|by Elaine Perrone
Watching the delightful "Quantum Leap" feels a bit like reading any of the wonderful anthologies of O'Henry or Roald Dahl. One can open the book or pop in the DVD to any one or more of the stories, in any order, assured of being treated to an entertainment filled with humanity and wit, with the bonus of an unexpected twist or two along the way.
Creator Donald P. Bellisario's premise is ingenious: Dr. Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula) is an astrophysicist leading a project to prove that a human could time-travel within the span of his or her own life. For Sam, that would be between the years 1953 and the present day – in the case of Season Two, the year 1990. Pressured to prove his theory or lose funding, Sam steps into the Quantum Accelerator – and vanishes. Awakening with a partial memory loss and a mirror image that is not his own, Sam feels compelled to change history for the better, but in a way he doesn't yet know, through the life of the person he sees in the mirror. Helping Sam determine his mission is the Project Observer from the present day, Admiral Al Calavicci (Dean Stockwell), who appears as a hologram that only Sam, small children, and animals can see. After each mission is accomplished, Sam "leaps" into a different time, place, and body, and is given an assignment to change the course of another life, or lives. With each assignment, Sam's greatest hope is that his next leap will take him home.
Sam's assignments range from averting murders and suicides to saving from extinction a radio station in 1950s Peoria, Illinois, that is threatened by the Family Values citizenry who see Rock 'n' Roll as the root of all evil for their youth.
The bodies into which Sam leaps are as varied as his assignments. In one episode he is a blind pianist; in another, a mentally disabled man. In one sequence set in 1953, he is an American sailor who returns to his bigoted hometown with a Japanese wife. In 1961, he discovers himself to be a female secretary battling sexual harassment – a term not even coined at that point in time.
Although Bakula and Stockwell were the only two regular cast members, there is a lot of fun to be had in spotting the guest players who went on to greater fame of their own. Look for Marcia Cross (Desperate Housewives), Kelli Williams (The Practice), John Cullum and Janine Turner (Northern Exposure), Patricia Richardson (Home Improvement), and Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill), among many other familiar faces.
As the show's only two stars, Bakula and Stockwell are both terrific, with a wonderful chemistry together. The two characters are polar opposites who complement each other perfectly. Sam is a rather diffident man who carries out his assignments with grace, respect, and aplomb. Al is a cigar-chomping, five-times-married womanizer with a wise mouth, whose heart of gold shines through his flashily clad exterior.
The Emmy-award winning "Quantum Leap" debuted in 1989 with a short season of only eight episodes, including the two-hour pilot. The Second Season DVD set features all 22 of the sophomore-year episodes. The bad news is, that's all there is. There are no extras in the set, which is comprised of three two-sided, panned & scanned discs. My only other criticism is that several of the original songs have been edited out and replaced, pretty obviously, with generic music – supposedly due to legal issues. Otherwise, the picture and sound quality are just fine.
Whether one decides to buy the Second Season set or not will of course depend largely upon one's tolerance for the technical compromises. For myself, I am deriving great pleasure from having all the episodes in one place and can hardly wait for Season Three!
Buy Quantum Leap Season Two right here!
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originally posted: 12/29/04 17:04:11
last updated: 12/30/04 06:06:56