❉ Oh boy! This is the best release of this classic show that we’ll ever see, writes Matt Dale.
The action-packed romantic sci-fi pseudo-anthology drama finally makes it to Blu-ray in the UK. Quantum Leap is making something of a resurgence at the moment, as the very demographic it was originally aimed at (30-40somethings nostalgic for memories of the ’50s and ’60s) are now replicated as those of us that grew up with the show reach the same age bracket and get a very different nostalgic fix from ’80s and ’90s TV.
For five years, Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula in his defining role) travelled through time, putting right what once went wrong, aided by holographic companion Al (Dean Stockwell, having tremendous fun commenting on the action with only Bakula able to see him). It was a show for a simpler time, with heroes and villains painted in black and white, and straightforward morals, and anyone new to the show might find it odd that Sam isn’t the typical modern show lead with a complex backstory and confused moral compass. And yet, it still stands up in many ways – the humour and adventure are timeless, and many of the moral themes (racism, gender equality etc) are sadly either still problematic today or have very close parallels.
So, is Fabulous Films’ new set worth a leap into the unknown? Well, it really depends on what (if anything), you’re upgrading from. For the most part, they’ve used the same HD masters that have been doing the rounds for a couple of years, used now for streaming by iTunes, Amazon, Hulu and the like, along with Mill Creek’s 2017 US release. These masters have some pros and cons. Most importantly, the sound and picture quality is generally very good, and head and shoulders above the DVDs – however the picture is rather inconsistent, with black levels changing from one episode to the next, and the framing a little off on some episodes (this is only particularly noticeable on A Portrait for Troian, which is quite heavily cropped). As expected, when comparing the various HD releases, the additional bitrate afforded to Blu-ray stands this above the streaming versions, although there’s no noticeable difference from the US set, which was compressed onto a few less discs. Importantly, the pop and rock music is all present and correct, which isn’t the case for many of the DVDs. This last fact alone is worth the upgrade to HD.
The actual episodic content matches (for the most part) all the prior HD releases, warts and all. There’s some fixes in place for fans used to the DVDs (yes, Play it Again, Seymour has the correct opening titles) along with some odd glitches that didn’t exist on broadcast or on the DVDs (the audio of the saga sell for All-Americans for one). For the most part, this is only the sort of thing for us especially picky leapers (of which I consider myself a proud member) to get our collective knickers in a twist over, but it’s unfortunate that Fabulous didn’t do their research a little better, including all the best elements of prior HD releases along with some tweaks and fixes. Perhaps most disheartening is that the season five credits (the unpopular remix) are once again out of sync, with the music some seconds behind the visuals – an issue that has plagued every commercial release globally.
But here’s the exciting news: Both Genesis and Lee Harvey Oswald are presented in their original, unedited movie forms. Genesis has had HD outings in both movie and two-part formats, but Lee Harvey Oswald hasn’t been spotted unedited anywhere since the DVDs. Even the Mill Creek Blu-Ray uses the cut version. A real exclusive, not highlighted anywhere on the press release. This leaves us real Quantum Leap nerds in something of a quandary, as those of us with the US sets now have to make a decision: an upgrade that’s identical, save for 3 or 4 minutes of additional material in one episode.
If you’re just getting into (or rediscovering) Quantum Leap this is most definitely a must-buy. Long term fans may be disappointed by the lack of bonus features (just the same fluff from the original season one DVD), and the issues that could have been corrected from older HD releases, but it’s certainly a huge step up from DVD and – with the movie version of Lee Harvey Oswald finally in HD, most likely the best version of this classic show we’ll ever see.
❉ Matt Dale is the author of ‘Quantum Leap: Beyond the Mirror Image – The Observer’s Guide to Quantum Leap’, the most in-depth publication on Quantum Leap ever written, available from tmebooks.uk. Follow his musings on twitter @Matt_Dale
❉ ‘Quantum Leap: Complete Collectors Edition’ (fully restored and in hi-definition) Blu-Ray is released on January 29th 2018 by Fabulous Films Ltd/Fremantle Media Enterprises, Cert. 15. Running Time: 4572 mins. RRP £149.99. Click HERE to order directly from Fabulous Films.