In keeping with this week’s focus on my time travel novel and time travel in general, I have pulled Quantum Leap out of my bag of obsessions. Quantum Leap is a television series that aired for its first run from 1989-1993 on NBC, and falls into the realm of my beloved science fiction fantasy–more fantasy than science–but enough legitimate science and history for a speculative “What if?”
Just so you know–if you are wondering if you have any interest at all–yes, it is cool; yes, it is funny; yes, it is dramatic; and yes, it is romantic.
Sam Beckett is a prodigy/phenom physicist with multiple degrees and an IQ over 180. Using string theory he has created Project Quantum Leap, which allows him to ‘leap’ into the past within his own lifetime. During his first leap he is ‘grabbed’ by some Force that wrenches control of his journey out of his hands and has him inhabit the bodies of strangers in order to fix something that went wrong in their lives. While he is in the other life, those around him see the person he has replaced, but we (the audience) see Sam. His tether to his own time is a hologram named Al, who is a real, solid person in the future, but can only be seen by Sam in the past. The rest of the Quantum Leap team exists off screen (except for The Leap Back, season 4, Episode 1).
Why am I obsessed?
- First and foremost, the characters are beautifully drawn, with multiple personality layers.
- Second, but no less important, it’s good storytelling. Each episode is a mystery as Sam first figures out why he is there, then when and how it’s going to happen, and finally what he can do to fix it.
- Sam is that wonderful dichotomy of Superman and Everyman. He has incredible gifts to aid him in his problem solving, but he is at his heart just a regular guy with regular guy feelings about the things that happen. He loves, he hates, he feels happy, he feels sad, and, if you hit him, he bleeds, he bruises and he punches back.
- It’s a buddy story. Al is usually the only one who can see the real Sam, so they are tightly bound by Sam’s need for a friend, and Al’s compassion for Sam’s situation.
- It’s voyerism at its finest. It is wonderfully decadent to see what is going on behind the scenes in someone else’s life, to see the things that you would never know if you just met them on the street. Sometimes it is compelling, sometimes it is tantalizing, sometimes it is disturbing, but it is always mesmerizing.
- The leaps are interesting visually and historically. The clothing, the locations, and the music are carefully researched and depicted. I know, because his lifetime is my lifetime, so I experienced most of it for myself.
I love the episodes where he sings. Scott Bakula began his career in the theatre and has a wonderful, strong singing voice. In my opinion he didn’t get nearly enough screen time showcasing his talents. My particular favorite is when he leaps into an actor playing Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha. Check it out on You Tube; it’s good stuff.
I also love the episodes when he leaps into his own life or Al’s. Those stories have a poignancy that sticks with you.
Sam is a wonderful romantic lead: handsome, smart, moral and compassionate. Al plays off him perfectly as the lech with a heart of gold.
If you haven’t seen it, check it out. I promise it will be time well spent.