Previously On: QUANTUM LEAP

Quantum Leap
Image via NBC Universal.

There are lots of franchises out there and lots of storylines one needs to remember. Previously On is our way of providing a quick refresher with the plot points you may need to keep in mind for that upcoming sequel or spinoff. This installment of Previously On is a quick refresher on many of the key elements that you may need to know before the premier of NBC’s continuation of the classic 1990s science-fiction series Quantum Leap this coming Monday.

Quantum Leap Sam
Image via NBC Universal.

Dr. Sam Beckett

Theorizing that one could time travel within their own lifetime, Dr. Sam Beckett led a group of scientists to create Project Quantum Leap to bring his theories to practical application. In the late 1990s, facing the possibly getting their government funding cut due to lack of perceived results, Sam stepped into the Quantum Leap accelerator and vanished.

Sam discovered that as he leaps through time, he replaces a person, who appears in the Project’s Waiting Room. However, an aura of that replaced person remains so that those around them see Sam as the person he has leapt “into.” Sam can see the person he has leapt into in reflections such as mirrors. Unfortunately, a side effect from leaping leaves Sam’s memory with some holes, “like Swiss cheese” as his friend Al Calavicci (see below) would say.

Sam and Al, along with Project Quantum Leap’s supercomputer Ziggy, speculated that Sam would not leap from where he found himself unless he helped to fix a mistake that someone was making in their life. And so, Sam found himself leaping from life to life, striving to put right what had once went wrong, hoping that his next leap would the leap home.

Quantum Leap - Al Calavicci
Image via NBC Universal

Admiral Al Calavicci

Al Calavicci is Sam’s best friend and one of the key figures in getting the government funding to make Project Quantum Leap a reality. When Sam disappeared into the Accelerator, Al was tasked with being Sam’s link to his home, appearing to him as a tachyon hologram generated in the Project’s imaging chamber and beamed back through time to Sam. Since the hologram is tuned to Sam’s brainwaves, only he can see or hear Al. There have been some exceptions to that rule though.

Al is a former Navy pilot who was shot down over Vietnam and captured in 1969. He was eventually listed as MIA and presumed dead by the American government. Al was eventually freed in 1972, but not before his young wife, and love of his life, Beth had mourned his supposed loss and moved on to remarry. Al would go onto have a string of bad marriages while rising up the naval ranks to admiral. He and Sam would meet in the mid-1980s on Project: Starbright before going on to create Project: Quantum Leap.

Quantum Leap Magic Williams
Image via NBC Universal.

Herbert “Magic” Williams

“Magic” Williams was a member of the same Vietnam platoon that Sam’s older brother Tom belonged to. Sam lept into Magic and assumed that he was there to change history and save his brother’s life. After Sam accomplished that goal, although a female photojournalist wound up dying instead, Sam leapt onto his next trip. Magic, meanwhile, stayed in the military and eventually found his way to working at Project: Quantum Leap some five decades later. It remains to be seen if he remembers any of the time when he was in the 1990s Project Waiting Room while Sam had taken his place in 1970.

Quantum Leap Donna Sam
Image via NBC Universal.

Dr. Donna Eleese Beckett

Dr Donna Eleese was a brilliant scientist whom Sam met while working on a classified program known as Project Star Bright in the 1980s. The two fell and love and were to be married, though Donna got cold feet and left Sam standing at the alter.

Years later, in one of Sam’s earliest Leaps, he assumed the life of a college professor in 1972. Ziggy and Al believed that Sam was there to end an affair that the professor was having with his student Jamie Lee, to send her back into the arms of her more age-appropriate boyfriend. But Sam recognized one of the students at the university as a young Donna. Sam believed he was there to repair Donna’s relationship with her father which will allow her to be able to trust another person in a relationship so that ultimately, she won’t leave him years later. Al warns Sam that Donna had stood up another man prior to him and that she might wind up married to him and will never meet Sam at all in a new altered timeline. Sam manages to get Jamie Lee back together with her boyfriend as well as repair the relationship between Donna and her father. (He also inadvertently causes a security to discover the break-in at the Watergate Hotel in Washington DC which would ultimately lead to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.)

Three years later, there was an accident that cause Sam and Al to switch places, leaving Al in 1942 and returning Sam back to Project: Quantum Leap in 1999. There, his memory is fully restored, including the fact that Donna did indeed marry him. Reunited, Donna tells Sam that she forbade Al from telling him of their marriage, lest guilty feelings arising from having to romance a woman prevent him from completing a leap. But there reunion was short-lived when it became apparent that in order to save Al, Sam would need to Leap back to 1942. Once he leapt, he again forgot his marriage and Donna continued to prohibition of having it mentioned to him.

Quantum Leap Sammie Jo
Image via NBC Universal.

Sammie Jo Fuller

Sammie Jo Fuller is Sam’s biological daughter, conceived during a leap into 1966. Like Sam, she has a high IQ and a photographic memory. After the timeline was altered due to her birth, she grew up to be a technician at Project Quantum Leap, working to bring Sam back hoe, unaware that he is her real father. It is not known if Al ever told her the truth of her parentage.

Quantum Leap Control Room
Image via NBC Universal.

Other Project: Quantum Leap Personnel

Gooshie – Head programmer at Project: Quantum Leap and one who helped Sam create the Ziggy supercomputer Artificial Intelligence.

Dr Verbena Beeks – As Project: Quantum Leap’s Head Psychiatrist , Dr, Beeks was tasked with being the first person into the Waiting Room to greet those Sam has leapt into in order to get information as to where Sam was.

Tina Martinez – A programmer at Project Quantum Leap who had been having a years-long affair with Al. In a temporary alternate timeline caused by the death of a younger version of Al, Tina was married to Gushie. (Sam ultimately erased that timeline after he saved the younger version of Al.) Tina’s status with the project is unknown following Sam’s saving Al’s marriage to Beth before he disappeared.

Quantum Leap Evil Leapers
Image via NBC Universal.

The Evil Leaper

After about four years of Leaping, Sam leapt into Jimmy LaMotta, a young man with Downs Syndrome whom he had previously leapt into earlier. At first Ziggy could not compute why Sam had leapt back into Jimmy’s life, until Sam discovered that there was another Leaper there, a woman named Alia who had leapt into Jinny’s sister-in-law Connie. Sam ultimately discovers that Alia, and her own observer Zoey, are the evil counterparts to himself and Al, they move through time attempting to set wrong what was once right. Sam is able to stop them from tearing apart the marriage of Jimmy’s brother, but Alia and Zoey seem to be pulled away by their controller Lothos.

Sam next encounters Alia in a leap into 1956, where she confesses that she wants to escape the control of Zoey and Lothos. Sam agrees to help and when he completes his mission there, the two leap simultaneously to a women’s prison in 1987. Zoey follows, abandoning her role as an observer and leaping into the prison’s warden. Sam is ultimately able to free Alia from Zoey and Lothos’s control, seeing her leap away into the unknown.

Sam’s Disappearance

Quantum Leap Sam Leaping
Image via NBC Universal.

After five years of Leaping, Sam eventually found himself as himself in a mysterious bar. The bartender, coincidentally (?) also named Al, may or may not be the intelligence – Time, Fate or God – that Sam suspected was manipulating his leaps through time. Bartender Al tells Sam that is has been Sam himself subconsciously controlling his own leaping and could go home anytime he wished to. But he also could continue to leap, helping those who needed it as he has been doing already. Sam Leaps to 1969 , arriving as himself. Sam confronts Al’s wife Beth and reassures her that Al is not dead and he will be coming home for her. Assuring that Al and Beth will remain married, and go on to have four daughters, Sam leapt once more, disappearing for good from Project Quantum Leap’s ability to track him.

Quantum Leap 2022
Image via NBC Universal.

Project Quantum Leap 2022

It has been nearly thirty years since Dr Sam Beckett first stepped into the Quantum Leap Accelerator and vanished. But the Project continues on. Dr. Ben Song is now in charge of the Project and is hoping that they can still find Sam and bring him home…

Avatar für Rich Drees
About Rich Drees 6997 Articles
A film fan since he first saw that Rebel Blockade Runner fleeing the massive Imperial Star Destroyer at the tender age of 8 and a veteran freelance journalist with twenty years experience writing about film and pop culture. He is a member of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle.
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments