Sensor Scan: Quantum Leap
I remember quite well when the first trailers for Enterprise debuted. I’ll save talking about exactly how much of an event it felt like for me (that’s two books from now, after all), but one thing in particular caught my attention straight away: There were these two guys (in *baseball caps*) sitting in what I assumed to be some form of shuttlecraft talking about how the new Warp Drive engine would allow them to go to “Neptune and back in six minutes”. One of those guys looked awfully familiar-Was that…was that who I thought it was?
Omigish it is! It’s Scott Bakula! The guy from Quantum Leap is on Star Trek! And he’s the new captain!
Quantum Leap is a show I have fond memories of. It was never something I followed religiously; I was only ever a casual viewer. But it was a show that seemed to always be around, it eventually developed a kind of comfort blanket appeal for me and, in retrospect, seems actually sort of lovely and wonderful. I remember Starlog Magazine covering it back in the day when it was on the air, talking to Bakula, Dean Stockwell and the show’s creative team, so it was one of those shows that was one of my early introductions to science fiction. In much later years, I remember it primarily as the lead-in to the Sci-Fi Channel’s reruns of the Original Star Trek in the late-1990s and early-2000s. Sometimes I would tune in early to watch a whole episode, while other times I’d just catch the tail end of one before TOS came on. Either way it was something I always enjoyed and appreciated whenever I managed to see it: It always seemed a rather pleasant and charming little series.
A great deal of Quantum Leap‘s appeal for me comes from Scott Bakula’s character, Doctor Sam Backett. He’s a quantum physicist heading up a research programme looking into the possibility of time travel, and when the government threatens to shut the project down Beckett protests by throwing himself into the quantum accelerator, “leaping” through the time-space continuum. Thus begins the series’ central gimmick: Every episode Beckett “leaps” to a new point in time and *into* the body of a different person. Soon, Beckett and his friend Al Calavicci (Dean Stockwell’s character) and their AI friend Ziggy (series executive producer and narrator Deborah Pratt) discover that Sam’s leaps through time are caused by his behaviour in his present time: In particular, his efforts to right a wrong or correct an injustice that subtly alter the course of history. Upon this revelation, Sam is emboldened to keep leaping through the timeline to do what he can to change history for the better.
It’s this simple, unpretentious conviction to do good, to be a good person and to do what you can, no matter how humble the act, to make the universe a better place in your own small way that makes Sam such an endearing character for me.…