Over Donald P. Bellisario's long career spanning six decades, it wouldn't be surprising that the one series he's often kept asked about in the near three decades since its original run is Quantum Leap. In a makeshift set reminiscent of the series that ran on NBC from 1989-1993, Bellisario spoke with Ars Technica in their Q&A session as part of their Unsolved Mysteries web series. Quantum Leap focuses on the adventures of Dr. Sam Beckett, played by Scott Bakula, who becomes his own guinea pig for a time-traveling device that allows him to jump from person to person while retaining his own conscience and changing fate. His guide is Al, played by Dean Stockwell, who is the only one who can locate and communicate with Sam on his mission on how he's supposed to change his subject or his target's destiny, but appears as a hologram. The voiceover introduction is reminiscent of the series' opening that describes its plot. The first question asked was "Was Sam really leaping or was he imaging it all?"
The Secrets Behind Quantum Leap
"It wasn't in Sam's mind," Bellisario said. "He was actually leaping. That's what I felt anyway. It wasn't something he was imagining. It was real." The second question was "What do people in the waiting room do while Sam is in their body?" "It's interesting to think what's in the waiting room," the NCIS creator began. "The waiting room came from a novel that I had read that had a waiting room in it. It's a different sense in Quantum Leap, people in the waiting room would be disturbed by what had happened. They would not understand what was going on, of course. Their interactions with each other would be interesting."
The shots as Bellisario describes show vignettes of past subjects including Dr. Ruth Westheimer. "I don't think they remember anything Sam felt when he was in their body, but I think they leap back into their body and remember being in the waiting room," he explained. "[They] don't understand what has happened. At one point I thought, 'Maybe that's where the stories come from about aliens. People felt like aliens when they came back. I think when Sam leaps into someone's body doing his thing…when he leaps back out, they're left without Sam. They don't remember what Sam did, but they do have a sense of confusion about what's going on with them at the time that the leap happened. It could drive someone crazy now that I come to think about it." Other questions include the decision to have Sam married to Donna; how Bellisario designed the future setting of the series; why the subjects of the series didn't affect worldly events; the decision to keep time travel within Sam's life; the evil leaper; how a reboot could work; and how Bellisario's own past serving with Lee Harvey Oswald drove arguably the series' controversial arc, among others. You can check out the rest in the video below.
And since you're here…
BCTV Daily Dispatch: For a look at what's going on across the television and streaming landscape, sign up for Bleeding Cool's daily email round-up of the news you need to know here.