At a recent panel during the L.A. Comic-Con, creator/producer Donald Bellisario (Magnum, P.I., NCIS) told his audience that he had completed a script for a feature film version of Quantum Leap in which Scott Bakula and Dean Stockwell would be included
“I just finished writing a Quantum Leap feature. I don’t know what’s going to happen with it, but I did write it. I write things exactly the same way. I just start writing and I let them take me wherever it’s going to take me. I’m entertained the same way the audience is. So I just put Scott and Dean [Stockwell] in my head, kind of rebooted them, and went from there.”
Well, this has got my juices flowing. I won’t specify which juices just take my word for it. As a kid, I would watch and enjoy Quantum Leap reruns all the time so the idea of a reunion movie sounds incredible. Then I got thinking, do I really want to see Scott leaping around again or do I want a reboot? Well if it was up to me this how I would do it. My Quantum Leap Movie.
We open on a young man. He wears a name tag displaying Dr. Beckett on his lab coat. He is talking to a group of scientists and although he looks younger than them he is clearly the head of the project they are discussing. They make bold statements and talk about how it is time to reopen the project. Although it’s alluded to being the Quantum Leap programme nobody mentions it by name, yet. Dr. Beckett tells the group of scientists that the science is solid, the equations work and it is absolutely possible to time travel within our own lifetime. The camera pans out and there are more people in the room. Several severe-looking men and women in high ranking army uniforms are stood around them speaking in hushed tones.
Then we cut to a tired looking Sam Beckett (Played by Scott Bakula) lying in bed. He gets up, makes coffee and looks around his dated apartment. We follow him as he goes about his morning routine until he catches sight of himself in the mirror. It’s not his face and we realize that Sam is still leaping all these years later.
Sam leaves the apartment and walks down a street. It’s clearly the 1950’s and there’s a child playing hopscotch on the road, We hear a gunshot or car backfire and then a car comes careening around the corner, heading straight for the little boy. Sam pulls him out the road as the boy’s mother runs out of a shop screaming “Steve!” The car just misses them, swerves and crashes as the driver flops out of the seat. All just in time for two police officers to arrest him. Someone comes out the shop and says,
“Mrs. Wozniak are you ok?”
Sam lets go of the frightened boy who runs to his mum and begins to walk down the road, looking bored and disassociated, like he has done this thousands of times before. The thanks and plaudits fall away from him instantly when suddenly he flashes and the dated visual effects of the original begin as Sam leaps once again…
We cut back to the other, new, Dr. Beckett. The meeting has been disbanded. Dr. Beckett has his back to the room. The military has declined the funding as they have concerns that the project is nothing more than science fiction. He pounds his fist on the wall in front of them and screams “God dammit people, this could be the biggest breakthrough of our time. We can go back and change decisions, save people!” The biggest, sternest looking General turns to him, “This is madness, your nonsense experiments are over Dr. Beckett, You are a disgrace to that name.” The room empties leaving just John and one of the scientists. The scientist puts his hand on Dr. Beckett’s shoulder. “I’m sorry John, without the military funding we can’t afford to run the project. It’s over.” John looks crestfallen. Back in his office, John looks at a photo frame, it’s a picture of Scott Bakula’s Sam Beckett being handed a medal. The Sam in the picture looks the same age as the Sam we saw pulling the child from the road, only less disheveled. “I’ll make you proud, father. Even if it kills me.”
Now we see Sam in his new, leaped into, body. That of an elderly lady. The familiar sounds of Ziggy and the faint voice of Dean Stockwell can be heard but it’s distorted, it fades in and out and is not quite right. Admiral Al Calavicci doesn’t appear as Sam calls out to him but the noise stops and Sam, looking defeated throws his a cup at the mirror, shattering the image of the old lady. It’s clear that Sam has lost contact with Ziggy and Al for some time now. Alone he is navigating the lives of the people he must help and discover without help the moment he is there to change.
We return to John Beckett. He is sat at a console which beeps at him “Confirm call?”, “Yes,” he replies. The scene cuts to an older style home phone which is ringing. A hand reaches down to pick up the receiver. It’s Al Calavicci. John demands to know why he didn’t use his influence in the military to secure the funding. Al explains that he is no longer the man he once was, He thought he still had some power but since his discharge, his reputation is in tatters. John explains that he will perform the experiment to prove that it works, he will finish the experiment his father gave up on and hangs up. Al tries to say something before the line goes dead. AL looks in the mirror and sighs heavily replacing the receiver.
Later that evening we see John is in the Lab with a few of the people we saw earlier, they’re prepping the machine.
Cuts to Sam in a bar, clearly drunk and he is looking at himself in the mirror behind the bar. The glassy stare of a very drunk old lady in the mirror is meeting his gaze.
Cut to John getting into the machine
Cut to old lady Sam, we see a figure approaches him, we don’t see his face at first but he calls the woman Sam.
Cut to the machine as it begins to whirl up and we see John breathing deeply.
Cut back to the bar. The figure is revealed to be Al Calavicci, Al explains to Sam that his son is in danger. Sam is in shock. He hasn’t seen Al in years. Al is also not a hologram and he embraces him. Sam breaks from the hug, looking confused he says he never had a son. Al says he does, he explains that Sam lost contact with his Al and Ziggy because he never actually completed the original experiment, so they no longer have that connection. “I know it sounds insane, trust me, when Your Al appeared to me I freaked out, was discharged from the military over concerns about my sanity, concerns I shared. I was told you would be here, stuck in the body of a little old lady, on this day at this time.” He goes on to explain that the experiment back in 1989 failed, all while Sam stares off into the distance, taking it all in.
Back in the lab, John leaps, the leap seen is a much more effect heavy version than the leap we saw earlier and in past series. John now finds he is in the body of a scientist, he is in a bathroom and looking at the unfamiliar face in the mirror. The door opens, “Come on Greg we’re nearly ready. Sam want’s you to run the equations one last time.” John, in the body of Greg, follows the other scientist into the experiment room and comes face to face with his father, who is much younger now, digitally de-aged to look like 1989’s Scott Bakula. John stares at him, mouth agape. “Come on Greg, get to your station, we’re running out of time.” 1989’s Sam spits, clearly excited. John walks to where Sam is gesturing, almost in a daze. We are at the scene of the original leap from episode 1. The bartender (from the original series) suddenly appears beside John. Nobody else can see him, he explains to John and the audience what is happening, that this is where a timeline splits. He says “If your father leaps he will never stop, he will never meet your mother, he will never have you and he eventually dies in someone else’s body. Never returning home. Now if you sabotage the experiment. You can save your father. So he can go on to live the life you know he can lead. Meet your mother, have you, do all the good he did in your timeline. You need to decide now John. What timeline will you create?” John doesn’t hesitate. He changes all the equations at his station. We then see a montage of the experiment failing, We see Sam, packing his desk and them scraping his name off the door to his office, we see Sam sitting with Al and his wife in a bar where they introducing him to a woman, then we see him marry the woman, then we see them giving birth to John, then we see Sam working for the CDC and finally we see him winning the medal as we saw in the picture earlier.
The barmen turns to John and says “You know what this means, you will now be leaping as your father once did. You will be the one putting things right that once went wrong.” John says he understood the consequences. Suddenly John leaps. He wakes up, it’s the 1940’s. Nazi paraphernalia surrounds him. He lifts his hand to his face and feels a pencil mustache. Suddenly Al and Sam materialize beside him. Not the Al we saw in the bar or the father John knows. These are the original timeline Sam and Al.
“oh boy,” Sam says “This is going to be a doozy.”
The movie ends with a voice-over:
“Theorizing that one could time travel within his own lifetime, Doctor John Beckett led an elite group of scientists into the desert to develop a top-secret project, known as “Quantum Leap”. Pressured to prove his theories or lose funding, Doctor Beckett prematurely stepped into the Project Accelerator and vanished. He awoke to find himself in the past, and facing a mirror image that was not his own. Fortunately, contact with his own time was made through brainwave transmissions with Al and his Father, who appeared in the form of holograms that only Doctor Beckett could see and hear. Trapped in the past, Doctor Beckett finds himself leaping from life to life, putting things right that once went wrong and hoping each time that his next leap will be the leap home.”
After the credits roll we see Quantum Leap the Netflix series, coming summer 2020.
The subsequent series is then left open to explore so many avenues. The relationship between John and his alternate father, the mystery of how the alternate timeline characters are now communicating with John and so on. It also reboots the world so the continuity can take a bit of a back seat.
This works because actually I don’t want a reboot and I don’t want a sequel. I want both. What do you think? How would you reboot or remake the series? sound off in the comments below.