Quantum Leap (TV Series 1989–1993)

TVSeries


Quantum Leap (TV Series 1989–1993)

Theorising that one could time travel within his own lifetime, Dr Sam Beckett stepped into the Quantum Leap Accelerator, and vanished. He awoke and found himself trapped in the past, facing mirror images that were not his own and driven by an unknown force to change history for the better. His only guide on this journey is Al, an observer from his own time, who appears in the form of a hologram that only Sam can see and hear. And so Dr Beckett finds himself leaping from life to life, striving to put right what once went wrong, and hoping each time that his next leap will be the leap home.
USA
IMDb   8.1 /10
Metacritic   61 %
TheMovieDb    8.0 /10
RottenTomatoes  94 %
FilmAffinity   6.3 /10
Creators
Creator Donald P. Bellisario
Information
Release Date1989-03-26
Runtime1h 0mins
GenreAction, Adventure, Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi
Content RatingTV-PG (TV-PG)
AwardsWon 2 Golden Globes. Another 16 wins & 43 nominations.
CompanyBelisarius Productions, Universal Television
CountryUSA
LanguageEnglish
Dr. Sam Beckett / ... 97 episodes, 1989-1993
Admiral Al Calavicci 97 episodes, 1989-1993

Quantum Leap

Quantum Leap is an American science-fiction television series, created by Donald P. Bellisario, that originally aired on NBC for five seasons, from March 25, 1989 through May 5, 1993. It stars Scott Bakula as Dr. Sam Beckett, a physicist who involuntarily leaps through spacetime during experiments in time travel, by temporarily taking the place of other people to correct what he consistently discovers were historical mistakes. Dean Stockwell co-stars as Admiral Al Calavicci, Sam's womanizing, cigar-smoking companion and best friend, who appears to him as a hologram and researches and shapes his opinions of the past.

The series features a mix of humor, drama, romance, social commentary, and science fiction. It was ranked number 19 on TV Guide's "Top Cult Shows Ever" in 2007.


Premise

In the near future, physicist Dr. Sam Beckett (Bakula) theorized that time-travel within one's own lifetime is possible, and obtains government support to build his project "Quantum Leap". Some years later, the government threatens to pull funding, as no progress has been made, and Sam decides to test the project accelerator by himself to save the project before anyone can stop him. He is thrown back in time, and on gaining consciousness, finds that while he physically exists in the past, he appears to everyone else as a person into whom he had "leapt", and further has partial amnesia related to his own identity. A hologram of his friend, Admiral Al Calavicci (Stockwell), appears, visible and audible only to Sam, and helps to explain to Sam that he must correct something that went wrong in the past, aided with the resources of the project's supercomputer Ziggy (voiced by Pratt), as once that is corrected, he should be able to leap back to the present. Despite successfully correcting the past, Sam continues to leap randomly to another place and time within the second half of the 20th century, "putting right what once went wrong and hoping each time that his next leap will be the leap home".


Cast and characters

  • Dr. Samuel "Sam" Beckett (Bakula, who also narrates the episodes in character) is a quantum physicist with six doctoral degrees. He grew up on his parents' farm in Elk Ridge, Indiana, with an older brother (Tom) and a younger sister (Katie). Sam's idol is Albert Einstein.
  • Albert "Al" Calavicci, USN (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 show introduction narrator and co-executive producer Deborah Pratt) is the self-aware artificial intelligence "parallel hybrid computer with an ego" that runs "Project Quantum Leap" and helps Sam throughout his leaps. Pratt also appears in person as the title character in the season-two episode "A Portrait for Troian". The character and episode were named after Pratt and Donald P. Bellisario's daughter Troian Bellisario.
  • Irving "Gooshie" Gushman (Dennis Wolfberg) is the project's often-mentioned head programmer, who is said to have bad breath. He appears in five episodes, including the pilot and the finale.
  • Dr. Verbena Beeks (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 who would have interacted with the person Sam replaces with his leaps. Several other characters are referred to regularly throughout the series, but are mostly unseen.


Production

Development

The main premise for Quantum Leap was inspired by such movies as Heaven Can Wait and Here Comes Mr. Jordan, as well as the 1960s TV show The Time Tunnel. It also may have evolved out of an unused Battlestar Galactica story that was proposed for the Galactica 1980 series. 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 series ran on NBC for five seasons, from March 1989 through May 1993.

Soundtrack

The theme for the series was written by Mike Post. It was later rearranged 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.

No.TrackComposer(s)LengthEpisode
1Prologue (Saga Sell)Mike Post, Velton Ray Bunch
Deborah Pratt (voiceover)
1:05
2Quantum Leap (Main Title)Mike Post1:15
3Somewhere in the NightScott Bakula3:32Piano Man
4Suite from the Leap HomeVelton Ray Bunch3:37The Leap Home, Part 1
5ImagineJohn Lennon3:05The Leap Home, Part 1
6Sam's PrayerVelton Ray Bunch1:52A Single Drop of Rain
7Blue Moon of KentuckyBill Monroe1:41Memphis Melody
8Baby, Let's Play HouseArthur Gunter2:13Memphis Melody
9Shoot OutVelton Ray Bunch3:03The Last Gunfighter
10Medley from Man of La ManchaScott Bakula6:18Catch a Falling Star
11Bite MeVelton Ray Bunch3:29Blood Moon
12Alphabet RapDean Stockwell2:05Shock Theater
13Suite from "Lee Harvey Oswald"Velton Ray Bunch14:55Leaping on a String
14Fate's Wide WheelScott Bakula3:05Glitter Rock
15A Conversation with Scott BakulaScott Bakula (interview)12:02
16Quantum Leap (Prologue and Main Title Reprise)Mike Post, Velton Ray Bunch2:20

Episodes

Broadcast history

The Quantum Leap series was initially moved from Friday nights to Wednesdays. It was later moved twice away from Wednesdays to Fridays in late 1990, and to Tuesdays in late 1992. The series finale aired in its Wednesday slot in May 1993.

The most frequent time slot for the series is indicated by italics:

  • Sunday at 9:00–11:00 pm on NBC: March 26, 1989
  • Friday at 9:00–10:00 pm on NBC: March 31, 1989 – April 21, 1989
  • Wednesday at 10:00–11:00 pm on NBC: May 3—17, 1989; September 20, 1989 – May 9, 1990; March 6, 1991 – May 20, 1992
  • Friday at 8:00–9:00 pm on NBC: September 28, 1990 – January 4, 1991
  • Tuesday at 8:00–9:00 pm on NBC: September 22, 1992 – April 20, 1993
  • Wednesday at 9:00–10:00 pm on NBC: May 4, 1993

In the United Kingdom, the show began on BBC Two on February 13, 1990, airing Tuesday evenings at 9:00 pm. The final episode was scheduled to be aired on June 14, 1994, but altered schedules after the death of British dramatist Dennis Potter earlier that month delayed the airing until June 21, 1994. Repeat episodes continued on the channel at various times until December 28, 1999.

Home media

Universal Studios has released the entire, digitally remastered, Quantum Leap series on DVD. Some controversy arose when fans discovered that many songs had been replaced from the soundtrack due to music rights issues. For the fifth season, Universal included all of the original music.

On April 13, 2016, Mill Creek Entertainment announced that it had acquired the rights to the series and re-released the first two seasons on DVD on June 7, 2016.

On February 7, 2017, Mill Creek re-released Quantum Leap - the Complete Series on DVD and also released the complete series on Blu-ray for the first time. The 18-disc set contains all 97 episodes of the series, as well as most of the original music restored for all seasons.

Season - DVD nameEpisodesDVD release date
Region 1Region 2Region 4
Season 1 - The Complete First Season9June 8, 2004November 8, 2004May 2, 2005
Season 2 - The Complete Second Season22December 14, 2004October 31, 2005February 7, 2006
Season 3 - The Complete Third Season22May 10, 2005December 12, 2005June 7, 2006
Season 4 - The Complete Fourth Season22March 28, 2006June 26, 2006November 2006
Season 5 - The Complete Fifth Season22November 14, 2006December 26, 2006February 21, 2007
Seasons 1–5 - The Complete Series
(The Complete Collection)
97November 4, 2014October 8, 2007N/A

Final episode

At the end of season five, Bellisario was told to write an episode that could serve as a season finale or series finale, as it was unclear whether Quantum Leap would be renewed. The episode contained some answers to long-standing questions about the show, but contained enough ambiguity for a season six. However, when the show was not renewed, two screenshots were tacked on to the end of the last episode; one read that Al’s first wife Beth never remarried, so they were still married in the present day and had four daughters. The last screenshot said "Sam Becket never returned home." The finale was met by viewers with mixed feelings.

A few years after the airing of the finale, a script for an alternate ending was leaked on the internet. It implied that Al, through encouragement of his wife Beth, would become a leaper to go after Sam and that they would be leaping into the future. Bellissario has said no script exists and that he does not know where this idea came from. However in 2018, fan Allison Pregler purchased screen shots taken from season five that contained some shots of Al and Beth together; this implies that part of the alternate ending was, in fact, shot and gives credibility to the alternate-ending scenario. In May 2019, a video of the lost footage was uploaded to Reddit by a contributor with the handle Leaper1953. How this person obtained the footage is not known publicly. Scott Bakula confirmed that several endings were shot and that the footage was authentic.


Reception

The series had a slow start in the ratings, and its timeslot was moved often, but it did well in the 18–49 demographic. The finale was viewed by 13 million American households. In 2004 and 2007, Quantum Leap was ranked number 15 and 19, respectively, on TV Guide's "Top Cult Shows Ever".

Awards

Along with 43 nominations, Quantum Leap received 17 awards (listed below).

YearAwardCategoryWinner(s)Episode
1989Primetime Emmy AwardOutstanding Cinematography for a SeriesRoy H. WagnerGenesis, Part 1
Outstanding Achievement in Hairstyling for a SeriesVirginia KearnsDouble Identity
1990Quality TV AwardBest Actor in a Quality Drama SeriesScott Bakula
Golden Globe AwardBest Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series,
Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV
Dean Stockwell
Primetime Emmy AwardOutstanding Cinematography for a SeriesMichael W. WatkinsPool Hall Blues
1991Quality TV AwardBest Actor in a Quality Drama SeriesScott Bakula
Best Supporting Actor in a Quality Drama SeriesDean Stockwell
Edgar AwardBest Television EpisodePaul BrownGood Night, Dear Heart
DGA AwardOutstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Series' - NightMichael ZinbergThe Leap Home, Part 2 - Vietnam
Primetime Emmy AwardOutstanding Achievement in Makeup for a SeriesGerald Quist
Michael Mills
Jeremy Swan
The Leap Home, Part 1
Outstanding Cinematography for a SeriesMichael W. WatkinsThe Leap Home, Part 2 - Vietnam
1992Quality TV AwardBest Actor in a Quality Drama SeriesScott Bakula
Golden Globe AwardBest Performance by an Actor in a TV-Series - DramaScott Bakula
1993Quality TV AwardBest Actor in a Quality Drama SeriesScott Bakula
Young Artist AwardBest Young Actress Guest-Starring in a Television SeriesKimberly Cullum
ACE AwardBest Edited One Hour Series for TelevisionJon KoslowskyA Song for the Soul
Primetime Emmy AwardOutstanding Individual Achievement in Editing for a Series,
Single Camera Production
Jon KoslowskyLee Harvey Oswald

Other media

Books

  • Barrett, Julie, The A–Z of Quantum Leap. Boxtree Ltd., London 1995. ISBN 0-7522-0628-1
  • Chunovic, Louis, Quantum Leap Book. Boxtree Ltd., London 1993. ISBN 1-85283-866-3
  • Schuster, Hal, The Making of Quantum Leap. HarperCollins, London 1996. ISBN 0-06-105438-0
  • Dale, Matt, Beyond the Mirror Image. TME Books, UK 2017. The limited edition first print hardcover was funded via Kickstarter in late 2016 and included both black & white and colored pages. Due to popular demand, the book was reprinted, though the 2nd edition did not include colored pages and came with a book jacket/dust cover.
  • Robitaille, Julie, The Beginning. Transworld Publishers|Corgi, London 1990. ISBN 0-552-13642-5. Re-published in U.K. by Boxtree Ltd., London 1994. ISBN 1-85283-392-0. (Novelization of the pilot episode)
  • Robitaille, Julie, The Ghost and the Gumshoe. Corgi, London 1990. ISBN 1-85283-397-1. Re-published in U.K. by Boxtree Ltd., London 1994. (Novelization of "Play It Again, Seymour" and "A Portrait of Troian")
  • McConnell, Ashley, Quantum Leap: The Novel. Ace Books, 1992. ISBN 0-441-69322-9. Re-published in the UK as Carny Knowledge. Boxtree Limited, London 1993. ISBN 1-85283-871-X
  • McConnell, Ashley, Too Close for Comfort. Ace Books, 1993. ISBN 0-441-69323-7.
  • McConnell, Ashley, The Wall. Ace Books, 1994. ISBN 0-441-00015-0.
  • McConnell, Ashley, Prelude. Ace Books, 1994. ISBN 0-441-00076-2.
  • Melanie Rawn: Knights of the Morningstar. Ace Books, 1994. ISBN 0-441-00092-4.
  • Melissa Crandall: Search and Rescue. Ace Books, 1994. ISBN 0-441-00122-X.
  • McConnell, Ashley, Random Measures. Ace Books, 1995. ISBN 0-441-00182-3.
  • Storm, L. Elizabeth, Pulitzer. Boulevard, 1995. ISBN 1-57297-022-7.
  • Henderson, C.J. and Laura Anne Gilman, Double or Nothing. Boulevard, 1995. ISBN 1-57297-055-3.
  • Walton, Barbara E., Odyssey. Boulevard, 1996. ISBN 1-57297-092-8.
  • Peel, John, Independence. Boulevard, 1996. ISBN 1-57297-150-9. Re-published in the U.K. as Leap into the Unknown. Boxtree Ltd., London 1996 ISBN 0-7522-0137-9.
  • Storm, L. Elizabeth, Angels Unaware. Boulevard, 1997. ISBN 1-57297-206-8.
  • Davis, Carol, Obsessions. Boulevard, 1997. ISBN 1-57297-241-6.
  • Schofield, Sandy (Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch), Loch Ness Leap. Boulevard, 1997 ISBN 1-57297-231-9.
  • Kent, Melanie, Heat Wave. Boulevard, 1997 ISBN 1-57297-312-9.
  • DeFilippis, Christopher, Foreknowledge. Boulevard, 1998 ISBN 0-425-16487-X.
  • Peterman, Mindy, Song And Dance. Boulevard, 1998 ISBN 0-425-16577-9.
  • Davis, Carol, and Esther D. Reese: Mirror's Edge. Boulevard, 2000 ISBN 0-425-17351-8.

Comics

Innovation Publishing produced a series of comic books that ran for 13 issues from September 1991 through August 1993. As with the television series, each issue ended with a teaser preview of the following issue and Sam's exclamation of "Oh, boy." Among the people into whom Sam found himself leaping in this series were:

IssueTitlePersonDate
1"First There Was a Mountain, Then There Was No Mountain, Then There Was"High school teacher named Karen Connors in Memphis, TennesseeMarch 25, 1968
2"Freedom of the Press"Death row inmate named Willie Jackson, who must prevent a murder on the outsideJune 11, 1962
3A"He Knows If You've Been Bad or Good ..."Part-time Santa Claus, who goes by the name of NickDecember 20, 1963
3B"The Infinite Corridor"Student at MIT named Matt Randall, who is researching quantum physicsApril 2, 1968
4"The 50,000 Quest"Contestant amid the quiz show scandalsAugust 15, 1958
5"Seeing is Believing"Newspaper reporter/columnist, who responds to a girl seeing a UFONovember 14, 1957
6"A Tale of Two Cindys"Teenaged girl with an identical twin sisterFebruary 12, 1959
7A"Lives on the Fringe"Professional golfer with the Mafia after him1974
7B"Sarah's Got a Gun"Bus driver, who discovers child abuseMay 19, 1953
8"Getaway"Bank robber, while the leapee tours the project with Al1958
9"Up Against a Stonewall"Sequel to "Good Night, Dear Heart": Stephanie Heywood is released from prison after serving 12 years for manslaughter.June 22, 1969
10"Too Funny For Words"Stand-up comedian, who befriends a fading silent movie starJune 13, 1966
11"For the Good of the Nation"Doctor studying the effects of LSD on human subjectsJuly 1958
12"Waiting"Gas-station attendant with a lot of time on his handsApril 24, 1958
13"One Giant Leap"An extraterrestrial aboard an orbiting spaceshipJune 5, 1963
"Two Dweebs and a Little Monster"Not published

Few of the comic stories referenced episodes of the television series, with the exception of the ninth issue, "Up Against a Stonewall".

Possible continuation

Announcements to revisit or restart the series have been made from time to time by various networks since the show's completion. In July 2002, the Sci-Fi Channel (which at the time was airing reruns of the show) announced development of a two-hour television film based on Quantum Leap that would have served as a backdoor pilot for a new series, with Bellisario as executive producer.

In July 2010 during the TV Guide panel at the San Diego Comic-Con International, Scott Bakula said that Bellisario was working on a script for a projected Quantum Leap feature film. Bellisario confirmed in October 2017 at the L.A. Comic Con that he had finished the script.

In January 2020, Jeff Bader, NBC's head of program planning and strategy, announced that the network was considering a reboot of Quantum Leap for the launch of its Peacock streaming service.


In popular culture

Adult Swim's Robot Chicken has parodied the show on at least two occasions, once showing the character of Sam Beckett leaping into a woman who appeared to be a sex worker. On another episode, a character is shown 'leaping' into other characters, and his reflection is not his own. This episode also features an opening theme similar to Quantum Leap.

Seth McFarlane's Family Guy has referenced the show on at least three different episodes. In "The Father, the Son, and the Holy Fonz", Peter Griffin is shown going door-to-door as a Jehovah's witness and says that Jesus "would travel from place to place putting things right that once went wrong, and hoping each time that his next leap would be the leap home"; then the show cuts away to an animated Jesus 'leaping' into a scene. In "The Kiss Seen Around the World", Al the hologram is shown entering a scene as he would on Quantum Leap and character Neil Goldman asks, "Al, why haven't I leaped?" In the episode "Back to the Pilot", Stewie says he learned the rules of time travel by watching the show.

On June 16, 2016, Scott Bakula made a brief reprise of his role as Sam Beckett on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Colbert made a reference to an episode where Sam Beckett has leapt into the body of a 1950s New York cab driver, whose comment about investing in New York real estate is heard by a young Donald Trump. Using a handset to talk to Ziggy, Colbert leaps back as a hologram to help Sam Beckett attempt to change the future.

The show is referenced in Avengers: Endgame, when Scott Lang and James Rhodes try to explain time travel to Bruce Banner through the many times it's brought up in pop culture.

Source Code, a 2011 science-fiction action thriller film, was directed by Duncan Jones. Jones said in reading its script that he was reminded of Quantum Leap and as a reference to the show, cast Bakula in a voice cameo role, including giving him one line of "Oh, boy" in the script.

Special episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise ("Detained") and NCIS: New Orleans ("Chasing Ghosts"), both series that feature Bakula as lead, have included Stockwell as a guest star to reunite the two actors from Quantum Leap. Further, "Chasing Ghosts" was directed by James Whitmore Jr., who had directed a number of Quantum Leap episodes.