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Quantum Leap - The Complete Fourth Season


TITLE: QUANTUM LEAP - THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON


Info:

DVD Release Date: March 28, 2006 (Universal Home Video)
Color/1991-92
MSRP: $49.98
Number of Discs: 3 (double-sided)
Number of Episodes: 22
Running Time: approx 17 hours 10 min
Audio: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Closed Captioned
Special Features: Quantum Leap Season Five Episode “Liberation”


Introduction:

Theorizing that one could time travel within his own lifetime, Dr. Sam Beckett led an elite group of scientists into the desert to develop a top secret project, known as Quantum Leap. Pressured to prove his theories or lose funding, Dr. Beckett prematurely stepped into the project accelerator, and vanished--he awoke to find himself in the past, suffering from partial amnesia, and facing a mirror image that was not his own. Fortunately, contact with his own time is maintained through brainwave transmissions with Al, the project observer, who appeared in the form of a hologram that only Dr. Beckett can see and hear. Trapped in the past, Dr. Beckett finds himself leaping from life to life, putting things right that once went wrong, and hoping, each time, that his next leap -- will be the leap home.

I love getting to write those lines. ­ It’s one of my favorite parts of this job. Any who, Season Four of Quantum Leap has made it onto DVD nearly a year after the last release! Take a trip through time with the daring Dr. Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula) and his hilarious hologram guide Al (Dean Stockwell) in all 22 extraordinary, groundbreaking episodes of Quantum Leap: The Complete [sic] Fourth Season. Its adventure like you have never seen, with each amazing episode from this eight time Emmy-nominated season. Journey back as Sam and Al survive a hurricane, trail a murderer, make a monkey out of themselves, and even switch roles! With each “leap” into another identity, Sam hopes to find some new insight into the jump that will finally take him home.

The fact that I chose to include the [sic] comment above after the word complete should answer the obvious question, but stick around, and I’ll try to make this a good read anyway.


Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

The Leap Back. Well, THAT took me long enough. It’s the first episode of the season, the first episode that I feel deserves mention ­ heck, it’s easily the first episode I think of when someone says “Quantum Leap Season Four”. For those who don’t know the plot of the episode...here she goes America’s 3rd favorite mishap-inducing plot device, a lightning strike, turns the world upside-down so to speak, as Sam finds himself back in the present and reunited with his wife Donna (!), while Al finds himself leaped into 1945 on a mission to save a former POW (!!) and his girlfriend. Before this leap is over, secrets will be revealed, and some of Sam’s lost memories will be recovered from the brink of time. WATCH THIS EPISODE.

I’m only going to suggest one more, but most of the episodes this season continue to be quite good, and usually aren’t very gimmick-y (No comments about Bobo, please). That being said, let’s skip ahead to the season finale, A Leap for Lisa. Please, stop me if you know this one. For those of you who don’t: Sam leaps into the body of a young Al (!), when he was a Naval pilot accused of raping and murdering the wife of his commanding officer (!!). The murder trial goes from bad to worse when a nurse whom Al was familiar with -- :) -- dies in a car crash after Sam gives his alibi in the case.

The Fun List of Guest Stars for Quantum Leap S4:
(Back to the Old Way)
Joseph Gordon-Levitt (“3rd Rock from the Sun”): Permanent Wave
Eriq La Salle (“ER”): A Song for the Soul
Carla Gugino (“Chicago Hope”, “Spin City): Ghost Ship
Dr. Laura Schlessinger (Dr. Laura….): Roberto!
Amy Yasbeck: (“Wings”; John Ritter’s Wife): Stand Up
Bob Saget (“How I Met Your Mother”; “Full House”): Stand Up
Charles Rocket (“Saturday Night Live): A Leap for Lisa
Terry Farrell (“Becker”; “Star Trek: DS9”): A Leap for Lisa
Roddy McDowall (“Planet of the Apes): A Leap for Lisa


Packaging:

As with Season Three, Season Four uses a three-slim case setup. The front cover of the packaging has Sam, flying solo for the first time since the first season, standing of a reflective-color red background with various faded still images from the show, and various years flying by in the background. Back cover is similar in concept, but without the reflection. The still images on the back are lined up into two rows of four. The front cover of each slim case is the same as the front cover of the outer box, while the back cover of each is a listing of each episode found on the disc, though once again there’s no mention which episodes are on Side A or Side B. As these are double-sided discs, there is no disc art. Disc 1 Side A contains episodes 1-4, 1B contains episodes 5-8, 2A contains 9-12, 2B contains 13-16, 3A contains 17-20, and 3B contains the last two episodes of the season plus the bonus episode. Dual-sided, double-layer DVDs, such as QL S4, honestly give my computer’s DVD player just a bit of indigestion.


Menu Design and Navigation:

Menus follow the tradition of previous releases. Various stills from the season, as well as various years, fly by the animated red background, while various clips from the season play in the middle. The short version of the theme plays throughout. There are only a couple of sub-menus - Episode Index, and Languages in addition to the Play All button. The Episode Menu is just still images in front of the series in front of a teal-colored background of Sam right before his initial leap.


Video and Audio Quality:

Video looks good. It appears slightly better than last season’s set. A lot of the graininess is gone. Colors look fairly bright and vivid. The video isn’t going to blow anyone’s mind by any stretch of the imagination, but it looks good. Chapter stops [Yes, I’m stalling] are WELL placed this time, occurring at fade to blacks and thus not skipping scenes ­ in fact, there is actually a SCENE SELECTION menu (was there one before and I just missed it?). Nice.

El List of Runtimes [stall mode continuing]:
The Leap Back: 46:36
Play Ball: 47:04
Hurricane: 46:08
Justice: 45:58
Permanent Wave: 47:00
Raped: 46:40
The Wrong Stuff: 46:34
Dreams: 46:34
A Single Drop of Rain: 46:35
Unchained: 45:57
The Play’s the Thing: 47:04
Running for Honor: 47:05
Temptation Eyes: 47:03
The Last Gunfighter: 47:03
A Song for the Soul: 47:06
Ghost Ship: 47:04
Roberto!: 46:24
It’s a Wonderful Leap: 46:35
Moments to Live: 47:25
The Curse of Ptah-Hotep: 47:06
Stand Up: 47:03
A Leap for Lisa: 47:06

[tic…tic] The Audio is a nice Dolby Digital 2.0 track playing at 192 Kbps. [tic…tic] The sound is well-done, with voice, music, and sound properly distributed. [tic…tic] As for other issues, hmm, Spanish subtitles…OK, enough. Music Replacement = Very Yes. I know’s it when I hear’s it with this show. http://www.quantumleap-alsplace.com/mediapages/dvdseasonfour.htm should have a complete list at some point in the future. I’m afraid I don’t have the time or resources to produce a complete list myself.


Special Features:

For the first time, a Sitcoms Online review for Quantum Leap has an actual special features section! (We didn’t review S1). Universal on all their TV DVDs as of late has been including a “bonus episode”. Usually it’s an episode of the same show from later in the series, and Quantum Leap is no exception. The episode included is the S5 episode “Liberation”. Music replacement strikes again, though in a rare example of a music change NOT made on this episode that’s *usually* made, the different season five THEME is LEFT IN. For fans used to the Sci-Fi Channel airings, this IS a nice change. The runtime of Liberation is 45:46. By the end, NBC was starting to dig into QL, so a runtime a bit south of 46 minutes isn’t that unlikely. Watch for the cameo at the end by Dr. Ruth.

Then there’s this 80s TV flashback featurette. Its 30 minutes of actual interviews about miscellaneous Universal-owned shows from the 80s. 29:01 and oooook.


Final Comments:

Oooh boy. There is really, REALLY, only one reason not to buy this set, and it’s the elephant in the room: Music replacement. I’m wildly against music replacement, and there were definitely scenes I could tell that music was replaced ­ it was just that obvious. At least Universal DID try to use stock music that sounded VAGUELY like the stuff it replaced, so that’s good.

Up next is the final season. And if the preview episode is any indication, expect music replacement. And it’s a shame that seasons 2-5 have been tarnished by such a thing, because Quantum Leap is a REALLY good show, and there are hundreds if not thousands who would have purchased the sets had this issue not happened. I understand it costs money to license music, but there are a LOT of TV fans who are willing to pay a bit more money for a better experience. If, for example, the MSRP was $5 higher for season five, but as a result we would be guaranteed the entire original music score, I can honestly say with every bit of confidence sales would not go down, but would probably show a modest uptick. Quantum Leap’s MSRP AS-IS is quite reasonable given the # of episodes/time per show/et al, and a modest increase to offset licensing costs would NOT be a problem here.

I’m going on this rant because I honestly hope SOMEONE from the Home Video arm of NBC Universal sees this next sentence, and pays attention to it: Season five is the last season, and in the last episode, there is an ultra-dramatic moment to close out the series in which Sam returns to tell Beth that Al’s alive -­ all to the tune of Georgia / Georgia on My Mind by Ray Charles. This song MAKES the scene, and some die-hards would even argue the series. If NO other song in the entire season is included, PLEASE, INCLUDE *THIS SONG*. If no other song in the SEASON makes it, please include this one. I hate making statements that “speak for people”, but I REALLY DO I speak for Quantum Leap fans worldwide when I BEG you to include this song.

OK, enough groveling. You know, music replacement aside, this is not a badly-done set. If you can live with music replacement, feel free to pick up the buy. If not, I still encourage rental. For the final season, I’d love to see some interview featurettes or commentary tracks….or anything. I’ll take what I can get [though I’d personally sacrifice that stuff for proper music].


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)

Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 3.5/5
Special Features: 2/5
Menu Navigation/Design: 5/5
Overall: 3/5

-- Reviewed by Seth Thrasher on 03/30/06

To purchase the DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000CQM4YM/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20


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