Does Quantum Leap 2022 live up to the original?

Does Quantum Leap 2022 live up to the original?

The trend of reboots and sequels has brought back one more iconic show from the past—Quantum Leap. The 2022 revival series is set in the same universe but introduces us to a bunch of whole new characters whose tales begin 30-odd years after Al Calavicci took his first leap.

Quantum Leap premiered its Ep 1 on September 19, and fans of the original series are wondering if they should give this a try or not.

Sadly, the debut episode of the 2022 series does not live up to the original as it lacks the humor and wit needed to balance its serious concept. Raymond Lee’s protagonist, Ben Song, also dulls in comparison to the rest of the cast.

I think the show made the common sci-fi mistake of trying to take itself too seriously, losing the original series’ charm. Let’s explore this in detail.

1. Sam Beckett vs Ben Song

As the protagonist who takes whacky leaps into different time periods, it is Sam Beckett’s charm, wit, and physical comedy that complement what often is an otherwise stressful situation—landing into someone’s else body in a time and place you’re not familiar with. This comes with the added pressure that one wrong move can change the course of history.

Does Quantum Leap 2022 live up to the original?
Sam Beckett vs Ben Song | Source: IMDb

One of the reasons the original Quantum Leap worked so well is because it balanced out different emotions that resulted in an entertaining story.

It feels like the 2022 show simply sucks out all the fun from the concept, starting with its lead replacement, Ben Song. Like Sam, he makes a quantum leap without informing anyone on his team. But since nobody knows why, his reason for leaping (that too, right before his engagement!) doesn’t seem all that justified.

Ben’s personality is a tad too serious than Sam’s, and as the episode goes on, it becomes synonymous with boring and humorless. I get that Ben cannot be a carbon copy of Sam, but the mysterious, brooding man act does very little to both the character and the story.

Also, fans of the original will miss Sam’s narration throughout the episode, which made us privy to his inner thoughts and feelings. The new show doesn’t use this device for Ben, making our task of reading him as easy as walking through a brick wall.

2. The New Hologram

In the original, Sam is accompanied by the hologram of his best friend and teammate, Al. This hologram is only visible to Sam and helps him out during his misadventures. As you can guess, their camaraderie is another hilarious factor that is used to diffuse tense moments.

In the reboot, we learn that Ben was supposed to be the hologram, while his fiancé, Addison, was supposed to be the leaper. So not only does he abscond before their engagement, he steals his fiancé’s spot in a very important project.

The New Hologram
Addison and Ben | Source: IMDb

(We are also constantly reminded through dialogues that Ben is a good guy, so he must have a valid reason to do this. But he’s yet to prove it with his actions.)

There is a complete switch of dynamics here—where Sam and Al’s friendship was fun, breezy, and supportive, I cannot expect the same from Ben and Addison.

Their relationship will be extremely strained and awkward due to Ben leaving her hanging. Plus, since every leaper experiences amnesia, Addison having to explain their relationship time and again will just be painful. Not to forget, the leaper must also pretend to be the person whose body they’re in, and as such, Ben will inevitably find himself in romantic situations, much to Addison’s chagrin.

3. The Tone

The original Quantum Leap was not just fun and games. Sam made the first time jump in order to save his project, not realizing he could be stuck in another time forever. Every time he took over a new body, it wasn’t a bed of roses either—most often than not, he was put into dangerous and scary situations.   

Because of this, we had Sam’s charisma and humor and his jovial relationship with Al that diffused the tension. 

Does Quantum Leap 2022 live up to the original?
Quantum Leap | Source: IMDb

Quantum Leap 2022 takes a more somber approach, making the air heavy with suspense and drama. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, as I am quite interested in understanding Ben’s reasons for leaping and the background of all the bureaucratic drama.

The show also retained a version of Sam’s catchphrase by making Ben use, “Oh shit!”. As we’ve only watched the premiere, I hope there are more instances where this pays off.

4. Final Thoughts

From the get-go, Ben doesn’t seem like the protagonist you want to root for or whose adventures you want to accompany, but there is still time to build his character.

Does Quantum Leap 2022 live up to the original?
Quantum Leap | Source: IMDb

On the plus side, uncovering if there is something shady going on behind the scenes with the Quantum Leap project managers and higher-ups is also an interesting pull. While we have to forgo any fun dynamics between the protagonist and the hologram, we do have a quirky team that can bring in some much-needed comic relief. Only once S1 finishes airing can we truly start comparing the show to its predecessor. But there’s no doubt that ​​Quantum Leap 2022 has its work cut out for it.

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5. About Quantum Leap

Based on the 80s science fiction series of the same name, Quantum Leap is a revival series created by Steven Lilien and Bryan Wynbrandt. 

The series follows the events thirty years after Dr. Sam Beckett disappeared into the Quantum Leap accelerator. The project has been revived and a new team has been tasked with solving the mystery of the machine. 

The show premiered on September 19, 2022 on NBC.