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Quantum Leap - The Complete Fifth Season



DVD Release Date: November 14, 2006 (Universal Home Video)
MSRP: $49.98
Number of Discs: 3 (double-sided)
Number of Episodes: 21
Running Time: approx. 17 hours 8 minutes
Audio: English
Subtitles: English SDH
Special Features: Blueprints from the original set


The one part of my reviews I get to repeat each release. Once more, with FEELING: 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.

And that’s four times getting to write that, over five releases (season one was never reviewed), and this is it. The final year. The new theme. The leap into a real person (Lee Harvey Oswald). The evil leaper. Even some of the more die-hard Leap fans could be forgiven if they claimed this season was a shark-jumper --­ while still many others claim this season as their favorite due to the realistic characters and settings used on a more frequent basis. I see the value of both sides of this debate….at least with all the elements other than the theme. Seriously, why did they change it? The theme went from another one of Mike Post’s classic pieces to…this. At least it was changed back for the final episode.

Still, there were definitely some enjoyable moments, and the finale is GOOD.

Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

I seem to name an episode from each season immediately at the start of the QL reviews, so let’s do this one more time:

”Mirror Image” - This is easily *my* favorite episode from the season. Sam leaps into a strange mining town at what turns out to be the exact moment of his birth, and discovers that the town isn’t what it seems --­ the first indication being the bartender, a guy by the name of Al. He’s the bartender, but he also “owns the place”, which will become a more understandable metaphor when you watch the show. Sam winds up saving mine workers, only to have it revealed that the old miner who was advising him leaped out right after helping Sam, and that from their perspective, the guy had died years ago. Ultimately, Sam is led to realize that SAM is the one responsible for ­ and in control of ­ his leaping, and that it’s ultimately his decision. Once he realizes this, his first stop is back to the late 60s, and a leap straight into the kitchen of Beth, where Sam tells her Al is alive and that he’s coming home. An emotional scene, then fade to black, where the on-screen text tells you Beth never remarried, and her and Al have 4 kids ­ and that Sam never returned home.

Of course, that’s the aired ending. There’s also the alternate ending, which woefully is NOT included on this set (though has been available practically everywhere, and which you can download at the bottom of the page on this website by clicking HERE:

The next episode I want to mention is the 2-hour Lee Harvey Oswald leap. This episode was certainly interesting - Sam leaps into Lee Harvey Oswald. The episode follows the sole assassin theory (I’m not about to get into the other Kennedy Assassination theories --­ that’s neither here nor there). Sam leaps into various points in the life of Lee Harvey Oswald, in an effort to seemingly prevent him from killing Kennedy. This gets compounded by the problem that with each successive leap, the minds of Sam and Lee are gradually merging, and if Al can’t get Sam out of the situation, it’ll wind up being Sam who pulls the trigger to kill Kennedy. At one point, if you pay attention to the Marine that Oswald meets with, you’ll notice the name is Bellisario. According to frequent claims and reports, Bellisario actually met Oswald while they were both in the Marines, and that was worked into the episode. The episode Killin’ Time is amusing, if for no other reason than Gushie has to temporarily act as Observer, as Al must find the homicidal criminal Sam leaped in to who escaped the waiting room. Deliver Us From Evil introduces Alia, the evil leaper ­ someone whose goal is to “put wrong what once went right.” In Dr. Ruth, Al leaps into a circa 1985 Dr. Ruth. In Return/Revenge of the Evil Leaper, Sam manages to bring Alia to the good side, but then they spend the second half of the two-parter trying to keep from being caught by Alia’s former observer --­ while being caught in a female prison and trying to decide whether this was his leap (put things right), or her leap (put things wrong). Next episode sees Sam as the chauffeur of Marilyn Monroe, who must help her stay alive --­ at least long enough to make 1 more movie. In The Leap Between the States, Sam leaps into his own great-grandfather during the Civil War, to ensure both the continuance of the Beckett family line, and to help an ancestor of Dr. Martin Luther King make it to the North. In Memphis Melody, Sam leaps into Elvis. After that is the aforementioned Mirror Image.

In terms of special guests: Brooke Shields plays Vanessa in “Leaping of the Shrew,” A pre-"Friends" Jennifer Aniston plays Kiki in “Nowhere to Run.” In this episode, Michael Boatman, a few years before playing Carter on Spin City, plays Sgt. Billy Johnson). Finally, a young Beverly Mitchell, four years before her role as Lucy on 7th Heaven, plays Becky in “Killin’ Time.”


The packaging is three slimcases, one double-sided disc per case. Cover is reflective yellow, with the Quantum Leap logo at top, and The Complete Fifth Season above it, with a picture of Sam and Al in center, and the text “Dr. Sam Beckett’s Final Leap” at the bottom. Back cover is yellow and white, with rows of still images at the top and bottom, and text in the center. All 3 slimcases use the same art as the front cover, with episode details on the back.

Disc Breakdown:
Disc 1:
Side A: Episodes 1-3
Side B: Episodes 4-7

Disc 2:
Side A: 8-11
Side B: 12-15

Disc 3:
Side A: 16-19
Side B: 20-21

Menu Design and Navigation:

Same old same old, but that doesn’t make that a bad thing. The episodes play with the FIRST theme in the background (no 1992-93 theme in the menus). Clips from the season play in the center, other stills fly by, all in front of a yellow background. Episode selection features a still from each episode with episode title below it. Play All feature is in each episode’s menu. Chapter selection does NOT exist from the episode menus, but can still be accessed via the next/previous chapter buttons on your remote.

Video and Audio Quality:

I’d save this for later, but you probably already know by now --­ season five contains ALL the original music used in the last season. Whatever factor allowed Universal to use all the original music I’m extremely thankful for the show, particularly the poignant last scene, just would NOT have been the same otherwise. It’s just a shame that seasons 2-4 couldn’t have the original music put out. Perhaps Universal would consider a reissue of those seasons while they have the clearances so that we might get to hear the episodes as intended? Either way, I give a BIG THANK YOU to Universal for finally coming through.

Episodes look GOOD ­ and I mean VERY good. Colors are perfect, there’s no dirt, grain, compression issues, artifacts….nothing. The video is just…GOOD. It helps that later seasons were obviously produced more “recently” compared to the older ones, thus allowing less deterioration time. Audio is a nice 2.0 track. No defects, audio is good. As mentioned before, chapter stops exist at fade-to-black points.

Episode runtimes:

Disc 1 Side A:
Lee Harvey Oswald: 1:30:49
Leaping of the Shrew: 46:44
Nowhere to Run: 46:45

Disc 1 Side B:
Killin’ Time: 45:46
Star Light, Star Bright: 46:46
Deliver Us From Evil: 46:10
Trilogy, Part I: 46:16

Disc 2 Side A:
Trilogy Part II: 45:24
Trilogy Part III: 47:46
Promised Land: 47:20
A Tale of Two Sweeties: 46:41

Disc 2 Side B:
Liberation: 45:46
Dr. Ruth: 46:44
Blood Moon: 46:42
Return of the Evil Leaper: 44:52

Disc 3 Side A:
Revenge of the Evil Leaper: 48:46
Goodbye Norma Jean: 45:45
The Beast Within: 45:29
The Leap Between the States: 45:38

Disc 3 Side B:
Memphis Melody: 46:41
Mirror Image: 47:19

A lot of the runtimes (under 46 min.) seem a bit short, eh? Truthfully, it was probably just short-running episodes in combination with increased commercial time by this point. Still, the only original broadcast episode I have for comparison is Mirror Image. For what its worth, while doing the side by side comparison, it’s remarkable how MUCH better the DVD version’s video quality is. Some sequences in the opening titles are different. The original broadcast copy’s credits actually uses season 5’s imagery, while the DVD copy seems to use a lot of older shots. Next change is that the flashback to MIA is in black & white, but was in color in the original broadcast. The DVD episode seems to move just slightly faster than the original broadcast episode. Episode times run close of each other, yet, like I said, the video seems to go just SLIGHTLY faster than the episode from original broadcast, and there are a couple minor glitches. However, ultimately, the episodes time out right. Not edited, per se, just a couple minor…differences.

Special Features:

Blueprints: Wow. Well, after two seasons of nothing (2 and 3), and merely an advance episode gracing season 4’s set, this is an upgrade --­ if albeit a small, still image, one.

Final Comments:

And that’s that. Five seasons of Quantum Leap, and we’re done. Universal fumbled with the music issue in the middle three seasons, but righted things with this set, and for that, I and all the other fans of this show,­ thank them. There were still a few things I’d have liked to have seen done better, music aside (the lack of features for one), but it’s certainly not a bad set. RECOMMENDED

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

Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 5/5
Special Features: 1/5
Menu Navigation/Design: 5/5
Overall: 4.5/5

-- Reviewed by Seth Thrasher on 12/09/06

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