Let’s be clear that this is not a reboot. Where reboots take a new approach to something that has been done before, Quantum Leap Season 1 Episode 1 is the beginning of a continuation of the Quantum Leap project. The next chapter, if you will.
It acknowledges the legacy of Sam and Al, brings back Ziggy, and introduces the team assembled to turn the experimental accelerator into a viable tool.
At the same time, the premiere manages to tap into the madcap humor of the original series and points out the more idiosyncratic foibles of the concept that newcomers might question.
Altogether, this is the premiere I wanted because I didn’t know what kind of a premiere was needed. Without Scott Bakula or Dean Stockwell, how would this team feel authentically tied to Quantum Leap?
With the thirty years that have passed, is there a place in the television landscape for Quantum Leap’s unique marriage of Doctor Who and an HG Wells-esque Littlest Hobo?
Maybe the biggest question I didn’t ask going into this was: Is the world ready to believe in happy endings again?
I don’t have answers to any of these yet, but as a lover of the original series, I can’t help but feel the show’s creators must be too.
Addison: Thirty years ago, Quantum Leap was created by Dr. Sam Beckett. He would leap into people and then need to help them put right what once went wrong, and then the whole process would start all over again. Now, if we have any hope of getting you home, you have to do the same for this guy.
Ben: What the hell kind of time travel project is this? How does helping someone cause me to leap?
At the same time, they are striking out into new territory too.
By giving us a glimpse at Ben and the team before his leap sends them all into crisis mode, we get a good sense of what “normal” is for a group of co-workers bent on conquering time travel.
Magic: Jenn, I just met a guy named Chris at the bar, says he’s your date. Why does he think I’m a video game designer?
Jenn: Would you prefer I told him you run a top-secret time travel project?
I’m on the fence about the love story. Workplace romances are messy drama as it is, and putting Addison at the lead in the effort to bring Ben home seems like a conflict of interest too far.
I suspect we’ll see what their courtship was like later in the season as it becomes harder for Addison to hide the fact they have more than a working relationship. Or maybe Ben will regain his memory of their relationship.
Addison: Have you been hiding?
Ben: Hiding? No, I was just in a different section of the apartment.
Addison: You mean the bathroom where you were hiding from the party you didn’t want to have?
Ben: I love parties. Having everyone in here, touching all our stuff. I would’ve proposed way sooner if I knew we got to do this.
I’d like to know if their relationship predates the project or if it is a by-product of them working together.
If they met on the project, it would make more sense that Addison doesn’t know about Janice Calavicci. Janice would probably have connected with Ben well before the project had a team.
Janice’s involvement in Ben’s jump sort of answers my question of legacy.
Wearing her father’s ring, Janice is driven to bring Sam Beckett home, something Al was never able to do.
(Smart alec question: how is it Jenn and her team could pull a high-def image of the ring off the scrubbed surveillance video but couldn’t get enough for facial recognition on Janice?)
And while I am still looking forward to the fun episodic style of the original, I won’t deny that I’m intrigued with what Janice and Ben have been working on in secret.
Specifically, whatever it is Ben is referring to in his message to Addison seems tied to what he wasn’t willing to share with the team.
There’s a touch of social commentary interwoven with the core plot involving Nick and Ryan.
The fact that Ben leaped back to the day of Live Aid, a global event to draw attention to the Ethiopian famine, to help a guy who had been let down by the American Dream is pretty on the nose.
And the unbelievable turnaround in Ryan’s fortunes that results from Ben foiling the heist is precisely that. Unbelievable.
So maybe we’re not entirely ready for happy endings yet?
Amnesiac Ben appears to be the type of guy to lean in on a new situation.
From remembering how to drive stick under insane amounts of duress to understanding Romanian to figuring out the tango, he taps into a lot of abilities in a hurry.
Addison: Who are you right now?
Ben: What, I don’t normally punch out bad guys while wearing a tux?
Addison: No, normally you’re a punching out code in a t-shirt kind of guy.
Ben: That really hurt my hand.
I’ll own that the writing shows some clever finesse. Cole uncovering that Nick is an undercover cop, Matt, when Nick/Ben himself has no idea, is brilliant stuff.
And that revelation blows Ryan’s trust in him entirely out the window since all his behaviors, predictions, and “special” knowledge can be explained by the cop thing.
There’s an innocence that carries over from the original series in that the people who interact with the leaper — be it Dr. Beckett or Dr. Song — seem inclined to trust him.
Maybe that’s what holds the team together despite Ben’s apparent betrayal/madness.
It’s a fun team. Maybe a little by-the-book in composition, but I’ve missed having a good team dynamic.
Addison: What do you know about Nick Rounder? It’s getting worse by the second out there.
Jenn: I saw. That is a terrifying amount of C4.
Ian: Is there an UN-terrifying amount?
Nanrisa Lee, as the gruff and capable Head of Security, Jenn Chou, is our straight-talking get-‘er-done professional.
Meanwhile, Mason Alexander Park makes my heart sing every time they grace my screen. From Cowboy Bebop to The Sandman, Park could blow soap bubbles for an hour, and I’d tune in.
As quirky-brilliant programmer Ian Wright, Park is in high-speed genius mode, so when they admit they need a moment to process everything, they’re clearly working on keeping it together.
One of my best friends has intentionally gotten himself stuck in quantum space-time and we can’t get him back. It’s like a bad mushroom trip that I just can’t sober up from. Not that… Not that I do mushrooms. I would never… as an employee of the United States military, I would never.
For Herbert “Magic” Williams, the always awesome Ernie Hudson, keeping the home fires lit and the team pulling in the same direction will require him to live up to his nickname.
As mentioned before, Addison’s relationship with Ben feels like unnecessary baggage but as with Sam Beckett, the amnesia … helps?
As a team member, it was a bit of a shock to discover Addison was meant to be the leaper, but it does make sense for someone with her training. She probably wouldn’t have hurt her hand landing that punch, either.
All in all, this is a fun premiere that holds a lot of promise. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and includes enough tips of the hat to the original to endear it to this fan.
As with anything based on older IP, I expect some true-bots will push back, but, by any measure, it’s a solid heir to the Quantum Leap legacy.
You can watch Quantum Leap online on Peacock, as new episodes will stream the day after the network broadcast. Check it out for the great little details they’ve included.
What are your initial thoughts, Fanatics? Will Ben be able to keep this up?
For those of you who followed the original, did it hit the spot?
Where is Ben’s spaceship headed for? What adventures do you hope to see?
Leap into our comments with your personal highs and lows of the premiere!
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.