With all of this week’s news about NBC trying to break up Lloyd Dobler and Diane Court in a Say Anthing… TV series, as well as ABC not learning from the mistakes of the past with a new Uncle Buck series, I’ve been thinking a lot about this concept of recycling. While we’re pretty pumped that David Lynch is bringing Twin Peaks back to television with a 9-episode run on Showtime in 2016 – which still feels like 10 years away – that idea is probably going to encourage networks to keep trying to dig up old shows like Murder, She Wrote (scrapped because of Angela Lansbury’s disapproval) and In the Heat of the Night (currently being shopped to cable networks) so they can achieve success based on the power of name recognition and our endless nostalgia.
Of course, that leads to the ultimate question – what’s next? There are obviously hundreds of titles that networks could choose from for their reboots, remakes and continuations, and at this point I’m starting to get a little offended that they’re not picking some of our favorite cult classics, like Quantum Leap, which aired from 1989-1993 on NBC. I’m bringing the story of time traveler Sam Beckett up for two reasons: 1) Today is Scott Bakula’s 60th birthday, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to pretend that I even like the fact that he’s starring on a lame NCIS spin-off, let alone watch it; 2) While it had a series finale, it was still forced, because NBC basically canceled Quantum Leap over creative differences with showrunner Donald Bellisario. So realistically, this show should be a prime candidate for a continuation, or at least a reboot.
It’s not the worst of ideas – I’m pretty sure that honor still goes to a Say Anything… sitcom that breaks up a happy ending just to make it happy again – especially considering how wonderfully goofy Quantum Leap was in the first place. Hell, just four years ago, as the show was being celebrated at Comic-Con, Bakula teased the idea of a Quantum Leap movie – albeit with minimal involvement from him and Dean Stockwell – and last time I checked, my eyeballs have not witnessed any further adventures of Sam, Al and all of the interesting people they helped along the way. So what’s the hold up, Bellisario? Do you need someone to do a little PR legwork for you and roll out some reasons why a network should be looking at a new Quantum Leap*? I’ll be that man.
*I assume Bakula won’t leave NCIS: New Orleans, as he gets to say cool things like, “This is my town” and “Try the gumbo.” Haha, New Orleans has a lot of gumbo!
While the fifth season of Quantum Leap was filled with some ridiculous scenarios – long rumored to be at the behest of NBC, which wanted the show to buck its “rules” and send Sam on the wildest, cameo-filled adventures with popular famous people and events – the show’s creative liberties with minor historical points and personalities offered a sort of cherry on top for each episode. Just catching up with some of the better episodes of Seasons 1-5 this week on Netflix (they’re missing a bunch, but Hulu has the rest if you can stomach the commercials), I was reminded of these “cameos” and how humorous they were, no matter how ridiculously inaccurate they were. For example, Sam briefly bumped into a teenage Woody Allen, as well as a young rock band known as the Beatles, as they left the Ed Sullivan Theater. Sam once enlisted the help of Jack Kerouac to save a girl from becoming a biker gang’s mama, and he even watched as a young Bill Clinton took the stage to play saxophone. Hell, the guy teleported into a secret service agent’s body and saved Jackie Kennedy from being shot by Lee Harvey Oswald, who was, as it turned out, the lone gunman.
But those were hardly my favorite moments from Quantum Leap, as I would have written a little more about them. Instead, even if you disagree with my wild idea to reboot Quantum Leap, let’s celebrate Bakula’s 60th birthday with my favorite historical interference from this wonderful series. After all, it was either this or another 2,000 words about how there’s no way he could have played QB for a college program in his 30s, with both the offense and defense playing both ways. Simply preposterous.
“Star-Crossed” (Season 1, Episode 3)
If only Sam was a little younger, or Donna (young Teri Hatcher, YOWZA) was a little older, they’d have had a shot before they had a shot to grow up and fall in love with each other. Or something like that. What matters is that their snooping around to find Donna’s dad led the security guards to call the cops and let them know that there had been a break-in… DUN DUN DUN *slide whistle* at the Watergate Hotel. In case you didn’t know, that’s the place where some dudes did something bad for President Nixon and then Deep Throat became a household name. Oh what it must have been like to live in 1972.
“How the Tess was Won” (Season 1, Episode 5)
Sometimes the missions weren’t always exactly clear for Sam and Al, as they thought it was their job to make Tess for Doc, when she was supposed to be with Wayne the whole time. The confusion almost ended up getting Sam killed, as he thought that riding Widowmaker would win Tess’s heart for sure. But what Sam didn’t win in Tess’s heart, he made up for by suggesting to a young and surprisingly stupid Buddy Holly to change the name of the lyrics from “Piggy Sooie” to “Peggy Sue.” It’s also worth noting that Holly would have never died in a plane crash if those were the lyrics, because he would have never been famous enough to fly. Nice work, Sam.
“Camikazi Kid” – (Season 1, Episode 8)
This episode was the best for a number of reasons, but for the sake of this trip down memory lane, it’s how Sam taught Michael Jackson how to Moonwalk. Sure, Michael was only 3 in 1961 and the Jackson 5 didn’t technically form until 1964, but I don’t care about that. He could have traveled back to 1942 and taught Shakespeare how to beatbox and I’d have thought it was awesome. Reason No. 2 this episode was awesome? Check out Sam’s hood slide to punch combo to nail the dude he just beat in a drag race…