Back Comments (2) Share:
“Theorising that one could time travel in 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.”

Quantum Leap: The Complete Third Season

Feature


“Oh boy!”

Quantum Leap is good, wholesome teen family entertainment. It carried me through my youth with its simple but well-conceived stories, good-hearted nature and lovable characters. I still have fond memories of it and can recall the warm theme tune and opening credits than encapsulated everything good about the show, but have not returned to it since, not even for the first two seasons' DVD releases. It was with great pleasure, however, that I was able to review this, the third season of the series.

The premise (for those who don't already know) is ludicrously simple and, at the same time, quite innovative. Doctor Sam Beckett was a scientist involved in an experiment that resulted in him going back in time, effectively 'leaping' into numerous bodies throughout history at important turning-points in their lives. Whether young or old, of a different race or even a different sex, Sam was thrown into the alternate body (which we only get to see when he looks in the mirror) and given just moments to get used to it before having to make decisions that could change the futures of the individuals for the rest of their lives.

Quantum Leap: The Complete Third Season
Throughout his voyages, Sam really only has one friend to talk to, one person to guide him through all of the trouble and basically keep him sane. That's Al, who appears as a holographic 'ghost' that (usually) only Sam can see. He offers support and guidance (nominally through a know-all computer named Ziggy) and often advises Sam on how to solve the particular conundrum he is faced with in order to help him make the next 'leap'. You see, the only way Sam thinks he can get home is by 'leaping' back into his own body and the only way he can make another jump is by fixing whatever is wrong in the life of the particular person whose body he jumps into and, although he does not know whose body he would next leap into, each time he hopes it will be into his own.
This third season kicks off with a strong two-parter, entitled ‘The Leap Home’. I have to say, these are probably the best episodes of the series (particularly the Vietnam-set second part), mainly because they take Sam back to his family and his roots, and the story has much more significance than any of his other random leaps. After those, though, it is back to business as usual, with him playing a priest, photographer, male stripper, piano player, wrestler and teenage boy with ease, along with a bunch of cross-dressing escapades where he gets to play women—even pregnant ones. Classic episodes include ‘Rebel Without a Clue’, where he plays a member of a biker gang, Rocket Boy where he is involved in a cheap sci-fi TV show and the bounty-hunter episode ‘A Hunting We Will Go’, as well as the harrowing season climax which utilises past episode clips sparingly during a tale of shock treatment and the resulting effect, which has Sam skipping through various past personalities that he has inhabited. It all ends on a very unexpected season cliff-hanger that will leave you wanting to know what the future has in store for Sam Beckett and his pal, Al.

Quantum Leap: The Complete Third Season
Since I have not watched any of the previous, or subsequent, episodes recently, it is difficult for me to compare the quality of this season, but—as far as I can make out—it is as good (or bad, depending how you look at it) as ever was. There are fun episodes, tragic and suspenseful episodes, along with a fair few distinctly average efforts. Because of the largely historical settings, it has not actually dated that badly (although the effects have) and Scott Bakula's Sam Beckett (assisted by Dean Stockwell's Al) does a good job in the varying lead roles, only a fraction of which we saw from him in the recent Enterprise escapades. Most people remember Quantum Leap from one stage or another in their lives and, if you caught it at the right time, you might just feel nostalgic enough about it to want to revisit it. If you do, you’re unlikely to be very disappointed.

Video


Quantum Leap is presented in a very basic 1.33:1 aspect ratio non-anamorphically enhanced full screen transfer that has to be one of the worst video presentations that I have ever come across. It is largely understandable because of the age and nature of the original filming process, but that still leaves it with varying detail, occasional softness, some edge enhancement and a prevalent amount of grain. The colour scheme is pretty faded (although sometimes you can put that down to the era) and blacks are largely 'greyed' by so much grain. Thankfully there aren’t actually as many print defects and, despite its flaws, it is probably still the best presentation we are ever likely to get for this particular series.

Quantum Leap: The Complete Third Season

Audio


Again, we just get the bare basics here—a Dolby Digital 2.0 track with none of the bells and whistles. The dialogue is still fairly clear throughout, with myriad sound effects (of a limited nature) throughout the series, including the common 'leaping' sound and Al's bleeping hand-held communicator as well as bikes roaring, lions roaring, thunder, fireworks and air raid sirens all desperately trying to break out of the restrictive array. The theme music is the most notable offering from the soundtrack, sounding as good as it has ever done, but there is also a largely dated score that rears its ugly head in episodes, as well as various different setting-dependant musical additions (that frequently involve Scott Bakula having to sing).

Extras


Pitifully, there are absolutely no extras on this six-disc set, except for a measly generic trailer for Universal TV show releases. It’s not as if they could not get interviews with the likes of Scott Bakula and Dean Stockwell if they tried (Bakula contributed to plenty of the Enterprise extras) and the lack here just smacks of laziness.

Quantum Leap: The Complete Third Season

Overall


Quantum Leap is a blast from the past, a nice, fun, wholesome family sci-fi drama TV series whose stories have dated far better than I would have expected. This third season is a solid addition to the franchise and, whilst it has been given a disappointing (but understandable) visual and aural presentation, along with simply no extras, we should probably be grateful just to have the series on DVD in the first place.


Links: