Back to the past

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Television series
German title Back to the past
Original title Quantum Leap
Quantum Leap logo.jpg
Country of production United States
original language English
Year (s) 1989-1993
length 45 minutes
Episodes 97 in 5 seasons ( List )
genre Drama , science fiction
Theme music Mike Post
idea Donald P. Bellisario
music Velton Ray Bunch
First broadcast March 26, 1989 (USA) on NBC
first broadcast
January 29, 1991 on RTL plus

Main actor:

Supporting cast:


Quantum Leap (Original title: Quantum Leap ) is an American science fiction - television series that from March 1989 to May 1993 by NBC was produced. The series developed by Donald P. Bellisario and produced for NBC comprises 5 seasons with a total of 97 episodes of approx. 45 minutes each. The theme music was composed by Mike Post .

The critically acclaimed television series was discontinued in 1993 due to low audience ratings .


The series is about Dr. Samuel "Sam" Beckett, a Nobel Prize-winning quantum physicist and inventor of the "quantum accelerator" who, as a result of a failed attempt on himself, travels uncontrollably through time within his own lifetime (in the second half of the 20th century) and temporarily identifies different people this time and exchanges bodies with them.

Except for episode 9, Dangerous Honeymoon Express (Honeymoon Express) , and episode 97, The Mirror Image (Mirror Image) , each episode ends with another time jump Beckett and his exclamation "Oh man!" ("Oh boy!") As soon as he does becomes aware that he is in a new person and time; the following episode begins with this very scene.

Sam's involuntary leaps in time begin after the time travel experiment he developed is influenced by a mysterious higher power which, for unknown reasons, uses him to prevent tragedies in the lives of the people he jumps into and thus to change their future.

Beckett also suffers from a partial memory loss as a result of the leaps in time (technically called “magna fluxing” in the pilot film, but simply as “memory like a sieve” or “Swiss cheese memory” in the rest of the series, in the original as “swiss-cheesed” Memory ”), which prevents him from remembering most of the details of his own life. Beckett only remembers the time since the first time jump, but still has a number of skills and knowledge (e.g. scientific knowledge, a number of living and dead languages ​​or playing the piano) that he had as a highly gifted genius in his life before the beginning of the Project has learned a quantum leap .

The only connection to his own time is a holographic projection of his friend Albert "Al" Calavicci, which normally only he can see. Al is an admiral in the United States Navy and head of the time travel project Project Quantum Leap . As a project observer, he provides Sam with information about the people and the time he is currently in.

The term "holographic projection" is a hypothetical term in the series and has nothing in common with real holography. The hologram "used" in the series is a three-dimensional projection; Al enters a so-called "picture chamber" in which Al and everything that he touches (for example a person or cigar) becomes visible to Beckett in his reality. He can also talk to Al and Al can see and hear events from the past in the “picture chamber”. Al, in turn, communicates from the picture chamber with the outside world through a pocket calculator-sized remote control with the supercomputer Ziggy (in the English version with the voice of Deborah Pratt ) and thus has access to the data that he provides Sam. He is also supported by the technician Gushie.

As the series progresses, it turns out that young children, the mentally handicapped and animals can perceive Al as well. This turns out to be an advantage for Sam in some episodes; for example, Al soothes a crying child or keeps a dog away from Sam. These groups of people can also see Sam in his actual form.

In early episodes of the series it is unclear whether Sam's consciousness jumps in time or to another body of that time, or whether his consciousness and body travel together in time. As the series progresses, however, it turns out that both his mind and body are jumping in time and that an aura surrounds him that makes him look and sound like the person he jumped into, the one he did can only see in a mirror. The same goes for the person with whom Sam exchanges his body. This is physically located in the "waiting room" and has the voice and appearance of Dr. Beckett.

Some examples:

  • In season 5, episode 4, Sam jumps into a wheelchair sitting Vietnam veteran who lost his legs in the war. But since Sam can still walk and does so afterwards, it appears to observers as if he was floating in the air.
  • In season 2, episode 5, he jumps into the body of a blind concert pianist. Sam can still see and must remember to play blind in order to accomplish his mission.
  • In season 3, episode 12, when Sam jumps into the body of a pregnant young girl, he asks Al if it is possible that he could give birth and Al advises him that this is impossible because it "be." Body is and not her body “is.


The series dealt with unreal historical events, so the roles of "normal people" Sam jumps into are used to cover social, political, and religious or spiritual subjects.

Many of the episodes show Sam dealing with problems characteristic of the respective time periods in which he is; this includes, for example, episodes that deal with human rights , racism , the Vietnam War or the Cold War . The basic message of the series was that of tolerance and acceptance of other people. Much of this was achieved through the format of the series, which lets the series protagonist - literally - follow in other people's footsteps; for example, Sam finds himself at one point in his own childhood in Indiana with the chance to improve his own family life and influence his own future.

Only a few times in the series does Sam jump into a historical figure, from Lee Harvey Oswald to Elvis Presley . All of these jumps took place in the fifth and final season and it is believed that the aim was to improve the show's ratings - however, this format change did not go down well with some fans of the series.

Nevertheless, a fundamental trait of the series or that of the main character was to jump into a situation that was obviously based on a real event or person. Also characteristic were the so-called " brushes / kisses with history ", in which Sam meets famous personalities of the time, for example Buddy Holly , or known events from the past - even if this is for the plot the respective episode did not necessarily have to be relevant (see web links)


The series developed by Donald P. Bellisario has an unusual format for a science fiction series. Instead of fantastic elements and future technologies, the series is mainly concerned with the protagonist's life. The focus of the narrative is on the personal experiences of Sam Beckett and the life stories of the people he meets.

Even in its last episode, the series hardly answers the open technical questions and leaves a lot unanswered. Again, the main focus is on the message of the series: that a single person can change the world in their life. Dr. Beckett is also sometimes not fully applied. The core statement is that time travel is possible at any point in time within one's own lifetime. When Dr. Beckett's lifetime does not end with his first jump, so theoretically he should also be able to jump into the future.

The last episode was originally planned as a so-called cliffhanger episode and should only end the current season. Since the NBC decided to stop producing the series due to the ratings, the episode was revised to complete the series. This also explains the unclear ambiguous storylines of the last episode.

In the Original Version, Sam skipped ahead of the first wife Beth to let her know that Al would be home. His picture from his time in Vietnam begins to “jump” (the final episode ends here) and you see a modern picture showing Al with his Beth and their four daughters.

The aired official version says that Al and Beth get together again, they have four daughters, will soon celebrate their 39th wedding anniversary and Sam never returned home. Speculation by fans suspect that in this way the Project Quantum Leap (Engl. Project Quantum Leap ), the relationship between Sam and Al, or even Dr. Sam Beckett himself, were deleted from the changed timeline or from time and thus the memories and lives of the protagonists never existed or were different.

The original script for the episode and several statements by Bellisario refute this and leave all the storylines intact.


  • His performance in Romance, Romance and his Tony Award nomination helped Scott Bakula get the lead role alongside Dean Stockwell.
  • The embodiment of Dr. Sam Beckett earned him a Golden Globe Award (along with three other nominations) and four Emmy nominations for Best Actor.
  • When Bakula arrived on the movie set of the science fiction series Star Trek: Enterprise , he jokingly suggested that the middle name of his Star Trek character, Captain Jonathan Archer , could be Beckett.
  • During the production of Back to the Past , a so-called crossover episode with the television series Magnum was planned, which was also produced by Donald P. Bellisario. As a result, Sam was supposed to "jump" into the series role of Thomas Magnum. However, plans for a Magnum movie that would have led to the crossover episode have been discarded. The initial jump scene which is usually shown at the end of the previous episode (Quote: "Oh man!"), Was already shot and displays Bakula in Magnums classic red Hawaiian shirt that turns to the camera and raises his eyebrows as Tom Selleck on End of the opening credits for the Magnum series does.


Dubbing and German broadcasts

The German version was created by Bavaria Film Synchron , Munich-Geiselgasteig in the early 1990s and was shown on RTL plus from 1991 . The dialogue book was written by Michael Brennicke , who also directed the dialogue.

In the early 1990s, the pilot episode "Start into the Unknown" appeared under the title Der Zeitsprung and the episodes "Vietnam 1 and 2" under the title Der Zeitsprung 2 - The Return , synchronized for the first time on VHS cassette . The VHS synchronized versions were replaced by the Bavaria Synchron processing in the course of the series synchronization and have not been used since then.

role actor Voice actor VHS
The leap in time
Time Leap 2 - The Return
prolog Deborah Pratt (1st voice in 74 episodes)
Lance LeGault (2nd voice only in ep. 22)
Alexandra Lange - Heidi Berndt
Dr. Samuel "Sam" Beckett Scott Bakula Gudo Hoegel Gernot Endemann Gernot Endemann
Albert "Al" Calavicci Dean Stockwell Bernd Stephan Rolf Jülich Rolf Jülich
Technician Gushie Dennis Wolfberg Gerd Rigauer (1st part, Ep. 1)
Thomas Rauscher (2nd part, Ep. 54)
Peter Thom (3rd part, Ep. 77, Ep. 80 & Ep. 97)
Hans Irle -

The German first broadcast of Back to the Past took place from January 1991 to November 1994 on RTL plus with the traditional slot on Sunday mornings from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m., where the first repetition was shown until October 1995. The following broadcasts on German television took place on the following channels:

  • From August 1998 to September 1999, the series ran on the specialized Thrillers and crime German pay-TV transmitter 13th Street .
  • From February 1999 to October 2001 it was broadcast on free TV on VOX (Mon-Fri; initially for six months at 7.15 p.m., after protests as a result of VOX's dismissal, the daily program was only resumed at 4:05 p.m., later at 1:15 p.m.)
  • From October 2006 to December 2008 it ran on the pay TV channel Sci Fi .
  • From March 2014 to September 2017, the series ran on RTL-Nitro .

Problem of intros and leap outs

When it was first broadcast on RTL plus from 1991 to 1994, the series had various intros: the first season had none, the second season had an intro spoken by Scott Bakula's German voice Gudo Hoegel in the first person, in which he describes his situation as a time traveler Dr. Sam Beckett explained, and from the third season onwards there was an intro spoken by a female voice that explained the basic idea of ​​the series in the third person. When the series was first repeated on RTL plus, the third season intro was used throughout for all seasons. When the series was first broadcast from 1999, VOX cut away the cliffhanger in the form of the so-called leak-out at the end of each episode, in which a preview (the leak-out ) was originally shown, in whom or in which situation Sam will be in the next episode would jump. Since the original US order was hardly taken into account when it was first broadcast on RTL plus, the leap-outs of the German episodes mostly did not match the episode broadcast next. VOX solved the problem by cutting away the leak-out at the end of each episode. The broadcast on VOX again deviated from the sequence of the individual episodes on RTL plus.

When the first two German seasons of the series were still released on DVD by Universal in 2006 and 2010 respectively, no or the intro of the third season was used, all leap-outs of the first two seasons were correctly synchronized and the order of the episodes was based on the US American adjusted. When the entire series was licensed for a complete German release by Universal to the German small label New KSM in 2013, Universal provided the German soundtrack for the majority of the episodes and the English version of the two intros, but the German soundtrack for the leap-outs on The end of each episode was no longer available because it had been removed by VOX and the whereabouts of the German dubbed version of the leap-outs could not be clarified on either VOX or RTL in 2013. The production company commissioned by New KSM to produce the entire German DVD box of the series therefore launched a call to German fans, who then sent in their VHS recordings of the broadcasts on RTLplus, with the help of which both the German track of the two intros and the German synchronized versions of the leap-outs could be reconstructed.

Home video versions


In 1994 ( UK ) and 1998 (USA) some of the episodes were released on VHS . In the USA, where a total of nine cassettes were released, this included the pilot (Genesis) and 16 other episodes. Six VHS tapes were released in the UK. They contained the pilot episode and ten episodes of the series, each in pairs of two episodes.

In Germany three episodes appeared on VHS, which came under the titles Der Zeitsprung (1989, included the pilot episode Start ins Ungewisse ) and Der Zeitsprung 2 - The Return (1991, with the episodes Vietnam Part 1 and 2) in the video stores . This VHS version of the pilot and the episodes Vietnam Part 1 and 2 had a different dubbing cast of the same episodes than in the regular series; In this VHS version, Bakula was voiced as Sam Beckett by Gernot Endemann and Stockwell as Al Calavicci by Rolf Jülich . On the Region 2 DVDs released today, these episodes also contain only the standard German cast of the series with Hoegel and Stephan.

Region 1 DVDs

In 1998 the pilot was released on DVD . It only comprised the episode itself and a selection of chapters from the episode. It was not until 2004 that the first two English-language seasons of the series appeared on DVD (Region 1).

The Region 1 version of the first season (Quantum Leap: The Complete First Season) was released in North America on June 7, 2004. It contains all episodes as they were originally broadcast (with the exception of the episode Play It Again, Seymour ) together with bonus material.

Universal was unwilling to acquire the music rights for the DVD Quantum Leap: The Complete Second Season and the original songs of the original episodes were replaced with general instrumental music. This led to a signature campaign demanding that the mistake be reversed and action. Most noticeable was the removal of Ray Charles ' Georgia on My Mind from the last episode of the second season (English title MIA ), in which Al dances to this music with his first wife Beth and which therefore has a special significance for the episode and the Series has. Despite protests, the third, fourth and fifth seasons in the USA were also delivered on DVD with the music replaced.

Region 2 DVDs

All five seasons in Great Britain were released as Region 2 versions. Since different music law regulations apply in Europe, these boxes contain the original music. The German version of the first season was released on DVD in June 2006. According to Universal, there were no plans to publish any more German seasons for a long time. After more than four years, the complete second season was released on October 7, 2010. On June 17, 2013, a collector's box with all five seasons on 22 DVDs was launched. It contains all episodes of the series in their unabridged form.

Episode list

DVD publications

Relay boxes:

Surname publication Episodes running time Image format Region code Audio FSK Studio
Complete 1st season June 29, 2006 8 episodes approx. 403 min 4: 3 RC 2 PAL German (Dolby Digital 1.0), English (Dolby Digital 1.0) From 12 years Universal Pictures
Complete 2nd season October 7, 2010 22 episodes approx. 1004 min 4: 3 RC 2 PAL German (Dolby Digital 2.0), English (Dolby Digital 2.0) From 12 years Universal Pictures
Limited Edition Seasons 1–5 (5000 pieces) June. 17.2013 96 episodes approx. 4400 min 4: 3 RC 2 PAL German (Dolby Digital 2.0), English (Dolby Digital 2.0) From 12 years Universal Pictures


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. RTL synchronized version on
  2. The time jump on
  3. Jump up in time 2 - The return to
  4. All broadcast data according to the Kabel-1 -serienlexikon and
  5. VHS Release Dates and Information . Retrieved May 26, 2013.
  6. The leap in time. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed August 27, 2017 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used 
  7. The Jump in Time II - The Return. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed August 27, 2017 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used 
  8. Der Zeitsprung (1989) in the German synchronous index
  9. Der Zeitsprung 2 - The Return (1990) in the German synchronous index
  10. Back to the past on the Universal website