Quantum Leap

Season 1 Episode 1

Genesis (1)

Aired Friday 12:00 AM Mar 26, 1989 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
131 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary


September 13, 1956: Although the Project Quantum Leap isn't ready yet, Sam Beckett doesn't listen to supercomputer Ziggy, hops into the Accelerator and leaps. As Tom Stratton, an Air Force test pilot, Sam finds his memory Swiss cheesed, with only enough left to know that he is not where or when he belongs. Al explains that the Project has gone awry and that the only way Sam can leap out is by flying the X-2 to Mach 3.


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  • Sam Beckett steps into the Quantum Leap accelerator, which is not yet perfected, and is whisked back to 1956, where he awakes to find himself with a pregnant wife, a pilot of an experimental aircraft, and little memory of his true identity. Great pilot...moreless

    'Quantum Leap' was first shown on BBC Two here in the United Kingdom, I believe, in 1990. I wasn't quite in from the Pilot on this one; I came in a few episodes later, after a school friend told me how good it was. It was shown in a 9pm slot, one of the last such imported shows the Beeb ran in such a prominent slot, before they dropped imported shows from their peak-time schedules in favour of home-grown programmes and $ky started poaching the rights to things.

    Both Scott Bakula and Dean Stockwell are very well cast; it's easy to warm to Sam and his plight) something that I find lets so many TV shows down today – unlikable or hard-to-warm to leads).

    On the whole, this is a great Pilot to the series. It is a little slow in places, but for the most part this serves to build up a sense of mystery and wonder as to what has happened to Sam, instead of grounding proceedings to a complete halt. Things also have a rather sophisticated, well thought out feel to them, a trait that often comes from creator / writer Donald P. Bellisario (behind another of my all-time favourites; 'Magnum, p.i.'; by the way, I love the throwaway mention her that Sam's sister had married Jim Bonnick, a recurring character from later seasons of 'Magnum').

    I like how information about the Quantum Leap project and Sam, unfolds bit-by-bit, not yet completely filling in the holes. In this and the other early episodes, Sam's memory is "Swiss cheesed", remembering little about his true identity or the QL project, yet able to recall complex formulas, languages and other technical information. I really like this added sense of mystery. Later on, this was gradually phased out as Sam's memory started to return; indeed, it would probably have started to get repetitive with Sam having to have every little detail explained to him each episode, but also, in reality, it was to allow the writers to develop into some wider ranging storylines.

    I both agree and disagree with a fellow reviewer, who says that Al is not yet rounded, being a lovable drunk and unhelpful comic relief. It's true that here, Al might not yet be the more rounded character he would soon become, but at the same time, I think it's just down to this being the first episode and both the writers and Stockwell finding their footing - it's far from many other TV Pilots, where such characters are glaringly different to what they would become in the regular series; there's nothing here that doesn't really sit with what Al's character would become.

    One of my few gripes is the very obvious use of stock footage for the areal shots; presumably, they had to dig quite deep in the archives to find something that matched the era (this was long before affordable CGI could recreate such things), but the grainy, scratchy footage does stand out quite a lot. It might not be the best paced stories, but I found this helped to get a feel for the characters, and it kept my interest throughout. I give this first half a very decent 9/10.

    (Review continued in Part 2...)moreless
  • great

    the first epesode is great . i watched it twice when i first got the dvd home. i didn't quit remember how the series started off with sam leaping into a test piolet for the air force. scott backula almost like dracula is one of my favorite actors from the late 80's early 90's. i really got into him when he did the star trek enterprize. i would love it if they would redo quantum leap and revamp it for today's kids. i know they probably won't or they've already thought about it and the demagraphics didn't show good numbers.moreless
  • A good place to start

    A satisfying opener to the series, finding Sam as an airplane pilot in 1956 with no idea of who he is or how he got there.

    All of the key elements of the series are not yet in place (underscored by the fact that Al can't tell Sam anything about the Experiment--probably because show creator Don Bellisario hadn't figured it out yet!). The effects aren't very good, and Al's personality is not yet fully rounded. Here he's a "loveable drunk" and unhelpful comic relief. Later he'll be a recovering alcoholic, a deservedly proud Admiral, and Sam's best friend.

    Still, there's a lot of good humor and fun with the premise, and Scott Bakula and Dean Stockwell have chemistry right off the bat. If you're about to start watching QL for the first time, the pilot episode really is a good place to start.moreless
  • A great average episode.

    I happen to think that the pilot episode of Quantum Leap was rather bland, slow, and boring. I also think that it was also interesting, refreshing, and entertaining. How do I say that they were both good and bad? It comes out to an okay episode with great potential. I did not know what to expect when I started watching this show. The pilot episode didn't exactly thrill me. I found certain aspects rather good, and I liked the entire premise. I guess that it held my interest to watch future episodes, which were much better and more entertaining. Overall, a decent episode. Thank you.moreless
  • Good First Episode

    I thought that this first episode of Quantum Leap was very good. This wasn't the first episode I saw but after I saw this one I knew that this show was good from the beggining. I couldn't wait to see Part 2. Overall- Good Pilot episode of Quantum Leap. 1
Dean Stockwell

Dean Stockwell

Rear Admiral Albert "Al" Calavicci

Scott Bakula

Scott Bakula

Dr. Samuel "Sam" Beckett

John Allen Nelson

John Allen Nelson

Captain "Bird Dog" Birdell

Guest Star

W.K. Stratton

W.K. Stratton

Dr. Berger

Guest Star

Newell Alexander

Newell Alexander

John Beckett

Guest Star

Dennis Wolfberg

Dennis Wolfberg


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (2)

    • Trivia: When Sam first wakes up, the song in the background is Que Sera Sera. A particularly relevant line in that song is "The future's not ours to see..."

    • When Peg and Tom are doing the shower/mirror scene the head movements made by Peg are not the same as in the mirror.

  • QUOTES (5)

    • Sam: Given enough time, you can get used to anything. Even a nightmare.

    • Al: Isn't it great? I mean, isn't this just great? Brings back so many old memories. Hey, have they got "Be-Bop-A-Lula" on there? Got me through some long cold nights at MIT. "Be-Bop" and a little Lithuanian girl named Danesa.

    • Sam: (looking up) Please, God. I'd like to wake up now.

    • Al: My name is Albert... Albert what, I can't tell you because it's restricted. Most of what you're gonna wanna know is restricted. So it'll be easier for us if you don't ask a lot of questions.
      Sam: What are you?
      Al: That's a question, Sam.

    • Sam: What's my last name?
      Al: If you can't remember, I can't tell you.
      Sam: It's important.
      Al: But it's also on top of Ziggy's no-no list, double-starred.
      Sam: Why?
      Al: I can't tell you that either.
      Sam: Well what the hell can you tell me?
      Al: Basically, what you already know--that you're, uh, part of a time travel experiment... that went a little caca.
      Sam: "A little ca-ca?" How little ca-ca?
      Al: Well, you're here, which is a biggie. I mean, that's a first. It's Nobel Prize time.

  • NOTES (7)

    • The futuristic sound of the engine of Al's car at the very beginning of the story, is taken from that of K.I.T.T.'s in Knight Rider. The sound of Al's car accelerating also incorporates K.I.T.T.'s turbo boost sound, with a couple of other effects mixed in.

    • Injoke: Sam mentions that his sister's second husband was Lt. Jim Bonnick, and the couple moved to Hawaii. This is an injoke to Bellisario's previous program, Magnum P.I.. Jim Bonnick was a con-man played by Jeff MacKay, and who was a lookalike for series regular Lt. McReynolds (also played by MacKay). Hawaii was the setting for the series.

    • Filmed with the assistance of the Flight Test Center, Edwards Air Force Base.

    • When NBC reran this episode in the summer of 1989 with the other season 1 episodes, they cut it down to 90 minutes by cutting out the Ken Fox storyline and cutting from the leap out of Tom Stratton directly into the leap-in preview of the next episode.

    • Scott Bakula (Dr. Samuel "Sam" Beckett), Dean Stockwell (Rear Admiral Albert "Al" Calavicci), Dennis Wolfberg (Gooshie) and Bruce McGill (Weird Ernie) all appear in both the first and the last episodes of the series.

    • No episode title was shown during the two-hour airing of this episode. It simply went by the title "Quantum Leap." For syndication, the episode is cut into two one-hour segments. The break occurs just after the point where Peggy kisses Sam and then realizes something is different. Some other two-part versions, such as the one shown several times by BBC Two in the United Kingdom, make the break between episodes as Sam gazes in awe at the X-2 jet; Part 2 resumes in the same scene, as Al appaears.

    • The short opening sequence for this episode is replaced by the fourth season opening sequence when aired on the Sci-Fi Channel.