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'Quantum Leap' writer opens up about key canon change from the original 1990s series
Waiting rooms are sooo last century.
Changes are inevitable when remaking a classic property, and NBC's Quantum Leap revival is no exception.
Recently sitting down with TVLine to discuss this week's episode ("Let Them Play"), writer/director/cast member Shakina Nayfack fielded a question regarding the absence of an intriguing concept from the original 1990's iteration of the series known as the "Waiting Room."
Longtime Quantum Leap fans will recall that it was a nebulous, purgatory-like space where the consciousness of a person would go once Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula) leapt into their body and began correcting mistakes. Al (Dean Stockwell) ran the show in the Waiting Room, interviewing the person about their life and relaying the information to Sam to help him on his mission.
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“I think the Waiting Room is dead,” said Nayfack, who directed, co-wrote, and co-starred in Episode 12. "I think the Waiting Room is Quantum Leap of the 1980s and 1990s, and we have a different way of expressing where the Leap Host goes during the leap.”
Herbert "Magic" Williams (Ernie Hudson) alluded to the mystery of what happens to a Leapee during his conversation with Nayfack's character, Dottie, in the latest episode stating: "Let's say you did lose time for a week. To everyone else, you were still Dottie, doing everything Dottie does. But...did you ever stop to think about who was behind the wheel? Who was driving you like a bus the whole time?"
This week's adventure paid homage to the groundbreaking and progressive nature of the OG series, with the story of a transgender basketball player. Ben (Raymond Lee) leaps into the body of the girl's father and fights back against the bigotry of those around her.
"We got to break a lot of conventions in this episode, and that not only frees up Mason the actor and Ian the character, but it also frees up all the writers to lean into those conventions that we break in [Episode 12] so that all the episodes that follow become, in other ways, more adventurous and queerer," Nayfack added.
They continued: "I hope that trans kids and their families get to see themselves on screen in a way that reflects their reality and gives them hope and support. That’s super important to me. The other thing is that I hope that people who don’t have a lot of experience with trans people or maybe have conflicted feelings about trans people and trans kids have a heart-opening experience and feel a little more compassion and understanding where maybe in the past they had some fear and ignorance."
Quantum Leap is executive-produced by Martin Gero, Dean Georgaris, Don Bellisario, Deborah Pratt, Chris Grismer, Steven Lilien, Bryan Wynbrandt
New episodes air Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on NBC, then stream next-day on Peacock. A second season is currently in development.