Ghostbusters and Arrow star Ernie Hudson will add another iconic pop culture frachise to his resume. The actor has been cast in one of the lead roles on Quantum Leap, the upcoming sequel series that picks up years after the original Quantum Leap, which starred Scott Bakula (Chuck, Star Trek: Enterprise) and the late Dean Stockwell. The new series stars Raymond Lee (Kevin Can F**k Himself), and now Hudson. It seems likely that since Lee is the time-traveler (the Bakula role), Hudson's character will step into the role originally played by Al Calavicci (Stockwell), as military brass whose likeness is the face of the time-traveler's AI.
In the new series, it's been 30 years since Dr. Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula) stepped into the Quantum Leap accelerator and vanished. Now, a new team has been assembled to restart the project in the hopes of understanding the mysteries behind the machine and the man who created it. Lee plays the lead, Dr. Ben Seong, a world-renowned physicist working on a time-travel project known as Quantum Leap who gets stuck in the late 1980s with amnesia after using the technology.
According to Deadline, "Hudson portrays Herbert "Magic" Williams, a Vietnam veteran and head of the time travel project at Quantum Leap. Using a bit of politicking and his military know-how to keep the Pentagon at bay, Magic buys the team some time to rescue Ben but expects answers once he's back."
"That show is very special to me, obviously, so I would wish whoever did it luck," Bakula said in a recent interview. "I mean, the idea of walking in another man or woman's shoes is so relevant and so important right now. We've become so divided in our world that the ability to cross that line of politics and just deal with the humanity and the individual person who's sharing a moment on the planet with you is really relevant.
"There was also a quaintness about the show, because it had this period feel because Sam traveled anywhere within his own lifetime. That made it feel a little old fashioned, but I would hope that they get the truth of it and the sentiments of it right, and not try and make it slick. Sam was this naïve kid who just happened to be a brilliant scientist who stumbled on something and all of a sudden was thrown into all of these different lives and worlds and people and situations that he never could've imagined growing up in. I would just hope that they would try and keep that, but you know, I don't know what they'll do."
Quantum Leap ran for five seasons and 97 total episodes on NBC between 1989 and 1993 and followed the story of Sam Beckett (Bakula), a physicist who upon losing funding for his time-travel project, decides to test his theory that time-travel within one's own lifetime is possible before anyone can stop him. He soon discovers that his "leap" into the past temporarily puts him in the place of another person and with the help of a hologram of his best friend Al Calavicci (Dean Stockwell), realizes that he has to correct issues from the past in order to "leap" back out.
The Quantum Leap finale was a controversial one: after five seasons leaping through the lives of strangers making things right and changing their tortured pasts, Sam Beckett finally got as close as he would ever come to returning home when he leapt into the past of Al, his best friend and the project observer at Quantum Leap, who appears to Samuel Beckett as a hologram and serves as his invisible AI best friend throughout the show's run. Al had been taken as a prisoner of war and was eventually declared dead, causing his wife Beth, the love of his life, to remarry. Al regretted that loss forever, and in the finale, Sam was able to fix it by leaping into Beth's life to promise her that Al was alive and would come home.
So, why controversial? Because the final title card was "Dr. Sam Beckett never returned home," a rather sad end to Sam's story...and one that almost wasn't the end. An alternate ending was filmed in which Al decided to leap himself, hoping to find Sam and bring him home. That ending -- with terrible audio, only really intelligble due to a leaked script that series creator Don Belisario had long before claimed was fake -- actually turned up on Reddit in 2019.