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Dr. Sam Beckett's (Scott Bakula) been drifting through time and space since the early 1990s, when the final episode of the beloved sci-fi series Quantum Leap left him voyaging solo across realms unknown. But with NBC embarking on a fresh Quantum Leap revival that features a new leading leaper to fill Bakula’s iconic old-school role, is there a possibility that the original show’s time-stranded hero might finally come home?
Ernie Hudson, who’s aboard the new series as Herbert “Magic” Williams, says expectant fans aren’t the only ones who’ve entertained that very idea. Speaking recently with TV Line, the Ghostbusters alum said he doesn’t know whether Bakula will make an appearance once the revived series kicks off next month. But, he added, the invitation’s definitely out there.
“I’ve always appreciated his work. He was wonderful in the [original] series and everything I’ve seen him do,” said Hudson. “Everybody that I know involved in [the reboot] would love to see him return. I know the invitation is out there, but I don’t know what his response is.”
With the help of holographic AI assistant Al Calavicci (the late, great Dean Stockwell), Bakula's Sam Beckett propelled through new time-jumping, out-of-body adventures each week at NBC from 1989 until 1993. However, he never returned to his own time and place at the end of the original series; the show’s abrupt cliffhanger finale only offered a title card informing viewers that Sam would remain in the same time-skipping pattern he’d been trapped in from the start, with the apparent twist that he might actually prefer it that way.
Set 30 years after the events of the original, the revived Quantum Leap features its own science-minded hero in physicist Dr. Ben Song (played by Raymond Lee). Ben creates a central mystery as part of the series’ setup, disappearing — by choice, it seems — on an “unauthorized” leap that sends Magic and the rest of the lab team on an urgent hunt to find him…as well as to get an explanation for why he made the jump in the first place.
Hudson plays a key role in the new series as Magic, a Vietnam veteran and leader of the fabled Quantum Leap time travel project. His career military status helps him buy the super-secret project some time with its Pentagon overseers as the team scrambles to locate Ben, though his character synopsis (as reported by Deadline) suggests there’s pressure from on high to deliver answers once order is restored at the lab.
Bakula hasn’t offered any recent clues as to whether he might return in the new Quantum Leap, though he’s indicated he’s amenable to reviving the series overall. Speaking with the late Bob Saget in Sept. of 2021, only two months before Stockwell, his former costar, passed away, Bakula said he and series creator Donald P. Bellisario had kicked around ideas for a revival in the past.
“Don, for years, he and I talk about it periodically,” Bakula shared. “He would always say, ‘I can't write it without thinking about you and Dean.’ I said, ‘Just think about me and Dean and write your show and get it out there. If you have an idea, just write it. I'm sure it'll be great.’”
Bellisario is involved in the new series as an executive producer, alongside original Quantum Leap writer and producer Deborah M. Pratt (who also voiced smart AI assistant Ziggy in the original series). Joining Lee and Hudson in the new Quantum Leap cast are Caitlin Bassett as holographic helper Addison, Mason Alexander Park (Cowboy Bebop), and Nanrisa Lee (Bosch).
The revived Quantum Leap jumps to NBC next month, with the series premiere set for 10 p.m. ET on Monday, Sept. 19. You can catch all five seasons of the original now on Peacock!