17 March 2009

Quantum Leap: Season 3

Season 3 is Quantum Leap at its Best
By Kristin Battestella

Just when you thought Donald P. Bellisario’s Quantum Leap couldn’t make anymore social statements or sentimental commentaries, season three of the time traveling series brings Quantum Leap to its finest hour.

Dr. Sam Beckett continues to leap into the down trodden as he time travels within his own lifetime. Now, however, Sam and his holographic guide Al begin to learn the consequences of ‘putting right what once went wrong’ both personally and historically. Nearly every episode of Season Three is a memorable one. Each one can make its case for best episode ever, and certainly each is someone’s favorite.

Quantum Leap - The Complete Third SeasonFrom the stellar two part opener ‘The Leap Home’-where Sam leaps into his younger self to stop his brother’s death in Vietnam-to the finale ‘Shock Theater’ where his leap into a mental patient blurs the line between who Sam and his leaps really are. ‘Shock Theater’ is my mom’s favorite, and then there’s ‘Private Dancer’, my sister’s favorite. I think my dad would refuse to choose. Perhaps my favorite is ‘The Leap Home’. These standouts make the cases for and against the theory of time travel. We see why it’s necessary for one to rectify his past, but we also witness the consequences of changing history with scientific meddling.

Scott Bakula is at the top of his game in the season’s opening and closing episodes. He has childlike enthusiasm at cleansing himself and others, but the physical and mental wear and tear of such serious time travels ways upon Sam as well. Dean Stockwell is again a delight as Al. Not merely a sidekick, Stockwell is given room this season to show friendship, fatherly advice, and even a bit of spookiness. Both actors would receive several Emmy nominations and Golden Globe wins for Quantum Leap, along with numerous other awards and accolades for the production and the series itself.

Here in Season Three, Quantum Leap continues to push the envelope on topics that are, in some ways, still taboo. Vietnam is given frank conversation and recreation not often seen in television then or now (and only showcased in a handful of exceptional eighties films for that matter). Spotlights on AIDS, teen pregnancy, and mental health also bring controversial topics to the forefront. In one ambiguous Halloween episode, we see the first shades of good versus evil and religious values that come to prominence in future seasons. We have some stunt casting, sentimentality, and those quirky famous event snips, but season three of Quantum Leap is very personal and individually focused on the everyman amid these extraordinary conditions. This kind of intelligent intimacy isn’t old now, nearly twenty years on, and it likely never will be.

Again, there are a few trouble spots with the bare bones DVD sets, but the discs are affordable enough in comparison with the time and joy their viewing can bring. Reruns, online viewing, and rental options are also available. Quantum Leap reminds us that in these cynical, difficult times; we are capable of creating quality, thoughtful, moving, entertainment for the whole family. Here in Season Three, that quality is exceptional.

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