1 of 5 | Ben Song (Raymond Lee) finds himself in 2009 on Monday's "Quantum Leap." Photo courtesy of NBC
LOS ANGELES, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- Deborah Pratt was the head writer of the original Quantum Leap, but it took the new revival for her to get her chance to direct an episode. Pratt directed Monday's episode, "Family Style."
Pratt remains an executive producer, but Martin Gero is now the showrunner. Pratt directed shorts, a TV movie and a Grey's Anatomy episode after Quantum Leap, but head writer duties kept her from directing her own show.
"Every time it was my opportunity to direct, some emergency seemed to happen," Pratt told UPI in a Zoom episode.
In the original Quantum Leap, Scott Bakula played time traveler Sam Beckett. In the new show, Sam still is out there leaping through time.
Ben Song (Raymond Lee) has restarted the Quantum Leap project and now takes over the body of a new person from the past every week, male or female. In "Family Style," Ben becomes Dee Dee, a woman whose Indian family's restaurant is in trouble in 2009.
Written by Aadreta Mukerji, the episode makes Ben's mission to convince the matriarch, Sonali (Nandini Minocha), to let her daughter, Dee Dee's sister, Manisha (Anisha Jagannathan), become a chef, and begin her menu at the family restaurant.
Pratt said the episode deals with a relatable moment for parents of adults struggling "with letting go of their children."
"Family Style" also is the first Quantum Leap episode in either series that features an Indian cast.
The original series told stories about racism, sexism and homophobia, and the new series continues to address social issues. In the previous episode, Ben had to save a trans girl who was facing discrimination in her high school.
In working with the Indian cast playing Sonali and Manisha's relatives, Pratt said she also learned lessons about Indian culture. Pratt suggested a wardrobe adjustment and learned that it was meant to appear the original way.
"I said, 'Oh, let's adjust your scarf,'" Pratt said. "The actress said to me, 'Each fold has a meaning.'"
Pratt said she also wanted to stage a Bollywood-style dance number during the end credits of the episode. That proved unfeasible on the show's budget.
"It was a very early no," Pratt said. "We can't afford to do that."
NBC renewed Quantum Leap for a second season in December. Pratt said that the season premiere already is filming, and she was meeting about the second episode last week.
As the new story develops, Pratt helps maintain continuity with the original show. Original creator Donald Bellisario also remains executive producer, but Pratt is more involved day to day.
Pratt said she sometimes has to warn Gero and executive producer Dean Georgaris if they are contradicting the original series. However, Pratt said, she sometimes helps them find a way to explore new ideas within established events.
"I want Martin, Dean and the writers to have the freedom to explore all the history of Quantum Leap," Pratt said. "I want them to create new canon."
Before NBC developed this revival, Pratt had her own ideas for continuing Quantum Leap after the 1993 series finale. She said she wanted to make a Quantum Leap movie in which Sam's daughter, Sammy Jo, would quantum-leap looking for her father.
The new Quantum Leap suggested the possibility of a female leaper. Ben's partner, Addison (Caitlin Bassett), was supposed to take the leap, but Ben stepped in for mysterious reasons his team still is trying to uncover. The leap caused Ben to forget his reasons.
"I've wanted a female leaper for a very long time, so it could happen," Pratt said. "If Sammy Jo goes back to get her father, she'll be the female leaper."
When Quantum Leap premiered in September, Bakula wrote an Instagram post explaining why he's not in the show. Bakula said he was offered a role, but "it was a very difficult decision to pass on the project."
Since Quantum Leap still talks about Sam and the modern team seeking to locate him in the past, Pratt remains hopeful Bakula might change his mind.
"The show is based on hope, so I always say anything is possible," Pratt said. "I think that he respects what's being created."
Pratt's hopes include more Quantum Leap spinoffs, including a video game and a possible movie.
"There's room for it all," Pratt said. "It's really just a matter of how it's done and how you want to be part of this legacy."
In the meantime, Pratt is publishing her next novel, Mirrors, and hopes to publish a graphic novel, Warrior One, in the summer. Pratt also invited fans to interact with her at DeborahMPratt.com, where she promised to answer as many questions as possible.
While not spoiling what is to come on Quantum Leap, Pratt encouraged fans to theorize about what Ben's future leaps may entail. Pratt reminded fans that each new episode of the show presents new possibilities in genre, tone and era - and who Ben will become.
"It can be anything you want it to be," Pratt said. "That's the beauty of the show."
Quantum Leap airs Mondays at 10 p.m. EST on NBC.