Geek Dave stepped into the Quantum Leap Accelerator and discovered 10 things you may not know about the classic television series. Oh boy!
1. Quantum Leap can trace its origins back to the original 1978 series of Battlestar
Galactica, which Donald P. Bellisario produced and wrote for. After the series was cancelled ABC received thousands of letters from a coordinated campaign of fans who wanted their favourite show back. So Bellisario, and original Battlestar creator Glen A. Larson, were tasked with reviving the franchise on a fraction of the budget. They came up with Galactica 1980, which was originally centered around time travel and returning changes in Earth's history back to normal. However, due to cost constraints and studio interference the whole time travel side of the series was dropped, but Bellisario liked the idea and continued to work on a way to bring it to the screen. A decade later Quantum Leap began.
2. Scott Bakula was the first actor cast, and was asked to read
with all the actors under consideration for the part of Al. This group included Malcolm McDowell, but Bakula said that out of everyone considered he immediately
felt a connection with Dean Stockwell, and so actively lobbied
the producers to cast him as Al.
3. An offer was made to Dean Stockwell, but according to Stockwell himself his friend Dennis Hopper advised him
not to take accept it because he "shouldn't do television so soon after being nominated for an
Academy Award" (1988 Best Supporting Actor for Married to the Mob).
Thankfully Stockwell didn't take his friends advice, and ended up being nominated for four Emmys and four
Golden Globes (one of which he won) for his role as Al.
4. Surprisingly one of the most famous phrases associated with Quantum Leap, "Oh boy!" was completely ad-libbed by Scott Bakula. Donald P. Bellisario liked it so much that it became the signature final line of every subsequent episode, when Sam finds himself in a new body.
5. Another aspect of the show which was put in place by a cast member has a bit of a devious story behind it. When developing the character of Al, Dean Stockwell suggested he should "always be seen with a cigar", which he very often was. After the series ended Stockwell admitted that he'd only offered up the idea in the hope of getting himself free cigars!
6. As you know, Doctor Sam Beckett theorised that one could travel within his own lifetime. The character was born on August 8th 1953 (chosen by Bellisario by reversing the last two digits of his own year of birth - August 8th 1935), and leaped into every year from '53 right through to 1987 at least once across the five seasons the show ran for, except
the years 1977, 1984, and 1986.
7. In case you're wondering the most popular 'leap' year was 1958, with Sam visiting eight different times.
8. Sam actually leaped beyond his day of birth a total of four times. Two of those leaps were to 1953, when he was conceived but not yet born (Play It Again, Seymour - April 14th 1953, and The Americanization of Machiko - August 4th 1953), so technically it was still in his lifetime, but the other two were pretty much defying the rules of the Quantum Leap Accelerator! In The Leap Back Al and Sam traded places due to an accident, which allowed for leaping within Al's life and so Sam goes back to June 15th 1945. Then in The Leap Between the States, Sam goes way back to September 20th 1862! The writer's got round this by 'explaining' that Sam's great-grandfather had a very similar genetic profile and blood type to him!
9. There were a whole load of story ideas which were pitched but for one reason or another never made it to the screen, some of the more interesting include; Sam leaping into Robert F. Kennedy, Sam leaping into an animated character (à la Tom & Jerry!), Sam leaping into a new born baby, and - possibly the greatest idea in television history - Sam leaping into Thomas Magnum!!!
Magnum P.I. was also created by Donald P. Bellissario, and it's said that he'd written the script for the episode and had approached John Hillerman and Roger E Mosley to reprise their characters of Higgins and TC, with Tom Selleck also on board for a cameo. Why it never came to light is a mystery.
10. Both Scott Bakula and Donald P. Bellisario have spoken about their upset over the final episode of Quantum Leap. With ratings declining, and the series narrowly avoiding cancellation the previous year, Bellisario was asked to write an episode that could function as either a season finale cliffhanger or as an end to the show. Bellisario completed his script and presented it to NBC executives who then turned around and assured him, the cast and the crew that the series would be renewed for a sixth season. After production had finished on season 5, and that final episode was in the can, complete with the cliffhanger ending, NBC changed their minds and decided to cancel the show after all. None of the regular production crew were involved in the re-editing of the ending (which showed title cards revealing the fate of Sam and Al). Bellisario later revealed that his original plan for the end to the show was to have Al and Beth as an old married couple discussing how they would locate Sam who had leaped again. As for that cliffhanger which was never shown, it saw Sam leaping into a space station in the distant future! In season 6 ,Al would've gone on to become a leaper himself to rescue Sam... Oh boy!
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