Friday, December 10, 2010

"Oh boy"

Quantum Leap (1989-1993)

I vaguely remember when this show came out in the spring of 1989 and ended in 1993. I remember watching a few episodes when it aired. Though I don't remember any of them, I do remember the premise. So that's why, after all these years, when the lovely DVD player was invented and (most all of) TV series were put on DVD, it was my chance to revisit this show I've always found so fascinating. Personally, I think it's the coolest idea thought of for a TV show (followed, of course, by 24, one of my favorite shows of all time!) It's about this super smart guy named Dr. Sam Beckett, who, with the help of his super smart team, build Project Quantum Leap (PQL), which involves an accelerator he stepped into and vanished. In each show, he "leaps", so to speak, into a different body from one time and place to another. In every episode before he can leap, he has to set something right that once went wrong. He can only leap between the years of his life and death, so most of the leaping takes place between '50s and '70s. (There are only a handful of leaps from the '80s - this is why they need to make an updated version!) Sam's sidekick is Al, a human hologram, who, besides smokes his cigar or oogles after beautiful women, tells Sam what he's there to do and gives him all the details he needs. When Sam leaps into the body of his next persona, we the viewers see him as Sam, but the people around him see him as the person he's supposed to be portraying. And when we see him look in the mirror or any other kind of reflection, we see him as the person he's leapt into.

Now, I must warn you: if you've never seen the series and want to, don't read this because I do give away some major spoilers! 

The episodes included ones that made me laugh, made me cry, disinterested me, and just plain freaked me out! Here are  my ten favorite episodes, ranked in chronological order:

1. 1-06  The Color of Truth - In this episode, Sam leaps into the body of an elderly black man named Jessie Tyler in 1958 Alabama as a chauffeur for an old white woman.  Driving Miss Daisy, anyone?) Up until this episode, he had only been leaping into the bodies of white men, so it's the first episode that really catches your attention.

2. 2-05 Blind Faith - Sam leaps into 1964 as a blind pianist, but he can still see, so he has to disguise this fact from the people who know the pianist. The best part is at the end when he's trying to save a woman from being murdered and he gets blinded by a flash bulb, so he has to save her when he is, in fact, literally blind.

3. 2-22 M.I.A. - It's 1960 when Sam leaps into an undercover cop. Al tells him that he's there to prevent a MIA's wife from declaring him dead and eventually remarrying another man that she will meet later that day. Although he tries, the woman still meets the man. Sam then learns that Al is the MIA and the woman, Beth, is Al's first wife and first true love. It's not in the cards for Sam to change Al's history, so Al tells Sam the real reason he is there: to prevent his partner from being murdered in a drugs raid gone wrong.

4. 3-01 The Leap Home: Part I - At the beginning of each episode, there's a monologue telling the audience what the show is about and how Sam Beckett hopes, that with each leap, the next "will be the leap home." Well, in this episode, he DOES leap home. He leaps into himself as a sixteen year old in 1969. Of course, he thinks he is there to help his family, like making his father quit smoking since he died in 1974 and try to save his brother's life before he is killed in Vietnam in a few short months. The only catch is that he's not there to do either of those, but he's there to win a basketball game that he lost in the original history. I mean, seriously, that's the reason he's there? But my favorite scene in the episode (and in probably the entire series), is when he's talking to his sister about how their brother can't go to Vietnam or he'll be killed and tells her he know the future and she asks what will happen to the Beatles in the future and Sam starts playing Imagine on the guitar. He's about to tell her what happened to John Lennon, but Al tells him not to. But his sister is crying because she knows he's telling the truth and knows that their older brother will be killed.

5. 3-10 A Little Miracle - This episode was inspired by A Christmas Carol. It's Christmas Eve 1962 and Sam has leaped (leapt?) into the butler of a real estate owner who has gone all Ebenezer Scrooge and plans to close the local Salvation Army so that he can build Blake Plaza. Due to a chemical imbalance, Sam discovers that the rich man can see and hear Al. (Besides Sam, the only people who can see Al are children, people near death, and crazy people. Oh, and dead people and animals can also see him). So Sam and Al come up with an idea to have Al pretend to be a ghost of Christmas past, like in the Dickens tale.

6. 3-19 Last Dance Before an Execution - Sam leaps to find himself sitting in an electric chair just seconds before the switch is about to be turned on. At the last second he gets pardoned for a few more days...I can't remember the reason why. The man he has leapt into is sentenced to death, along with another man, for the murder of a priest who caught them stealing money from the church to give to the poor. Al tells Sam that he is here to prove their innocence, but getting out of this leap could prove to be more difficult than past leaps! Trivia: while Sam usually says "Oh boy!" at the start of every episode, in this one he yells, "Oh, God!"

7. 3-22 Shock Theater - Like I mentioned before, crazy people can see Al, so when Sam leaps into a man who is in a mental asylum, the other patients can see him (Al). Sam is given shock treatment and is confused about who he is and begins to think that he is different people that he has previously leaped into. Al tries to help him, but he is loosing frequency due to Sam being given drugs to forget Al, who the doctors think is his imaginary friend. The only way to get Sam back is for him to have shock treatment again.

8. 5-07, 08, 09 - Trilogy - I'm counting these three episodes as one since they're all part of the same plotline. In the first episode, Sam leaps into 1955 Louisiana as the father of a very creepy young girl named Abigail who happened to be the last person to see a man alive, the same man who is the father of a little girl who was found dead and Abigail was also the last to see that girl alive as well. The second time around it's 1966 and now Sam has leaped into Abigail's fiancé. (Yeah, he went from being her father to her fiancé, a little bit creepy if I do say so myself). The townspeople still believe that Abigail is responsible for murdering Violet, the little girl who died all those years ago and attempt to hang her, but Sam manages to stop them. In the third episode, it's 1978 and now Sam has leapt into the town lawyer where he for once and for all has to prove Abigail's innocence. It's Abigail's creepy ass mother, who lives in some kind of mental institute and has a blank, dead stare that gives you the shivers, who testifies that she was the one who accidentally killed Violet because the girl fell down a well when Abigail's mother tried to pry a locket that belonged to her daughter from her hands. But the big kicker is that Sam has a daughter! With Abigail! You see, when Sam leapt into her fiancé, he sort of leapt into a very uh, compromising position, and it just so happened that it was his daughter, and not the real fiancé’s when little Sammi Jo was conceived. So, of course, she has this sky rocketing IQ and works for PQL. I'm not making this up, folks!

9. 5-19 The Leap Between States - Sam has leapt from his timeline and into 1862 as his great grandfather, John Beckett, who was a soldier in the Civil War. After Sam is wounded, he is taken to a barn. A woman, who is later revealed to be Sam's great grand-mother is not happy to find the man in her barn because he is a Yankee (she's from the South) and a Yankee killed her husband and destroyed her farm. Al informs Sam that he has to make sure that John and Olivia fall love, because if they don't, then they'll never marry, thus Sam's grandparents will never exit, nor his parents, and of course Sam would never be born. Thrown in another man who is in love with Olivia and runaway slaves and you have yourself a love triangle - nineteenth century style.

10. 5-20 Memphis Melody - It's 1954 and Sam has leaped into a young, the-day-before-he-got-famous Elvis Presley. No, he isn't there to make sure Elvis gets discovered (though he still has to go to all the auditions to ensure that Elvis still becomes famous), but instead he is there to make sure a woman, Sue Anne Winters, get discovered. So far everything seems to be going fine. Sue Anne has a tendency of getting nervous when she sings, so when she freezes up on stage, Sam goes on with her and they sing a duet. Al tells Sam that he (Elvis) can't have a duo contract because Elvis needs to be discovered on his own. There's a great scene at the end where Sam just bursts out an Elvis tune in a diner and Al is dancing on the bar.

The following are episodes I found especially creepy (again, in chronological order):

A Portrait of Troian from season 2 - It's not that Sam has leapt into a ghost hunter, nor the fact that he's standing in the middle of a cemetery on a stormy night, that I find creepy, no, it's the old woman (who we later find out is a ghost) that I find uber-creepy. And she can see Al - that's what I mean about dead people being able to see him.

The Boogieman from season 3 - This is probably the most creepiest episode of all. Sam leaps into a horror fiction writer on Halloween and all these strange accidents keep happening and it turns out that Satan has taken the form of Al and Dean Stockwell has these crazy ass red eyes that just creep me the **** out! I probably shouldn't have watched that episode, at like, three in the morning!

Dreams from season 4 - At the end of the episode there's this creepy black and white dream sequence depicting a murder.

The Curse of Ptah-Hotep from season 4 - Sam leaps into an archaeologist excavating a mummy's tomb in Egypt and there's this whole curse (of course) and the mummy comes alive and there's this bad guy who's in it for the treasure and he's killed by the mummy. It was a bit startling!

Trilogy from season 5  Although Sam leaping into a girl's father one episode, then her lover the next was a bit on the creepy side, the girl's mother in the insane asylum was the creepiest. She had these dead eyes that just stared blankly ahead and would talk in this little girl sounding voice how she hid under her bed when her siblings were being killed by her mother and she could feel the blood dripping on her face. Brrrr!

Deliver Us From Evil and Return/Revenge of the Evil Leaper from season 5 - These episodes weren't that creepy, it was just the concept of there being an evil leaper that left me a little uneasy. I guess it would make sense that if Sam is out there to set things right, then there has to be a ying to his yang and there's someone out there to make life miserable for others. And the notion that Lothos = Satan? Creepy to the nth degree!

10 most interesting leaps:

1. Sam as Jimmy, a young man who has Down Syndrome in Jimmy from S2 and Deliver Us From Evil from S5. What I find the most fascinating is that he leaped into the same person twice!
2. Sam as his sixteen year old self in The Leap Home: Part 1 from S3.
3. Sam as a pregnant woman in 8 1/2 months from S3.
4. Sam as a mental patient in Shock Theater from S3.
5. Sam as a hologram when he and Al switch places and Al becomes the leaper in The Leap Back from S4.
6. Sam as a KKK member in Justice from S4.
7. Sam as a monkey (yes, a monkey) who is being tested to go up in space in The Wrong Stuff from S4. That's probably the show's worst episode.
8. Sam as a young Al in A Leap for Lisa from S4.
9. Sam as Lee Harvey Oswald in Lee Harvey Oswald from S5.
10. Sam as his great-grandfather in The Leap Between States from S5.

Before they were famous,they guest starred on Quantum Leap!

-Teri Hatcher played Sam's future wife as a college student in Star Crossed.
-Jason Priestly was in Camikazi Kid.
-Willie Garson (Stanford from Sex and the City) was in Play it Again, Seymour AND Lee Harvey Oswald.
-Kelli Williams (Lindsay from The Practice) was in Disco Inferno
-Patricia Richardson (Jill from Home Improvement) was in Good Morning, Peoria.
-Michael Madsen (Kill Bill) was in Jimmy.
-Marcia Cross was in Good Night, Dear Heart.
-Danni Nucci (Fabrizio from Titanic) was in Leap of Faith.
-Joesph Gordon-Levitt (500 Days of Summer and Inception) was in Permanent Wave.
-Eriq La Salle (Dr. Benton from ER) was in A Song For the Soul.
-Carla Gugino was in Ghost Ship.
-Bob Saget was in Stand Up
-Brooke Sheilds was in Leaping of the Shrew. (But she was already famous...)
-Jennifer Aniston was in Nowhere to Run.
-Neil Patrick Harris (Doogie Howswer!) was in Return of the Evil Leaper.
-Gregory Itzin (President Logan from 24) was in Memphis Melody.

Even though the show premiered in 1989, it's 1995 in Sam and Al's present time. I forget when we are told this information, but by the end of the series which was '92/'93, the time of the show is now 1999. And let me tell you: their idea of the "future" is hilarious. In one episode, Killing Time, Sam leaps into a murderer and the real leapee, who came from 1958, gets loose from PQL and he's running around the street of some random town in New Mexico and he meets this hooker who's wearing a - get this - jacket that LIGHTS UP! Hilarious. And she takes him to her place and everything is operated by remotes. It's so funny, especially since that's not how things worked in '99.

I have mixed feelings about the very last episode. First of all, I was a little confused because Sam leaps into himself on his birthday, the exact minute he was born. So wouldn't he have been his newborn self? Ah, well. I suppose it's best not to dwell on little things like that. And I guess it was suppose to be all philosophical. So there was an episode, the last one from season 2 called M.I.A. where Sam had the chance to tell Al's first wife, Beth, that he's not really dead, but since that wasn't what he was there to do, he never did and she remarried another man. And Al, of course, got married four (five?) times. But Sam gets the chance to leap back to that moment and he tells Beth that Al is still alive (and yes, I was crying when I saw this!) and she starts crying and we learn that Al and Beth have been married for forty something years and they have four daughters. Now, while it's all sweet that Al got to be with the woman he loves, it changes the whole perspective of the show! There's a photograph of historychanged!Al and he's wearing a Mr. Rogers sweater vest! Now that's certainly not the Al Calavicci we all know and love! He's always wearing fedoras and bright colored or crazy-printed suits on his journeys with Sam. So therefore it seemed his fashion sense (and most likely personality) changed. Also, while he still might have been involved in PQL, it is doubtful he would've been Sam's guide, so that's kind of sad to think about. The whole history of the show changes with that one episode! It's like all those other shows we saw with Sam leaping and Al helping him never happened because there would have never been hologram!Al! Augh, it is just so frustrating! Of course, I want Al to be happy, but I'm also selfish and I like my sarcastic and fugly fashion sense Al! :-( Oh, and Sam never returned home? WTF?!?!?!

I talk about what I did when I wasn't allowed to watch an episode of popular TV show:

1 comment:

  1. I didn't watch this show much at all, but I did watch the episode when he goes back to 1963 as Oswald when it first aired. I can't remember all the details now but I remember being captivated by it. I should try to find it on DVD and watch it again.