Friday, June 12, 2009

[Cryptopopology] Quantum Leap: A Bold Leap Forward

Quantum Leap debuted on NBC in March 1989, the creation of Donald Bellisario--the man behind Magnum P.I., JAG, and NCIS. Scott Bakula starred as Dr. Samuel Beckett, a scientist whose botched experiment caused him to be lost in time, leaping into the bodies of different people throughout different eras, "putting right what once went wrong." He was assisted in his journey by Al (Dean Stockwell), a cigar-chomping, womanizing wiseass who appears in the form of a hologram that only Sam can see. The series ran for five seasons, a total of 96 episodes, coming to a close in May 1993 with a frustratingly unclear episode that raised more questions than it answered.

In early 2002 , the internet was ripe with murmurings that a made-for-television reunion film of the cult favorite series was in the works, entitled Quantum Leap: A Bold Leap Forward. But it was July 2, 2002 when the Sci-Fi Wire, the official news service of the Sci-Fi Channel, announced:
The SCI FI Channel, which is now a part of Universal Television Group, is developing a number of original series and films based on existing Universal titles, the network announced. SCI FI will develop a two-hour movie based on the TV series Quantum Leap, which will also serve as a back-door pilot for a possible series. Series creator Don P. Bellisario will executive produce.

"Projects such as Quantum Leap...are exactly why SCI FI is excited about being part of the Universal family," said SCI FI president Bonnie Hammer in a statement. "We have an opportunity to access the rich Universal library—which includes a vast array of horror and sci-fi titles—to create new television experiences for a contemporary audience."
And, according to the official ZENtertainment Press Release, dated July 10, 2003:
Quantum Leap -- Whoever said that time wasn't on our side? The never-ending bounce through history continues as SCI FI reinvents the ever-popular Quantum Leap series - but with a twist. Look for some familiar names from the original production, as our cosmic Lone Ranger tries "to put right what once went wrong."
A July 11, 2002 report from Cinescape stated that they had interviewed Bonnie Hammer, who went on record as saying:
"QUANTUM LEAP is absolutely a classic. It's done well on our channel in repeats and we've always wanted to do a QUANTUM LEAP reunion movie. And then when we started thinking about it and then we merged back with Universal, we said, 'Wow, let's do a two-hour movie. Let's see who we can attract from the original series and let's start our own. So we're thrilled about that because [QUANTUM LEAP] is so pure sci-fi, but so mainstream that I think we're going to pull in a whole new audience."
The movie even had it's own IMDB web page for roughly three years, but it has long-since been deleted. By using the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine, we're able to leap back in time ourselves and take a look at what information used to be hosted there over the course of its life.

Not a whole lot, as it turns out. This is the only synopsis that was ever listed:
"Twenty years after the original series left Dr. Sam Beckett "leaping" into the great unknown, Sam is finally reunited with Al, his old mentor and "partner in time." But when circumstances beyond their control send Sam away once more, Al must recruit his lost friend's daughter [Sammi Jo] to pick up where her father left off and hopefully help find Sam again in the process"
And over the three years, the following people were at one time or another credited for the upcoming feature:

Trey Calloway...Writer, Executive Producer
Donald P. Bellisario...Writer, Executive Producer

Deborah Pratt...Ziggy
Dean Stockwell...Al Calavicci
Scott Bakula...Sam Beckett
Kimberly Cullum...Donna Fuller

Fans were ecstatic from the moment the news hit the 'net. They waited patiently, then speculated about it's fate, then waited patiently again. Just where was this long-awaited film, anyway?

In a September 2006 interview with the BBC Online, Scott Bakula declined any knowledge of a Quantum Leap revival, and a short time later, the IMDB page disappeared. And right along with it, any talk of the film.

Until 2007, when the webmaster at Quantum Leap fansite Al's Place posted a thread reporting that Deborah Pratt, co-creator of the original series, had written her own script for the show--now a feature film rather than a telefilm--and was shopping it around. NBC Universal was supposedly interested, and she was seeking advice on who to cast for the role of Sammi Jo. The last official mention of the film in that thread dates from June 30, 2008, a quote from Pratt herself. She states that the movie is now called Quantum Leap: Time Child, and she was also working on the novelization of the film. A few posts later, and the webmaster tells us that Pratt had hopes of casting Jennifer Garner as Sammi, and Queen Latifah as her holographic guide.

In another thread at the same website, it was confirmed that all plans for the movie had been canceled at the behest of Don Bellisario, who, apparently, owned the legal rights to the franchise.

Fans were upset. They wanted desperately to know what fate held in store for Sam Beckett and his faithful holographic guide Al. Could they at least get a peek at the script?

Well, no. There WAS no script, but there WAS an extensive treatment. A treatment which, apparently, very few--if anyone--has actually seen. Scouring the Internet turned up no additional details, or anything else of merit.

As of this writing, neither the film or the novelization has seen the light of day.

The website A Slice of Sci-Fi features an article discussing the 20th anniversary of the series, dated April 3, 2009, in which Scott Bakula admits that the window of opportunity for a reunion show is closing.

And it's closing quickly. The cast is getting older, and so are the fans. We're no longer the target audience for Hollywood, and so it seems that our only hope of Quantum Leap coming back into our lives may very well be in fan films, such as Quantum Leap: A Leap to Di For.

On an interesting side note, the TV GUIDE website has an entry for Quantum Leap, stating that the series did indeed spawn a reunion movie called Quantum Leap: A Bold Leap Forward. Do they know something that the rest of us don't?

I have contacted NBC, Universal Studios, the Sci-Fi Channel, multiple webmasters of fansites, and have even managed to have a request forwarded on to Deborah Pratt for comment, but have not yet received any further information.

Oh, boy.


  1. I remember those rumors and I was pretty excited about it, though that excitement was soon forgotten about with no new news to ever come about. Too bad, QL was such an awesome show and it could really be something that would make for a great revival sci fi series.

  2. Apparently Bellisario made the ending so that Sam didn't get home, as his ex-wife Deborah Pratt wanted there to be a happy ending (presumably the Divorce wasn't amicable). Seems like perhaps Deborah has been trying to drum up a new series without permission from Bellisario, and Bellisario won't entertain the idea of a new series. This view would also be supported by her appearance in the fan film. Shame on Deborah for getting hopes up.

  3. I remember this show.

  4. nice post.


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