Quantum Leap is the story of eminent physicist Dr.Samuel Beckett (played by Scott Bakula now known as Admiral Archer in Star Trek: Enterprise) who has been working on a time travel experiment. The initial programme was set in 1995 where Sam worked with Gooshie on Project Quantum Leap. Gooshie is in control of the imaging chamber. Unfortunately, the budget for the experiment is about to be cut and Sam steps into the accelerator chamber, but the experiment is not yet ready.
Sam is transported back in time and has no memory of his own life. His friend, Al Calavicci (Dean Stockwell) is a retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral who has been assigned as an observer for the project. He is the only contact that Sam has with his real life, and appears to him in the form of a hologram. Adults can generally not see Al and it appears as though Sam is sometimes talking to himself in an animated fashion.
Sam normally leaps into a person who has been alive in his own life time. Although he has his own personality and morality, He is the visual image of the person that he has leapt into and often takes on their skills and abilities. Al, with computer Ziggy attempts to work out the date and time of the leap, the person that Sam has leapt into and details of their life. Sam, Al and Ziggy try to find out the purpose for the leap. Once history has changed or the mission is complete, Sam then leaps into the next time and person.
As Sam tries to mirror the person that he has leapt into, he often has to do things that he is not comfortable with such as playing the piano to concert standard, a pregnant girl and a guy with learning difficulties. Fortunately Sam has a massive intellect and uses that in his leaps. He is also a keen sportsman. More often than not, Sam portrays a boyfriend or husband of a beautiful woman and is egged on to have relationships by Al (who is married many times over and often speaks of his wives). In his real life, Sam is married but fortunately does not remember this (as it would stop him from carrying out his “missions”). Sam has leapt back into his own life on more than one occasion and tried to stop his older brother from fighting in the Vietnam war (where he was killed). He has also come across many famous people during his leaps and met Buddy Holly, Marilyn Monroe and John F. Kennedy.
In all there were 95 episodes of Quantum Leap and many ended with the catchphrase of “Oh Boy” as Sam leaps into a person. The programme works because of the good relationship and humour between Sam and Al, the historical references and guessing who Sam will leap into next and what his mission in. It is still extremely popular and has been repeated several times, with conventions still taking place.