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Quantum Leap: Reboot Pilot

Let me start by saying that I watched and loved all of the original Quantum Leap when it aired, and a few years ago during a rewatch, I wrote season reviews. I don't do that if I'm not into it. And I've enjoyed other reboots. I wanted this one to be wonderful.

And maybe it eventually will be. But this pilot left a lot to be desired.

The original Quantum Leap was about Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula), a brilliant, compassionate scientist stuck in a time travel loop, leaping into a stranger's life in the past in order to "put right what once went wrong" in order to continue on to the next life, and so on. Sam's core relationship was with his friend Al Calavicci (Dean Stockwell), who appeared as a hologram and gave Sam information and support about his current bodily host and what the computer back at the Quantum Leap Project thought Sam was supposed to fix.

New Quantum Leap did something clever. The reboot's lead, Ben Song (Raymond Lee), who is now leaping, is paired with his fiancée Addison Augustine (Caitlin Bassett) as the project's hologram guide. Just like Sam, Ben is suffering from partial amnesia and doesn't remember Addison, adding romantic angst to their partnership. But Scott Bakula and Dean Stockwell are/were exceptional actors and they managed to create a buddy movie chemistry that made the series work. Will lightning strike twice and make Ben and Addison's relationship as appealing? Lee and Bassett have their work cut out for them.


In this pilot, Ben took his initial leap alone for unexplained reasons. He landed in the body of an undercover cop, and the person he had to save was a guy who was running with criminals because his wife had a serious illness and their health insurance had dropped them. There was a heist and a bomb and the Hope Diamond. The action was predictable and the dialogue occasionally clumsy, although I enjoyed the tango scene.

This new incarnation has decided to put some time into developing the characters back at the Project, something the original didn't do for quite awhile. Ernie Hudson, who plays "Magic," the project's leader, might even be a legacy character from the original series (IMDb link to episode). They're giving us enjoyable retro music, costumes and locations, this time 1985 with Live Aid and a lot of David Bowie. They also mentioned but didn't introduce Al Calavicci's daughter, Janice, which was intriguing.

So it could work. I realize that it's unfair of me to expect so much from a pilot. But I wish they had wowed me, and made me look forward to episode two. And they didn't.

Note from a week later: For what it's worth, the second episode is MUCH better, more in line with what I was hoping for. So I'm definitely going to continue watching.
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Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

6 comments:

  1. I totally agree it didn't blow me away. The leap of the week was a bit by the numbers, and didn't even have the flourish of the first episode of the original which was split over two parts and made us care about the family dynamic. Why didn't they have Ben leap into the guy with the crazy moral dilemma trying to save his wife?

    Anyway, I think the legacy stuff will be the bread and butter of this series. Al's daughter and the reason why Ben leaped in the first place should be interesting at least. I hope the leads find the right chemistry, they had some but it didn't wow me.

    As a Pilot it was middle of the road. Good enough for me to watch another episode, but not so great that I'm telling everyone about it. Thanks for taking the time to give us your thoughts!

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  2. The reboot left me with alot of questions. In the original series Sam doesn't leap into someone else's body. He "stepped into the quantum leap accelerator and vanished" - meaning his body travelled back in time. The body of the person whose life he leaps into travels forward in time. It's not a case of switching bodies, though people not as familiar with the original show could easily assume that.
    Q1 - Where was the man Ben jumped into? In the original series the team back at the project could get info from that person to help Sam.
    Q2 - If Sam is still leaping, where is the person he's currently leaped into?
    Q3 - How did they lose contact with Sam? Why don't they know where he is? I'm assuming that Ben's actions have something to do with trying to find Sam.
    Q4 - Did Sam leap into a situation where he failed to "put right what once went wrong" and got stuck in someone else's life? Is that person now stuck in the future?

    I'm hoping they'll address all these "mysteries" eventually, and I'm content to let it unfold slowly as they focus on the new characters and establish the show as its own thing. But I'll be disappointed if they stray too far from the original without an explanation of why things are different now. For instance, with the question of where was the man that Ben leaped into - does leaping work differently now than before because of the "new algorithms?"

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  3. All good questions. In the original, they didn't explain that Sam's actual body was in the "waiting room" until what -- the second season? They can't do much right off the bat. I just really wanted to like the main characters right away, and I didn't.

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    1. I'm pretty sure Sam's body travels to the past and the body of the other person ends up in the waiting room. Remember the episode where Sam leaps into the Vietnam vet with no legs? He can walk into the pool to save the guy he's there to save from drowning. He wouldn't be able to do that if he was actually in the body of a legless man. And the episode where he's in a blind man, but because it's his own body, he can see. Also, whenever young children are around they see Sam, not the person he's leapt into. Adults see the holographic image of the other person, but the reality is that it is Sam's body in the past.

      Anyway, I completely agreed with everything you and Samantha said about the reboot pilot. I talked to my mom this morning and she said basically the same things: good enough to watch the next episode, but not sold on it yet; waiting to see if the level of acting can measure up to the original, etc. I remember the one thing my mom always talks about with the original was Scott Bakula's ability to be a completely new character each week. Time will tell if this new guy can pull that off.

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  4. I haven't seen the original series so I'm going in blind.

    I liked it! Even though I can see that this probably will be a leap-of-the-week type of show, it caught my attention and I'l keep watching. I did feel though that this pilot was a bit rushed. It would have been better if they had fleshed it out over two episodes.

    Yay for Mason Alexander Park who was amazing in 'The Sandman'. This guy has a lot of charisma and I'm expecting we'll see more of that here.

    Also yay for Michael Malarkey as the guest villain, who I don't think I've seen since he played Enzo in TVD.

    Some great 80s music here. But of what we heard, only David Bowie was actually at Live Aid and he did sing 'Rebel rebel' live.

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  5. For what it's worth, the second episode is MUCH better, more in line with what I was hoping for. So I'm definitely going to continue watching.

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