"What A Disaster"
(Original Pilot Episode)

Leap Date: October 17, 1989


Ben and Addison find themselves in San Francisco during the historic 1989 earthquake; as the city continues to crumble with aftershocks, Ben must try to mend a family in chaos. Jenn and Ian search for clues to the identity of "Leaper X."

Audio from this episode:

Elon or Zuck?
Not if they're using it in the future...
You're the only person I trust!
Leap into the future


TV Guide Synopsis
Broadcast Date
Leap Date
Leap Location
Name of Leapee
Project Trivia
Ben Trivia
Addison Trivia

Ian's Outfits Worn in the Episode
Kiss With History

Miscellaneous Trivia
Guest Cast
Guest Cast Notes
Guests who appeared in other Quantum Leap episodes
Characters who appeared in Classic Series episodes

Songs & Music
Say What? 
Quotable Quotes

Personal Review
Production Photos
Production Videos
Production Credits

Poster by J.J. Lendl



Commercial for this episode:

TV Guide Synopsis:
Ben and Addison find themselves in San Francisco during the historic 1989 earthquake; as the city continues to crumble with aftershocks, Ben must try to mend a family in chaos. Jenn and Ian search for clues to an unsettling mystery.

Broadcast Date:
October 24, 2022 @ 10pm on NBC (Tentative - could be delayed 1 or 2 weeks)

Leap Date:
October 17, 1989

Leap Location:
San Francisco, California

Name of Leapee:
John Harvey

Project Trivia:
Ian reveals that they see Ben as himself in the Imaging Chamber, not as the Leapee!

One viable theory about where Leaper X (Richard Martinez) comes from was suggested by Jenn is a future Leaper - someone five or ten years ahead of 2022 who will eventually use the Quantum Leap "machine" to travel in time. When they locate Martinez in a government database, they discover he is a Marine. When Magic and Jenn visit Martinez in the present time, Martinez seems to genuinely not know why they are there to question him.

The QL Project team is able to capture images from the Imaging Chamber feed.

An "older" version of the handlink is revealed when the current version goes on the fritz. It is very thin, flat rectangular white acrylic, lit with blue, green and amber lights along the sides.

A PQL staff member named Maduka makes diaromas.

Ben Trivia:
Ben's parents have passed away. His mom raised him and brought him to the United States when he was nine years old. She died when Ben was in high school. Ben remembers his mother cooking in a flashback memory. Later he recalls that he got all "D's" on his first report card in high school on purpose because he was tired of his mother telling him that he was special - he just wanted to be a normal kid. He didn't like living in New York and told his mother that he hated her for it and took off. When Ben returned later that evening, he discovered his mother on the floor, dead from a brain aneurysm. Ben says you could draw a straight line from that moment to this - the reason he became obsessed with physics and time travel. He wants to change that moment before his mother died.

Ben didn't have a solid relationship with his father.

Ben has an IQ of 197.

Ben's mother's phone number is 212-177-2350.

Addison Trivia:
Addison finally walks through a door as a hologram in this episode! Several hologram effects are used in the scene where Ben is knocked unconscious in the building.

Ian's Outfits Worn in the Episode:
1. Same as in "Salvation or Bust" as this episode picks up immediately following the events of the previous episode. Black top, silver necklace, gold necklace.

2. White shirt, gray and white tie with a colorful design at the base. Matching slacks. No glasses with this outfit! Black fingernail polish.

Kiss With History:
On October 17, 1989, a magnitude 6.9 earthquake hit the San Francisco Bay Area, killing over 60 people, injuring nearly 4,000 othrs, and causing more than $5 billion in damages. This disaster was one of the most powerful and destructive quakes ever to hit a populated area of the United States. The disaster is known as both as the San Francisco-Oakland earthquake and the Loma Prieta earthquake because it was centered near Loma Prieta Peak in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Miscellaneous Trivia:
This episode has been edited from it's original planned version. It was originally shot as the series Pilot episode! When Addison's circular handlink goes on the fritz, this is done on purpose so that the scenes filmed for the origonal pilot with a different handlink could be used without further explanation.

It has also been titled "It's a Disaster" and "Like an Earthquake."

Ben's Mom is saying "I love you" in Korean just before Young Ben smiles.


Dr. Ben Song
(Portrayed by Raymond Lee)
– Ben is a first-generation American, a world-renowned physicist, and a man of faith. He’s also working on Quantum Leap, a time travel project. But when he uses the project on himself, he’s transported back in time with a bout of amnesia – forgetting what made him time travel in the first place.

Addison Augustine (Portrayed by Caitlin Bassett) – Addison is a smart, witty, fearless ex-military operative who now serves as Project Observer at Quantum Leap HQ. She’s in charge of the technology they use to communicate with the past, and tries to rescue her fiancee, Ben, from his time-flung existence. 

Ian Wright (Portrayed by Mason Alexander Park) – Quantum Leap’s nonbinary chief architect of the AI program.

Herbert “Magic” Williams (Portrayed by Ernie Hudson) – A Vietnam vet and current head of the time travel project at Quantum Leap. Herbert “Magic” Williams tries to keep the Pentagon at bay while the team tries to rescue Ben. Doctor Sam Beckett leaped into Magic during his Vietnam tour.

Jenn Chu (Portrayed by Nanrisa Lee) – Head of security at Quantum Leap HQ. Quirky but formidable, she makes it her mission to figure out why Ben erased all evidence of why he Leaped.

Guest Cast:
Jewel Staite as Naomi
Walter Perez as Richard Martinez, also known as Leaper X
Everett Andres as Jason Harvey
Jarett John as Bartender
Cameron Dent as Truck Driver
Mihye Jung as Ben's Mom
Rochelle Okoye as Trapped Mother
Heywood McGuffee as Sports Bar Patron
Dave Jacox as Mr. Wheeler
Colleen Foy as Lola (next episode Leap-in)
Elyse Levesque as Magda
(next episode Leap-in)

Guests previously credited when Pilot info was announced, and others not listed in the official episode credits:
Uncredited as Wife
Uncredited as Husband
Uncredited as Paramedic
Uncredited as Fireman
Uncredited as Greg
Uncredited as Bart Passenger
Uncredited as Transit Cop
Uncredited as Martinez's Mother
Uncredited as John Harvey (Photo Image)
Shahrokh Ferdowski as Dazed Family Tourist 1
Farah Atri-Rami as Dazed Family Tourist 2
Rebecca Ferdowski as Dazed Family Tourist 3
Leandro Guedes as Jason’s Friend

Guest Cast Notes:

Jewel Staite (Naomi) was born in White Rock, British Columbia, Canada. She spent the first three years of life living in Maui, Hawaii. She started out as a model and was recommended at the age of six to act. She won an award as best actor in "Meeting Dad," a Vancouver, British Columbia Film School short. Originally auditioned for the role of Rosie on Space Cases (1996), which went to Paige Christina. She later got the role of Catalina. In Vancouver she joined in the ground-breaking ceremony for an AIDS memorial where the names of AIDS victims in the area will be permanently memorialized. Gained 20 lbs for the part of Kaylee in the TV series Firefly (2002). When the show was later adapted into a motion picture (Serenity (2005)), the show had been over for a little while and she had lost the weight. She was told that they weren't going to give anyone else the part anyway, so she didn't have to re-gain the weight. Was featured on the preteen video/board game "Party Mania". She played the role of "Catalina" on Space Cases (1996), a show that featured a space pirate named "Reaver" played by Chip Chuipka. She played "Kaylee" on Firefly (2002) which featured a race of people called "Reavers", also with malicious intentions. Became engaged to her longtime boyfriend Charlie Ritchie in May 2015. Gave birth to her first child at age 33; a son named Wilder Cathcart Ritchie on December 9, 2015.

Walter Perez (Martinez/Leaper X) was always eager to express himself artistically. In his earlier years, he often directed and played the lead character in several homemade movies where he mimicked his movie idols such as Charlie Chaplin. His working-class parents were unable to afford him the resources he needed to gain access to the industry. It wasn't until he heard about Colors United, a performing arts group aimed at inner-city high school students that he really got the chance to show others his talents. For three years he honed his acting, singing and dancing skills with the group. Since high school, Walter has juggled auditions and a full-time schedule at Cal State Fullerton. During college, he has booked several commercials and various guest star spots on prime time television shows. Most recently, Walter's guest appearances include "CSI: Miami", "The Closer" and "Free Radio" as well as a five episode arc on "Friday Night Lights". His feature film credits include HBO's "Walkout" and winner of the John Cassavetes award "August Evening". He just completed the title role in "Emilio" and worked on "Run For Your Life" alongside Dermot Mulroney and Diane Kruger.

Everett Andres (Jason) is 14 years old and has spent much of his young life in the pursuit of athletic excellence with a particular focus on the six events in Men's gymnastics. He is a carded athlete and most recently placed eighth all round at the Canadian National Championships (Junior). He has been studying piano seriously since the age of four and has also developed a passion for the craft of acting, quickly establishing himself as a quietly intense and accomplished young actor. Notably, he has had the privilege of working with Oscar-winning director Peter Ramsey as a Supporting Lead in Netflix's Lost Ollie and the iconic director Helen Shaver as Guest Star on the pilot for the reboot of Quantum Leap, which has been picked up for prime time on NBC. Everett is a kind soul, an animal lover, and has a well-earned reputation for being fearless , congenial, and collaborative. Along with the rest of his family, he enjoys volunteering his time at BC Children's hospital

Jarett John (Bartender) is known for The Possession (2012), The 100 (2014) and Arrow (2012).

Cameron Dent (Truck Driver) is known for Peelers (2016), Spontaneous (2020) and Fringe (2008).

Rochelle Oxoye (Trapped Mother) is a Professional Hollywood Stunt Woman, Actress, Best Selling Author, Motivational Speaker and Co-Owner of Tristar Vancouver Martial Arts. She was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba and began her gymnastics career at the very early age of 2. When Rochelle was 7 yrs old, both her parents decided to uproot the family and move to Leeds, England, where her father finished his PhD at Cambridge and Oxford University. Rochelle became a member of and competed internationally for the Great Britain Gymnastics Team at the age of 9. In 1996, she became the Great Britain National Gymnastics Champion and retained the title for 3 consecutive years. Rochelle was also nominated and awarded 'The Top Sports Person in England under the age of 13 category,' for 2 consecutive years. At the age of 14, BBC produced and aired a one hour documentary called 'Going for Gold,' focusing primarily on her goals of competing in the 2000 Olympics. Unfortunately, her dreams fell short when the International Gymnastics Federation (FGI) announced that a competitor must now be 16 years of age to compete in the Olympics. Rochelle was turning 15, and sadly, was one year shy of being eligible to qualify. With the Olympics another 4 years out of her reach, her family decided the best thing to do was pack it in and return to Canada, in the hopes that she would continue her career on the Canadian National team. Rochelle, however had other plans. She resigned from gymnastics, attained a B.Sc. degree in Psychology from the University of Northern British Columbia in 2006. She graduated among her peers a year early, both at high school and University. After completion of her degree and graduation, Rochelle worked with and counselled children and youth with developmental disabilities, mental illnesses and behavioral issues in and outside the school system for several years.
In an effort to keep challenging herself physically and mentally, Rochelle journeyed into the world of martial arts; training and competing in the disciplines of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai and fulfilling an amateur and professional Boxing career and went down in history as having the first, female professional boxing bout in British Columbia. She also attained a Personal Training Diploma and began helping others achieve their fitness goals. Rochelle is now the co-owner of a successful and very well known MMA gym located in Vancouver, BC, Canada known as, Tristar Vancouver Martial Arts. It is home to some of Canada's greatest MMA talent and home to UFC athletes and National Champions. Tristar Vancouver Martial Arts is also the National Training Center for the Canadian National MMA team. Rochelle's books and motivational talks focus on guiding others, on how to stand in their power through overcoming their adversities and turn their pain into purpose. After facing and conquering a life full of hardships and adversity and succeeding, Rochelle is an advocate for women empowerment and helping to heal humanity; she speaks to our youth, future generations and adults and is a walking example of how you can turn a life of adversity into a life of diversity, peace and abundance. She teaches others that light can only be understood through the wisdom of darkness, and through introspection and self-love we are all capable of becoming the best versions of ourselves. You can purchase her Best Selling book, 'With Every Damn Brick,' on Amazon and watch her Tedx Talk on the official Tedx YouTube channel, under the title, 'How to turn your pain into power" or at, http://www.ted.com | Website: http://www.tristarvancouver.com

David Jacox (Mr. Wheeler) is known for Reindeer Games (2000), Timecop (1994) and The Incredible Hulk (2008).

Guests Who Appeared in Other Quantum Leap Episodes:
Walter Perez returns as Richard Martinez, also known comically as Leaper X from "Salvation or Bust."

Characters who appeared in Classic Series episodes:

Songs & Music:
"So Emotional" by Whitney Houston plays as Ben Leaps in at the bar with Naomi.

"Policy of Truth" by Depeche Mode plays as Ben and Naomi head for Oakland to save Jason.

Say What?
Magic seems surprisingly calm despite everything going on at the Project. He is seen trimming a bonsai tree in his office.

Jenn's makeup changes from scene to scene due to the reshoots in L.A. Several scenes were originally shot in Vancouver, as this was originally the setting for what would have been the pilot episode.

Ben stops the ambulance to tell them that there are injured people. Injured people are literally everywhere, and that's obviously why the ambulance is there!

Naomi was shocked severely but doesn't seem to have any burn marks.

Ben makes it to Oakland in 45 minutes, despite the 7-mile distance. That's pretty good considering all the obstacles.

Why do actors who only appear briefly in the Leap-out sequence to the next episode keep getting first-billed in the opening credits?

Quotable Quotes:

Naomi: "I want a divorce."
Ben: "Oh... from me?"

"Elon Musk or Zuck being able to control the past... terrifying."

"Sometimes I wish Ben were here to explain to you how amazing what I'm doing is and how I can't be rushed."

Ian: "How did you do that?"
Magic: "Magic."

Magic: "Are you sure he is..."
Jenn: "Say it."
Ian: "You know you want to say it."
Magic: "Are you sure he's Leaper X?"

Jenn: "I can't tie my brain in pretzels about what's going to happen in the future. We need to focus on the present and get back to Ben and Addison in the past."
Ian: "Our lives are so insane."
Jenn: "Yeah I heard it."

"Maybe I was looking at the math wrong. I don't think that Ben was trying to get to the past. I think that Ben was trying to Leap into the future."

"I gotta call my Mom. That last Leap did a number on me."

Personal Review & Detailed Synopsis by Earl Bonovich:

At the end of Episode 5, we didn’t see Ben’s leap destination (unless you stay tuned and watched the preview for EP6), so we pickup at the end of EP5 ( Salvation or Bust), with the confrontation with “Leaper X” (soon to be named in EP6). And then the leap, Ben finds him self in a bar with Naomi (played by Guest Star Jewel Staite, So wanted a Firefly reference somehow)….

Ben has leaped into John, a man just finding out his wife Naomi wants a divorce. As that is settling in, Ben gets a few clues on where he is, and immediately remembers.. 1989 San Francisco Earthquake, and it is seconds away (thanks to the Baseball broadcast on the TV). After the scramble and dodging questions (and rocks) about how he knew about the Earthquake, we find out the purpose of the Leap… to save John and Naomi’s son: Jason.

Addison leaps in with a “old model” link pad which is still more modern than the classic AL gummy link, with a display and sounds, and is able to confirm this is what Ben is there to do. With a rush back home, they find that Jason is missing, but Addison confirms he is still alive at that point, but won’t be for long. Ben learns that the family moved from Oakland, and Jason is still very home sick and wants to be there instead of here. But their family home, according to records will collapse shortly after 7pm, with Jason inside.

Ben and Naomi walk/run to Oakland, along the way they help a family in trouble, save them, but Naomi is injured along the way, and has to stay back to get medical treatment. Ben is on his own.

We learned more about Ben, how/when/why he came to the United States. We learned that his parents were separated, and that his mom died while he was in high school. Earlier in the episode the thoughts of his mom were warm and comforting, but more memories come rushing back as Ben/John race to save Jason. We find out Ben tanked his grades on purpose as he just wanted to be a normal kid, had a fight with his mom, and left. “Hours” later he returned to find his mother, on the floor, and had died from a brain aneurysm. And it changed the course of Ben’s life forever. We now know why Ben joined (or helped restart) Project Quantum Leap.

With those revelations to Addison, Ben is determined to NOT let that happen to Jason and Naomi. He rushes to his former home, finds his son, keeps him out of the building. But that isn’t enough, Ben has to save an old family friend in the building. Saves him, but gets trapped. His son comes in (despite the promise he made), and saves his Dad/Ben. But no leap yet… what is left? Ben has a heart to heart with Jason, and gives him fatherly advice, from his own experiences…. And brings Jason to the hospital, to reunite with Naomi.

Addison confirms it worked, Jason goes on to be a civil engineer, changing building designs to be more prepared for earthquakes and is credited with 1000’s of lives saved. We don’t know if John/Naomi reconcile, but we know the leap and the fates are solved, and Ben leaps…. Into the body of a person dressed like old time priest, to a secret/private home, with the address: 669, but the door slams turns it into 666…. We shall see what possesses Ben and the QL team in the next episode.

While not relevant to the story this episode, we learned a little more about Addison as well in this episode. Her parents are still alive, and it is a complicated and LONG story. There is no doubt that somewhere down the road that we are going to find out more about that. At the end of the episode, we find out that Ben was someone closed off in their relationship, but something has changed and he is opening up more to Addison, and it is making their relationship even stronger than before…. This Disaster, is taking steps forward.

Back in Project Quantum Leap, we have a lot going on.

Who is the person that talked to Ben and knew he was Ben Song from 2022? Theories abound: Foreign Government stole the plans, and build a QL Program. Or maybe a private company (Elon Musk and Zuck were mentioned), or the far out theory: The leaper is from the future.

We learn about the updated imaging chamber (or at least an explanation on what everyone sees). And get an image of the person that Ben and Addison saw in the old west. We get a picture of Leaper X, and the classic facial recognition scan through 1000’s of databases, finds a hit in a few minutes. Martinez a US Marine, who happens to be stationed near by.

During these discussions, we find a few other things out: This is NOT old QL HQ, and confirmed (we already were pretty sure it wasn’t), it was a total rebuild and great care was put to keep it secret. The CIA knows about it, and is on the look for anyone discussing another program, or this program.

A trip to Martinez’s mother’s home, and a chat between this dedicated Marine and a Navy Admiral, pretty intense conversation actually. Jenn does a little probing during the questioning, and Martinez is really confused on why they are there…. But all indications are, he is on the straight. Not up to anything, and not working for anyone but the US Government and is driven to serve this country. And all he wants is to be a citizen.

Ian now revises his theory from before. Ben may not be building momentum to sling to a point in the past, but maybe trying to sling to the FUTURE. Magic entrusts Ian as the only person smart enough to figure out what Ben was doing.

The team all agrees.. that their lives and this “job” is beyond bizarre and crazy, and makes their head hurt.

My opinion, this by far was the best episode of the season to date.

The fandom and others, will know the this episode was originally shot as the Pilot for the show. And the quality of the story, I can understand why NBC green lit the series. You can get that sense from the main LEAP story line, with the awesome inclusion of Jewel Staite guest staring, and being an important part of history, still pretty fresh in the minds of many people. I remember watching that World Series broadcast when it happened. We didn’t have the internet like we did today, and it took some time to find out what happened.

You can tell, there must have been some heavy reshoots and re-editing of this episode, to place it as Episode 6 and not Episode 1. The inclusion of the Leaper X story line, the inclusion of known pieces between Addison and Ben, etc. There were some points, where you could see the jawline and vocals not matching, and some camera tricks where voices were coming in from off camera. Nit picks, but having a little knowledge of the reshoot, you see those things.

This episode addresses a LOT of the fandom gripes so far about the show (and this was filmed 6+ months ago): We got a fair amount of character development for Ben and Addison. We even got a little more personality out of Jenn and Magic. I feel we are starting to see the reason for Jenn a little more than the previous 5 episodes. I believe she is going to be the “muscle” for the team, security is her role. But I think down the road we are going to see Jenn cross a line, to protect the team in someway.

I LOVED the interaction between Ben/John and Naomi. We get several instances of the “who are you talking to”, or “what are you looking at”. That acting chemistry was great, and you really felt Naomi’s struggles.

We got some of the classic Hologram actions, walking through the door, unable to touch Ben. Nice touches, but they missed one correction: Addison’s hair was moving in the wind early in the episode. I know a nit pick, but it was noticeable, and hopefully as they film episodes 13-18, they have the time to cleanup a lot of those little things.

No mention of Janice… but we know that storyline isn’t gone or resolved, and may be tied. As we know Janice was diving into “future” prediction. And I will eat crow, in many discussion threads I was pretty confident that a FUTURE leap would not be the story line, but well… looks like it is.

Really really enjoyed this episode, and where we are after 6 episodes. 
This gets a 9 out of 10 for me.

Production Photos:

First look images from Deadline.com:


Production Videos:

See more production videos on Al's Place YouTube Channel!

Production Credits:

Consulting Producer: Moira Kirland
Tim Scanlan
Meg Fister
Co-Executive Producer:
Deric Hughes
Co-Executive Producer: Benjamin Raab
Co-Executive Producer: Drew Lindo
Co-Executive Producer:  Aadrita Mukerji
Produced by:
Marc Bienstock
Executive Producer:
Robert Hull
Executive Producer: Helen Shaver
Executive Producer: Steven Lilien
Executive Producer: Bryan Wyndrandt
Executive Producer: Chris Grismer
Executive Producer: Deborah Pratt
Executive Producer: Donald P. Bellisario
Executive Producer: Dean Georgaris
Executive Producer:
Martin Gero
Created by:
Donald P. Bellisario

Story by:
Steven Lilien & Bryan Wynbrandt
Written by:
Robert Hull

Directed by: Helen Shaver and Chris Grismer

Associate Producer: Ethan Henderson
Co-Producer: Jill Risk

Story Editor:
Margarita Matthews
Casting by: Jennifer Cooper, CSA
Original Casting by: Kamala A. Thomas

Director of Photography: Jimmy Lindsey, ASC & Christopher Duddy
Production Designer: Margot Ready & Mayling Cheng
Edited by: Finnian Murray, Benjamin Bumgarner, and Piper Kroeze
Music by: Daniel James Chan
Unit Production Manager:
Melanie J. Elin and Marc Bienstock
First Assistant Director: Ben Scissors
Second Assistant Director: Tiffany Cheng Janicin
Production Manager: Kathy Houghton
First Assistant Director: Warren Hanna
Second Assistant Director: Paul Kalkman
Costume Designer: Genevieve Tyrrell
A Camera Operator:  Dave Hirschman
B Camera Operator: Michael Walsh
Production Sound Mixer: Kevin Bellante
Chief Lighting Technician: Donna Vega
Key Grip: Peter Chrimes
Art Directors: Danny Cistone & Liz Kloczkowski

Set Director: Tim Stepeck
Costume Supervisor: Heather Sladinski
Property Master: Erik Grasteit
Construction Coordinator: Matt Sazzman
Casting Associate: Melanie J. Brown
Department Head Hair: Amy Marie Wilson
Department Head Makeup: Julia Lallas
Leadman: David Napoli
Stunt Coordinator: Jeff Barnett
Location Manager: Dan Milner
Transportation Coordinator: Sandra Ninham-Gallardo
Production Office Coordinator: Sofie Johanna "Bubbles" Dejus
Assistant Production Office Coordinator: Will Potenberg
Production Accountant: Natalie Chiengkul
Script Supervisor: Heather Pollock
Script Coordinator: Sue Palmer
Casting Associates: Lindsay Jameyson & Mia Cascio
Post Production Coordinator: Gabriella Scudieri
Music Supervisor: Season Kent
Music Co-Supervisor: Leah Harrison
Music Editor: Zed Starkovich
Assistant Editor: Clinton Steeds
Online Editor: Richard Wells
Colorist: Paul Allia
Visual Effects Supervisor: Trent Smith
Visual Effects Assistant Editor: Michael Defilio
Supervising Sound Editor: Kelly Cabral
Re-Recording Mixer: Yuri Reese
Re-Recording Mixer: Sean Madsen
VFX Artist: Matt Collorafice
VFX Artist: Takashi Takeoka
Assistant Art Directors: Monika Dovar & Clayton Ford
Set Designer: Gary Kroytor

Promotional consideration furnished by APPLE.

The State of California and the California Film Commision, California Soundstage Filming Tax Credit Program

Copyright 2022 Universal Television LLC All Right Reserved

Dean Georgaris Entertainment
Quinn's House
Universal Content Productions
Universal Television

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