at the same time. I suppose it was kind of Star Trek meets The Littlest Hobo in a way. The situations that Sam ended up in were usually all very human in the end, involving reuniting people, calming feuds and that kind of thing.

As viewers we always saw the person Sam had leapt into as Sam, but there was always a reveal at the beginning of each episode where Sam would look in a mirror to see who he had become. It was always a little strange when you saw that Sam had leapt into the body of a woman, as you would then usually see Scott Bakula in a dress for the rest of the episode. Sometimes this was played out for laughs at Scott Bakula’s expense, but more often than not you soon accepted the idea and didn’t even notice that you were enjoying watching a man solve problems whilst wearing a dress.

The show aired for five seasons, and has garnered itself a huge following of devoted fans over the years both from the original showings and repeats. There have also been rumours that there is currently a Quantum Leap movie in production, although it appears that Bakula and Stockwell may only feature in cameo roles, which rather questions the point of making a film in the first place.

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