Just How Dark Will Alien Nation And New Quantum Leap Reboots Go?

Firefly's Tim Minear is already hard at work on the Syfy Channel's reboot of Alien Nation, and we asked the Syfy execs about it. But that's not the only classic they're looking at restarting: Quantum Leap could make a comeback.

Syfy Creative Director of Original Programming Mark Stern sat with us and talked about the new reboot we're all eagerly awaiting, which is the Tim Minear (Angel, Dollhouse, Firefly) reboot of Alien Nation. And as it turns out, they're still trying to get Quantum Leap back on the air as well.

You just announced Syfy's plans to reboot Alien Nation, was it your idea to go after that series?

Alien Nation has been [one of] three or four shows that I want to do. I want to do those shows, at least one of them. And yet again, if you're going to go and do Alien Nation, you'd better do it the right way, same as with Battlestar. We've been talking to a number of writers, since I got here, about Alien Nation. What's the right approach, how do you do it so it feels relevant? And Tim Minear came in with a great approach to it, that really felt like it didn't just tell the same story again, and it was still really true to what Alien Nation was about.

So that worked. I would love to find our time travel show — whether it's literally Quantum Leap — and we've been talking to Don Bellisario [show creator] about [doing] that as a possibility, because what is the next really great time travel series.

Where are you with that what are you pitching at Bellisario a darker take or a Eureka-esque whimsical time travel series, it really could go either way?

I honestly don't know. Every three or four months, we take Don out to lunch and see how he's doing and where his head's at. Whether he's ready to kind of go into that world again. It's a process, and the same is true with Alien Nation. You need to gestate and take time. What you don't want to do is rush into them and just say "okay, it's out version of this," and it's not good. We definitely always have our eye on the great shows from the past. But really our focus is on what the new stuff is.

When it was mentioned that Tim Minear was going to dabble with the Starsky and Hutch feel to Alien Nation, people were a bit surprised. They thought the show would be going darker. Can you give our readers an idea what you and Tim have in mind for Alien Nation?

You know it's very early, but I do think what Tim wants to do, which is very much what Ron Moore and David Eick did with Battlestar, is take what was great about that franchise, which was obviously the relationship between these two different people and these two different cultures, and find a way to make it relevant to the things we care about today. Is it going to be darker? I don't know what the tone is going to be yet, honestly. Tim is not a dark writer, he comes from a very different place. He wants it to be more than just frivolous and silly. It's going to have to attack a lot of the same themes that the original series and the movie did. But it really has to feel like there's something new there, like this isn't the same old. I wish I could give you more specifics, but we really just had that first pitch meeting with him where he said, "This is what we want to do," and we said, "That sounds fantastic. Let's do it." Now it's really about him pulling it together.

And I have to ask, will aliens still have the spotted skulls?

Man, I have no idea. I really don't. I'm sure, you know there's no Battlestar without cylons. They'll definitely be our version of cylons, I don't know what that will be yet. The thing is that's the challenge of all of those. Hold on to what's really great, what's cool about it, what makes you want to watch it, what you remember about it, and update it. It's a very fine line you're treading.