Dean Stockwell Turns 78, Dr. Sam Beckett Still Hasn’t Returned Home: Today In Science Fiction

By David Wharton | Updated

This article is more than 2 years old

AlIf you’re old enough to have been hooked on Quantum Leap back in the day, actor Dean Stockwell will always be the amusingly lecherous Al Calavicci. He was Dr. Sam Beckett’s guide through the timestream, tasked with helping Sam maintain his sanity and figure out why he had been dropped into a given time and place. He was also the comic relief to Scott Bakula’s straight-man Sam, forever arguing with Ziggy, ogling at any female that wandered into his field of vision, and delivering a barrage of double entendres whenever Sam found himself trapped inside a woman’s body. But Stockwell made Al more than just a vehicle for exposition and cheap jokes. At times his performance carried enormous emotional weight, especially during the leaps where Sam found himself involved in Al’s tragic past — he was held as a POW during the Vietnam War, during which time his wife believed him dead and remarried. Seriously, if you made it through the scene where he holographically danced with his wife to “Georgia on My Mind” without tearing up, you’re a cold-hearted monster. (Annoyingly, I can only find the clip in Spanish, but the feels are still there.)

While Quantum Leap may be Stockwell’s most memorable intersection with science fiction, it was hardly the only one. Starting out when he was a child, his showbiz career has stretched out over seven decades, putting in appearances on sci-fi notables such as Enterprise, Stargate SG-1, and two separate incarnations of The Twilight Zone. He also played John Cavill, one of the Cylon models, in Ron Moore’s Battlestar Galactica reboot.

Stockwell turns 78 today, and GFR wishes him good health and many more roles to come, for as long as he wants them. If we’re ever bouncing around time, setting right what once went wrong, there’s only one guy we want as our holographic wingman, and that guy is Dean Stockwell. We raise a glass in your honor, sir, and thank our lucky stars that that Quantum Leap remake seems to be mired in development hell. I wonder if Sam and Al had anything to do with that…

Today’s Television

Revolution (NBC, 8/7c) — “Dreamcatcher”

Aaron (Zak Orth) awakes to find himself in a world with power, married to Priscilla (Maureen Sebastian) and running his company. As he gets the feeling that something isn’t quite right, familiar faces begin to appear.

Through the Wormhole (Science, 10/9c) — “Is God an Alien Concept?”

In the Season 5 premiere, scientists hypothesize about religious practices on alien planets.

The Tomorrow People (The CW, 9/8c) — “Enemy of My Enemy”

Julian is caught by Ultra and forced to strike a deal that could cost his and Stephen’s lives. Meanwhile, Astrid is haunted by nightmares after her near-death experience and turns to her new friend John for comfort.