Quantum Leap
Review By: Gringo

Since writing my exposé of Dean Stockwell's hideous attempt at rapping the alphabet, I was struck with an insatiable urge to watch the television show the song spawned from. Quantum Leap was the story of a time-travelling boffin, Dr. Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula, who I've always thought bears a slight resemblance to ALF, that questionably loveable furry alien) and his hologram sidekick, Al (the Stockster himself).

If you have no idea what on Earth I'm talking about, read my review of the show's official soundtrack, which has no less than a very small clip from the Alphabet Rap for your aural pleasure. Listen to Al scream "say it!" It's like Christmas all over again! Anyway, that's old territory and this site never repeats itself (no, never repeats itself). Although it does use many bad jokes and with alarmingly regularity.

Let us continue - I started to watch a couple of episodes, but gave up halfway through. Then I persevered and saw a whole episode. It was okay. I didn't explode with anger. So I watched another. And another. Soon, I started watching the program with something approaching a normal schedule. Somewhat amazingly, it's not that bad.

Like I already mentioned, the show involved a lot of time travelling by a scientist called Sam. Apparently, he built something called a Quantum Leap Accelerator (oh ho! It all falls into place now!) which was essentially a futuristic time machine. Only problem being that it wasn't ready for being used and the government were about to shut the entire project (Project Quantum Leap...see how the makers of the show tie everything together? So clever!) down.

Desperate to escape his meaningless existence of trying to repress his latent homosexual feelings towards his close friend Al - and maybe as an additional bonus prove that the project was worth keeping alive - Sam stepped into the accelerator. He switched it on, and he did indeed accelerate...into time!

Foolishly, rather than take the funding issue to endless committees and sub-committees, where he could have dragged the issue out for years whilst the funding continued, Sam thought disappearing into a makeshift time machine would be the best solution. In the way of all similar shows involving new, dangerous technology, something went wrong and whatever mechanism the machine had for bringing Sam home went kaput.

Yes, kaput! It even made that noise!

Well, maybe it didn't. More on the time travelling fun in a couple of paragraphs. But first I want to introduce you to the main characters of the show. There are really only two permanent characters; Dr. Beckett and his holographic assistant Al (played by that all-round superstar Dean Stockwell).

Sam Beckett had a stupid strand of white dye in his hair, which I always wanted to cut off. However, jumping into the television set with a large pair of scissors is something that can only be done in movies, especially the forthcoming Paramount Pictures epic Jumping Into The Television Brandishing A Pair Of Scissors, so I never got the chance.

Sam was a decent guy; he always wanted to do the right thing and help people out. Of the Al and Sam partnership, Sam was a million times cleaner in the mind. Whilst Al would use his holographic trickery to find new ways to glare at unsuspecting women, Sam just blushed a great deal. There was some kick-boxing involved too, but mostly blushing.

Scott Bakula's quite a good actor - although I've not seen his television show Enterprise, mostly due to a general disdain for anything prefaced by the words Star Trek, so I can't tell you what he's like in that.

Al really liked Sam Beckett. A lot. In almost every episode I've seen, he clutches some strange sort of advanced calculator, which has the ability to do many amazing things at the press of a button. It can tell Al what year Sam's in, whose body he's in, what he's supposed to do, what he ate for dinner and his sexual preferences. Crucially it can take Al's hologram straight to Sam's current location.

Al's terminology for this distance-jumping technique appears to be "centreing". How have I come to this conclusion? Because every time he wants to get right to where Sam is (no doubt to spy on him getting it on, another trait I noticed in several episodes), Al smacked his sparkly calculator several times whilst screaming "centre me on Sam!". And it worked!

What's even weirder is that Dean Stockwell bears a remarkable resemblance to the teacher who did German lessons at my school. Thankfully, it's been at least five years since I left school and almost two years since I finished university (hello pointless trivia! It is a fine day to meet you!) so I've not had to see the quasi-Stockwell teacher for a long time.

Off the top of my head (the very plateau, dear Captain Rutherford!) the only other recurring characters I can think of comes to the grand number of two. First was a sarcastic computer with a female voice called Ziggy. Yes, Ziggy. What a classic name. I think the more immature of our readers (hee! I said cunt! Tee!) would deduce that Ziggy is probably a lesbian because she sounds sassy and is a complete bitch to everyone but the women that try and interface (titter) with her. But your mature, wonderful friend Gringo won't be so petty. Poop!

The other recurring character was a guy called Gooshie - played by Dennis Wolfberg, who looked ever so slightly like one of the twin scientists in Gremlins 2: The New Batch. That little fact is completely irrelevant though, as Gooshie's role seems to have been to get insulted for having halitosis and...not much else. I don't remember these characters having a lot of either (a) point or (b) influence in any of the episodes I've seen of Quantum Leap, but at least they got to say some lines and it helped them stay away from doing guest spots on Full House. Or did it? Mystery!

Onto the show itself! Because that's what you come to this site for; quality in-depth analysis of the latest, big-budget television shows. Most episodes have a basic structure. Sam 'leaps' into someone's body, and spends the next thirty or so minutes trying to "put right what once went wrong". In other words, tampering with as many people's history - without permission - as he can.

Examples of his handiwork that I've seen include reuniting a family, sorting out an abusive father, solving a murder and finally being a chimp. I think that last one was perhaps my favourite. The scripts weren't too bad, and the show is a passable piece of entertainment. I'm actually starting to enjoy it, but if it's a choice between seeing some 'hoochie momma' causing a scene on Ricki Lake and seeing Scott Bakula help someone change their illicit past, I'm going straight for hoochie-filled goodness.

By the way, if anyone would like to tell me exactly what a hoochie momma is, I'd really appreciate it. Here in the UK - yes, I'm British, which is why the spelling of the reviews on this site alternates between my English and American English. Oh Gringo! You explain it at last! Only six or seven months too late! - anyway, here in the UK I keep seeing Ricki Lake and her guests use the phrase 'hoochie momma' and I'm still none the wiser.

From what I've seen, there's very little hoochie content in Quantum Leap. There's a lot of time travelling and the occasional attempt to try and get Sam Beckett home. I've just had an absolute brain freeze mid-sentence, so I'm going to see if by keeping on typing whatever comes into my mind I'll get my train of thought back. Choo, choo! The Gringo Express is headed to Thoughtsville! All aboard!

No, didn't work. Still, I can say that the show is worth watching. If you're not a science-fiction fan then it's still watchable. There's very little inane use of technical jargon, which is marvelous because there's nothing worse than someone who tries to impress people with a faint grasp of such matters. Better to just admit you don't know what you're doing. That way, you won't get the blame if whatever you're put in control of breaks. This has something to do with the television show I'm reviewing, but I'm not exactly sure what.

While I get my ideas together to write the final paragraph, enjoy a picture of Scott Bakula wearing a baseball cap.

This has to be one of the first reviews I've done for this site where I bothered to look round the internet for more information. Turns out that the show ended on a mix of highs and lows. Sam Beckett never returned home, but Gooshie got some breath mints for his birthday and never looked back.

Apologies if I've just ruined the entire show for someone who hasn't seen it or is slowly working towards watching the final episode. I don't really mean that apology in a sincere way, but if you want I'll try my hardest to pretend I do. However, if you're the sort of person who would only chance upon this show due to the two essential factors (having the remote control and nothing better to do) you probably won't care.

And if you ever get in the unenviable situation where your only viewing choices are Quantum Leap or the fiftieth repeat of The Golden Girls in which Rose is bound to make some statement that Blanche insults her for over and over again, you know what to do. Switch the television off.


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