Thursday, October 21, 2004

Notes from a Recovering Leaper

"Assignment:  What gone, but not forgotten, TV series do you miss the most?

Extra Credit:  If you had to be on a game show or reality show, which one would it be?"

This is a hard entry for me. I don't want to write about the show I have to write about. In the words of a certain vampire slayer, "I'm all avoidy."

It would be fair to say that I've spent a good chunk of my emotional, intellectual, and creative life to date obsessing about one tv show or another. Back in the early 1970s, I was always upset if at 5 PM on any weekday I was away from home, and thus unable to watch Star Trek on Channel 9. I was also upset when Channel 9 occasionally gave the series a rest, and aired Mission: Impossible instead.

TARDIS bank and MOMI buttonIn college the first time around, circa 1977, I once dropped a required course in my major because it was at the same time as Barney Miller, and infinitely more boring. The major was radio-television. The course: The Business of Television.

John spent a good chunk of 1989 out of town on business. I coped by finishing the Christmas trivia book and the first complete draft of Heirs of Mâvarin, and by watching three shows: Doctor Who (Saturday nights on KUAT), The Jim Henson Hour (for as long as it lasted, which wasn't long) and - you guessed it - Quantum Leap. It's almost a toss-up between Doctor Who and QL which one I miss more. I think I have to go with QL, largely because Doctor Who is still around in classic and restored video, new audio, and the occasional convention, not to mention the new series currently in production. Sometime soon I'll write about a particular actor from Doctor Who, but not tonight. Tonight the subject is Quantum Leap.

Autographed script of the pilot episode. I've written before about my years as Project Chairman of the fan club Project Quantum Leap and writer-editor on The Observer. I don't really want to doso again now. Instead, let me just say what appealed to me about the show. Yeah, yeah, Scott Bakula was amazingly amazing as Sam, and Dean Stockwell could be funny one moment, and show a lot of depth and pathos the next.  But really, the hook for me was the writing. The show's creator, Don Bellisario, wrote many of the best episodes, including the pilot, "M.I.A." and "The Leap Home," but most of the writer-producers had outstanding ones as well:

*VHS. I also have LD and and DVD. More DVDs are on the way. Deborah Pratt: After an unauthorized shock treatment in an asylum, Sam loses his own identity and mentally revisits past leaps in "Shock Theater." Sam (as Kid Cody): "So, uh, I'm a good guy." Al: "Yeah, you're a damn good guy."
* Paul Brown: Parallels abound and Sam almost loses faith as he understudies the role of Don Quixote in "Catch a Falling Star." Al: "More misadventures?" Sam: "Adventures, old friend!"
* Tommy Thompson: As the tv sidekick to Captain Galaxy, Sam must save a fellow dreamer and would-be time traveler in "Future Boy." Moe: "Quantum leap. I like that. I like it a lot."
* Chris Ruppenthal: Sam makes Peoria safe for rock and roll in "Good Morning, Peoria." Sam: "Al, this is incredible! I feel like I've been given a license to play!"

Observer No 27. I didn't edit it, but I did design the cover.The characters were great, the backstory was intriguing, the themes were idealistic and realistic at the same time, and, well, you know, time travel is practically like a drug for me. And I love the idea that one person can really make a difference in the lives of others, even if most of the time it doesn't seem that way in real life.

Besides my involvement with the fan club and The Observer, I wrote a couple pieces of fanfic, attended conventions, interviewed lots of people, collected at least one script from each episode, had adventures, and almost got to co-write a book. I even made a pilgrimage to New Mexico to scout out where the Project would be if it existed in our reality.

All this QL-related activity was fun, and sometimes stressful, and a bit of a drag after the first five or six years, when my obligations outlived the show. But yes, I still care about Quantum Leap, and I still miss it, even though I hardly ever pop a tape in the VCR.

Danny Strong at Gallifrey One, 2004.Quantum Leap has been gone from network tv for eleven years now, so it's probably no surprise that there have been other shows since then that meant something to me, principly Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Like with QL, the main hook for me is the writing. I didn't join any clubs or edit any zines for that show, but I've bought the DVDs, posted to a board or two, bought books and magazines, and met Danny Strong, who played nebbishy Jonathan on the show. That's as close to serious fandom as I've gotten in a decade. Yes, I miss Buffy just about as much as Quantum Leap, but that's as much a function of time as anything else.

some of my surviving QL buttons.Extra Credit: A game show? You want me to pick a game show to be on? Yuck! Okay. Password, as hosted by the late Allen Ludden.  Or maybe To Tell the Truth, as hosted by the late Bud Collyer. I'd be the one who wasn't an impostor. That's right. I'm holding out for the total time travel experience, even in my game show choices. I'll leave the Jeopardy appearance to Sarah K. - on really life, we hope!

As for reality shows, I don't watch them. I certainly wouldn't appear on one. I have quite enough reality in my life, thank you very much.


A Cautionary Tale

Pictures of the Past

1 comment:

ryanagi said...

Little known fact...I was born the year Star Trek first aired. ;-) I miss QL. I miss Buffy. I miss Angel. All my fav shows get bagged before I am ready to let them go.