I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love Quantum Leap, which ran from 1989 to 1993. I missed the first two seasons but like always, thanks to my Mom, she introduced this show to me because we both loved time travel. I caught the new episodes as they aired and USA Network aired the reruns so I was able to somewhat catch up, albeit out of order. I taped episodes from TV, especially ones that were labeled SPECIAL EVENTS, like when THE EVIL LEAPER made a return. I guess I should somewhat explain the series to anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure of seeing this show.
The show centered on Dr. Sam Beckett, played PERFECTLY by Scott Bakula, a genius quantum physicist who invented a way to make time travel possible. He creates this time machine, labeled Project Quantum Leap, that makes people travel back in time. How do you travel back in time? Well, that’s kind of up for debate among fans. To make it simple for this intro, the “mind” or “soul” of the person is sent back and put into the body of a different person in the past. So when the “leaper” looks in a mirror, they don’t seem themselves, they see the body of the person they’re inhabiting. Everyone around the leaper only sees the person they’ve leapt into, not the leaper. How this works, again, is up for debate and it changes throughout the history of the show.
Helping Sam on this journey is Admiral Albert Calavicci, or Al for short. He’s Sam’s best friend and partner on this Project and is able to project a hologram to Sam back in the past that only Sam can see and hear. This explanation also changes often and sometimes it’s best not to think of these things too deeply or else you’ll go crazy.
Anyway, Sam discovers that he’s trapped back in the past and parts of his memory is gone, including how he possibly could get back home. He has some knowledge like how to speak certain languages, how to fight, and how to be a doctor. But he doesn’t know how to undo the leap. And Sam also discovers that he can leap out of one body and into another once he changes something from the past for the good. This mainly involves saving a person’s life or preventing something terrible from happening. Once he does these things, he leaps out and leaps back into another person and we start all over.
There was only 5 seasons of this show and let me tell you, dear reader, I was upset when I found out the show was being cancelled. And then I watched the final episode and BOY was I upset. It’s probably one of the worse final episodes ever. On top of it not making any sense, it tells us that Sam never made it back home. BOO!!
Sorry for the spoiler. It’s a 30+year old show. I’ll get to it eventually. Cause yes, Charlie Brown and Virginia, I’m starting ANOTHER TV show Transmission. I know, I’m barely into the MST3K one (which I’ll get back to I promise) but I wanna do a Quantum Leap one because, well, it got a reboot. And I wanna talk about the reboot.
Since the terrible last episode, people (or maybe just me and I’m projecting) been wanting a follow up….SOMETHING. A movie, a mini-series, yes even a new show. To continue the story. And since the final episode in 1993 there’s been rumblings of doing a “new” Quantum Leap, with a popular theory that the show would follow Sam’s daughter leaping around in time trying to find Sam. News of this would pop up then slowly deflate.
But then, 2021 the head of NBC Programming announced they were FINALLY going ahead with the long awaited reboot/new version of Quantum Leap. And god damn it, it’s going to happen this time! And yes, I was excited. And hesitant. The closer it got to the premiere (September 2022) the more they’d announce what the show would be like and I kinda got nervous. Would a Quantum Leap in 2022 work? Well, let’s find out! Here on Project Quantum Leap Transmissions (PQLT for short) I’m not only gonna take a look at the new series but revisit the older episodes as well and talk about those. It’s going to be a trip.
Also maybe I should call this the Oh Boy Transmission. That’s funny.
Let’s start with 2022 Quantum Leap. First, our main characters include Ben Song, played by Raymond Lee, who showed up in bit parts on TV and possibly movies. The most notable thing I’m seeing is he was in Top Gun: Maverick. So take that for what it’s worth. Anyway, Dr. Ben Song is the lead physicist working on Project Quantum Leap which got restarted in hopes of finding Sam. He’s engaged to Addison Augustine, played by Caitlin Bassett, who doesn’t have a Wikipedia page which is interesting and holy shit she really wasn’t in anything. Alrighty. Anyway, Addison is also on Project Quantum Leap and works in communications, which is how the people in the present talk to the people in the past. We also have Herbert “Magic” Williams played by Ernie Hudson. Fans of Quantum Leap will recognize that name. In a season three episode, Sam leapt into Magic Williams during Vietnam. What his connection is I think will remain to be seen. We have Jenn, played by Nanrisa Lee who is the head of security at Quantum Leap. And rounding out the cast is Ian, the artificial intelligence chief architect, played by Mason Alexander Park. Both the actor and the character is a non-binary trans person who goes by they/them and the fact this was only mentioned ONCE during the episode and it wasn’t a big deal was so fucking refreshing. We need more characters like this. I applaud everything about this.
OK, so I’m gonna try to talk about this first episode and not spoil anything since it’s brand new. But basically Ben and his crew have been hired by the U.S Military to restart Project Quantum Leap to find out what happened to Sam and try to get him back. They been running tests and trying all kinds of different things out but can’t figure out how to get the leaper to come back after going back to the past. Through a bunch of clunky dialogue we learn that Ben and Addison are engaged to be married and they’re having a party to celebrate this engagement. Also through clunky dialogue we learn the personalities and backstories of all the characters I mentioned. I really hope this clunkiness is just a first episode thing and we can move past this. A line of dialogue from this episode went something like this:
“Are you having a good time at our engagement party?”
“No I don’t like parties but I’m glad I’m engaged to you.”
“Well, we should leave our engagement party and go snuggle.”
Stuff like that but for the other characters in the show. With that said, Ben gets a phone call from someone and he rushes over to Project Quantum Leap and he leaps himself into the past. He finds himself in the body of a guy named Nick who seems to be a getaway driver for a robbery. And he doesn’t remember anything. Addison shows up as a hologram and discovers the amnesia thing is still happening to leapers and Ben doesn’t remember anything about the project or who Addison even is.
Where this show differs from the original show is we bounce back and forth from Ben in the past to Addison and crew in the present. And this is very much the present, it’s 2022 in the show. The original show, which came out in 1989, was set in the “near future” which I think means sometime in like 1994? 1995? So to set this version in the “modern era” is interesting. Speaking of, what year did Ben leap to?
July 13th, 1985. Yep, I think this show is going to jump around in the 80s and 90s much like the original jumped around in the 60s and 70s. And they lean in HARD on the 80s stuff. The soundtrack is full of 80s song and they even reference Live Aid.
I won’t get into the plot of the episode cause again, spoilers, but Ben eventually learns that in order for him to leap and for everyone at the Project to retrieve him, he has to fix the thing that’s wrong. At the Project, Magic and crew learn that before Ben leapt, he reprogrammed everything with a new code but didn’t tell anybody what the code was or why he was in such a hurry to leap and not tell anyone, especially Addison. Also some mysterious person helped Ben do all of this, which we sort of discover toward the end who it is but again, I won’t say.
So what are my thoughts on this “reboot”? The best way I can describe them is it makes me think of how they “rebooted” Doctor Who. Doctor Who was this older show that was campy and had shitty special effects but it was a cult classic and you had to be a special type of nerd to enjoy this show. It got cancelled after a while (a long while really) but then in 2005 it returns but it’s not a do-over. It’s a continuation. They talk about all the Doctors from before and it continues. That’s the same here. Everyone is working to get Sam Beckett home, they reference both Sam and Al. Ziggy, the super smart computer from the original show is used again here as the computer that figures out what Ben needs to do to leap. I just hope the writing gets better and I’m sure it will. They had a lot to set up cause it’s the first episode and I’m sure it’ll get better from here. So I have hopes for this reboot, which is great because I do love me some Quantum Leap.