“Theorizing that one could time travel within his own lifetime, Dr. Sam Beckett stepped into the Quantum Leap accelerator and vanished. He woke to find 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.”
That’s a pretty good summary and the way every episode began. It ran from 1989 through 1993. By the end, they were starting to violate their own rules, but it’s TV. And here’s the deal on rules: they’re made to be broken. After all, even just watching the show you have the premise of time travel. Once you do that, what are the rules? It’s hard to remember all that stuff, even with a series “bible”. I just realized at the last minute editing the next Time Patrol book that I had violated one of my rules, actually two. I caught them and fixed them, but when you’re writing multiple story-lines, you’re juggling a lot. Add in multiple timelines, actually an infinite number, and you also have infinite possibilities.
Notice that Sam never jumped into somebody just sitting on the couch watching TV. Or a toll-taker on the NJ Turnpike. The casting was key. Scott Bakula was perfect for Sam. Dean Stockwell as Al worked really well– was hard seeing him in Battlestar Gallactica and not thinking of Al.
The essential premise though of putting right what once went wrong is a very common theme. Think of The Equalizer. Which has been redone how many times? They’re even remaking Magnificent Seven, although the previews leave me cold despite the star-studded cast as it seems more focused on violence and stunts than the ethics, which the original had at its anchor.
I digress, as I usually do. My take is Quantum Leap was one of the better time travel shows. More emotion than brains, but emotion is more powerful than brains. After all, Kirk trumps Spock every time.