The Spool / Reviews
Quantum Leap Season 2 jumps into a comfy groove
With its heart on its sleeve, the series feels like a kind break from an often mean world.
NetworkNBC,
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With its heart on its sleeve, the series feels like a kind respite from an often meaner world.

This piece was written during the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the actors currently on strike, the works being covered here wouldn’t exist.

After averting the Apocalypse and stopping a more militaristic Leaper from the near future by leaping into his own past, Ben (Raymond Lee) and everyone else at Quantum Leap expected him to leap home. Instead, he was nowhere to be seen.

Quantum Leap Season 2 quickly reveals that Ben has kept leaping. However, plenty of other details have changed. For one, Ben has gained most, if not all, of his memory back while still showing signs of absorbing past leapees’ gifts. Specifically, he can still throw a punch like a prizefighter, something Season 1 stressed he couldn’t do previously. For another, Ben appears alone. Long into the leap, he must figure things out without Addison (Caitlin Bassett) filling him as his hologram/invisible friend or the rest of the team figuring out what he needs to do and why.

Quantum Leap Season 2 (NBC)
Caitlin Bassett makes the show’s most common facial expression. Gentle, supportive concern. (NBC)

Similarly, the audience dwells in the dark during the episode, albeit for a shorter time. When the revelations finally come, they echo the season premieres of genre shows like The X-Files. Developments between seasons could mean plenty of long-term changes. Conversely, it would be equally easy to write them out the moment they don’t work. That said, in the three episodes screened for critics, Quantum Leap Season 2 seems dedicated to exploring these new developments. Sadly, to say more would violate the embargo.

When we last watched the series, it earned a tentative recommendation. The review acknowledged the premise still was wildly interesting, and the performers had promise. Still, it seemed firmly stuck in its predecessor’s shadow. A year later, this writer feels warmer toward the show, certainly. Whether that’s a result of it improving is less clear.

Quantum Leap consistently demonstrates a matter-of-fact commitment to affirming everyone’s humanity.

Quantum Leap Season 2 wastes no time reminding skeptical audiences, including this critic, why they still stuck with it even though it wasn’t as visually attractive as the original series and often felt needlessly busy, as if trying to justify its existence. It’s a nice show. Very nice, in fact. That probably sounds condescending and dismissive, but that’s not the intent. There’s a kindness to the show that makes it a friendly place to spend 44 minutes—an hour with commercials—during prime time.

The performers are a large part of that. Lee, in particular, has an impressive ability to convey difficult emotions like anger and hopelessness while still feeling like a welcoming presence. Even when the audience sees him at his lowest, he continues to feel like someone you can rely on and trust. His anger feels honest and understandable, not the kind that might be misdirected to do terrible harm.

Quantum Leap Season 2 (NBC)
Even Mason Alexander Park’s cool glasses aren’t necessary to see how great their performance is. (NBC)

The series at large has a do-no-harm ethos as well. Besides slowly pulling computer scientist Ian (series MVP Mason Alexander Park) further into the spotlight until they’re essentially the third lead, Quantum Leap consistently demonstrates a matter-of-fact commitment to affirming everyone’s humanity. The show never plays Ben’s leaps into people of different skin colors, genders, or sexual orientations for cruel laughs. At most, there was a gentle chuckle his first time becoming a woman. The show repeatedly argues for women’s rights to occupy traditionally masculine spaces. It even occasionally casts an understanding eye toward criminals, frequently portraying them as decent people making bad choices because that’s all the options they have left. It might be overly optimistic and simplistic, but against the current backdrop, it’s a balm to enter a world that leads with an open, altruistic heart.

So, has the series improved? Hard to say. To pay Quantum Leap Season 2 a backhanded compliment, it’s worn me down. Or, to embrace language that fits the show, it’s won me over. It’s not exactly challenging watching, but it’s heartfelt and thoughtful about how it tells its stories. The cast has realistic chemistry and no weak links. It may be a bit of a fairy tale, the kind of show where a military man can confess he’s gay in the mid-80s, and no one blinks at it, never mind shames him. But fairy tales have their purposes, too. I’m not arguing for immersing yourself in delusions of fairness, but rather spending the occasional hour visiting a nicer world.

Quantum Leap Season 2 keeps searching for the leap home on NBC starting October 4.

Quantum Leap Season 2 Trailer:

NetworkNBC,
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Watch afterFoundation, Futurama, Loki Love, Death & Robots, Monk, Secret Invasion Sweet Tooth, The Good Doctor, The Simpsons The Walking Dead