Quantum Leap (1989): Quantum Leap: Quantum Leap - The Original Series
September 19, 2022 5:31 PM - All Seasons - Subscribe

During a government experiment into time travel, a scientist finds himself trapped in the past, "leaping" into the bodies of different people on a regular basis and sorting out their problems whilst trying to get back home to his own time.

As the reboot premiere is nigh, I thought there needed to be a thread for the 1989-1993 Scott Bakula + Dean Stockwell original first.
posted by oh yeah! (13 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I loved this show as a kid, in a real geeky passionate way but without really being able to express it in any way. I bought the first season on DVD many years ago and the show is still fun but I just don't feel compelled to rewatch it. It's very of its time in the way it tackles important subject matter. Not that I think it's so much problematic as just a bit naive in some ways. But definitely one of my early science fiction loves.

And I love the final episode. One of my favourite final episodes of anything. I understand some people don't like it.
posted by crossoverman at 5:46 PM on September 19, 2022 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I'm in the hated-the-finale camp. The lack of closure for the Sam+Al relationship that had been at the heart of the show for all those seasons just killed me. Not to mention that they had introduced in S4 E1 that Sam had a love interest his swiss-cheese-brain had forgotten about when he started leaping, which was kind of a dumb thing to introduce if you're just going to expect everyone to forget about her again when it's inconvenient for the plot (I seem to recall that Bellisario got a divorce or something, and was uninterested in that love story plot afterwards).

After all those seasons of Sam and Al being holograms to each other, I wanted to see them hug each other. I was lucky enough to see Bakula & Stockwell together in person at DragonCon some years back, and it was honestly healing to my soul to see them onstage together sharing the same physical space. Like, I got all weepy at the sight.
posted by oh yeah! at 6:00 PM on September 19, 2022 [5 favorites]

I'm in camp "loved the finale," despite the obvious "Poochie died on the way back to his home planet" ending. Sam gets one chance to choose for himself which right to put wrong, to finally have some agency in how he moves and does good in the world. And he puts aside his goal, the goal that he has carried for the whole series, to help his friend. It's a beautiful, heartbreaking, selfless moment.
posted by Paragon at 6:20 PM on September 19, 2022 [3 favorites]

Oh boy.

Loved so much about this series. Bakula & Stockwell were a perfect pairing – this called for being able to turn on a dime from lighthearted comedy to serious and back again, often within a single ep. Both of them were up for the task.

The whole evil leaper plot was a little meh, but for its time a creative idea... any modern show would spend, like, a whole season with the evil leaper. So a few episodes was enough to keep it interesting but not overstay its welcome (Sliders.)

I really enjoyed the finale as well! I love that they just straight to weird and bent their own rules. A more... solidified... ending would have been welcomed, of course.
posted by hijinx at 8:06 PM on September 19, 2022 [1 favorite]

Apparently the Evil Leaper wasn't Bellisario's idea, and he didn't like the character.

I like crossoverman's description "it's so much problematic as just a bit naive in some ways." I think that's a perfect way to summarize the show. It's also one of the really big reasons why I'm so dubious of the remake. In this day and age, I don't think we need Sam's replacement jumping into a woman's body to solve some sort of pressing women's rights issue like abortion. I know the new guy isn't white, so that might cut down on some of the ick factor of a white guy experiencing discrimination based on colour, but I still think the show doesn't really work in this day and age.

I still have a really bid soft spot for anytime Sam winds up on stage, but especially the Man of La Mancha episode.
posted by sardonyx at 8:41 PM on September 19, 2022 [1 favorite]

There are stretches of reruns on MeTV or Decades or one of those repertory channels and I can drop into an hours long watch very easily. I think it might run 24/7 on weekends sometimes. "Naive" is a good way to put it, but even so it's aged pretty well and the cast is always pretty stupendous.
posted by rhizome at 11:34 PM on September 19, 2022

Not that I think it's so much problematic as just a bit naive in some ways.

In many ways, Sam was a 'Mary Sue' of a character -- super-genius with umpteen degrees, speaking multiple languages, singer, dancer, athletic, able to do whatever the plot required. And so though the episode goals were always 'put right what once went wrong', they were also sometimes a self-insert writer fantasy of "what if I could be the hero of [situation XYZ]?" Which worked out fine a lot of times, but definitely got cringe-tastic when it went all white savior-y. Like, I remember there was that episode where Sam leaped into a black man in a relationship with the white daughter of a KKK head, and Sam's speechifying as he's about to be lynched makes the KKK dude realize his love for his daughter is greater than his racism, and even back on original broadcast I was rolling my eyes at what a fantasy that idea was.

And, just to get back on my 'hated the finale' soapbox -- even if it works as a heroic self-sacrificing moment for Sam, it had no closure for Al. He never gets to say goodbye to Sam, the last interaction they have is Al leaving the imaging chamber with his eyes on the hand-set, going off to try to figure out what's up with the weird leap. From his perspective, once Sam is gone all he knows is that he's failed to save his friend and so the tragedy of his losing Beth has now been replaced by the tragedy of losing Sam. (And, the 'I hate a paradox' part of my brain remembers all the times Al saved Sam's bacon by something he knew about from one of his many ex-wives/girlfriends that he would never have known about if he'd been happily married to Beth for decades instead of horn-dogging his way his post-war life instead. Would he even have met Sam and gotten into the QL project? I suppose it can be assumed to have been fated to happen, but still.)
posted by oh yeah! at 5:30 AM on September 21, 2022

Is it a mistake or kind of meta-brilliant that the link for the new reboot show (meaning the poster image in the sidebar) leads to this thread instead?
posted by Naberius at 11:42 AM on September 21, 2022 [1 favorite]

It's a mistake - I used the contact form to give a heads-up when I submitted the two shows that the mods would need to do something to give one of the shows a different URL than it would default to, and I flagged the post afterwards but nobody has contacted me back yet. (I figure someone will get to it eventually, they did manage to get the two different show names into the search directory, even if they do both lead to the same page, and the reboot box art into the sidebar.)
posted by oh yeah! at 2:06 PM on September 21, 2022

For most of its original run, Quantum Leap was one of my favorite programs on TV.
I even own the soundtrack album, with all Scott Bakula's songs.

But, IMO, the show jumped the shark in Season Five.
It seemed to forget its premise - that everyday people are the ones who make history - and began leaping into celebrities and gimmicky scenarios.
I gafiated mid-season, so never saw the Evil Leaper or the grand finale, and haven't had much interest in going back to them.

Somebody once described the show's premise as lessons in white privilege, as Sam (and Al) are repeatedly forced to confront the hurdles faced by disadvantaged members of society.

Rewatching episodes nowadays, some still hold up, others less so.
Still, when it was good, it could be great.
The season openers & closers are still jawdroppingly brilliant: MIA/The Leap Home I & II, Shock Theater/The Leap Back, and A Leap for Lisa.
posted by cheshyre at 4:08 PM on September 21, 2022 [1 favorite]

At one point, my husband tried to calculate out all Sam Beckett's abilities in GURPS, with his language skills, multiple PhDs, martial arts, etcetera.

As an alternative, I suggested giving a character a 10-point delusion:
An invisible Italian Admiral tells me what to do
posted by cheshyre at 4:12 PM on September 21, 2022 [3 favorites]

Al’s constant womanizing is a lot less endearing than it was in 1989 (was it supposed to be endearing in 1989???).
posted by rikschell at 7:47 AM on April 5, 2023

I think just cheesy. The "Disco Stu" stereotype of the single cad of a certain age with the gold chains and silk shirts took hold only 10ish years before that.
posted by rhizome at 6:35 PM on April 5, 2023

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