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MSRP: $49.98 RATED: Unrated
RUNNING TIME: 376 Minutes
Quantum Leap was the end of a long line of similar shows. Sharing the same basic premise of The A-Team or The Incredible Hulk, these were shows that the viewer never needed to know what had happened before, just that the hero would save the day in the end. The basic outline was covered in the opening credits and each episode (for the most part) was stand alone; the hero, in this case Sam Beckett, would be in a new location surrounded by new people every week. Besides being one of the last of this fashion of television, it was also the best. With a touch of science fiction, a pinch of faith and careful choices, Quantum Leap was a show that anyone could veg out to and enjoy. Personally, I did more then veg out and enjoy the show. I fell in love with the show. Quantum Leap was one of my favorite shows growing up. Over the years I lost touch with it. I had a handful of tapes with episodes and the pilot DVD, but that was it. When the season sets started coming out on DVD I knew I would buy them, I was just worried that I wouldn’t enjoy the show as much. In truth, I didn’t; season one was pretty weak and season two, while better, still wasn’t that great. Season three is a different story.
"What the… This stupid cow only has one udder!"
Season three opens up with what are two of the best episodes of the series: The Leap Home Parts One and Two. These episodes are the tale of Sam Beckett. Without ever shoving it into the face of the viewer, we know that Sam did not create Project Quantum Leap just to check out the summer of love at an age he may enjoy it, but as a hope to save his family. Going into this season we already know that Sam’s brother was killed in Viet Nam and his sister would marry an abusive alcoholic. In The Leap Home, Sam finds himself in his own body at the age of sixteen. He hopes to use this chance to save his family. The opening of the show screams to the viewer that this is the driving force for Doctor Beckett. He doesn’t want to return home to 1999 where he is a lonely workaholic, but to a time when his family was together. Here he receives his chance, but can only enjoy it for three short days. Through its five season run, Quantum Leap had many episodes that pull at the old heart strings, but these are certainly two of the best. These episodes capture the feeling of season three and the series as a whole perfectly.
We also learn a good deal more about Al throughout the episodes. The series always did a great job of dropping character information into a story without it feeling forced. Al works as Sam’s driving force at times. When Sam is ready to give up on a mother that is going to leave her family it’s Al who pushes Sam further with a story about how his family fell apart when the mother left. Al is never the main character for these episodes, he usually only shows up for about fifteen minutes in each one, but his presence in the series is one of the many saving graces.
The Michael Jackson verdict started a new era of licentiousness.
This season centers on one type of mission, Sam needs to get people home. Not every episode deals with this, but the majority of them do. If he isn’t trying to get someone home safe, he’s bringing them home to remind them of who they are. The writing on the show is good enough that I never felt like I was watching the same episode over and over, but a growing story of separated events sharing a theme and hero. Think Futurama, but not so much with the jokes. This is also the season where the writers go full blast with the notion that Sam is being led around by God. In one instance, he confronts the Devil and in another he witnesses a miracle. When I was younger I thought the whole God aspect of the show was hokey, watching the episodes with a closer eye now I see what a good device it was and how carefully they tread with it. It never goes too Highway To Heaven to bug the sci-fi fans or too Star Trek to bother the more religious viewers.
The set is filled with great moments from the show, both dramatic and comedic. While there is no completely comical episode, there are ones that come close. Watching Scott Backula dressed like a member of Kiss and singing glam metal is fun. His leap into the life of a sidekick on a kids show has some good chuckles as well. At the same time, there are episodes that deal with serious fears and problems in America and the world in the 50s and 60s. Viet Nam is a reccurring thread through the series. In the episode Black On White On Fire, Sam finds himself in the middle of the Watts Riots in LA. Paranoia plays an important role in Nuclear Family, taking place at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis. One of my personal favorite episodes, Shock Theater (which is also the season closer) deals with abuse in mental institutions. Shock Theater also has an amazing performance by Scott Bakula.
"So then he goes, ‘I said ping pong balls not King Kong balls!’"
What brings life to each episode is the back and forth between Scott Bakula and Dean Stockwell. Watching these episodes you get a real feeling for the respect and friendship between these two actors. Bakula plays the always confused stranger in a strange land bit perfectly and Stockwell, with a great array of facial expressions and hand gestures, brings a needed bit of comedy into a show that could easily have been made cheesy. Don’t get me wrong, there is some questionable acting from time to time, but only once did I get pulled out of the story by it. There’s also a fair share of cheese in these episodes. During his travels, Sam touches the lives of such modern celebrities as Sylvester Stallone and Stephen King. This is nothing new to the series, Sam helped Buddy Holly write Peggy Sue in season one and Chubby Checker create the twist in season two, still they do feel out of place at times.
8.0 out of 10
The episodes have been digitally remastered and presented in 1.33:1, but there still seems to be a few scratches on the film. Still, for a show that is ten years old and never looked like it was done on the best film stock in the first place, it looks pretty good. The colors are vibrant and crisp and the picture is sharp.
A scene from the lost episode, Sexual Tyranosaurus, where Sam leaps into Predator.
7 out of 10
Presented in Dolby 2.0, the sound is clean. Again, there is the change in some of the music, and it is noticeable to die hard fans, but if you haven’t seen the show in a bit, I doubt you’ll really notice. There is a scene in the first episode where the sound is a little muddled, but after checking a purchased VHS copy I found the same problem.
5 out of 10
The lack of special features is another upset. On the season one set there was a short but pretty interesting documentary about the creation of the series and each episode has an introduction by Scott Bakula. As with the second season set, season three is bare. The love for this show by its creator Donald P. Bellisario and the main actors is well known. I find it hard to believe that that none of them would take the time to do a few commentaries or another documentary. As there has been talk of a new Quantum Leap show, I would imagine that they would want to pack these sets with as much as they could. Maybe a commentary or two, or even another short documentary about the arc of the season, as season three is the first to have a defined arc.
By the third year of the show, Dean Stockwell was mostly bemused by Bakula’s clumsy come ons.
Beyond that, all 22 episodes are put onto three double-sided discs. Universal really dropped the ball on this.
0 out of 10
Universal has stuck with the foil wrap exterior for the box, again with a shot of Sam and Al. I like these boxes, they stand out well on a self. They have changed the interior box set up from the fold out box to three separate plastic cases. Each of these cases has the same picture as the exterior box on the front with episode listings on the back. Nothing too flashy on these, but it is well put together.
6 out of 10
Overall: 8 out of 10