1 9 8 9 – 1 9 9 3 (USA)
97 x 60 minute episodes
More adventure than sci-fi, Quantum Leap featured Scott Bakula as physicist Dr Sam Beckett, the unfortunate subject of a time travel experiment gone wrong, setting the scene for a format that allowed the producers to make a completely different show every week.
Sam’s flawed experiment with a Quantum Leap accelerator doomed him to visit the bodies and lives of assorted 20th-century people – usually ordinary Joes (and Josephines), but including Elvis Presley and Lee Harvey Oswald.
Poor old Sam got jolted to new time zones quicker than you could hit your remote to zap the Chicken Tonight commercials!
Unlike previous time journeying heroes, Beckett was able, even required to, interfere in history to avert crisis after crisis, or even simply to improve a person’s lot.
Nostalgically favouring the more optimistic (and musical soundtrack-friendly) decades, especially the 1950s to 1970s, Quantum Leap achieved trans-Atlantic cult status. Two of the more bizarre leaps featured TV sex therapist Dr Ruth and Lee Harvey Oswald . . .
The show, created and produced by Don P Bellisario (Airwolf and Magnum PI) ended with a disquieting last episode, ‘Mirror Image’, in which Sam materialised on the day of his birth and pontificated on his destiny with a Pennsylvania bartender whom he believed to be God.
Mass protests from the show’s many fans did not stop the series coming to an end in 1993, after five series and 97 episodes.
Dr Sam Beckett
Al Calavicci (‘The Observer’)