Bang! Pow! Podcasts Aren’t Just Serial Anymore: Beckett to the Future

Where to Find It: Beckett to the Future

The Players: Dawn Gildenmeister, Rachel Rosing, occasional guests

What Is It: My father and I have a thing for televised science fiction, we have for years. The X-Files, The Adventures of Brisco County Jr (remember that orb?), Good v. Evil, Farscape, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and many more made the TV cathodes of our home sing.

And one of our favorites certainly was Quantum Leap, the tale of a time lost “leaper” named Sam Beckett who was a victim of his own experiment and now had to jump year to year, life to life, fixing tragedies while hoping to finally get back to his own body and timeline.

By that measure alone, Beckett to the Future, is a comfort food of a podcast. However Dawn and Rachel, the two hosts, are not content to let it be just that.

For one, they are not recapping the show episode by episode from the series premiere to the series finale. Instead, they are following Sam leaps truly chronologically, from the earlier date in history—beginning with an episode set during the Civil War, because violating one of the main rules of the show—to the most recent one which obviously has not yet been encountered. That’s why after only 8 or so episodes, the last season has been spoken of the most with three episodes.

However, where the podcast really becomes more than a simple recap pod is how the two hosts weave in historical data they’ve researched and real life experiences of themselves and their ancestors. The information is given quickly and smartly and in just the right doses. The fact that some of the stories are from their own or own family’s lives helps make a connection between the listeners and the hosts, creating a comforting dynamic.

While I’m not sure if I’d call it a necessity, the show also features an Al—Sam’s hologram companion played by Dean Stockwell—style corner which is never not delightful. Al wears some truly odd stuff in the name of establishing that the far flung future of 1999 is different and their reactions to his wares always fun.

Some episodes to start with: Episode 1- S5E20 “The Leap Between States”- It introduces the cast’s approach to re-watching Leap, the chemistry between hosts, and the breezy mix of the personal and historical to evaluate the episode.

Episode 3- S2E3 “The Americanization of Machiko”- While Leap, I would argue, always had its heart in the right place, it definitely could be…indelicate when it came to issues of race and sex/gender relations. Again, always with an eye towards equality and optimism, but it is still a product of its time and Sam tends to be almost naïve when dealing with these issues. This installment of the cast is Rosing and Gildenmeister’s first encounter (in this format) of this trope of the series and they nicely navigate and highlight it both from their current perspective, the perspective of a viewer in the early 90s, and what it really might have been like for Machiko in 1950’s America.

Episode 4 - S5E22 “Mirror Image”- The season finale happens to be a bit of a Holy Grail of mine as my dad taped it for he and I—I had a very early bedtime as a kid and missed nearly all of prime time so I watched nearly everything I watched until my teens via VHS. However, there was some kind of issue with the show that night and it was bumped back about 10 minutes. So even with my dad habitually taping an extra 5 minutes at the end of each show, we still missed the last 5 minutes.

To make matters worse, whoever first got the streaming rights to Leap did not have that episode for viewing. So, to hear this recap—and to realize how much of it I had no memory of—was kind of a personal thrill.

Episode 8- S2E18 “Pool Hall Blues”- The hosts bring in a guest for the first time, Ollie Brady. I love Ollie and his podcast (with the similarly great Emily Bennett) so I was excited to see be part of this. He integrates well and has a legitimately touching take on the show as a whole to close the episode. Plus, more wrestling with Sam’s white savior-ism and Al’s best fashion showing yet!