Did You Watch Quantum Leap?

quantum leap“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.


  1. I’m currently watching Breaking Bad because so many people have said it has the best series finale ever. If it doesn’t make me break down in near-hysterical bittersweet tears as the series finale of Quantum Leap did, I will have to disagree.

    • Very different shows. Breaking Bad is about an anti-hero. Pretty much a psychopath. It is brilliantly written and acted; I really enjoyed it, but ultimately, like The Sopranos or The Shield, the end a natural conclusion of such events.

    • Quantum Leap is on every night at midnight where I’m at right now (Milwaukee – I haven’t seen the station – COZI – other places I’ve been, but I also don’t watch a lot of TV). The finale was on last week, and I cried for probably half an hour. Last time I watched through the series, about eight years ago with Netflix DVDs, I hated the ending. Now I think it was perfect.

      I’m glad I started writing again (after college I didn’t write for over twenty years). I watch TV differently now when I do watch it, and I appreciate the good stuff more. Quantum Leap has to be one of the best. The format they used, with the teaser at the end of every show to hook you so you HAD to watch the next episode, was perfect (especially if you don’t get home from work until ten minutes after the show starts every night, lol).

      Right now, Quantum Leap and The Blacklist are the only two shows I watch. The writing in the Blacklist is amazing, but you can tell when they begin to slide back to their Alias days. 🙂 The last episode had a sequence with Tom so much like Alias – even the music – I stopped what I was doing and just stared at the screen… So my prediction for the Tom spinoff is that it will be way more like Alias than the Blacklist is. 🙂

  2. What rules did Quantum Leap break?

    • Depends on your premise. It’s really hard keeping things straight. But they did set up the premise that he could only travel in his lifetime and by the end were jumping the shark. He went back to the Civil War in one Leap.

  3. Watching something over after a lot of time has passed is really eye opening. Some times you see it completely differently. I loved the first season of Blacklist. But like a lot of shows, I couldn’t follow up. The Americans is one of the few shows I’m up to date on.

  4. Elizabeth Andrews

    May 17, 2016 at 9:24 pm

    OMG, I LOVED Quantum Leap, and will still stop if I’m channel hopping and happen to stumble onto it. I caught the very first episode while on vacation with my boyfriend at the time and I was hooked. I still hate the way they ended the series, though. lol

  5. i dont understand why they dont make a movie!!!

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