When I was a kid, Quantum Leap was probably my favorite show to watch. Sure, it was a time travel show, which probably would have been enough of itself to draw me in. But it wasn’t a typical science fiction thing. It was a show that jumped around throughout different periods in history and gave us glimpses of life in those times. So it didn’t just cater to the sci-fi geek in me, it catered to the history buff as well.
It seems that we live in a world where networks and studios have no end of properties and franchises from which to remake or reboot these days. Full House has come back with its sequel series, Fuller House. The X-Files has come back with new episodes featuring the same stars in their same roles from over 20 years ago. And did I hear that Roseanne is even making a comeback this year?
The MacGyver remake is into its second season on CBS. As a kid, I loved the original series, though I can’t say I care much for this new take. But it’s found a home among viewers who want to see it. So good for them. But where’s the Quantum Leap reboot?
Every now and then I’ll get that itch to rewatch some of my favorite Quantum Leap episodes. And, when I do that, I can’t help but wonder if anyone out there is trying to put a remake or a reboot together. For years, there’s been talk of something happening… but then it never happens.
I remember reading, years ago, that the SciFi (now SyFy) Network wanted to make a continuation to Quantum Leap using the subtitle A Bold Leap Forward. If I remember correctly, the premise would have had Dr. Sam Beckett’s daughter leaping into the time stream in search for her father, who never made it home and was lost after the events of the series finale.
Most recently, I read that Donald Bellisario, the show’s creator, has a movie script that’s ready to film. The question here is, did someone ask Mr. Bellisario to write this script? Is there a studio that’s actively interested in making a feature length Quantum Leap motion picture? Or was the creator just bored at one point and let his mind wander back to those characters that he worked with so long ago?
Whatever the case, it certainly sounds like nothing is definitive. And the fact that Bellisario has a finished screenplay is no reason for people like me to hold our breath.
But I can’t help but speculate. What would Quantum Leap look like today?
I’m sure the idea of a major motion picture would be great. But if you’ve ever seen the show, do you think it would really work as a movie? To me, it’s great as a series. Because then you get to witness as Sam (or whoever takes over the main role) leaping from life to life, putting right what once went wrong. How many leaps do you get from a 2-hour movie? One or two? I guess it depends on the story you’re trying to tell.
Here’s how I would do it, if I were in charge of a Quantum Leap reboot. Not that anyone asked me… We start out a brand new series with the 2-hour pilot. None of this subtitle nonsense, it’s just called Quantum Leap. We don’t bring in Sam’s daughter as a character. In fact, we wouldn’t bring in anyone from the original series. At least, not at first.
I know, hardcore fans would probably be thinking, “How can you have Quantum Leap without Sam and Al?” As far as Sam is concerned, he’s lost in time. According to the show’s timeline, Dr. Beckett was born in 1953. That means that, this year, he’ll turn 65 years old, somewhere out in the time stream. Assuming he’s still alive out there. Al, Sam’s best friend and holographic observer from his own time, would be even older.
No, my idea is to begin things with Project Quantum Leap having been shut down by the government years ago. Without further government funding, the team behind Quantum Leap would have had no choice but to abandon their search for Sam. Years later (today) we have a student working on a PhD in quantum physics and her friend opening up the abandoned building where Project Quantum Leap once thrived. She’s been given permission to try and recreate and/or perfect Dr. Beckett’s theories on time travel. They would argue about how the place is full of junk and whether or not they’d ever be able to get it all running again.
Our main character would be that quantum physics student. She’s not Sam’s daughter, but I like the idea of having a female lead, so I’d keep that from the SyFy attempt at the reboot. Her friend would be male. And he would wind up being her observer, the hologram that keeps her tethered to her own time. In their initial exploration of the project building, they would come across Admiral Calavicci’s classified journals, which would contain his detailed thoughts regarding each of Sam’s documented leaps through time.
As we come to the end of this opening sequence, this duo would successfully power up Ziggy, the project’s artificially intelligent overseer. Think of it like Alexa on steroids. At that point, we’d skip ahead six months. This gives our characters time to learn all about the project off screen and get a team together that will help them begin their time travel experiments. Of course, it’s at this point that something stupid would happen. There’s an accident or our PhD student decides she’s ready to give leaping a try. And then it becomes the same basic show as the original Quantum Leap.
In thinking about all this, I’d also like to throw in an Easter egg dealing with the evil leaper, a character/concept that appeared during the show’s fifth and final season. In my mind, I always imagined that the evil version of Project Quantum Leap originated further in the future than Sam’s project. Maybe they coexist with our new heroine’s version of the project. Maybe part of what’s driving her to make Quantum Leap work is a desire to beat the bad guys to the punch. She could have a conversation with her would-be holographic observer…
Her: “Could you imagine if Alia and her team figured this stuff out? Do you really want them leaping around the time stream, reshaping it as they see fit?”
Him: “But they’ve been at it for years. How do you know they haven’t already figured it out?”
Her: “I don’t. But they don’t have access to all of Dr. Beckett’s equipment and research. And they don’t have Ziggy.”
I would want the first few episodes, maybe the first full season, to have her locked into the same convention as the original. Sam was only able to time travel within his own lifetime. So that meant that he couldn’t go further back than 1953 (except for that time he leapt into his ancestor during the Civil War). Ideally, I’d say our PhD student would be no older than 30 as the series begins. So that puts her time travel limit to around 1988. Now, there are a lot of historical moments you can visit in these past 30 years. But it would be a lot more fun to go further back, right? Maybe the cliffhanger at the end of season one would have her leaping into someone in the 60s. They’d have to figure out how that’s possible? And, since it’s science fiction, we could make up some jazz about how, since Dr. Beckett originally used the quantum leap accelerator, it still remembered his DNA, opening the door for leaps taking our new leaper as far back as 1953.
I want to make this show happen! Who’s with me? Does anyone have Bellisario’s email address? Scott Bakula’s number? I’d definitely want him and Dean Stockwell to do cameos at some point. But we would need to let the show stand on its own two feet at first.
What do you think? Are there any shows from back in the day that you’d like to see get the reboot treatment? How would you do it if you had the chance? Let me know in the comments!