The Words on the Page

Quantum Leap

March 21, 2017

 

Quantum Leap

Written by Donald P. Bellisario

Revision - December 1988

Sci-fi/Drama Pilot, 123 pages (double episode)

 

"I was obviously hallucinating." - Sam's voice

 

Whenever I mention time travel, people talk about Quantum Leap. It sounded like a fascinating show and one that I definitely wanted to check out for myself. It took some digging, but I found a script. It appears to be a shooting script, and it's written with seven acts. I'm not sure how many acts were standard for the time - my guess would be four - but as this was a two-parter intended to provide two hours of television viewing, seven acts (and 123 pages) seems to make sense.

 

Even on first glance the 1988 script looked different from the more modern formatting that I'm used to. In terms of structure, the action lines tended to be paragraphs. They're long and all together, not broken up by camera shot. While this gave the feeling of reading a novel, the read remained compelling and fast. Donald P. Bellisario did a fabulous job keeping the story compelling and the action moving. Considering his track record, this was not surprising. His skill's evident right on the page.

 

What grabbed me most about this script was the use of voiceover. Although I usually dislike it in films, I've come to enjoy it in TV - not sure why the medium makes a difference for me. In this case, I felt that Sam's voiceovers worked quite well as they let us into his though process. It created the illusion that I, an audience member, was "in it with him" as we both tried to piece together what was going on.

 

Truly there were a lot of nice touches in the piece, like Jack the dog realizing that Sam wasn't Fox even though all of the humans were convinced. This led me to consider what Sam would look like to the audience. I didn't find a super clear reference in the script, but since the character name "Sam" was used instead of the name of the person he had leaped into, I assumed that the viewer would always be seeing Sam. A quick look at IMDb tells me that I'm correct in ym assumption, and it had me thinking of how much fun this could be. Did Sam ever leap into a female? That would be a funny episode for sure! 

 

This was a great read, and I'm definitely going to check out the aired show soon! I now know why so many people have recommended it.

 

Also: Neurological holograms are awesome. Especially the two-for-one sequence with the Observer "inside" of Sam flying the plane!

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Writing for film, television, and the stage is, in my opinion, one of the most difficult - and most rewarding - art forms. The language needs to be visual and evocative as each script must achieve two important tasks...
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