Quantum Leap is an American science-fiction television series that originally aired on NBC for five seasons, from March 1989 through May 1993. Created by Donald P. Bellisario, it starred Scott Bakula as Dr. Sam Beckett, a physicist who leaps through spacetime during an experiment in time travel, by temporarily taking the place of other people to correct 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.
|Created by||Donald P. Bellisario|
|Narrated by||Deborah Pratt (Intro)|
Scott Bakula (Episodes)
|Theme music composer||Mike Post|
|Composer(s)||Velton Ray Bunch|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||5|
|No. of episodes||97 (list of episodes)|
|Producer(s)||Donald P. Bellisario|
|Production location(s)||California, USA|
|Running time||45 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Belisarius Productions|
|Distributor||NBCUniversal Television Distribution|
|Picture format||SD: 4:3 (broadcast/DVD release)|
HD: 16:9 (streaming)
|Original release||March 26, 1989 –|
May 5, 1993
This section may be too long to read and navigate comfortably. (July 2018)
Quantum Leap follows the story of Dr. Sam Beckett (Bakula), a physicist who has become stuck in the past as a result of a time-travel experiment gone wrong, and his attempts to return to his present, the late 20th century, by altering events in the past for the better, with the aid of a hologram of his friend Admiral Al Calavicci (Stockwell), monitoring him from Sam's present.
In the series premiere, Sam has theorized the ability to travel in one's own lifetime and is the lead scientist 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 that the project works; unfortunately, he does this well before the project is ready to be demonstrated, and is sent into the past. When Sam gains consciousness, he finds himself suffering from partial amnesia, and is 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. He also updates Sam on future events and relates possible outcome-probabilities using a handheld communication device in contact with Ziggy. The device is often temperamental and must be struck a few times as it emits electronic beeping and whirring sounds before the information is revealed. With Al and Ziggy's help, Sam is able to successfully change history, and then leaps out, only to find himself in the life of someone else in a different period of time.
Episodes in the series subsequently follow Sam's reaction to each leap (typically ending the cold open with him uttering "Oh, boy!" on discovering his situation), and then working with Al and Ziggy to figure out his new identity and who he needs to help to "set right what once went wrong" and trigger the next leap. An episode typically ends as a cliffhanger, showing the first few moments of Sam's next leap (along with him again uttering "Oh, boy!" on discovering his situation), which is repeated in the following episode's cold open. Though initially Sam's leaping is believed by Al and the others on the Quantum Leap team to be random, the characters come to believe in later seasons that someone or something is controlling Sam's leaping, and this is a central focus of the show's finale episode, "Mirror Image".
When Sam leaps, his body is physically present in the past, although he appears to others as the person into whom he leaped. In one case, after leaping into a Vietnam veteran who has lost both legs, Sam is still able to walk normally, but appears to others as if he is floating. Sam's body and mind may become jumbled with those into whom he has leaped. In one situation, he leaps into a woman near the end of her pregnancy and feels her birth pains, while in another episode, he leaps into Lee Harvey Oswald and feels an intense pressure to assassinate John F. Kennedy, despite knowing that it is the wrong thing to do. Similarly, the persons into whom Sam has leaped are brought into the future, where they appear as Sam to the others; they are normally kept in an isolated waiting room to prevent them from learning anything about the future, and they return to their own time when Sam leaps.
In most of Sam's leaps, the changes he makes are small on the grand scale, such as saving the life of a person who might otherwise have died, or helping making someone's life better. Selected episodes, however, demonstrate more dramatic effects of his time travels. In one episode, Sam's actions ultimately lead to Al's death prior to the project, and Sam finds himself suddenly aided by a new hologram, "Edward St. John V" (played by Roddy McDowall), and must work to prevent Al's death. In another episode, when again the project's funding is threatened, Sam helps a young woman successfully pass the bar; this results in her becoming one of the members of Congress who oversees the project and aids in the restoration of its funding. In the episode involving Lee Harvey Oswald, while Sam and Al do not prevent the assassination of Kennedy, Sam's actions prevent Oswald from making a second shot that killed Jacqueline Kennedy in the fictitious original history.
Because of the time-travel aspect, many episodes allude to famous people or incidents indirectly, such as Sam suggesting to young Donald Trump that New York real estate will be valuable in the future, suggesting the lyrics of "Peggy Sue" to a teenaged Buddy Holly, showing young Michael Jackson his signature moonwalk dance for the first time, giving Dr. Henry Heimlich the idea for his namesake maneuver by saving him from choking, and setting in place actions that lead to the discovery of the Watergate scandal. Two notable episodes place Sam directly at the center of significant historical events, one being the leap into Oswald. In "Goodbye Norma Jean", Sam appears as Marilyn Monroe's bodyguard, who saves her life and convinces Marilyn to remain alive for her starring role in The Misfits. Other episodes explore the past of the main characters, such as Sam saving his brother from being killed in the Vietnam War, and saving Al's marriage to Beth.
In the final episode, "Mirror Image", Sam leaps through spacetime as himself (without replacing another person), arriving at the exact time of his birth, where he meets a mysterious barkeep (Bruce McGill, who also appeared in the first episode in a different role). The barkeep is aware of Sam's situation and assures him that Sam himself controls the very nature and destinations of his leaps ("to make the world a better place"), and that Sam is always able to return home.
Cast and charactersEdit
- Dr. Samuel "Sam" Beckett (played by Scott 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 (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 introduction narrator, Deborah Pratt, who was also a co-executive producer of the show) is the self-aware artificial intelligence "parallel hybrid computer with an ego" that runs Project Quantum Leap, and helps Sam throughout his leaps, and appearing in the fourth-season 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 whom Sam replaces with his leaps. Several other characters are referred to regularly throughout the series, but are mostly unseen.
The main premise for Quantum Leap was inspired by such movies as Heaven Can Wait and Here Comes Mr. Jordan. 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 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.
|1||Prologue (Saga Sell)||Mike Post, Velton Ray Bunch
Deborah Pratt (voiceover)
|2||Quantum Leap (Main Title)||Mike Post||1:15|
|3||Somewhere in the Night||Scott Bakula||3:32||Piano Man|
|4||Suite from the Leap Home||Velton Ray Bunch||3:37||The Leap Home, Part 1|
|5||Imagine||John Lennon||3:05||The Leap Home, Part 1|
|6||Sam's Prayer||Velton Ray Bunch||1:52||A Single Drop of Rain|
|7||Blue Moon of Kentucky||Bill Monroe||1:41||Memphis Melody|
|8||Baby, Let's Play House||Arthur Gunter||2:13||Memphis Melody|
|9||Shoot Out||Velton Ray Bunch||3:03||The Last Gunfighter|
|10||Medley from Man of La Mancha||Scott Bakula||6:18||Catch a Falling Star|
|11||Bite Me||Velton Ray Bunch||3:29||Blood Moon|
|12||Alphabet Rap||Dean Stockwell||2:05||Shock Theater|
|13||Suite from "Lee Harvey Oswald"||Velton Ray Bunch||14:55||Leaping on a String|
|14||Fate's Wide Wheel||Scott Bakula||3:05||Glitter Rock|
|15||A Conversation with Scott Bakula||Scott Bakula (interview)||12:02|
|16||Quantum Leap (Prologue and Main Title Reprise)||Mike Post, Velton Ray Bunch||2:20|
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 . It has since aired several times on satellite and cable television, rerunning late at night on television channel Cozi TV.
Universal Studios Home Entertainment 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 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 name||Episodes||DVD release date|
|Region 1||Region 2||Region 4|
|Season 1 - The Complete First Season||9||June 8, 2004||November 8, 2004||May 2, 2005|
|Season 2 - The Complete Second Season||22||December 14, 2004||October 31, 2005||February 7, 2006|
|Season 3 - The Complete Third Season||22||May 10, 2005||December 12, 2005||June 7, 2006|
|Season 4 - The Complete Fourth Season||22||March 28, 2006||June 26, 2006||November 2006|
|Season 5 - The Complete Fifth Season||22||November 14, 2006||December 26, 2006||February 21, 2007|
|Seasons 1–5 - The Complete Series
(The Complete Collection)
|97||November 4, 2014||October 8, 2007||N/A|
At the end of season five, Bellisario was told to write an episode that could serve as a season finale or series finale, as whether Quantum Leap would be renewed was unclear. 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 present day and had four daughters. The last screenshot said Sam 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 actually 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.
Despite its struggling start with poor broadcast times, the series had gained a large 18–49 demographics of viewers. 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".
|1989||Primetime Emmy Award||Outstanding Cinematography for a Series||Roy H. Wagner||Genesis, Part 1|
|Outstanding Achievement in Hairstyling for a Series||Virginia Kearns||Double Identity|
|1990||Quality TV Award||Best Actor in a Quality Drama Series||Scott Bakula|
|Golden Globe Award||Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series,
Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV
|Primetime Emmy Award||Outstanding Cinematography for a Series||Michael W. Watkins||Pool Hall Blues|
|1991||Quality TV Award||Best Actor in a Quality Drama Series||Scott Bakula|
|Best Supporting Actor in a Quality Drama Series||Dean Stockwell|
|Edgar Award||Best Television Episode||Paul Brown||Good Night, Dear Heart|
|DGA Award||Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Series' - Night||Michael Zinberg||The Leap Home, Part 2 - Vietnam|
|Primetime Emmy Award||Outstanding Achievement in Makeup for a Series||Gerald Quist
|The Leap Home, Part 1|
|Outstanding Cinematography for a Series||Michael W. Watkins||The Leap Home, Part 2 - Vietnam|
|1992||Quality TV Award||Best Actor in a Quality Drama Series||Scott Bakula|
|Golden Globe Award||Best Performance by an Actor in a TV-Series - Drama||Scott Bakula|
|1993||Quality TV Award||Best Actor in a Quality Drama Series||Scott Bakula|
|Young Artist Award||Best Young Actress Guest-Starring in a Television Series||Kimberly Cullum|
|ACE Award||Best Edited One Hour Series for Television||Jon Koslowsky||A Song for the Soul|
|Primetime Emmy Award||Outstanding Individual Achievement in Editing for a Series,
Single Camera Production
|Jon Koslowsky||Lee Harvey Oswald|
- 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, MindySong 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.
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:
|1||"First There Was a Mountain, Then There Was No Mountain, Then There Was"||High school teacher named Karen Connors in Memphis, Tennessee||March 25, 1968|
|2||"Freedom of the Press"||Death row inmate named Willie Jackson, who must prevent a murder on the outside||June 11, 1962|
|3A||"He Knows If You've Been Bad or Good ..."||Part-time Santa Claus, who goes by the name of Nick||December 20, 1963|
|3B||"The Infinite Corridor"||Student at MIT named Matt Randall, who is researching quantum physics||April 2, 1968|
|4||"The 50,000 Quest"||Contestant amid the quiz show scandals||August 15, 1958|
|5||"Seeing is Believing"||Newspaper reporter/columnist, who responds to a girl seeing a UFO||November 14, 1957|
|6||"A Tale of Two Cindys"||Teenaged girl with an identical twin sister||February 12, 1959|
|7A||"Lives on the Fringe"||Professional golfer with the Mafia after him||1974|
|7B||"Sarah's Got a Gun"||Bus driver, who discovers child abuse||May 19, 1953|
|8||"Getaway"||Bank robber, while the leapee tours the project with Al||1958|
|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 star||June 13, 1966|
|11||"For the Good of the Nation"||Doctor studying the effects of LSD on human subjects||July 1958|
|12||"Waiting"||Gas-station attendant with a lot of time on his hands||April 24, 1958|
|13||"One Giant Leap"||An extraterrestrial aboard an orbiting spaceship||June 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".
Occasional announcements of plans to revisit or restart the series have been made. In July 2002, the Sci-Fi Channel announced its development of a two-hour television film based on Quantum Leap, which it was airing in reruns at the time, that would have served as a backdoor pilot for a possible new series, with Bellisario as executive producer. During the TV Guide panel at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con International, Scott Bakula said that Bellisario was working on a script for a projected Quantum Leap feature film. In October 2017, Bellisario confirmed at the L.A. Comic Con that he has finished a script for a feature film.
In popular cultureEdit
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.
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