1. Character Development
A stellar cast carries the new line-up of characters while not striving in the least to fill-the-shoes of original series’ leads, Dr. Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula) and Al Calavicci (Dean Stockwell). Sam and Al are among the most treasured duos in television history, but they are also two-dimensional. Sam, the handsome Boy Scout whose heart is always in the right place, especially when he takes his shirt off, never makes terrible mistakes and he always leaps. The season finale of the show confirmed that Sam didn’t make it back home but kept on leaping in an inspired quest for Good. Al, the partying playboy with a flair for fashion and hearts of gold, always gets the girl or gets heartbroken, and he never fails to arrive just-in-time to help Sam out of the worst pickles. Sam and Al never changed. They may have switched bodies, swapped places and been possessed by evil entities, but the original characters were caricatures, albeit of everything good, fun and intriguing.
The new characters are their own people with their own shoes and their own crises, decisions and risks to navigate. Dr. Ben Song (Raymond Lee) and Addison Augustine (Caitlin Bassett) make-up the spacetime mingling duo in the revival of Quantum Leap. Ben leaps into other people’s bodies throughout time (even time beyond his own lifespan) and Addison offers assistance and support as both hologram helper and Ben’s fiancé. The power couple finds themselves discombobulated much of the time, after all, it’s Addison and her military prowess who was intended to enter the Quantum Accelerator…not Ben.
Some interesting moments in the new series happen after Ben remembers that he is engaged to Addison, and they begin to reconnect in every way but physically. Addison falls ever more deeply in love with Ben because of his vulnerability and openness as he leaps. It seems Ben forgets easily how stoic and silent he used to be, especially about his past. Another positive side-effect of Ben’s Swiss-cheese brain, he can’t remember why he rogue-leaped…and this reason is the very thing that may either save or end their relationship.
Herbert “Magic” Williams (Ernie Hudson) expertly supervises the team in the present as an all-around-best-boss and the father-you-always-wanted. He’s also willing to do and say anything to protect the project and his people—it’s Magic’s neck on the line when the government wants to shut them down, and he lays it down with the zeal of a saint. In episode 7 “O Ye of Little Faith,” one fan-favorite character, Jenn Chou (Nanrisa Lee), is revealed to be as close to Magic’s own daughter as she can get without an amended birth certificate. Jenn impresses with her quick wit, style and keen security intelligence and often tag-teams some of the best scenes with Ian Wright (Mason Alexander Park), who leads the team in loyalty and gift-worthy ad libs.
The new Quantum Leap provides characters that have potential for imperfection and transformation. After these first eight episodes, nothing is predictable…and that goes for the story arcs too.
2. Rule Breaking
Like all reboots, some of that old dust gets in viewers’ eyes. Those that are familiar enough with the original series to remember the rules of quantum travel will recall lifespan leaping only to the past, the waiting room and a more reliable and talkative Ziggy. None of these original rules can be taken for granted in the new series.