Reason: It has been almost 30 years since Dr. Sam Beckett entered the Quantum Leap accelerator and disappeared. Now a new team, led by physicist Ben Song (Raymond Lee), has been assembled to restart the project in hopes of understanding the mysteries behind the machine and the man who created it.

Review: The original Quantum leaps aired from 1989 to 1993 and ushered in a unique blend of television series that combined science fiction, hopeful tales of fate and destiny, and a sense of humor that catapulted Scott Bakula and Dean Stockwell to stardom. After thirty years, Quantum leaps is back for a reboot that serves as the sixth season of the series and a completely new take on the formula. With direct references to Bakula and his time-traveling exploits in the guise of many different people, the new Quantum Leap feels incredibly familiar and safe while still mining nostalgia for TV shows from a bygone era. Overwhelmingly safe, this Quantum Leap is barely a hop, skip and a jump away from the original version.

Opening with a title card that refreshes our memory of the title project that sent Sam Beckett back in time for just under a hundred episodes, Quantum leaps introducing us to Dr. Ben Song (Raymond Lee), Beckett’s replacement on the revived Project Quantum Leap. Engaged to colleague Addison (Caitlin Bassett), Ben mysteriously places himself in the quantum generator and sends himself to the same fate as his predecessor. Ben wakes up with no memory and is helped by a holographic version of Addison. The latter helps him navigate the person he’s jumped into so he can help his avatar sort out their lives and enable himself to jump to another time period. There is very little difference in this new version from the original Quantum leaps down to the schmaltzy plans designed to tug at the heartstrings.

While each episode will focus on Ben dealing with a new situation and year, the story is also shared with his team back home who are desperately trying to bring him back to safety. In addition to Addison, we also use a good deal of Ian Wright (Mason Alexander Park), a non-binary programmer working on the AI ​​project known as Ziggy. We also have Ernie Hudson as Herbert “Magic” Williams, the military head of the project. Hudson takes over the role from Christopher Kirby, who played the character in the third season. We also have Nanrisa Lee as Jenn, the project’s security specialist. The PQL team all work together to uncover why Ben jumped without telling anyone, which sets the series on a narrative path that involves a conspiracy directly related to the original course of the series.

Only the first episode was made available for this review, which made me wonder if NBC has reservations about the reception of this revival. With Dean Stockwell passing away in 2021 and Scott Bakula deciding not to participate, I still feel like showrunners Steven Lilien and Bryan Wynbrandt are holding out hope that this show will be a hit and incorporate more of Donald P. Bellisario’s mythology from the original series. The premiere episode, titled “July 13, 1985,” takes place during the famous Live Aid concert and features many iconic songs from the era. Ben’s first mission involves a jewel heist as he learns how this time travel works and his interactions with forgotten fiancee Addison. The dynamic between Ben and Addison changes what Sam and Al had going on in the original show. Still, it doesn’t have the chemistry Bakula and Stockwell shared that made the original a fan favorite.

None of the performances in Quantum leaps are inherently bad, but they feel very cheesy in their delivery. Scene-stealing Mason Alexander Park Cowboy Bebop and this year’s Sandman, is the most interesting character as the non-binary Ian. Yet the writers still manage to reduce the character to the stock tech geek from every other network series. The budget in the first episode is very lacking, with an explosion at the end of the episode that looks and feels very anticlimactic. The overall special effects aren’t that great, although they are a step up from the early 90s technology available for the first five seasons. Music seems to be a key ingredient in this series, which relies heavily on nostalgia and period-specific rather than telling stories that deviate at all from the tried-and-true formula. Quantum leaps.

quantum leap, nbc, raymond lee, scott bakula

Quantum leaps looks and feels like it has plans for an expansive overarching story that will connect Ben Song’s adventures with Sam Beckett’s, but based on the first episode; there is a long way to go for this series to achieve the balance that made the original a classic. Raymond Lee certainly has the charisma to lead a series like this, but he needs the help of an ensemble cast willing to have fun with the material rather than honor the seasons that came before it. I wouldn’t be shocked if Quantum Leap found itself a new lease at NBC, and I hope it gives the writers the chance to develop these adventures past the one-note themes present in this pilot.

Quantum leaps premiered on Sept. 19 on NBC.

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