Throwback Thursday: Quantum Leap

“Theorizing that one can time travel within his own lifetime, Dr. Sam Beckett stepped into the Quantum Leap accelerator…and vanished. He awoke 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.”

This narration is part of the weekly opening to a show with which I feel a very strong connection: Quantum Leap. This 1989-1993 hour-long drama was part sci-fi, part drama, part history, and a lot of fun. Each week Dr. Sam Beckett, played by Scott Bakula, would exchange bodies with someone in the past in order to right a wrong in history. Most everyone saw Sam as the person he’d leaped into, except for his good friend and holographic observer Al Calavicci, as portrayed by classic actor Dean Stockwell. The premise made for many interesting and thought-provoking storylines. Since I’m focusing on Halloween this month, the episode I’ll be discussing is one of my favorites: “The Boogieman.”

In this episode, Sam appears in the home, and body, of Gothic horror novelist Joshua Rey on October 31, 1964. In most cases Al shows up right away, but this time he’s nowhere to be found so Sam is forced to try and figure out who he is and what he’s supposed to be doing on his own. Once Al does appear, he finds Sam very upset about a death that has just occurred. The hologram then informs Sam that the probability is high that he’s there to prevent the murder of Rey’s fiancee, Mary. The situation becomes stranger and more frightening as the day progresses and Sam is increasingly frustrated by the fact that he can’t seem to save anyone. Nothing about the leap is what Sam thinks and the ending turns out to be quite the surprise to him (and to me as well).

The ambiance in “The Boogieman” is perfect for fall and the set designer is to be commended for creating such a marvelous atmosphere. The author’s house is dark and full of skulls, snakes, and silver candelabras covered in dust and cobwebs, the shelves in his office full of leather-bound copies of his own novels, the dark rooms lit by flickering candlelight. A Grandfather clock ticks loudly in one corner. Also, Sam/Joshua wears a crimson velvet Victorian or Edwardian robe with full sleeves and large lapels over a white shirt, a jaunty Ascot tied around his neck. The front yard is decorated with items for the “spook house” they’re planning for that evening and autumn leaves swirl on the breeze whenever they leave the house.

Aside from the fact that I loved the characters and storylines of Quantum Leap, the show also has a special place in my heart for reasons related to my writing career. This show led to my one near-miss at having a novel I wrote picked up by a big-name publisher – a story I’ve discussed in greater detail in an episode of our weekly podcast (like this one). You can find them linked on our website if you’re interested in hearing more.

If you’re having trouble getting into the Halloween spirit this episode is sure to help. If you’ve watched Quantum Leap, let me know if you enjoyed this one or if you prefer either “A Portrait for Troian” or “Blood Moon” instead. I’ll be more than happy to discuss the show in greater detail with fellow fans – or anyone else, for that matter!

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