Quantum Leap was 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 physicist from the (then future) year of 1999, 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, and young children could see and hear. The series featured a mix of comedy, 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!"
The show's premise and the pattern of each episode is established in the first episode. Sam appears in the past with no memory of who he is or how he got there. Referred to frequently throughout the series as a "swiss-cheesed brain", Sam's partial amnesia prevents him from remembering most of the details of his own life; all he knows is that he's not who everyone in the past seems to think he is. Rear Admiral Al Calavicci (Dean Stockwell), a senior naval officer, Naval Aviator and Sam's best friend, appears to him as a hologram and explains that Sam is the victim of a time travel experiment that went "a little kaka." Now Sam is lost in time, and his colleagues are unable to bring him back to his own time. Series creator Donald P. Bellisario once said in an interview that he got the idea for the series from movies like Heaven Can Wait (1978), a remake of the 1941 film Here Comes Mr. Jordan. Bellisario felt the premise, if handled correctly and put in a science fiction setting, could work.
In the series premiere, Sam has theorized the ability to travel in one's own lifetime and is the lead of the government-funded Project Quantum Leap, operating from a secret laboratory in New Mexico; Al oversees the project for the government. When Al learns that funding for the project is in danger of being pulled because no demonstrable results have come from the project, Sam takes it upon himself to step into the Quantum Leap Accelerator to prove the project works and is sent into the past. When Sam gains consciousnesses, he finds himself suffering from partial amnesia, and more surprised to find that his appearance to others, including what he sees in the mirror, is not his own face. He finds that Al has come to his aid as a hologram that only Sam can see and hear, as it is tuned to his brainwaves.
Al, working with the Project's artificial intelligence Ziggy (voiced by Deborah Pratt), determines that Sam must alter an event in the current period he is in so as to re-engage the Quantum Leap process and return home. Al helps Sam overcome some facets of his "swiss-cheese memory" and provides information on history as it originally happened, and Sam is able to successfully change history. Sam leaps out, only to find himself in the life of someone else in a different period of time.
Cast and charactersEdit
- Also see: Quantum Leap Characters
- Dr. Samuel "Sam" Beckett (played by Scott Bakula) is a quantum scientist with six doctoral degrees. He grew up on his parents' farm, with an older brother and a younger sister. Sam's idol is Albert Einstein.
- Admiral Albert "Al" Calavicci, USN (played by Dean Stockwell) is a womanizing U.S. Navy rear admiral and Sam's best friend, who grew up in an orphanage and was later active in the Civil Rights Movement. At the time of Sam's leaps, Al spends his free time with his lover and the project's medical technician Tina Martinez (played by Gigi Rice), who appears in the fourth-season episode "The Leap Back".
- Ziggy (voiced by the narrator and co-executive producer Deborah Pratt) is the self-aware artificial intelligence "parallel hybrid computer with an ego" that runs the Project Quantum Leap, and helps Sam throughout his leaps; appearing in the Season 4 episode "The Leap Back".
- Irving "Gooshie" Gushman" (played by Dennis Wolfberg) is the project's often-mentioned head programmer, who is said to have bad breath. He appears in five episodes, including the finale.
- Dr. Verbena Beeks (played by Candy Ann Brown) is often mentioned as the project's psychiatrist. She appears in two episodes throughout the series.
In each episode, a different cast of guest characters appears, mostly the ones that Sam replaces with his leaps. Several other additional characters are referred to regularly throughout the series, but are mostly unseen.
Development and productionEdit
The main premise for Quantum Leap was inspired by such movies as Heaven Can Wait, and Here Comes Mr. Jordan. Series creator Donald P. Bellisario saw its concept as a way of developing an original anthology series, as anthologies were unpopular with the networks.
The theme for the series was written by Mike Post. It was later 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 and Velton Ray Bunch.
A soundtrack album was first released in 1993, titled "Music from the Television Series Quantum Leap", dedicated to John Anderson, who played Pat Knight in "The Last Gunfighter." It was released by GNP Crescendo on CD and cassette tape.
- ↑ "TV Guide Names the Top Cult Shows Ever", TV Guide, June 29, 2007.
- ↑ Connor, John J.. "Review/Television; Comeback for Wimps in New Series", The New York Times, March 30, 1989.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 Jenkins, Shelley (April 28, 2008). "Donald P. Bellisario Interview". Archive of American Television. Published in the article on April 12, 2012.
- ↑ O'Connor, John J.. "Review/Television; An Actor's 'Quantum Leap' Through Times and Roles", The New York Times, November 22, 1989.
- ↑ Carter, Bill. "NBC Defends Move on 'Quantum Leap'", The New York Times, October 1, 1991.
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