Quantum Leap Episode 1 Review: July 13th, 1985

In its first exposition-heavy episode, the Quantum Leap continuation lacks the charm of the original.

QUANTUM LEAP -- “July 13, 1985” Episode 101 -- Pictured: (l-r) Caitlin Bassett as Addison, Raymond Lee as Dr. Ben Song
Photo: Ron Batzdorff | NBC

This Quantum Leap review contains spoilers.

Quantum Leap Episode 1

Quantum Leap has leapt back onto the screen. The much-awaited sequel to the three-decades-old original series spent much of its first hour acclimating newbies to the time-traveling world of “putting right once went wrong” while keeping viewers hooked with a few fast-paced surprises and more than a few curiosities.

The scene is set with a love story. A beautiful couple, newly engaged, celebrating with friends and colleagues, and so enamored that they plan to abandon their own party, post-haste, and go share a bottle of bourbon together under a pier. Yet, their plan is waylaid when Addison Augustine (Caitlin Basset) makes one last round of small talk while Dr. Ben Song (Raymond Lee) receives a secret, urgent text from another woman, whom he quickly takes off to meet, leaving his fiancé and his friends in his dust. Unlike the original leaper, lovable Dr. Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula), Dr. Ben Song is not a likable guy.

This mystery woman turns out to be none other than original cast member Al Calavicci’s (Dean Stockwell) daughter Janice. How do we know? Because recovered security footage reveals a woman with Ben. Her face can’t be seen, but a ring on her finger is clear enough that team leader Herbert “Magic” Williams (Ernie Hudson) recognizes it as a military service ring and quickly deduces that it must be Janice. Magic reports that Janice desperately wanted to be a part of the Quantum Leap project revival but was prevented from doing so because her connection was too emotional. Oddly, this revelation calls into question Magic’s own place on the team for it was his own body that Dr. Sam Beckett leapt into in the original Season 3’s “The Leap Home, Part II (Vietnam).”    

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The only thing that’s clear in this new Quantum Leap is that things are complicated. Somehow Janice has convinced Ben that his jump is imperative and world-saving, even though he is not the team member who is slated to do the jumping. It must be Janice who has prepared the white, time-jumping unitard for Ben since it’s actually Addison who is the one being trained for the leap and Ben the intended hologram helpmate, an intriguing role reversal. While the unitard was ready-to-go, Janice and Ben curiously write a code that zaps Ziggy, a jumper’s only lifeline, off the grid. Without Ziggy, what use is a hologram helper anyways?   

Perhaps all this pales in comparison to the complicated Ford Econoline van that Ben leaps into…what could be worse than opening your eyes to a reality where you are a heist’s getaway man in a manual transmission vehicle…and you don’t know how to drive a stick shift? Especially that manual shifter…with weird corners and an impossible 2nd to 3rd gear transition. It’s the kind of gadget that belongs in a spaceship, not in an American-made automobile.

Curiouser still is the contents of the large crate that the crew steals from what appears to be a bank. What was in the crate? The explosives? Is this really the best way for criminals to procure C-4? The crate was so big and heavy that two people could barely carry it. Oddly, if it was the explosive used in the Hope diamond heist, why is the final bomb so small compared to its original container? All by himself, Ben easily carries it from the trunk of the hatchback to the sewage manhole that he throws it down.

I’m not quite ready to give up on this new Quantum Leap, even though it seems the wholesome, comedic moments, which led to Sam Beckett’s signature “Oh, boy,” are relics of a bygone era. One can only hope that Ben Song’s “Oh, shit” proves itself wrong. 

New episodes of Quantum Leap premiere Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.


2 out of 5