Quantum Leap (1989-1993)
The time travel element in some ways felt incidental to Quantum Leap, which starred Scott Bakula as Dr. Sam Beckett, a physicist from the near future who in his attempts to prove the existence of time travel ends up ‘leaping’, week on week, into the lives of historical people and well known figures. Aided with information by Al, the holographic appearance of a colleague from the future (played memorably by Dean Stockwell), Sam would have to ‘become’ whoever he had inhabited that week and complete a pivotal moment in their lives so he could leap again, with every leap Sam hoping would be the one that gets him home.
Cue a premise in which Donald P. Bellisario and his writers could explore a new time and place every week, though largely due to budget restraints Sam wouldn’t travel much further than the 1950’s and no later than the mid-1980’s. These restrictions led Quantum Leap, which was extremely episodic, to sometimes feel a little repetitive, but on a good day this was about as enjoyably well-written, well-performed, wholesome, accessible science-fiction as TV has ever seen.