This show has one of the more original premise attached to it, five friends and their relationship over 15 years, only it is presented to us as a series of flash forwards and flashbacks from 1993 to 2001 to 2008.
This was a really great show that didn't get the airtime it deserved! The storyline was fascinating, but the writers were limited by the single season without confirmation that the show was ever going to be renewed. This was in the early years of Showtime Original Series and there were lots of ideas floating out there at the time. I don't know where you can see it now that it's off the air, but it would be great to see the concept of the show revitalized and started over. The show itself is somewhat weak in that the characters are generally stereotypes (the whiny rich Jewish guy, the diva who becomes a victim of her ego and greed, the arty gay guy, the poor kid who makes good only to become what he used to despise) but the actors do a fairly good job of fleshing them out. The plots can be a tad confusing if you are just catching an episode with all the jumps forward and back, but once you catch a couple of episodes things become clear and you quickly become addicted to finding out what comes next and how it will affect their future.
Leap Years is an engaging and somewhat addictive soap opera with a KILLER CONCEPT: intertwining the past (1993), present (2001) and future (2008) events in the lives of a circle of friends. The leaps backward and forward can at first be a little jarring and confusing, but you catch on quickly if you follow the well orchestrated cues.
Clever but subtle timeline clues are provided, such as keeping the characters’ physical appearances and clothing preferences consistent during a time period, but very distinct from another time period. (Watch Gregory’s hair and Beth’s glasses for surefire signposts.) Music is also put to good use to serve this purpose.
Especially interesting from a dramatic perspective are the juxtapositions of the past cause / genesis of an event, the (current) event itself and the future downstream effect / outcome of the event.
Character growth is reflected in the characters’ actions and dialogue, but we don’t see the kind of change in bearing and presence that you’d expect over a 15 year timeframe in someone’s life. An exception to this is the Gregory character, who comes out and matures to acceptance of his gayness during the 15 years. (For this we can probably credit Queer as Folk producer-creators Lipman and Cowen who also created Leap Years.)
As earlier stated, this is a soap, so the characters are a somewhat stereotypical cardboard rainbow: the black diva actress-singer, the Hispanic boy-from-the-hood made good lawyer-cum-politico, the artsy queer writer / director, the Jewish trust fund baby who matures from idealistic to jaded and the goody-two-shoes WASP schoolteacher. The plots are somewhat melodramatic—blindness, murdered lovers, casting couch, mob lawyers, etc. --but again, it’s a soap.
For a concept so tricky to pull off, Leap Years makes very few egregious gaffs. For one, the 2008 events suffer from a little too much futurism. This series premiered in 2001, and the clothing, furnishings and cars shown in the 2008 segments would have been a bit of a stretch for only a seven year jump. (Let’s keep in mind that the lifespan of a typical car’s body style is 4 years and that laptops don’t really LOOK radically different from their 1996 ancestors.) Watched in 2006, some of the 2008 scenes are reminiscent of the old flying cars and jetpacks 50s and 60s vision of the 21st century. (It would have been cheaper and more realistic for Leap Years to have extrapolated one or two common items—say TVs or cell phones—which have changed pretty radically in shape and form over the last decade or so.) But then again, the overdone future does help you distinguish these events from 1993 and 2001.
Luckily this show doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously. Watch for the amusingly tongue-in-cheek episodes in which we see Gregory directing a 2001 film based on events that we saw happen to him in 1993. This makes for some fun déjà vu.
The choice of Talking Heads' "Once in a Lifetime" for a theme song is also a nice touch.
Leap Years is a fun take on a great concept. However the concept itself is very cool and I’d love to see it worked to more serious dramatic effect in a film or mini-series some day. It might even be fun to see it applied to a dramatized “biography” of someone famous or some famous event.
Please read the following before uploading
Do not upload anything which you do not own or are fully licensed to upload. The images should not contain any sexually explicit content, race hatred material or other offensive symbols or images. Remember: Abuse of the TV.com image system may result in you being banned from uploading images or from the entire site – so, play nice and respect the rules!