Theorizing that one could time travel within his own lifetime, Dr. Sam Beckett stepped into the Quantum Leap Accelerator and vanished. He woke to find himself trapped in the past, facing mirror images that were not his own, and driven by an unknown force to change history for the better. His only guide on this journey is Al, an observer from his own time, who appears in the form of a hologram that only Sam can see and hear. And so Dr. Beckett finds himself leaping from life to life, striving to put right what once went wrong, and hoping each time that his next leap will be the leap home.
That was the opening narration to the Sci-Fi TV show Quantum Leap. And holy crap, I can't believe I still remember that whole thing. I didn't realize it was so long until I actually typed it out. Hmm, I wonder... We, the people of the United States of America, in order to form a more perfect Union... uh... um... nope, that ain't gonna happen. Oh well, Quantum Leap was way more interesting than the Declaration of Independence anyway. I've always tried to watch prime-time Sci-Fi series, even when they were not so good, but Quantum Leap was one that I really enjoyed. Since the series ended its run, I've remembered season three as being the best season for the show, so I was excited when I was offered a DVD copy for review. I was expecting to receive only the first disc of the set, but to my surprise they actually sent me the entire boxed set!
This set is a pretty nice one, too, though it doesn't have any extra features. It comes with three DVD's, each double-sided, and each in it's own slip plastic DVD case, all of which slide into a nice looking box for easy storage. Choosing to go with three double-sided discs rather than six one-sided discs will be a plus for most people. I, however, have a 300 disc player that will only play one side, thus I'd have to manually flip the discs over to view half the episodes. Still, as I said, most people won't have that problem, and the three discs not only makes for convenient storage by taking up less space and having less discs to worry about, but I'm sure it also helped to keep the price down. And it is a really good price too, only $34.99 (at Amazon.com) for 22 episodes, each an hour long... or actually, I think it's closer to 51 minutes when you account for all the missing commercials.
When I first put them in, I noticed that the video quality looked a bit grainy, so my initial thought was that they didn't digitally re-master them. But then I never again took any notice on the video quality, so I began to wonder. I thought, well either the direction and storytelling was so good and got me so engrossed into the show that I just didn't notice the poor video quality, or that grainy look was done as an effect on purpose just for the opening sequence which is why I never it again (because I just chapter skipped all of the remaining opening sequences). So I looked it up, and sure enough this series has been digitally re-mastered.
Of course, then I thought "wait a minute, wouldn't transfer from an analog source to a digital media be a digital re-mastering?" So I looked it, and sure enough, that's pretty much what it means. So we're pretty much back to where we started. Was it me just not noticing or was it actually grainy? Well, whichever it is, I don't think it really matters much, as once the opening sequence ended and the story took over, observations about the video quality never again entered my thoughts. I suppose that could be a testament to the quality of the show that was produced. Anyway, let's move on before you find out how insane I really am.
Apparently there is some controversy of this release, as well as several other TV shows that have been released in DVD box sets by Universal Home Video, having to do with a lot of the music heard in the original releases being replaced with generic music because of some copyright issue between Universal Home Video and the record labels. It seems that when the rights were originally negotiated for home video, the term "video" was used instead of a more generic term, and thus the record labels are saying that DVD's aren't videos so they don't count and are requiring more money be paid to them for the DVD releases. At least, that is the jist of it. There is a much better explanation in this post at Al's Place.
Okay, now... huh... what's that... you say you have no idea what Quantum Leap is? Oh my, where are my manners! I never even filled you in on what the show is about! Okay, you see there's this brilliant genius scientist dude named Dr. Samuel Beckett (called Sam for short) who invented this time machine that was supposed to let a person travel to any point in their own history. Besides being limited to traveling back to the past and only up to the point where the were born, this time machine also differs from those found in the more typical time-travel tales, such as Back to the Future, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, or the Terminator, in that those machines can physically transfer a person through time, while Sam's time machine only transfers a person's consciousness. So, the traveler's mind ends up in an existing person's body, and the mind that was already in the person's body ends up in Sam's body, in the future. Got it?
Good. Now, what I just said isn't quite the way it works. I think that's how the producers originally intended it, and just changed the way it worked so they do what they wanted, but apparently Sam's body does travel with his mind, except that people can only see the original body and not his. Why do I say this? Because there is this one episode called Nowhere To Run where Sam leaps into a Vietnam vet with no legs, yet he can still stand up and walk, while anyone watching that see's the original guy just floating through the air. Then there is another episode called Blind Faith where Sam leaps into a blind man, yet he can see. Both of these took place after the first season.
Alright, so Sam jumped in his Quantum Leap Accelerator to try it out, and woke up in the past, with no memory. A short time later, a hologram of a man named Al appears to get Sam up to speed on what happened. Of course, Sam is the only one that can see and hear him, and because he's a hologram there's no touchy-touchy. Oh, we do find out later that kids, animals, and some freaky people can also see Al. Anyway, Al relays missions to Sam that this super-computer spits out which are supposed to change the future for the better, and when Sam accomplishes the mission he "leaps" into whoever the next lucky schmoe is.
This third season starts out with Sam leaping into his own body as a teenager, and I must say I think this is one of the best episodes they made. It contains a lot of emotional moments while he attempts to save his father from dying in only a few years from a massive heart attack, save his brother from getting killed in Vietnam, and save his younger sister from marrying an abusive alcoholic. And the whole time, Sam only mission in this leap according to Ziggy (the super-computer) is to make sure his high school team wins the big basketball game. This episode made for a great season opener, and it spilled over into the next episode where Sam leaps into the body of a NAVY seal in Vietnam, on his brother's squad, only one day before his brother is to be killed. Not only is this a great episode, but it has a really cool ending!
In fact, all of the episodes that follow are pretty good. It was fantastic to experience these episodes all over again, and they really hold up. Sam sure does end up finding himself in a variety of extremely unusual situations. In the episode 8 1/2 Months, Sam leap he's a pregnant woman who is very close to giving birth. It's like every woman's dream, to have a man know what it's like to be pregnant. Then in "Shock Theater", Sam is a mental patient who was given a high enough dose of electric shock therapy to unintentionally bring out personalities from his previous leaps. The ending to that episode is a major cliffhanger if there ever was one. Then he also leaps into the body of the lead singer of a KISS-style metal band, a bounty hunter, a male stripper, a teenage female beauty contestant, a death row convict, and the list just goes on. Oh, speaking of the list, here's one for all the episodes in this third season box set:
- Episode 32 - The Leap Home: Part 1 (November 25, 1969)
- Episode 33 - The Leap Home: Part 2 (April 7, 1970)
- Episode 34 - Leap of Faith (August 19, 1963)
- Episode 35 - One Strobe Over the Line (June 15, 1965)
- Episode 36 - The Boogieman (October 31, 1964)
- Episode 37 - Miss Deep South (June 7, 1958)
- Episode 38 - Black on White on Fire (August 11, 1965)
- Episode 39 - The Great Spontini (May 9, 1974)
- Episode 40 - Rebel Without a Clue (September 1, 1958)
- Episode 41 - A Little Miracle (December 24, 1962)
- Episode 42 - Runaway (July 4, 1964)
- Episode 43 - 8 1/2 Months (November 15, 1955)
- Episode 44 - Future Boy (October 6, 1957)
- Episode 45 - Private Dancer (October 6, 1979)
- Episode 46 - Piano Man (November 10, 1985)
- Episode 47 - Southern Comforts (August 4, 1961)
- Episode 48 - Glitter Rock (April 12, 1974)
- Episode 49 - A Hunting We Will Go (June 18, 1976)
- Episode 50 - Last Dance Before an Execution (May 12, 1971)
- Episode 51 - Heart of a Champion (July 23, 1955)
- Episode 52 - Nuclear Family (October 26, 1962)
- Episode 53 - Shock Theater (October 3, 1954)
If you're a Quantum Leap fan, you will definitely want to pick this one up. And if you're not a fan, this season may turn you into one, so pick it up anyway. Even without much of the original music or any special features, at a price of only $34.99, you really don't have that much to lose, and I'm sure you'll get hours of enjoyment out of it.
Quantum Leap - The Complete Third Season is being released by Universal Home Video on DVD starting May 10, 2005, and stars Scott Bakula and Dean Stockwell.