To promote the “Quantum Leap” revival, NBC offered gas at 1985 prices for a single day. Los Angeles residents filled up for 91 cents a gallon. The wait at 10 a.m. was 40 minutes, but many Angelenos showed up. Something is loading.
The 80s have a moment. “Top Gun” tops the box office, Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” is in regular terrestrial radio rotation thanks to “Stranger Things,” and Tom Ford closed New York Fashion Week with a track full of glitter and shoulder pads as Madonna watched from the audience.
So it makes sense that NBC is looking to the upcoming premiere of its “Quantum Leap” TV series with a 1985-themed “gas experiment” in Los Angeles on Wednesday. The original, which ran from 1989 to 1993 for five seasons, is being rebooted with a new cast led by Raymond Lee, who plays a physicist seeking to revive the Quantum Leap accelerator and travel through time – starting by a getaway until 1985.
For a single day, the broadcast network took over an Exxon station on Santa Monica Blvd. and Vine in the Hollywood area to offer gas for just 91 cents a gallon — if you could stomach the line down the block.
A 40 minute line for gas in the middle of Hollywood Elaine Low
The clock rolled back to 1985 at 9 a.m. Wednesday, and by 10 a.m. a line of about 18 cars was wrapped around the block at the intersection of Vine and Yucca St. The line broke. curved into a parking lot, where about two dozen more cars idled as ’80s music blasted and promotional staffers drove around handing out Pop-Tarts, water and “Quantum Leap” baseball caps “.
While waiting for a pass giving them access to cheap fuel, petrol seekers were placed in front of a giant screen featuring anecdotes from the past, interspersed with a trailer for the new series. (What was the most popular video game of the 80s? Why, “Mario Bros.”, of course.)
91 cents per gallon in 1985 versus $5.40 per gallon in 2022 Elaine Low
After that wait, the drivers were directed about a mile south of Vine to a gas station that said it was ‘time to pay like it was 1985’, with attendants at each pump to help to fill the tank.
From start to finish, I waited about 40 minutes to get to the pump, and other drivers behind me waited even less than that during a mid-morning lull.
This isn’t the first time a Hollywood studio or network has pulled off such a publicity stunt to promote a show. In 2019, a “Maisel Day” event featuring 30 cents per gallon of gasoline blocked traffic so badly that police had to stop the stunt.
As part of what NBC is calling “Quantum Leap Day,” it has also teamed up with Fandango to give away movie tickets for $3.55 each from the 1985 era.
The mood was wilder, despite the expectation — and that’s understandable, given that the average gas price in Los Angeles is currently around $5.40 a gallon. In June, prices climbed as high as $6.44 in California.
Tony Dominguez, a 19-year-old salesman at Foot Locker, said he heard about the promo on Instagram. He waited about 20 minutes to get to the pump and got what he paid for: $9.10 for 10 gallons, the maximum allowed per person.
“I came to E,” he said, referring to his nearly empty gas tank.
Los Angeles resident Kobi Weiss was about to borrow his friend’s Costco card to charge up his truck, which usually costs $100 to fill up, before he too saw an advertisement for the event on Instagram.
While Weiss hasn’t seen the original “Quantum Leap” — “I was born in 1994,” he told me, by way of explanation — he plans to check out the new edition, which debuts Monday evening.
“Of course I will,” Weiss said. “After filling up at 91 cents a gallon, of course.”