ABOUT THE SHOW
Quantum Leap is an American television series that was broadcast on NBC from March 26, 1989 to May 5, 1993, for a total of five seasons.
The premise for Quantum Leap was inspired by movies like Heaven Can Wait (1978), a remake of the 1941 film Here Comes Mr. Jordan. Donald P. Bellisario, the show's creator, saw the show's concept as his way of developing an anthology series, as the genre was unpopular with the networks. He felt that the concept of a person living in the body of another person to make change for the better, would work well in a science fiction setting, creating the tone for the series.
In the pilot episode, the viewer is introduced to Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula), a genius physicist working on "Project Quantum Leap" in a concealed government laboratory in the southwestern desert of the United States near the end of the 20th century. Beckett, with his team, had theorized that time travel was possible if the traveler only stayed within the timeframe of their own lifetime. With no successful results so far, Rear Admiral Al Calavicci (Dean Stockwell), Sam's long-time friend and senior officer on the program, is told by the government that they are looking to shut down the funding. Sam refuses to allow this, and before he can be stopped, he enters the Quantum Leap accelerator, disappearing into time.
When Sam recovers, he finds his memories to be incomplete, particularly with knowledge about himself or the project; Al would refer to this as his "swiss-cheesed memory" throughout the series. Sam finds himself in the past as a supersonic jet test pilot, appearing to others and himself in the mirror as another person, but initially attributes this to his amnesia. Al eventually makes contact with Sam, appearing as a hologram that is tuned to Sam's brainwaves so only Sam can see or hear him. Al explains the situation to Sam, revealing that the only way for Sam to return is to correct something that went wrong in the past, according to the project's artificial intelligence "parallel hybrid computer", Ziggy (voiced by co-executive producer Deborah Pratt). Guided by knowledge of what originally transpired stored in Ziggy's databases, as well as Al's own experiences, Sam is able to escape from a crash that originally took the life of the pilot, and changing history; as he does so, he finds himself "leaping", ending up assuming the identity of a different person at a different point in history. Al later states that while they had tried to bring Sam back during this "leap", they were unable to do so, leaving Sam forced to continue leaping until the team can figure out how to bring him back permanently.
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- Dr. Sam Beckett (played by Scott Bakula) is a brilliant physicist with six doctoral degrees. He grew up in Indiana in a loving home and had a sister who was abused by her husband. In Season 1, Sam calls his father on the telephone to tell him, while only identifying himself as a relative, that he regretted never telling his father that he loved him. Sam's father responded that "he knew," saying that a father always knows how his son feels about him.
- Admiral Al Calavicci (played by Dean Stockwell) is an admiral in the US Navy who mostly grew up in an orphanage. Although Al is a womanizer, it was revealed in the final episode of Season 2 that his last four of five total marriages failed because he never got over losing his first wife Beth, the only woman he ever loved. She remarried, thinking he had died in Vietnam, whereas he was really being held in a POW camp. Al's often-mentioned girlfriend Tina appears in the fourth season episode "The Leap Back." Al was active in the Civil Rights Movement.
- Ziggy (voiced by co-executive producer Deborah Pratt) is the artificial intelligence "parallel hybrid computer" that runs the project and attempts to deduce the purposes of Sam's leaps, appearing only in the fourth-season episode "The Leap Back."
- Gooshie (played by Dennis Wolfberg) is the project's head programmer. Often mentioned, appears in five episodes including the finale.
In each episode, a different cast of guest characters appears: the people whose lives Sam is there to "put right." Several additional characters are referred to regularly throughout the series, but are mostly unseen. Dr. Beeks, the project psychiatrist, is also frequently mentioned, but only appears in two episodes.