QUANTUM LEAP Writer Margarita Matthews Previews Ben's Leap to 1692 - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

QUANTUM LEAP Writer Margarita Matthews Previews Ben’s Leap to 1692

December 5, 2023 by  

Margarita Matthews interview

QUANTUM LEAP — “A Kind of Magic” Episode 207 — Pictured: (l-r) Raymond Lee as Dr. Ben Song, Amanda Jaros as Morgan — (Photo by: NBC)

QUANTUM LEAP leaps back to 1692—the farthest back Ben (Raymond Lee) has ever jumped—on the Wednesday, December 6 episode of the NBC drama.

But, naturally, Ben quickly finds himself in trouble: After his quick thinking in an emergency saves a life, he’s accused of being a witch.

“I’ve been wanting to do some sort of witch episode I think from the day that I started with QUANTUM LEAP,” “A Kind of Magic” writer Margarita Matthews tells Give Me My Remote. “The witch trials, and stories about witches, bring a lot of questions of magic to the table. Something that QUANTUM LEAP has always been really good at doing is, even though it’s a science-fiction show, there’s a lot of conversation about where does magic exist in all of that? One of our characters has been named Magic, and I think that’s not by accident.”

“So I just thought this was a really great opportunity to toe that line,” she continues. “And without spoiling anything, I think, ‘Is magic maybe just science that we don’t quite understand yet?’ is an important question in this episode. So that was the genesis of it: the fun of playing with science and magic.”

Leading the charge against Ben is the local magistrate, played by COUGAR TOWN’s Brian Van Holt. “He’s great,” Matthews gushes. “The whole cast was so much fun, and we were excited to bring him in. We were excited that he was willing to take on this role that can be kind of larger than life, and we’ve all kind of seen that kind of character before in THE CRUCIBLE. I’m sure it was a challenge to reimagine it for himself, and he did a wonderful job.”

“I think that that’s what our show does a lot: embrace a genre and start out saying, ‘Hey, you know what this is. and then doing our own version of it,’” she continues. “Maybe giving a different ending so that you walk away going, ‘Oh, that reminded me of this movie, but it was a different take on that genre or a different take on that movie.’ And I think he and the entire cast just did brilliantly with all that material. We were all really thrilled.”

As Ben tries to survive his ordeal, the team realizes they’re limited in how they can actually help their friend. “The immediate challenge is, wait a minute, a lot of this stuff wasn’t recorded,” Matthews says. 

The issue was paralleled in the writing of the hour, as well. “The Salem Witch Trials actually were very well recorded, but we can’t go right into those specific trials because those are well documented, and there’s only so much we can do as a show in terms of changing history,” she says. “So we had to stay adjacent to that. But that quickly became sort of an opportunity, right? Because it was like, ‘Okay, if Ziggy can’t answer all our questions, then how are we going to get our questions answered?’ And it sort of turned from research into this really fun [brainstorming] of, ’Where would you go if you didn’t have the internet?’ And of course the obvious answer is the library. But where would you go in the library? An archive section? Do you start turning to old books where writers are departing from fact and going into sort of more mysterious territory like astrology? And so that’s when it went from research to fun and imagination very fast.”

Quantum Leap witch trials

QUANTUM LEAP — “A Kind of Magic” Episode 207 — Pictured: Raymond Lee as Dr. Ben Song — (Photo by: NBC)

But it wasn’t all fun and games, Matthews acknowledges. With that real-life era being deadly for anyone who was considered abnormal, the writers made sure to be careful with their approach to telling this story. “We take ourselves seriously—or at least we try to take ourselves seriously—because we care so deeply about these characters and what they’re dealing with is very, very real to us, and I think very real to our viewers,” she says. “That’s very serious to us. And where the humor comes in is we find these opportunities of levity, as opposed to creating really outrageous, hilarious scenarios. It’s more like, ‘This is a serious problem, but where’s the where are the bits of humor in it?’”

“This was an episode where that was a constant seesaw for me,” she continues. “It was like, ‘Well, this is a guy who was trapped. This is a quantum physicist trapped in a time where he would be absolutely killed for having such notions of science. Where’s the humor in that?’ And yet, how do we honor the fact that hey, people actually really did suffer and die during that period? It was really important to us to find [Madalyn Horcher], playing Goody, she was very emotionally available. You really trusted that what she was delivering was very true. And that was just an incredibly important thing for this—that she wasn’t laughing at the situation, because she [could] die in the original history [if Ben can’t save her].”

QUANTUM LEAP, Wednesdays, 8/7c, NBC


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