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Quantum Leap - The Complete Third Season



DVD Release Date: Tuesday, May 10, 2005 (Universal Home Video)
MSRP: $49.98
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 22
Running Time: Approx 17 Hours
Audio: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Closed Captioned
Special Features: None.

My Thoughts:

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.

You cannot talk about the third season of Quantum Leap without talking about the first two episodes of the season ­ The Leap Home. In the first episode, Sam leaps home. Well, sort of. He leaps into himself in November 1969. Officially, he’s supposed to be there to win the basketball game his team lost originally, changing the lives for the better of most of the players in the game. However, Sam realizes he has a chance to change the lives of his family. His brother Tom is home, right before shipping out to Vietnam ­ where he’d get killed 5 months later. His dad was alive, not yet having had the heart attack which would kill him, and his sister was still several years removed from marrying an abusive alcoholic ­ and in this episode, Sam has the chance to change their lives for the better. At the end of the episode, Al tells Sam that Tom still dies in Vietnam, which leads to Sam yelling at Tom right as he leaps out and leaps into a member of the very Navy SEAL squad that Tom leads, on the day before Tom dies. This sets up the second episode of the season, in which Sam has to decide whether he’s there to save Tom or ensure the mission is a success. The rest of the season is great, but those two are the big ones.

Some guest starts to keep an eye out for in the third season: In the second episode of the season, Andrea Thompson (NYPD Blue, Babylon 5) guest stars as Maggie Dawson. Patrick Warburton (Seinfeld, Less Than Perfect, voice of Joe on Family Guy) plays a member of the SEALS squad, Blaster, while actress and future Playboy Cover girl Tia Carrere guest stars as Chu-Hoi. Josie Bissett (Melrose Place) and Diedrich Bader (The Drew Carey Show) guest star in the 9th episode of the season, rebel without a clue. Charles Rocket, the SNL cast member who said the f-word during a weekend update during the show’s 80-81 season (A BIG TV no-no) guest stars in the next episode, A Little Miracle. Also this season, Lauren Tom (Futurama, King of the Hill) guest stars in episode 16, Southern Comforts along with David Graf (Police Academy).

Universal elected to change packaging types for the third season release. Gone is the Digipak, which has been replaced by three slimcases. The front cover of the packaging has Sam and Al, standing of a hollow-foil 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 holo-foil. The still images on the back are lined up in two rows of four. The front cover of each slimcase 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 there’s no mention which episodes are on Side A or Side B. 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.

Menus follow the tradition of previous releases. Various stills from the season, as well as various years, fly by the animated green 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 looks good. It’s slightly grainy now and then, but overall, it looks good. They added chapter stops after the main theme this time, which is appreciated. However, the placements of other stops aren’t quite as well-planned. There’s a 23-minute gap between stop 1 and stop two, encompassing several scenes.

The audio sounds good. Universal went with a similar audio setup as they used on the first two sets, and overall, the set sounds nicer than broadcast or cable airings. However, once again, Universal elected to put out a release with replaced music as opposed to paying the licensing fees to get the original music. Universal did make sure to leave in music that you could visibly see someone singing it, so at least a little of the original music remains (Examples: Sam DOES still sing “Imagine” in The Leap Home, Oh What a Night is included as Al sings part of it during a scene, etc.) They at least made an effort this time to include the things that absolutely, positively, HAD to be there, but most of the rest is replaced--for shame, Universal. In Universal’s defense, at least they DID warn buyers in advance ­there’s 8-point microprint on the bottom of the reverse cover of the box that warns there’s music that may differ from the aired version. Not only did you alter the episodes with replaced music, but you didn’t include a single, solitary, extra. Not one single commentary track, NBC promo for the show, behind-the-scenes featurette….nothing.

Yet another episodes-only, music replaced release of Quantum Leap. It’s great to see the show on DVD, and I’m happy that Universal tried to keep a little of the original music, but the show just doesn’t have the same FEEL. PLEASE, Universal, for the 4th season release, TRY to get as much music as possible, even if it requires raising the price of the set a few dollars ­ most fans would give $5 extra if they knew that the show was completely intact and if it actually had some special features. Universal, please, for the fourth season’s set, give fans of the show something extra to chew on. Get Scott, Dean, and/or Donald Bellisario in for some commentary tracks. Contact NBC about getting the various NBC Quantum Leap promos for inclusion on the set. Give fans a blooper reel (on a show like Quantum Leap, someone HAD to have kept a gag reel).

I’d like to recommend this set, I really would, but ultimately, I can only advise that fans of the show get the series. With audio replacement, and no special features, I just honestly can’t recommend a set.

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 3.5/5
Special Features: N/A
Menu Navigation/Design: 5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

-- Reviewed by Seth Thrasher on 05/08/05

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