This week on "Quantum Leap" - Dr. Sam Beckett leaps into the life of a DVD critic, struggling to write the perfect review... “Quantum Leap” is one of those shows that makes it hard to pick out a specific favorite episode. As I looked through the list of Season Two’s episodes, I found myself sounding like “Invader Zim”’s GIR - “This is my favorite show, no - this is my favorite show...”. Needless to say, there are lots of good episodes and a couple of great ones in Season Two.
For those who don’t know “Quantum Leap”, it’s the story of Dr. Samuel Beckett (Scott Bakula), a time traveler who “leaps” into different people in different times. Once he “leaps”, he has to find out why he’s in that specific person’s life, and what he’s there to fix or put right. Assisting him is Sam’s partner, Al (Dean Stockwell), who appears to Sam as a hologram and acts as an advisor as well as a database of information of what happened or will happen to the people Sam affects.
Of course, the “put something right that once went wrong” bit has been done before, but “Quantum Leap” is one of the best shows to tackle the concept, mostly due to Scott Bakula’s approach to his character. Bakula makes Sam seem like a genuine good guy, the type you’d want to know and have date your daughter. As he is placed in uncomfortable situations like leaping into a groom at the beginning of his honeymoon, he reacts in a very realistic manner, trying not to use his situation or science to take advantage of people. Adding a nice contrast to Sam is Stockwell’s Al, who is the character you’d be afraid your daughter would come home with. While he’s charismatic, he’s a bit of a sleaze, in a dirty old man sort of way. Still, he is Sam’s friend, and at the end of the day, their friendship means a lot, even if Sam is inhabiting the body of a knockout woman.
Yes, that’s right - a woman. Sam puts on the high heels several times in Season Two, both as an attractive secretary and a housewife, as well as leaping into a radio DJ, an undercover cop, and a mentally retarded boy. Most of the episodes tend to deal with expanding people’s acceptance of something - whether it be women’s rights or rock and roll. Still, the show never accepted being totally formulaic, and avoided a lot of clichés it could have gone after. The writers should be commended for that, even if they should be chastised for the show opening, which at the start of season two involves clips from the previous show with Sam giving a voice over full of lots of cheesy, corny lines. Luckily somewhere in the season they moved to an extended version of what would become the better known opening of the show: An explanation of Sam’s journey (“Theorizing that one could time travel within his own lifetime...”) and then the leap into the episode, followed by some event that makes Sam deliver his catchphrase (“Oh boy”) and then the opening credits. It’s a much better opening than how the season begins, and I was very happy to see it finally show up.
In later years the show would focus on a lot of razzle dazzle in an effort to increase viewers, such as Sam’s leap into Elvis, or Lee Harvey Oswald. While Sam does have the occasional encounter with a celebrity (teaching Chubby Checker to do the twist - even though Checker has already written the song), season two is a strong, character based season. Sam even starts to remember some of his own life through his swiss-cheese memory, such as having a brother, and has to make some moral decisions, such as not completing a task he’s supposed to do just so he can stay with a woman he loved in his own life. You really get to know both Sam and Al through the season, and their strong characters really make the show work.
Although this set may not contain my absolute favorite episodes of the show, season two reminds me why I loved “Quantum Leap” while it was on the air. It’s a strong character driven show, with some great storylines and some perfect moments that you can’t help but have an emotional reaction to. After season only containing a disappointing eight episodes, it’s great to have a decent amount of Sam and Al to watch. As a set, season 2 of “Quantum Leap” isn’t bad. It’s nice to have all the episodes in one place, ready for my viewing pleasure. The 22 episodes are on flopper discs, which isn’t my favorite method of presenting tv shows since it means I can’t load all the discs in a multi-disc player and let them roll. I understand why companies use floppers for tv shows, I just wish they wouldn’t.
The packaging is neat to look at, with a foil effect on the cover of the set. It is standard cardboard packaging, which means it won’t hold up well over time, but that seems to be common with DVD sets anymore, so I can’t fault Universal for doing the same with this one.
The first season DVD release of “Quantum Leap” had a few extras, but what was there was worth watching. Episodes were introduced by Scott Bakula with interesting tidbits about the episode including guest appearances or trivia. There was a short featurette that followed the building of an episode. They weren’t great extras, but they were interesting. They are also the only DVD extras for “Quantum Leap”. That’s right - Season Two has no extras at all. No introductions for the episodes, no featurettes, no commercials for each episode. And worse, the set makes the cardinal sin of DVD releases. The packaging lists Disc 3 as having bonus material, but it isn’t there.
By listing bonus material on the packaging, one gets the impression that the set should have had some. When the packaging was made, someone, somewhere was of the impression there would be bonus material for the set. It’s exclusion is a big deal, especially when the first season set had some. For that, this set, as delightful as it may be, gets low marks from me. Include the bonus material or don’t advertise you should have had some.
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