Actor Raymond Lee says that he’s ‘checking off a bucket list [item] with every episode.’
He’s talking about his work on the new series Quantum Leap.
This version of the series picks up 30 years after Dr. Sam Beckett stepped into the Quantum Leap accelerator and vanished. Now, a new team, led by physicist Ben Song, has been assembled to restart the project in the hopes of understanding the mysteries behind the machine and the man who created it.
Lee plays Song, and with the series time-traveling, location hopping narrative, he says, “It’s an actor’s dream to not only be in different periods with different projects but to do it all in one. It’s the roles of a lifetime. I’m having so much fun. It’s been a blast so far, and I anticipate that it will continue to be a blast.”
Martin Gero, executive producer and showrunner jumps in to add, “I think it’s a writer’s dream for that exact same reason. It’s not like we’re solving a different murder every week. The show is truly like a 52 [card] pick‑up of television. [We’re asking ourselves], ‘What are the shows that we’ve always wanted to write? What are the movies that we love? What are the stories we want to tell? ‘Everything has a place here on a show like this.”
Gero and his team realize that the original version, which ran from 1989 to 1993, was so beloved that they were careful in crafting this iteration. “It really made sense for this to be a continuation of the story with a brand‑new set of characters, one that could honor the old show, pay service to the old show, but have a really low bar for entry for new viewers.”
Expanding on this, he adds, “We want all of the rabid fans of Quantum Leap to watch the show and have it feel like Quantum Leap. Like, yes, this is an evolution of Quantum Leap, but it feels that way. But, there’s an enormous amount of people [who] are [only] vaguely familiar with the title and are just going to check the show out clean, and we didn’t want to weigh the show down with a lot of mythology immediately that would make it feel like, ‘oh, I need to watch 90‑plus episodes of [the original] before I can start this.’”
He says that over the course of this season, “there’s an enormous amount of backstory and mythology from the original show that we’re really excited to share with fans. But it’s done in a way that will feel like a different view on past events for our old fans, so it’s new information for them. And for our new fans, it just feels like we’re still in the middle of the story and it’s coming out organically.”
In modernizing the series, Gero notes that it felt like the right time to add a serialized element to the narrative. “The original is basically an anthology series, with a very thin through line A lot of character development but not a lot of serialized story. And everyone [on the creative team] felt like it needed some sort of serialized aspect. The modern‑day part of it allows us to have that flexibility to [ask] why did Ben leave? What’s going on? Like, why didn’t he tell anyone? That mystery pulls you through week to week without kind of alienating casual viewers. So, the idea is for it to be pretty balanced. It will mostly be the leaps. Every now and again, if there’s a huge event that needs to be talked about in the present day, but the show’s called Quantum Leap, and we’re going to be focusing predominantly on the leaps.
While Lee states there will never be another Dr. Sam Beckett, he believer that there are some similarities elements between the former time-traveler and the new leaping physicist, explaining, “I think what connects Ben Song and Sam Beckett are the main tenets of their belief in doing good and what it means to be empathetic. And I think through that, as they pass through bodies, they’ll have a joint experience of agreeing on the fact that they’re both doing righting what once went wrong.”
Gero points to another connection with the original series that’s guiding the new version. “Deborah Pratt, one of the original creators and executive producers of the show [is] with us every day. We’re so lucky to have her. She says that the four tenets of Quantum Leap are hope, heart, humor, and history. And Ben really inhabits the first three of those. He’s an incredibly hopeful character. He has a tremendous heart.”
He adds, “The show is about empathy at its core. And then, also, most importantly, because we want to make a really entertaining and fun show, is the humor. The humor was a big part of the original Quantum Leap and It’s a really important part of this one. And I think this entire cast, has really taken that on, — trying to find a grounded way to bring an incredible amount of hope, heart, and humor to these episodes.”
‘Quantum Leap’ airs Mondays at 10/9c on NBC, and is available for streaming the next day on peacock.