In going through the alphabet to see if this theme could support the A to Z Challenge, my pick for "Q" was a no-brainer. Quantum Leap has always been one of my favorite shows for many reasons....I'm a sucker for time-travel stories, I'm a huge sci-fi nerd as well as I like "period" type shows/stories. Throw in the fact that they took the time travel theme to a whole new level and did something that hadn't really been done before, and I was hooked from the get go.
I've always considered this the "little show that could". At first, I think, it had a tough time finding it's target audience and, to be honest, I'm not sure if it ever, truly, did, but it found enough of an audience to keep it alive and kicking for five awesome seasons. I mean, it had quite a few obstacles to overcome, the least of which was the confusion of just how, exactly, Dr. Sam Beckett bounced around time.
Dr. Sam Beckett (played by Scott Bakula) was the head of a government funded time travel experiment in the New Mexico desert. Here he had brought together the best minds on the planet as well as built a ego laden supercomputer named "Ziggy". Ziggy was fed every scrap of knowledge that there was and knew she (it thought of itself as a 'she' as well as having a female voice interface) was the smartest thing on the planet. She helped Dr. Beckett and his team create Project: Quantum Leap. When the government threatens to cut the funding, due to lack of tangible results, Beckett decides to try a test run....on himself. Now, the intro states that he "vanished", but.....not really. Basically, what Beckett did when he traveled through time (or "leaped", as they called it) was switch places with someone else....usually the person he was "sent" to help. He kept his own body, but some sort of aura kept him looking like the original person. Dr. Beckett was lost in the time stream until Ziggy was able to get a lock on his unique brain patterns and send help.
The main problem, though, was that Sam had what they termed a "swiss cheese" memory due to the time leap. He could remember some things, but not others. As the show went on, his memories filled in and he remembered he was a child prodigy, held six doctorates, could speak six languages and knew four dead ones, and a martial arts expert. Oh yes....and that he had a wife waiting for him back in the future.
When Sam looked into the mirror, after a leap, he'd see the face of the person he had leaped into. Most of the times it was a man but, sometimes, it was a woman and, once, a monkey. Even though Sam could see Al, the holographic chamber where Al stood was in the Project facility and the person who Beckett had switched places with was kept there, in the "Waiting Room". The white walls and futuristic look of the room had many of the switched people thinking they had been abducted by aliens after they got back to their rightful bodies. I think this was where a lot of the viewers got confused and put off many who weren't true sci-fi fans.
When he's informed that even Ziggy can't figure out a way to get him back and he's still leaping around, Sam becomes convinced that God is steering him to who needs help and that theme continues all the way to the end of the series.
I could go on for pages about the ins and outs of this show and the themes/issues it addressed, but I'll spare you that and just say if this one of those shows you've never seen before, give it a look....I'm sure you won't be disappointed.
Honorable Mentions: The Quest, Quincy, Q.E.D
Tune in Monday for the tale of a made up p.i. named after a typewriter....