Quantum Leap’s Fate Has Been Decided
The Quantum Leap reboot has been granted an additional six episodes.
The Quantum Leap reboot at NBC is alive to leap another day, or at least for a few more episodes. The series, which stars Raymond Lee (Top Gun: Maverick) as a man who “leaps” from one body – and one time period – to another, has been given another six episodes by NBC, according to a story in The Hollywood Reporter. That will bring the first season total to 18 episodes, making it the first new broadcast series to extend its season and giving hope to some that it will continue to grow its audience with new viewers and fans of the original series, which made its debut in 1989.
Despite mixed reviews from both critics and fans, the new episode order comes down to one factor: ratings. Quantum Leap has averaged nearly 3 million same-day viewers per episode since its premiere on September 19, making it the #1 new show for viewers in the key 18-49 demographic. It still trails well behind some of the bigger shows on broadcast TV (CBS’ NCIS, for example, averages almost 11 million viewers), but with episodes making the top five on NBC’s streaming service Peacock, the hope is the series will continue to win over viewers and build an audience.
Those numbers come even though reviews on the show have been underwhelming. Quantum Leap scores a 50% from critics on Rotten Tomatoes and an even more dismal 46% from viewers.
Fans of the original series, which starred Scott Bakula in the lead role of Dr. Sam Beckett, had long been pushing for a continuation/sequel of some sort, that would answer the questions left in the series finale (spoiler: the final episode revealed that Sam never found his way home). Instead, the new series, led by showrunner Martin Gero, is a “loose” sequel to the original Quantum Leap, set in the same timeline but without Bakula’s participation.
In September, just before the series premiered, Scott Bakula revealed on social media that he would not be a part of the new series, despite being offered a role. Regardless, Bakula’s character is featured in the show’s pilot, and his storyline is referenced in the new series. Fans’ hopes of a connection to the original series were also dashed when Dean Stockwell, the Oscar-nominated actor who played Al Calavicci (Sam’s sidekick and friend) in the original Quantum Leap, died in November of 2021 at the age of 85, just as talk of the new series was emerging.
Controversy emerged around the reboot when producers revealed that they were only looking for persons of color or non-binary actors to cast in the lead roles. That led to criticism online that the show was using diversity as a gimmick to pull in viewers, and to cover for shortcomings in the writing. The cast turned out to be quite good – Lee and Ernie Hudson (who takes on Stockwell’s role) are excellent, although the writing has been underwhelming, as critics have pointed out.
In addition to Lee and Hudson (Ghostbusters), Quantum Leap also stars Caitlin Bassett, Mason Alexander Park, and Nanrisa Lee. New episodes air on NBC on Mondays, with episodes also available the next day on Peacock.