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Project Quantum Leap
This top secret project is located in a cavern in New Mexico
in 1995 (at the time of the pilot episode; it's now sometime in 1999). By ~fall 1996, it's
cost $43 billion of our tax dollars, with $2.4 billion a year operating funds. However, it
started out with just Sam and Al "raising the funding, pouring over the blueprints
late at night", and listening to the score of "Man of La Mancha". :-)
Sam (Dr. Samuel Beckett)
No relation to the playwright. Social Security number
563-86-9801, Department of Defense Umbra top-secret clearance 004-002-02-016. Born August
8, 1953 and grew up on his family's dairy farm in Elk Ridge, Indiana. As a child, he had
two cats, named Donner and Blitzen, but never had a dog. He could read at age 2, do
advanced calculus in his head at 5, went to MIT at age 15 (or maybe 17), graduating 2
years later, and has 6 (maybe 7) doctorates including music, medicine, quantum physics,
and ancient languages, but NOT psychiatry or law.
He speaks 7 modern languages including English, Japanese,
French, Spanish and German, but not Italian or Hebrew and 4 dead ones (he can read
Egyptian hieroglyphics). He has a Nobel Prize, field unspecified, but probably for
physics. For this, Time magazine called him "the next Einstein".
He played the piano at Carnegie Hall at 19, plays guitar, is
a good dancer, and sings tenor (his favorite song is John Lennon's "Imagine").
He has a photographic memory, can cook, and likes dry or light beer and microwave popcorn.
Sam also knows several kinds of martial arts and has been afraid of heights since he was 9
years old. He was originally engaged once, but was stood up at the altar. An accident
occurred during a leap in the middle of a lightning storm which caused Sam and Al to
temporarily change places. At this time, he discovered he was NOT stood up at the altar
and that he was in fact married to his greatest love, Dr. Donna Alessi. This was no doubt
due to events in a prior leap where he was able to alter her life in such a way that she
was able to commit to marriage with him.
Sam's older brother Tom, a good athlete, All-State basketball
player, Annapolis grad and Navy SEAL (who convinced Sam to go to MIT) died in Vietnam, on
April 8, 1970. However, Sam managed to save him on one leap. Sam's dad, John Samuel
Beckett, died in 1974 (or maybe 1972, or maybe 1973) of a heart attack. He has one sister
named Katie (Katherine), born during a flood in 1957, whose first husband was an abusive
alcoholic named Chuck (Unless maybe Sam convinced her not to marry him. Who knows?). Now
she's married to a Navy officer, Lt. Jim Bonnick, and lives in Hawaii with their mom,
Thelma Louise Beckett.
Al (Rear Admiral Albert Calavicci)
Born June 15, 1934. When Al was a child, his part Russian mom
ran off with an encyclopedia salesman. Al's dad was from Abruzzi, Italy, so he speaks
fluent Italian. His father was a construction worker, so when dad went to the Middle East,
Al was sent to an orphanage, and his retarded sister Trudy to an institution. Later, his
dad and his dad's girlfriend used to sneak him out of the orphanage. Kept running away,
once to join the circus and once he spent several months traveling with a pool wizard. He
had a pet cockroach named Kevin (in the orphanage) and a dog named Chester (who he lost
custody of to his third wife). While in the orphanage, Al took up acting and also fought
Golden Gloves. When he was old enough, he went to get his sister but she'd died of
pneumonia in the institution (in 1953, aged 16).
Later, Al went to Annapolis, joined the Navy, and became a
pilot. From 1968-1973, he was a prisoner of the Viet Cong; during this time, his first
wife Beth, a Navy nurse, lost hope, had him declared dead and married a lawyer. Somewhere
along the line, he also attended MIT and went on civil rights marches in the '60's. Later,
he became an astronaut and is now a rear admiral ("highly respected and
decorated"). He likes sports cars and classic cars and collects them. Al likes to
watch sports, gambles a little (trips to Las Vegas, betting on horse races), and in the
past, he had a tendency to drink to excess. Al met Sam on the Starbright Project (we don't
know what that was); when they first met, Al was drunk beating up on a vending machine
with a hammer. It was Sam's influence that prevented Al from being removed from the
project because of his drinking. It was possibly his association with Sam that helped
sober him up.
This is, however, all secondary to Al's main interest, which
is women! He's been married 5 times, spending his 1st, 3rd, and 5th honeymoons on the
train to Niagara Falls. Wife #2 (no name given yet) was Hungarian, wife #3 Ruthie was
Jewish, #4 was Sharon ("she wore pink babydolls"), #5, named Maxine ("she
didn't wear anything at all--she used to flavor her toes with mint leaves") he met in
a tattoo parlor. Al's currently semi-regularly dating a blonde woman named Tina (they met
in Vegas), who is a Pulse Communication Technician on Project Quantum Leap, has a pet
crocodile and a tattoo in a "super-private part of her anatomy". Although Al
firmly believes in the "double standard", he really does respect women as
individuals and gets very angry when they're mistreated. Al dresses flashy, smokes a lot
of cigars, is somewhat superstitious, has a serious aversion to dead bodies, and knows a
great recipe for chitlins.
More on the Project
We don't know what it was supposed to do,
other than allow Sam to time-travel within his own lifetime; we do know that Sam leaped
too soon (before everything was ready; they were threatening to cut funding), and
apparently God [or Fate or Time or some other unfathomable force--like maybe Don
Bellisario? :-) it's never been directly said] decided to use Sam to "put things
right that once went wrong". The Project is built around Sam and Al's brain waves.
When he leaps, Sam actually physically replaces the leapee in the past, (they're in the
future, to keep things even), the leapee's aura (and Sam's in the "future") is
what the people around him see; he only knows who he's leaped into when he looks in the
mirror, and is forever having to figure out who he's replaced and what good deed he's
there to do. Sam's the only guy who can figure out how to get himself back home, but the
first leap completely Swiss-cheesed his memory (Al's term is 'magnafluxed'). Under normal
conditions, Sam's the only person who can see and hear Al, although animals, people on the
verge of death, the "mentally absent" and children under 5 always can (they also
see Sam as himself). Al appears to Sam through a "neurological hologram"
process: "agitated carbon quarks tuned to the optic and otic neurons". Al sees
Sam as the leapee, but always knows who he is.
(played by the late Dennis Wolfberg) is
Ziggy's programmer/operator and operates the imaging chamber that projects Al's image back
to Sam. He's the one Al sometimes talks to. He's a "short guy with bad breath"
and a mustache, and Tina once went to Vegas for a weekend with him just to make Al
jealous. It worked. Ziggy says he's having an affair with Tina [So does Dennis Wolfberg
;-)]. Gooshie has appeared in several episodes, and once took over Al's hologram duty
thanks to an emergency jury-rigging by Ziggy.
The project's "parallel hybrid computer",
created by Sam. Ziggy has a definite personality; he has a big ego, crashes a lot, hates
to be wrong, and frequently sulks! He freaks out sometimes, too--once he turned off the
climate control, once he wouldn't output in anything but Japanese, and once he stuck an
extra zero on the end of everyone's paycheck, leaving Al to report "half the staff
took off on vacation!"
Well, that's what we thought until Sept. 1991. Then--
We saw Ziggy in the fourth season opener, in which he was
discovered to be a she. The possibility exists that the influence of Sam's wife Dr. Donna
Alessi may have given Ziggy a female identity. A perfect example of Sam's changes catching
up with them. Ziggy responds to queries with a female voice (co-executive producer Deborah
Pratt's) and therefore may be the narrator of the saga cell that opens the show each week.
She still has a big ego, though.