Once time, I drew the ire of some diehard Quantum Leap enthusiasts when I made the observation that I thought Sam and Al were the best modern day version of Abbott & Costello. I believe they thought I was insulting the favorite duo, trying to discount all of their good deeds -- jumping through time to put right what once went wrong -- and saw it as a disrespectful comparison.
That couldn't have been further from the truth.
Sam and Al were the consumate modern day TV incarnation of Abbott & Costello from their classic comedy films. Yes, one was a straight man -- that would be Al -- and one was there for a bit more laughter -- and that would be Sam. And the point of any Abbott & Costello film was that these two opposites would come together before the feature's big finish to somehow against all odds set things right. To save the die. To divert the tragedy. But, yes, there were some very good natured laughs along the way at both of their expenses.
Was my comparison a stroke of genius? Of course not. But it was never intended as any insult, either, as I think fondly of Quantum Leap, so much so that I'd easily count it among the very best TV has had to offer in the way of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Much of this is owed to the work of its two incredible leads, Scott Bakula and Dean Stockwell.
Alas, a certain end awaits us all, and word reached me this morning that Mr. Stockwell has left us.
With over two hundred different screen credits to his name -- as well as four nominations for 'Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series' from the Primetime Emmys for his work aboard Leap -- Stockwell was an incredibly versatile talent who could handle both heavy and light moments with some amazing grace. Though genre fans will likely remember him best for his incredible contribution to the time travel program, we mustn't forget that he showed us a darker side of his craft aboard Syfy's reincarnated Battlestar Galactica program where he played a singular Cylon, 'John Cavil.'
However, those weren't his only contributions to genre entertainment. A review of his IMDB.com shows that the actor enjoyed screen time in such entries as The Twilight Zone, The Werewolf Of Washington (1973), Tales Of The Unexpected, Dune (1984), Once Bitten (1985), The Time Guardian (1987), Captain Planet And The Planeteers, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures Of Superman, Sinbad: The Battle Of The Dark Knights (1998), Batman Beyond: Return Of The Joker (2000), Star Trek: Enterprise, and Stargate: SG-1.
And as for those who hated by Abbott & Costello comparison?
Did you know that Stockwell actually worked with them? One of his earliest roles -- obviously a small one -- was aboard the 1945 comedy Bud Abbott And Lou Costello In Hollywood. So maybe he gleaned a bit of what I imagined in his earliest days exploring the craft.
Prayers and warmest wishes to the Stockwell family and friends in their time of need.