In the third installment of The Quantum Leap Podcast, Albie and Heather discuss the Season One episode four “The Right Hand of God”. There’s first impressions, an episode recap, thoughts and opinions, listener feedback, an essay and much more.
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Essay Winner 2 Marcus D’Ambrose
Balling the Loop:
What Quantum Leap Means to Me
When the pilot episode of Quantum Leap aired in March of 1989, I missed it. I had seen the trailers but somehow missed that first episode. Afterward, I assumed it was somehow too late to get into the show. I’m not sure how or when I gave it a second chance, but in one proverbial leap I was suddenly obsessed. I meticulously recorded every episode on VHS, labeled with the episode titles and leap dates. Quantum Leap is responsible for much of what I’ve learned about the nature of the universe and the purpose of human existence.
What primarily drew me to Quantum Leap in the early days was the sci-fi context. I found myself at the local library, checking out books on quantum mechanics, string theory, etc. I studied elementary particles. I analyzed the idiosyncrasies of time travel logic. Many times I would find myself in a situation, alone or with others, and pretend I was leaping in at that very moment. I would try to briefly experience my life from a leaper’s perspective. Other times I would imagine that I was an adult who had leaped into my younger self. We have a fire pit in our backyard that is surrounded by a perfect circle of concrete. It made a perfect Quantum Leap Accelerator. Sometimes the neighborhood gang would use Quantum Leap as the premise for our imaginary afternoon adventures. One year I even made a Quantum Leap themed costume for Halloween.
By the time Season 3 rolled around I was a full-fledged member of The Quantum Leap Fan-Club, remnants of which may still be found on the Internet. There was a monthly newsletter called The Observer. You got a badge and buttons and you got to choose which department of PQL you worked in. I actually had my name mentioned in a newsletter one month because I had suggested a bunch of departments at the Project that they hadn’t mentioned. Yes, I was THAT nerdy.
Then the unthinkable happened. The Season 3 finale ‘Shock Theater’ ends with a cliffhanger that had me freaking out in excitement. I simply could not wait for Season 4 to start. And that’s when NBC decided to cancel Quantum Leap.
They moved the timeslot to Wednesdays at 10PM and then complained when the ratings went down. So they were going to cancel the show, and the good people at the Quantum Leap Fan Club organized a letter writing campaign that flooded Warren Littlefield’s desk with demands that the show be kept on the air. Somewhere in that pile was my letter.
It worked. Season 4 opened by essentially leaping the quantum shark. Through all of this, through all of Sam’s leaps, my family and friends were watching the show as well. That sense of shared enthusiasm meant a lot to me. I was an altar boy at Sacred Heart Church at that time. Father Dominick was also a fan and he and I would often compare notes on the most recent episode before mass.
Do you remember Prodigy? It was one of the first dial-up portals, even before AOL. It was on Prodigy that I found a Quantum Leap BB. That’s when I learned the art of procuring media through sale or trade. Somehow I got hands on a third generation VHS copy of the Pilot episode of Quantum Leap. So I leaped back in time and finally got to see how it all started. Then, one day I received an e-mail from a fellow fan. Tina Wheatley, from Sioux City, Iowa. We became e-mail pen pals and eventually started talking on the phone. We became such good friends that in the summer before 11th grade her parents and my parents agreed to let me fly out and spend two weeks in Iowa. I had an amazing experience driving across the state with Tina and her family. She is married now and has a child of her own, and we still keep in touch to this day.
I’ve been careful to avoid spoilers in this essay, so there’s not much I can say about the Series Finale of Quantum Leap, except that I was, like many others, disappointed. And for a while after, depressed about it. Now, I’ve written an entirely separate essay on the Series Finale that currently has about 3,000 views. Suffice it to say, it took me years before I was able to understand the true meaning of the finale and finally make peace with it.
I graduated college with a B.A. in Philosophy, the end result of that initial spark of metaphysics inspired by Quantum Leap. Then I became an elementary classroom teacher. For three years I worked nights, weekends, and summers as a Behavioral Assistant, working with at-risk youth ages 6 – 18 in their homes. My job was to “leap” into their lives and try to help put right what once went wrong. In that time I dealt with drug and sex abuse, domestic violence, unsafe/unsanitary living conditions, deceased parent, single parent, foster care, developmental and behavioral disorders, academic concerns, bullying, crime, and the list goes on. Each case was contracted for a specific length of time and we weren’t allowed to maintain contact with the client after that. So I always had a window of time where I had to do as much as I could to improve the situation and make it last after I left.
It was during these moments that the lessons of Quantum Leap truly became relevant in my life. I learned to be comfortable in different cultural and socio-economic situations. I observed family dynamics and spent countless hours conducting family therapy, trying to get these people to see how their choices affected their lives. I became very close to a few families yet I always had to let it go in the end and move on to the next mission, trusting that the short-term good I did was enough to make a difference in the long run.
Dr. Sam Beckett continues to be my primary role model. He exemplifies universal compassion, a bodhisattva-like desire to help all souls, regardless of their race, creed, or historical bias. Sam represents our evolutionary potential… transcending space and time, the realization of humanity’s higher purpose in this universe. Of course, Al is a role model to: friendship, loyalty, self-confidence, and a sense of humor. Al seems to represent that flawed part of us that is nevertheless pure of heart. I always felt that these two characters represented the dual nature of my psyche…Sam, the sympathetic saint, and Al, a lovable pervert.
This is my fourth year teaching fifth grade language arts. The last two years I experimented with showing Quantum Leap to my students. I designed Character Ed lessons based around key episodes, exposing the students to historical events/figures and sociological issues that broadened their view of themselves and their world. They became as obsessed as I ever was. I can’t even begin to tell you the amount of questions I’ve been asked on the physics of leaping. One day I put the show on and the class started spontaneously singing and clapping to the theme song. Students would arrive the next day excited to summarize an episode they had just watched on Netflix. They told me how their parents remembered the show. I used my fan club buttons as rewards for good behavior and the students proudly walked through school sporting phrases like, “Why haven’t I leaped?” and “I’m not really here, you’re just seeing the illusion of my physical aura.” In short, Quantum Leap became the best Character Ed teaching tool I’ve used to date because Dr. Sam Beckett is the best example of what it means to be a decent human being.
I’m reminded of a line from the last episode, where Al the Bartender tells Sam that the lives he’s touched have touched others, and those lives, others. A simple TV show from the 90s has complete relevance to a generation born in the 21st century. That show touched my life and now through me it is touching the lives of dozens of children. This one fictional show continues to have a real world influence.
Watching Quantum Leap took me on a personal journey from the physical to the metaphysical, and eventually to the spiritual. No other concept has had such profound influence on how I live my life. Perhaps that’s all life is, after all, just one more leap in a series of spiritual missions. Just remember that wherever you are, or whenever you are—you are already home.
Clifton, New Jersey
It’s The Crew! is a web-comic developed by me and my friends that ran for four seasons of 13 episodes each. The first episode I scripted was based on Quantum Leap. You can view it here: http://itsthecrew.com/sex/itc-3-05-femme-banale-2005/
First photo shows the safe area for Dixie’s underwear outside “Safe Zone”
Second photo is back-side-boob of Dixie double
Third photo shows side-boob of what is clearly a Dixie double