'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...)