“Theorizing that one can time travel within his own lifetime, Dr. Sam Beckett stepped into the Quantum Accelerator, and vanished.
He awoke to find himself trapped in the past, facing mirror images that were not his own; and driven by an unknown force to change history for the better.
His only guide in this journey is Al, an observer from his own time, who appears in the form of a hologram that only Sam can see and here.
And so Dr. Beckett finds himself, leaping from life to life, striving to put right what once went wrong, and hoping each time that his next leap, will be the leap home…“
And with those words Quantum Leap perfectly set up the series.
Before I start, I must be honest and say I have been disappointed with many reboots as of late. Ghostbusters 2016 is the first that comes to mind but there is the film reboot of Star Trek with the Kelvin Timeline and which lead to in the current iterations of Star Trek. And this is contrary to popular opinion but I am far from happy with how they have been handling James Bond lately. I can go on but you get my drift. Creators forget what made these properties work and stick around for so long. They take a surface glance and proceed from there.
Hollywood has a love affair with rebooting/reimagining beloved properties. From a business perspective it is a safe bet. You will get fans of the original to plunk down money and some new people as well and more than likely turn a profit. And from that thinking is born the Quantum Leap reboot.
I hear news of reboots and I instantly become nervous. Often it’s something I like, like Quantum Leap, and so fondly remember, like Quantum Leap. The only thing more significant than the fear I get from news of a reboot is the fear I get from a long-standing properly property being handled by a new group of individuals. Often those individuals are hacks and the property in question is not well understood by the people handing it over to those newbies.
From what I’m seeing so far the Quantum Leap reboot lacks the input of anyone that actually understands or appreciates it and has been handed over to individuals that have no idea what made the original so special. The casting sheet that has been released indicates that.
The original show had two-JUST TWO-regular characters but here as it stands there are five listed series regulars with two recurring series characters. That makes me think this in execution will be more along the lines of the series Seven Days (October 7, 1998 to May 29, 2001 on UPN) than the original Quantum Leap.
Our new leaper is currently named Dr. Ben Prassad and is described as “a first-generation American, a world-renowned physicist, and a man of faith” and “when he uses the project on himself, he’s transported back to the late 80s and struck with a bout of amnesia – forgetting what made him time travel in the first place.” Why create a whole new character?
First off Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula) fathered a daughter in the past during a leap who it was revealed came to work on the Quantum Leap Project in a capacity where she was attempting to retrieve her dad. It gets a little complicated but this never seen character was unaware of who her father was. Why not have her as the new leaper after learning the truth? It would certainly have continuity from one to the next. Instead they create a new character from scratch for reasons.
We also have Addison mentioned who is the project lead and looks to be taking over the Al Calavicci (Dean Stockwell) role. We have programmer Ian Wright. Herbert “Magic” Williams is a Vietnam vet. Jenn is head of security. All new. All present day.
As guest characters we have Janis who worked with Ben and appears to have some hidden agenda. A hidden agenda in what was a positive show? And Naomi who is Ben’s wife is seeking a divorce because we need somebody like that. It looks like her part will be to interact with the people who take Ben’s place in the present. So they are not isolating them for safety and timeline continuity purposes?
Characters in the present day originally were often discussed but rarely seen. For example we knew a great deal about Gooshie and Dr. Beeks but Gooshie actually appeared five times while Beeks made two. Much like Vera in Cheers they were largely developed through the discussions of Al and Sam during the course of an episode. That kind of creativity and effective storytelling is hard to do twice.
As it is there are far too many present-day characters. Quantum Leap was a look at the past-warts and all-about an idealistic individual whose time traveling to the next date occurred after he set something right in the lives of individuals that once went wrong. Sam did this on the hopes he would someday get back home.
The show touched on racism and sexism and the flaws of our past but always maintained a positive view of people. Sam and Al while flawed were individuals trying to always do better even if they failed at it.
And because of that as warts and all as Quantum Leap could be it also made us to feel good. It was hopeful. The people in it were generally decent people. And that is not counting our two series regulars. Sure there was the villain of the episode, being a situation or an actual character, but the dominant number of characters in each story were good people.
Hopeful is an important word when it comes to Quantum Leap. It’s one of the main things that defined the show and the creative minds here don’t seem to quite understand that. Either that or they are small people who think everyone is a small and petty as they are or that people cannot rise above their human weaknesses to be better.
Now it looks like putting things right is going to be crowded out from all appearances by characters in the present. The theory in the show was that Sam’s leaps were essentially controlled by God (something all but confirmed at a few points). That was a foundational element. Will it continue? Sure, Ben is a “man of faith” but what exactly does that mean to the creative minds here?
One can view that part of the dynamic between Al and Sam as Al returning the favor that changed his life to Sam. Prior to the events of the series Al was a washed-up Naval Admiral that Sam had come across one day beating up a vending machine. Sam brought him into the project and by the start of the series his life was turned around.
They were close individuals. They started out the series as friends but ended it as family with Al going to great lengths to help Sam and Sam when he could going to great links to help Al. The finale of the final episode was intended to be a little different (word is they had several endings filmed) when Sam did the greatest favor of that he could in a situation for him.
Quantum Leap was about good people doing good things. These were not mediocre to terrible people doing the good thing because it was their job. Rather Sam and Al were doing it because it was the right thing to do in that situation. Even if the higher-ups were telling them to not do what they knew they should be they did it anyway.
And by the look of it this reboot will not follow that template. Several characters already appear to have their own agendas whatever those mysterious and dark agendas are. Why is it so hard to have hope in a television show these days?
This show sounds like it’s going to be a very loose continuation of the original. The big mystery is there going to be trying to figure out what happened to Sam. That’s it. As of right now Bakula isn’t even officially attached to show up but since things are in the early stages that could change.
Given the number of reboots over the past couple years and their general poor quality I have very low hopes that this will be anything worthwhile. Instead I think this will be just bad. I hope to be wrong. I would love to find that it is as good on its own as the original was but reboots rarely are.