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Quantum Leap

Entry updated 19 November 2023. Tagged: TV.


US tv series (1989-1993). Universal/MCA for NBC. Created and produced by Donald P Bellisario. Supervising producer Deborah Pratt. Writers include Bellisario, Pratt, Beverly Bridges, Paul Brown, Chris Ruppenthal, Scott Shepherd, Tommy Thompson. Directors include David Hemmings, Aaron Lipstadt, James R Whitmore, Gilbert Shelton, Christopher Welch, Joe Napolitano, Michael Watkins, Michael Zinberg. Five seasons to May 1993, 95 one-hour episodes in all. Colour.

Quantum Leap is an unusual Time-Travel series, with Scott Bakula as Sam Beckett (!), a Scientist lost in time, helped only by the projected hologram of Albert (Dean Stockwell), an eccentric colleague trapped in the future. Unlike the heroes of The Time Tunnel (1966-1967), who were physically dumped into historical situations, Beckett travels mentally, his consciousness inhabiting the bodies of other people (see Identity Transfer) at any time between the 1950s and the 1980s; the time visited has to be after his own birth. As in Here Comes Mr Jordan (1941), the audience sees the hero as himself while those around him see the person he is possessing. Although the premise is gimmicky, the series reached a surprisingly high standard. Highspots from 1989 have Beckett suddenly in the bodies of a test pilot about to step into an experimental plane Beckett can't possibly fly, a mobster required to sing in Italian at a wedding, an old Black man in the South in the 1950s during a civil-rights demonstration, and a pretty woman being pursued by a lecherous suitor. Only notionally sf, this is a shade grittier, funnier and cleverer than it has any right to be, and benefits strongly from the two relaxed, witty central performances. [KN]


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