NBC's revival of the Quantum Leap series has been a masterclass on how to continue a beloved narrative while moving it forward in scope and messaging.
The writer-producer dynamo duo behind its success, Martin Gero and Dean Georgaris, lead the production team with ambitious enthusiasm and vision.
Thanks to their foresight, Quantum Leap was one of the few series that premiered new episodes this fall amid the Hollywood writers' and actors' strikes.
Speaking with TV Fanatic via Zoom after the WGA had settled their collective bargaining but before SAG-AFTRA had come to an agreement, Gero and Georgaris -- referred to collectively as "Martin-and-Dean" -- were a wealth of information on Quantum Leap Season 2.
"It will be a minimum of thirteen episodes," Gero shared off the top. "There's a lot of up in the air right now, obviously. The actors are still on strike, and we can't resume filming until the AMPTP gives them a fair deal. So, it could possibly be more. I don't think it's going to be less, but you never know."
With eight episodes of the initial order completed before the strikes began, Gero and Georgaris were eager to get back to the writing once the WGA resumed work.
In fact, Gero revealed, "After we're done this interview, we're going to go and put the finishing touches on [the script for] our thirteenth episode."
When TV Fanatic spoke with director Chris Grismer earlier this fall, he described the experience of filming Quantum Leap Season 2 Episode 8 on location in Egypt.
Georgaris wrote the script for "Nomad" and spoke to not being able to be there with the production team for the filming.
"Neither of us were able to be [on set in Egypt] because by then, the writers' guild was out on strike. The writing had been done, and we had done a lot of planning, then left it to Chris Grismer and our incredible post team to take everything.
"I was hoping there wouldn't be a strike so that I could go to Egypt. I'm in awe of what they accomplished. When I was writing the script, designing it, knowing 'ok, we could probably film this piece in LA…' There's a bit of a checkerboard.
"Which pieces can you film in Cairo? Which pieces will film in LA? In our best estimate, we probably thought we could film, say, twenty-five percent of the episode in Egypt, and somehow, Chris and the gang [shot] fifty. It's incredible! I don't know how they filmed pretty much everything that's supposed to be in Egypt, actually in Egypt."
He continued, describing the importance of using the location shoot to create authenticity.
"Back when Martin created Blindspot, he started working with international companies, and I think Blindspot ended up in sixteen different countries during the run of it. So Martin had come to this [show] with a way to accomplish international production on a TV budget and on a TV schedule, which is really challenging.
"Once we knew we had a second season, we designed it so that [after] our mid-season finale, there would be a break, whether there was a strike or not. We had a break scheduled, so we knew Episode 8 could film abroad.
"Then, Martin reached out to his team, and we got a list of locations that could be exciting.
"I remember I actually started to think about one that was a little … like, it was FINE, and Martin said to me, 'Dean, if we're gonna go abroad, I want him at the foot of the Sphinx. I want the audience to be like, there's no way that's green-screened.'
"When you see the full episode, you'll see. There's no part of you that will think it's green-screened because they were closer to the Sphinx than we're actually allowed to get."
Not only does the audience learn about his spiral into alcoholism in the intervening three years, where the team believed they had lost Ben forever, but he also discloses how he nearly died in the race riots of the summer of 1967. It's a gripping and intense turn by Hudson.
Gero unpacked the preparation for the scene.
"It's interesting—Ernie's such an incredible performer. I don't know that we talked a lot about it. He had a couple of very small questions, and, of course, Ben [Raab] and Deric [A. Hughes], who wrote the episode, were on set for the whole time. [Ernie] is such a gifted performer.
"A theme to answering a lot of these questions is we're always just so thrilled that this is one of the only shows we've all worked on where it always comes out better than we were hoping. And that really speaks to our phenomenal LA crew and our incredible cast.
"Ernie is such an underrated actor. We've all grown up with him. But to see this gear he has in this episode is really special and truly stunning, and incredibly powerful.
"And thank you for bringing it up. So many people are just talking about the alcoholism, part which is a big part of it, but that monologue he gives about his experiences when he was younger is so powerful and moving. It's so expertly written, perfectly directed, and his performance is just stellar."
"One Night in Koreatown" also answers a burning question from the beginning of the season: Who is the special someone in Magic's life?
That he and Susan Diol's Beth Calavicci have been romantically involved for a year came as both a surprising delight and a comfort.
Georgaris touches on how perfect the pairing is.
"We felt the way the audience probably felt as we watched Season 1 -- or as we would watch dailies of the filming of Season 1 -- which was there was a real chemistry between these two actors. There was a real chemistry between them as people, as performers.
"They also shared a lot as characters. They both share Quantum Leap's BIG SECRET. And it's an incredibly demanding program.
"When we did the time jump, we started thinking about what our characters went through those three years, what our team back at headquarters went through, having thought they'd lost Ben.
"We were excited about the idea that Magic – who's always sort of perfect and such a caretaker – had a real breakdown, and when we thought about who he would turn to or who could help him get through it, we already had the character. We'd already seen it.
"It was the easiest decision we've probably made as a writers' room. It was a no-brainer to bring her back. It's exciting also to see him in a new relationship."
Whenever TV Fanatic has had the opportunity to speak with individuals involved with Quantum Leap -- whether Hudson, Grismer, series star Caitlin Bassett, or guest star Anastasia Antonia -- there has been an uncoerced consensus on the warmth and unity of the cast.
So what has it been like adding Peter Gadiot and Eliza Taylor as series regular characters Tom and Hannah, respectively, this season?
"It's been great," states Gero, "Those are two really critical characters. We had to get them right for the show to work this year. To have two actors of that caliber is really exciting, and we just won the chemistry lottery."
Quantum Leap fans are nothing if not thorough and always willing to look for hidden meaning. When Peter made his debut on Quantum Leap Season 2 Episode 2, the name "Tom Westfall" made many perk up their ears.
This all came as a surprise to Gero and Georgaris. Gero's official take is, "There's no hidden meaning in the name. I don't think. I mean, unless somebody did it without us knowing."
The fan theory is that Addison's new love interest is somehow connected to Tommy Westphall from another NBC 1980s hit series, St. Elsewhere. Or at least a hat tip to the "Tommy Westphall Universe" hypothesis.
"Ah, interesting," Gero commented, "Well, [I'm a] big St. Elsewhere fan, so thrilled to have a shout-out to St. Elsewhere in the show.
"[Peter’s] fantastic. He's been such a welcome addition to the cast. He's brought a real gravitas and deep sense of empathy to that character that I think it needed."
As for the intriguing and enigmatic Hannah, first introduced on Quantum Leap Season 2 Episode 3, Gero laughs at how she landed the role.
"Hilariously enough, we knew with the part Eliza plays that it's so critical to have great chemistry with Ray that we actually did our first non-COVID, in-person chemistry test with a bunch of actors because we're like, 'We've got to see how they are in the room.'
"And then Eliza was in Hawaii or Australia, so she was over Zoom, so she had a severe disadvantage because there were other actors that were in the room with him.
"We had an embarrassment of riches. Everyone just did so good, but even [Eliza and Ben's] banter over Zoom was so fun that we were like, 'Oh, well that's it.'
"It's a bummer that we all had to risk our lives to do these in-person auditions, but it was so clear that this is going to be such a special arc this season. We're so lucky to have her."
Get ready for Hannah's return on this week's adventure on Quantum Leap Season 2 Episode 6, "Secret History," and stay tuned for an exclusive post-episode interview with stars Raymond Lee and Eliza Taylor!
What do you think, Fanatics? What are you most excited to see this season? How will Ben and Hannah team up? What does this mean for Ben and Addison?
Quantum Leap airs on Wednesdays at 8/7c on NBC and streams the next day on Peacock.
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is a lifelong fan of smart sci-fi and fantasy media, an upstanding citizen of the United Federation of Planets, and a supporter of AFC Richmond 'til she dies. Her guilty pleasures include female-led procedurals, old-school sitcoms, and Bluey. She teaches, knits, and dreams big. Follow her on X.