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September 13, 1956/Summer 1968: In 1995, Doctor Samuel Beckett takes an elite group of scientists into New Mexico to develop a top secret project called "Quantum Leap". Even though it is not ready yet and Gooshie warns Sam not to leap, he steps into the accelerator. Sam awakes with his memory "Swiss-cheesed," and discovers he's in the body of Air Force test pilot Tom Stratton, with a pregnant wife and a total inability to fly.
In the New Mexico desert, Admiral Al Calavicci is driving down the road when he sees an attractive woman in a pink dress at the side of the road. He stops and says he'd like to fix her flat, but he needs to be on his way. He offers her a lift and as they drive, the woman, Tina, notices an odd aurora effect on the skyline. Al tries to dismiss it as sheet lightning but Tina notes that it's the location of the first atomic bomb, and some people claim there's still a secret military project there...Read the full recap
This episode originally aired as a 90-minute pilot, with the opening going directly into the episode after Al meets Tina. For the first repeat, NBC trimmed it down to an hour by removing the Trivial Pursuit/questionnaire subplot, and removing the entire second plot with the minor league baseball player. For repeats in syndication and on Hulu, it is cut into two hour-long episodes with the "normal" credits added at the beginning of both episodes, and the full guest/crew credits at the end of the first part as well as the second. As per the recap here, the pilot is "broken" in half rather awkwardly at the point where Sam kisses Peggy and goes outside to the barbecue. The original full-length pilot can still be seen at Hulu.
(Sam), Dean Stockwell
(Al), Dennis Wolfberg
(Gooshie) and Bruce McGill
(Weird Ernie) are the only actors to appear in both this episode and the finale "Mirror Image - August 8, 1953
Appreciation extended to the Flight Test Center, Edwards Air Force Base.
Sam: Given enough time, you can get used to anything. Even a nightmare.
Peggy Stratton: Hmm?
Sam: Who's that guy by the jukebox?
(Al waves to Sam)
Al: Isn't it great? I mean, isn't this just great? Brings back so many old memories. Hey, have they got "Be-Bop-A-Lula" on there? Got me through some long cold nights at MIT. "Be-Bop" and a little Lithuanian girl named Danesa.
Sam: (looking up at the starry night sky) Please, God. I'd like to wake up now.
Al: My name is Albert... Albert what, I can't tell you because it's restricted. Most of what you're gonna wanna know is restricted. So it'll be easier for us if you don't ask a lot of questions.
Sam: What are you?
Al: That's a question, Sam.
Sam: What's my last name?
Al: If you can't remember, I can't tell you.
Sam: It's important.
Al: But it's also on top of Ziggy's no-no list, double-starred.
Al: I can't tell you that either.
Sam: Well what the hell can you tell me?
Al: Basically, what you already know--that you're, uh, part of a time travel experiment... that went a little caca.
Sam: "A little ca-ca?" How little ca-ca?
Al: Well, you're here, which is a biggie. I mean, that's a first. It's Nobel Prize time.