1 of 6 | Ben Song (Raymond Lee) spends more time in the past in "Quantum Leap" Season 2. Photo courtesy of NBC
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 2 (UPI) -- Quantum Leap, which returns Wednesday at 8 p.m. EDT on NBC, divides episodes between a leap into the past and a parallel, present-day story.
Executive producer Chris Grismer told UPI that resolving Season 1's Leaper X subplot allows Season 2 to focus more on the leaps.
"We got to explore emotion within each leap a little bit more without having to keep going back and telling the Leaper X story," Grismer said. "So I think we've got to delve into each leap a little more deeply."
Ben Song (Raymond Lee) is the scientist who travels back in time in a rebooted version of the time travel project Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula) invented in the original series. Each week, Ben has a different adventure, while his colleagues in the present try to figure out how to bring him home.
In the Season 1 finale, Ben chased rival leaper Richard Martinez (Walter Perez) through time periods they'd previously visited in the season. Martinez was ultimately killed in 1879, freeing up Season 2 for new stories.
Season 2 takes Ben to 1941, 1961, 1992 and as far back as 1692. Grismer said showrunner Martin Gero and Writer/Executive Producer Dean Georgaris spearhead the stories with the writers room, and it's Grismer's job to help mount the production.
"I'll figure out where we can shoot it and how we can shoot it," Grismer said.
Grismer also directs. In Season 2, he directed the third and eighth episodes. Episode 8 is the midseason finale - the final one completed before the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists went on strike in July.
That midseason finale was one of the show's most ambitious episodes, filming on location in Egypt. Grismer said using an Egyptian crew, rather than spending the budget on traveling with the American crew, made that episode possible.
The episode used local camera operators, grips and electricians, for example. Only the core cast and crew traveled from the United States, including "the actors, hair and makeup, wardrobe, myself, cinematographer and the first [assistant director]."
Grismer's other Season 2 episode utilized locations around California. An episode in which Ben becomes a Project Sign agent in 1949 was filmed at the Disney's Golden Oak Ranch in Los Angeles, where Marvel filmed Marvel's WandaVision.
Project Sign was a real government agency tasked with locating unidentified flying objects, succeeded by Project Blue Book. However, Grismer said its actual function was more about debunking sightings.
"I think that the point of Project Sign and Project Blue Book to some extent was to just go in and prove that these sightings were wrong," Grismer said.
Grismer said he's been following recent testimony by David Grusch that the government did possess remains of an alien life form, as well as watching videos of purported UFOs released. Grismer said those developments made the episode's story of pre-Area 51 alien investigation feel quaint.
"The government's basically telling us it's not science fiction anymore," Grismer said. "The guitar player from Blink-182 seems like the person to go to for information."
Upcoming episodes tackle the 1992 Los Angeles riots. The episode is called "One Night in Koreatown" and dressed the city street on Universal Studios' Hollywood backlot as Koreatown.
"We have an amazing production designer and art department that transform [the backlot]," Grismer said.
Season 2 also added Peter Gadiot and Eliza Taylor as regular cast members. Quantum Leap already has a larger cast than the original series --which only starred Bakula and Dean Stockwell -- with new guest stars every week.
Caitlin Bassett, Ernie Hudson, Mason Alexander Park and Nanrisa Lee play members of the present day Quantum Leap project. Gadiot appears in Episode 2 and Taylor in Episode 3, but Grismer did not want to spoil the extent of their characters and roles.
"We had to find the cast for the new big concepts for the new season," Grismer said. "Those were the two that jumped out at us and we brought them in."
Quantum Leap airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on NBC.