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Let’s Finally Talk About This Quantum Leap Movie

I have been putting this off and putting this off. At this point, it’s barely even news anymore, but if you haven’t heard:

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Key pull quote: “I just finished writing a Quantum Leap feature. I don’t know what’s going to happen with it, but I did write it.”

That’s what show creator Donald Bellisario, with Scott Bakula by his side, told a presumably stunned L.A. Comic-Con crowd during a Quantum Leap reunion panel.

A Quantum Leap movie?BoJack Doggy Doggy What Now.png

Is it really so crazy or even all that surprising, though? After all, we live in a world in which a major pay cable network gave David Lynch a lot of money to do this:

And even though Showtime has, for now, decided to stop with just Twin Peaks: The Return industry speculation is the show did what it needed to for them financially.

Plus, the Will & Grace, Lethal Weapon, Full House, The Exorcist, SWAT and Mystery Science Theater 3000, DuckTales, The Magic School Bus, Dynasty, Star Trek reboots/revivals are currently on the air, soon to be followed by [deep breath] 4 Weddings and a Funeral, 24 (again), Roseanne, American Idol, Miami Vice, Hocus Pocus, the second season of the revived X-Files, Animaniacs, Lost in Space, Amazing Stories, Manimal, and….

Wait. Manimal? Did I just make that up?

No and yes. That was a real show about a man who could change into any animal. Naturally, he used that power to fight crime. An instant inclusion on any list of craziest 80s TV shows, sure, but it’s not coming back. At least not yet. To borrow a bit from John Oliver, you didn’t immediately know I was lying about it coming back, and that’s exactly the point. So many shows and old movies have been announced as in development for a reboot or revival that we can’t even keep up anymore. Tell me Manimal’s getting a Netflix series, and I’d believe you because it’s 2017 and nothing matters anymore.

Stockwell and Bakula on the set of NCIS: Show You Probably Don’t Watch

So, even though Bellisario admits he has no idea what will become of his script it’s entirely inside the realm of possibility we’ll be looking at Twitter or Instagram photos of Scott Bakula’s first day on the et of the Quantum Leap movie a year from now. Apple, Netflix or Amazon will probably pay for it. And I’d LOVE to see that happen because, like so many other nerds, I have long since been of the belief that Quantum Leap should come back:

It has an easily repeatable story formula. The primary cast and creator are still alive. The show’s popularity has only grown over the years, referenced on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, lovingly spoken of at a Nerdist live show where Jonah Ray and Chris Hardwick proposed a reboot starring Nathan Fillion. The entertainment landscape is a decidedly geekier place these days, far more amenable to supporting time-travel shows like Legends of Tomorrow, Doctor Who, and Timeless. Quantum Leap would be welcomed back in whatever form it might take.

Though we’ve been here before, and it never seems to pan out:

There are questions, though. Oh, so many of them. Do they attempt to undo the series finale’s “and Sam never leapt home” ending? What’s Dean Stockwell’s health looking like right now? Does Quantum Leap even make sense as a movie? Why not a new TV season? Should they circle back to the long-abandoned idea of focusing on Sam’s daughter and her leaping through time, hoping that each time her next leap will be the leap to wherever the heck her dad ended up?

What do Al’s grandkids look like because God (or Al-God) knows he’s got to have plenty by now? Is there any possible way of doing this without Sam and Al at the center without sacrificing what made the show so great? What story could be big enough to necessitate a movie since the show, until the final season at least, was always more micro than macro in scale? Do the evil leapers make an appearance? Which version of the theme song do they use, season 1-4 or the peppier one from season 5?

Just kidding. That’s not a real question. They bury that season 5 theme song deep, deep in the crowd and give us the good stuff. Obviously.

Give me a minute. I’m just going to watch that again.

Ah, nostalgia.

But, wait, what of the sad graveyard of failed film/TV reboots/revivals? What of the recent history of nostalgia-based entertainment which has ultimately reminded us that some things are better left in the past? What of the many regrettable parts of the new X-Files? What …

Dude. What are you doing? Why are you trying to tear this down? Yeah, there have been lots of forgettable at best, reprehensible at worst, reboots and revivals. This time will be different because it’s Quantum Leap, and Quantum Leap is great and there’s no way they could mess it up. End of story. Right? Sam Beckett must leap home. I’m sorry. I will not live in a world in which a man that pure and improbably multi-talented morphs into a glorified Touched By An Angel figure. Donna’s lonely nights back at QL headquarters must end. She’s been talking to those stars she drunkenly believes to sound like Sam far too long. Put the poor woman out of her misery.

Or, ya know, just make a really cool movie about a guy setting out to right what once went wrong.

Oh, they did that already. It was called Source Code.

Oh, shut up already.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments.


  1. Really??? I had no idea there was a movie being mooted. Its good news to me. However I am worried about the stream of odd comments from Greg White that will follow this article now you have created it. Looking at the NCIS photo I cant see it working with the original stars and I love them both. Its time for new blood I’m afraid. But the idea of a movie is a welcome one. The problem with a movie is it is too standalone which goes against the premise which is his continuing leaps. So I guess they could squeeze 3 or 4 quick leap stories at a faster pace than the Tv show. They did it with Sourcecode which everyone keeps making comparisons to the QL series. However a series makes more sense. I guess they did a pilot for QL Lets hope its not an origins movie as that would really miss the point I dont care how he got into a Ql accelerator and how the future looks etc or his wife or his homelife. Just leap and go.

    1. “Just leap and go.”

      That’s sort of the beauty of it, isn’t it? The simplicity of it all, that is if a show about a man leaping into people’s lives, overtaking their identity and struggling with his own swiss cheese memory while talking to a hologram that only he can see and hear can truly be considered “simple.”

      It’s interesting you mentioned the pilot because that might be a good model for them if this stays a movie. The pilot drops us in with no explanation, and gradually builds to the big reveal of what’s happening. Then it doesn’t even stay in the same leap the whole time. He leaps into that baseball player and calls his dad at the end. If you’re trying to reboot this for a new audience that’s a good way to go.

      I haven’t seen yet whether or not that’s what they intend to do, though. With Bakula still around, it seems more likely they’re aiming to the continue the story of his version of Sam Beckett, or maybe have him kind of pass the baton to someone younger either playing his son or daughter or some other such person with an interest in finding him.

      The cleaner break is to start anew, but QL is so much about Sam and Al that it’s hard to imagine them actually doing something that doesn’t involve them somehow, Dean Stockwell’s health willing of course.

      1. Having seen the power rangers reboot I think we can safely assume an origins story with a leap happening in the last 20 mins. Agree following the pilot model makes sense but these directors and their need to change things. I have more faith in recasting these days. Riggs and murtagh in the tv show are no danny glover or mel gibson but they make it work. Likewise couldnt see don johnson and phillip micheal thomas doing the reboot of miami vice. The style and era has changed so much since then. They should poke fun more at hindsight issues such as donald trump being president and pre mobile phone and facebook eras etc.

      2. It’s odd to think that if this is a revival and not a reboot meaning it follows the continuity of the original then if the main character isn’t anyone other than Sam Beckett then he could conceivably be on the hook for leaping into people and situations that happened after he started leaping. He can only leap within his own lifetime, and that always meant him leaping into events with predated the moment he stepped into the Quantum Leap accelerator and vanished. Now, he could be leaping around fixing things and parts of history that he has no firsthand knowledge of or exposure to since he’s presumably been leaping around for decades now. That’s kind of messed up, when you think about it.

      3. It worked with the invaders remake. Coincidently scott bukula picked up the 60s tv show with a movoe and roy thinnies turned up to hand the baton over. The prisoner remake also alluded to continuation with a patrick doohan character being killed at the beggining. Tron legacy. 24 legacy. The flash and Doctor who of course. Why not QL? Could be another character maybe who does have baggage with kids and wife who doesnt want to bounce around forever who finds or is asked to use the accelerator once and find Sam. Queue cameo for a reformed Al happily married thanks to Sam and explaining things. Then eventually a cameo from sam who explains why he stayed and what leaping means and eventually leads the new person to continue on at least for a full season or sequel. Athankyou very much. Viewing figures back to a high and dollars coming in. Include a chinese character and film in london to encourage wider audience. Ca-ching goes the box office tills.

  2. Normally, I am the first to note that anecdotal evidence is usually one person’s point of view. However, I am worried about Dean Stockwell’s health. I’m sure I mentioned it before but I briefly met him a few years ago when he was at a convention in Australia. I asked him a few questions and it was mostly his assistance answering questions. Me: “Did you enjoy smoking cigars all the time on set?” Her: “He sure did because they were free” something like that. The only question he answered was when I asked if he thought there would be a movie and he said that it was up to Bellisario. Overall, I was left puzzled and wondering if age had affected Dean… or maybe he was just tired of fans.

    In my heart, I am tired of reboots, endless sequels and perpetual fan service. However, there’s a part of me that thinks “Does it matter?” If it’s a commercial and critical failure, they can say they tried, at least. I hated it when they made a “Dead Like Me” film WITHOUT Mandy Pantikin and Laura Harris but they tried. If they spend millions of dollars (unlikely) on this and it makes back virtually nothing, they can say they tried and it doesn’t really cost me anything.

    PS Manimal – it always makes me think of that Rob Schneider film “The Animal”. I’m assuming anything Rob Schneider is in is awful, especially anti-vaccination debates.

    1. I’ve sadly heard several other stories like your’s about Stockwell. Some actors these days just keep working until almost literally the day they die, either due to an unshakable work ethic, passion for the craft and/or very real need for the money. Harry Dean Stanton did it. Ditto for Angus Schrimm from Phantasm. Dean Stockwell might end up joining them. The dude is 81 at this point and a celebrated smoker. Hell, Bakula is now nearly 10 years older than Stockwell was when they started Quantum Leap. So, it’s more than fair to wonder how much could be expected of Stockwell. A cameo is all I’m realistically hoping for.

      I hear ya on “at least they tried.” Unless a follow-up movie or TV show revival/reboot is truly, truly, truly terrible, these things are ultimately forgotten in time and have far less impact on an IP’s legacy than a terrible final season or series finale does (looking at you, Dexter). That’s if they are fair to bad. If they’re great you’ve got the Doctor Who revival on your hands, best case scenario obviously, or maybe a couple of new seasons of fairly well-liked new material. For that reason alone, it’s worth a try.

      PS Animal – I have seen some shitty Rob Schneider movies in my time. Somehow, “The Animal” was never one of them, although it does remind me of the old South Park episode which mocked Schneider’s “Deuce Bigelow”/”Hot Chick”/”Animal” run with a series of mock trailers for “Rob Schneider is…[Title of Movie]” movies before finally getting to “Rob Schneider is….The Stapler.” The shots of his face on that stapler certainly provided more long-lasting amusement than his movies or crappy self-financed Netflix sitcom or regrettable social and political stances as of late.

  3. I always misremember that South Park episode because the episode is called “The Biggest Douche in the Universe”. I thought he became a female sanitary product.

    I can see Dean Stockwell working until the day he dies. This reminds me of his friend and collaborator Neil Young who released an album titled “Life” during his questionable 80s period. The title may have had multiple meanings such as referring to how some musicians are “lifers” – addicted to the work and performance until they die. The other speculated meaning was that Young hated his contract with Geffen Records at the time and considered it a like a life-time prison sentence.

    I am curious what role Bellisario has written for Stockwell. I remember how lame and unnecessary Leonard Nimoy’s performance in “Star Trek Into Darkness” was. I have heard it described as a Skyped in performance from home.

    1. Still enjoyed seeing Nimmoy even if it was on skype. Lets face it, Nimoy didnt need the role and wasnt well. It was for the fans. A skype from Stockwell is also welcome. I dont see him in many movies or tv shows any more so its understandable.

    2. “I have heard it described as a Skyped in performance from home.”

      I’ve heard that too, but Twin Peaks: The Return takes the cake there with one literally skyped in performance and another deeply haunting, yet entirely superfluous one from two cast members who died shortly thereafter and had long since been dead by the time their episodes aired.

  4. Any updates on status of a movie of show reboot? Would really like to see Bakula & Stockwell in the roles as it would NEVER be the same without them.

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