03/27/1989 at 01:00 AM EST
NBC (Sun., March 26, 9 P.M. ET)
The producer of this new series was nervous about letting me watch an unfinished cut of his two-hour premiere episode because I would see it without all the music and special effects. He shouldn't have worried. Quantum Leap is more than just an excuse to fill the screen with video tricks and violence. Instead, it is a show built on character and charm. It begins with a gimmick—a variation on the familiar time-traveling trick from Chances Are, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, Back to the Future and I Dream of Jeannie. At the start, Scott (Eisenhower & Lutz) Bakula is zapped into a scene straight out of The Right Stuff: a 1950s desert air base, where he is supposed to be a daring test pilot. Only thing is, he doesn't know how to fly. The problem, we will soon find out, is that Bakula, a scientist from the future, has been transported back into the body of a real test pilot. Dean (Married to the Mob) Stockwell, Bakula's colleague from the future, comes to visit as a hologram only Bakula can see and explains that this is just a "time-travel experiment that went a little ca-ca." It is a nice setup in a nice setting. When Bakula tries to zap back to his present, he suffers the time-traveling equivalent of lost luggage; next he becomes a baseball player in the middle of a game in the '60s. In future episodes, he will zap into more bodies, learn more professions and touch more lives. So Bakula manages to turn this simple gimmick into a real series without special effects or catchy music. He does it with smooth, cool comic charm.