Sam Beckett may have never returned home after he leapt into a time travel device and spent 1989 to 1993 bouncing around the past on the NBC series Quantum Leap, but he may be next traveling to the network’s upcoming streaming service, Peacock.
That’s the word coming out of the current Television Critics Association winter press tour. Speaking with Jeff Bader, NBC’s head of program planning and strategy, SlashFilm learned that the classic science-fiction series is being considered for revival on the streaming service.
“That’s the one I know everyone is discussing,” SlashFilm quotes Bader as stating.
The original series starred Scott Bakula as Dr. Sam Beckett, a scientist who while experimenting in time travel found himself ping-ponging through history, briefly inhabiting other people’s bodies. He is aided by his partner Al (Dean Stockwell) who appears to Sam as a hologram from Sam’s future that only he can see.
(One of the time travel rules of the show was that Sam could only travel to different eras within his own lifetime, so basically 1950s through the show’s then present. It was an interesting limitation that felt a bit more motivated by budgetary concerns rather than storytelling ones.)
The key for Sam being able to make his next leap was to try and “putting things right which had once gone wrong,” according to the show’s opening prologue. Hopefully, that next would take Sam back home to his own time, though that never happened. The time travel device is a nifty overlay onto the standard episodic TV show format of the wandering hero, one who comes into a town, meets a set of characters and helps them with some problem before moving on to the next town. Although the show initially resisted having Sam interact with historical events and people, it eventually relented somewhat, allowing him to meet the likes of therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer and the young future horror novelist Stephen King and to find himself embroiled in the JFK assassination in an episode which featured a rather ingenious twist at its end.
The series struggled in the ratings, but did manage to spin-off a comic book series, which ended when its publisher went out of business, and a string of tie-in novels that lasted until 2000.
It is still too early to tell if this revival will be a continuation of the original series or if will be a complete reboot. The original series ended on a note that many took as a cliffhanger. But currently Backula is starring on CBS’s NCIS: New Orleans and might not be available. Additionally Stockwell, who is now 80 years old, has pretty much retired from acting and would probably not be interested in returning to the full time grind of series work.
This is not the first time that a revival of the series has been mooted. In 2002, the Sci-Fi Channel was developing a two-hour TV movie based on the series that could have possibly served as a backdoor pilot for new run of episodes. In 2010 it was reported that series creator Donald Bellisario was working on a feature film version of the series.