Once and Again (TV Series 1999–2002) Poster


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Without Question My Very Favorite Show of All Time
luke-311 August 2003
"Once and Again" is without question my very favorite show of all time. One of the show's greatest strengths is the writing. The writing is wonderfully crisp and natural and actually sounds like people talking for a change. It examines daily life in a very intricate, exquisite, and truthful way. The second greatest strength is its acting. I don't know if there has ever been a television ensemble this good. From Sela Ward's self absorbed and yet lovable Lily to Billy Campbell's conflicted Rick to Jeffrey Nordling's perpetual screwup Jake to Susanna Thompson's uptight but loving Karen to Marin Hinkle's resilient romantic Judy, all of the adults in the cast put in consistently stellar performances.

But perhaps the show's finest performances came from its younger actors. Julia Whelan was perfect as whiny teenager Grace,awkwardly trying to survive the hell of being an adolescent. Shane West touched our hearts as Eli, never quite sure of his place in the world, and Evan Rachel Wood lit up the screen as Jessie,blossoming in front of our eyes from a shy, insecure child to a beautiful, more confident young woman. All three of these young people have the potential to be stars someday soon.

"Once and Again" is a gem of a show that was never truly given the recognition it deserved. Nevertheless, it's a show that has touched my heart. I can't imagine television being any better than this.
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Consistent and Great
Freedomisanillusion30 January 2005
Once and Again is a pearl of a show. It's always interesting, and more importantly, realistic.

I started watching it as my sister had a crush on Shane West, but by the second episode I watched, I was hooked. Expecting it to be nothing more than a lightweight excuse for Shane West to act moody and broody, I found that instead it was a show where I saw that he actually can act, not to mention all his co-stars.

Easily the most impressive is Evan Rachel Wood, showing to me (before Thirteen was even an idea) that she had a tremendous amount of talent, I found her story lines to be compelling, and her to be exemplary in them. Indeed, it was this show that made me want to see Thirteen so much, so as I could see her performing again.

But I won't ramble.

Once and Again is brilliant, and if there was ever a show that should be continued, this is it.
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My Favorite Show Of All Time
sj184023 May 2004
"Once and Again" is an absolute treasure of a show. I could not be more amazed at the incredible acting from every member of the talented cast, the stellar writing,and the perfect pacing. This show was criminally ignored at the Emmys and that is a shame because I believe that this is easily the best family drama of all time, if not the best drama series of all time. It is certainly my favorite show of all time. Every single actor gave consistently brilliant performances week after week, with the standouts being Susanna Thompson, a totally underrated actress, and the lovely Evan Rachel Wood, who has more talent in her left pinky finger than Hillary Duff has at all. I miss this show, but I will always treasure the three amazing seasons we had of it!
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Why did such a brilliant masterpiece get cancelled?
waelhaggiagi5 December 2002
Every time I see a rerun of Once and Again, I am baffled by just how incredibly brilliant every aspect of this show was. The superb acting by arguably one of the best if not the best full ensemble of actors ever to team up on a TV series. From the main leads Sela Ward and Billy Campbell's incredible chemistry and great sensitivity toward their characters to the smallest performances by Marco Gould as Spencer Lweicki and Mischa Barton as Katie Singer, every bit of casting was magically on the money. The Great courageous and non-traditional writing is unforgettable. The Cinematography and editing served the story in every regard and gave every plot and subplot just what it needed without dragging it or chipping away at it. Special kudos must go to Julia Whelan, Meredith Deane, Marin Hinkle, Susanna Thompson, Jeffrey Nordling, Bonnie Bartlett, Evan Rachel Wood, Shane West and Ever Carradine for taking such complex characters and breathing enough life into each one of them for a series of his or her own. As an actor, I can write a thousand words about each one of these actors alone. The show also had the distinctive feel of not being a franchise show (i.e.: law, Hospital, cop, political or any specific workplace type show). O&A was about life and just how real life can be. It was a brief and yet bright spark that lit up television for three amazing years during which Herskovitz, Zwick and company gave TV audiences a show that went everywhere a good show should and lived with its characters through personal and professional matters with such lucid transition that would make an art film jealous. The fact that The TV academy ignored the show to that extent will forever remain one of the reasons why Emmys continue to be dismissed as a serious merit award and instead are thought of as just a well-marketed popularity contest. As for the ratings...My guess is that either this show was pitched to the wrong network from the start (Just think what NBC, CBS or HBO could have done with this GEM) or those Nielsen families have some serious explaining to do. In the end, all that matters to me is that somehow the show still managed to inspire me more with every viewing, but never once jeopardized its integrity by creating paper-thin and perfect characters that were free of flaws. This is just one of those shows that time will remember :)
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Brilliant High Quality Television!
Shadow-20006 April 2001
Once and Again has struck me unlike any other show ever! I never expected to accept a new show so quickly, but once I saw it I quickly caught up with the rest of the first season.

When I saw the names of Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick in the show I knew I was about to watch a high quality TV show! They produced both Thirtysomething and My So-Called Life. These previous shows were unlike anything I've ever seen before on television and Once and Again broke new barriers.

This show takes us in a tremendous psychological journey through the lives and minds of members of two different families in ways so natural and simple that the characters displayed almost seem real.

The actors and actresses that portray these unforgettable characters are by all means the finest in the business. However, no actor or actress has amazed me as much as Evan Rachel Wood. Not only she portrays an amazingly normal character like Jessie, but has managed to show us a character with this eating disorder so sincerely in a way no other young actor/actress could ever have done it. She's with no doubt the finest young actress of her generation.

My favorite episode was the one Rick and Karen take Jessie to see a therapist played by Edward Zwick himself who also wrote and directed this episode. I'm a huge fan of this producer and I was amazed by his role interacting with a character he created himself along with Marshall Herskovitz who also co-wrote the episode. The dynamic and level of emotion displayed in the episode was unparalled in any family show. Even Party of Five's highest dramatic moments could never match such a quiet yet intense moment such as Jessie admitting she's disgusted by eating.

Sela Ward herself deserved her emmy, but there are supporting cast members in the show such as Marin Hinkle. But the finest actress I've had the privilege to watch was Susanna Thompson. The actress who played the Borg Queen on Star Trek: Voyager landed in her finest role ever as Rick's ex wife Karen. Her character strikes the screen as a real person conflicted with her demands and worries. Jeffrey Nordling who plays Lily's ex husband Jake has recently shown how good an actor he is during the hostage situation in the restaurant.

I also love to watch Rick working under the scrutiny of Miles Drentell. David Clennon is a reasonably good actor and can deliver some mind bogging lines. I wonder what the future holds for the Atlantor project.

Edward Zwick is the most talented producer I've ever seen. From producing high budget movies with the intensity of The Siege and Courage Under Fire to high quality simple TV dramas like My So-Called Life and Once and Again. He deserved to take the academy award for producing Steven Soderbergh's Traffic.

I hope Once and Again stays around for a while longer delivering fresh quality scripts every week into our sets. In contrast to the constant garbage we watch on TV designed to boost meaningless ratings, Once and Again strives for quality rather than ratings. In a world so plagued by commercial and low quality programming designed to attract dumb viewers, Once and Again strikes as a mental heaven for those who wish to settle for peace and quiet. This show deserves a 10 out of 10!
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Outstanding series
Mark Price22 May 2005
Bought Series One on spec and I am so glad I did. I expected an updated version of Different Strokes or something. No way. I watched all the episodes over the last two days stopping only to sleep. Wow! I went through all the emotions, crying a lot which doesn't come easily to a middle aged man. Superb acting from big and small, the script was outstanding with hardly a dull moment. The camera-work switching between homes mid dialogue and once coming through fridge doors! Series Two coming out soon and I can't wait. Yes everyone is a bit too good looking but I can cope with that as the story lines are all too true. Relationships, bereavement, etc are all there and are not sensationalised. Very nicely surprised and very much recommended.
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Gems like this one never survive the network BS.
Afilmman26 June 2005
As sad as I am that Once and Again didn't last, I am so thankful that once and again did survive three incredibly imaginative and deeply moving three seasons that will forever keep it as one of the most if not the most telling and honest family drama. It is not a franchise nor is it formulaic and that's why even the Emmys couldn't reward it they way it should have. This show had so much talent in it that if we didn't live in such cynical times when only edgy shows (i.e.: Six feet under, sopranos and CSI) that examine life from a half-empty prospective are appreciated, OAA could have very easily swept the Emmys and even dominated all the supporting and guest actor categories (Just imagine, Susanna Thompson, Marin Hinkle, Evan Rachel Wood and Julia Whelan all getting nominated in the same category in the same year. And they all deserved it for each and every season.) I am not against edgy shows and the ones I mentioned are good at they do. But Once and Again was a show so far a head of it's time because it was a show that valued the traditions of family, love and being a good human being without rounding off the edges of their characters. Everyone had flaws and some of them were very intense but the characters redeem themselves by being so human and unbelievably real that when they do things that can be looked at as wrong, we see their humanity and therefore love them more for it. Karen, Lilly, Jake and Grace especially have those qualities. Grace lies and sabotages Jessie but we see her journey and we don't forgive her necessarily, we fall in love with her commitment (And that's to Julia's credit) To her humanity. Lilly becomes self-involved more often than not but she doesn't need anyone to remind her of it she admits it and apologizes for it without promising that she has undergone some miraculous change but rather just tries to work on it. Karen is stern and by the book but her undeniable devotion to her children and the incredible sensitivity that Susanna brings to the role makes her so lovable and even sexy. And Jake who screws up and yells and gets bankrupt but never fails to have a vulnerability that even the toughest most judgmental critic can't help admitting an affinity toward him. Those qualities are a credit to the writers as well as the amazing actors a better ensemble than which has never existed in a television show; Not on that scale anyway. Children and teens are notorious for being bad bad news for any good show but those 4 (Including an eerily talented and too precise an actress for her young age Meredith Deane) make me reinvest in the belief that young actors are not just there as space fillers.

I can talk endlessly dissecting everything about this show but that could take a book. Once and again is so brilliant, it's network didn't know how to market it. These characters are real people and their problems are not exotic in that TV way, They are purely and simply real. It is hopeful and sweet without being resolved to wearing some ridiculous rose-colored glasses. But it is also real without showing a bleak reality where it's all darkness and despair. The brilliance of this show was in its ability to balance the good with the bad and the dark with the light. It was a very liberal and beautifully open minded show that still valued traditions of love and family. Which is also another aspect that made it art. In true art, not one person is good or bad. Every situation in which there is a villain, the villain has a good guy in them that contrasts with the little villain that lives inside that "Good guy." Every character in this show was like that. They were all lovable at times but not so lovable at others. There are no mythical heroes on OAA, the heroism of those characters comes in the form of their flawed nobility as humans. I think that's why the show was not an instant success but the sort of thing that will be talked about for years and years to come; It never picked sides but shows to show both sides of an issue. No one was 100% right all the time and no one was 100% wrong. Ask anyone and they will tell you that that very idea is the very definition of good literary art. And that once and again is Once and Again.
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Reality TV should be so involving
michellemurmurs624414 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The best TV had to offer would never be quite the same when instead of interesting, imaginative, well-written character dramas like Once And Again we get "reality TV". The plot of the series involves two 40 somethings Rick and Lily who find themselves falling in love after ending their respective marriages. We see the effect their relationship has on the people in their lives. Their children, their exes, their siblings and business partner. In a clever plot device, characters will give a monologue to the camera occasionally in order to reveal the feelings they are going through. In addition to Rick and Lily's love story we see their kids coping with their lives and how their exes move on with theirs. There's not a family member on either side that you don't find yourself caring about. Nobody is perfect. All have faults, hurt others sometimes but ultimately learn their lesson and redeem themselves. The entire cast is perfect. It's a shame this only lasted for three seasons.
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Unreal Reality
petelush25 July 2003
I panned Thirtysomething on this site, so I'm duty bound to give praise where due...the same people made Once and Again. I saw an episode or two on TV and remembered it fondly enough to get the DVD, which I proceeded to devour in about 4 nights. (I now know why DVD TV shows are so popular: you don't have to wait a week to see each episode.)

I thought the situations and dialogue were completely realistic. My wife, a divorce attorney, saw the show years ago and remembers it as completely unrealistic. But isn't that the master craft of entertaining TV and movies -- making the unrealistic appear realistic? I'll bet there is some good writing on this point...please send me a message if you know of any.
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The Cream of the Crop
texasgal19763 June 2000
If you liked Sisters, Thirtysomething, Relativity, or even My So-Called Life, you will absolutely love and adore ONCE AND AGAIN, a show so well-written and acted that you may recognize elements of it in your own life.
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Six years later, I still miss this program.
rondaleroi16 January 2006
Every time I see a cast member in another production, I think of this program.

At a minimum, someone should write a novel based on the show.

What happened to these people? The ending...wasn't. (But was very exciting, all the same.)

I can't see giving a synopsis, because that's been done very well already.

In the same time-frame were the shows, "Time and Again" and "Now and Again," also. Due to this, our family resorted to calling "Once and Again," "The Dead Insurance Guy Show."

The dissatisfying (non)conclusion of this program has resulted in my hesitation to become interested in many series since that time. Don't leave the viewer "hanging," like this. Please!
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Obviously ahead of it's time
jewelsuofl0620 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I loved this show when it was airing. I remember watching toward the end of season 3 with the Mischa Barton and Evan Rachel Wood plot, and thinking "I can't believe I'm seeing this on TV". Having had a similar experience through school it was amazing to see a little bit of my life on television. I believe that if this were a new series today it would have no problem with going the long haul of 8-10 seasons. To me it's the dramatic equivalent to 7th Heaven, but its the reality of America today, instead of the idealized America people pretend still exists like 7th Heaven tries to accomplish. I think it's very misleading for these companies to only release the first couple of seasons of a TV Show and not finishing. The same thing happened to Boy Meets World and countless other television shows. If anything at all just release the entire collection in the first shot to ensure die hard fans can buy them all.
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Season 3
cherm5009 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Still hoping that they will someday release Season 3 for sale... This was such an excellent series. I own the first two seasons and have been left hanging for the third for over a decade.

Sela Ward and Billy Campbell are fantastic as parents of a blended family. There are very few shows of this caliber which deal with merging families and this one dealt with all aspects, not just from the view point of either the children or the parents. You got to see how everyone was affected including the exes.

The use of black and white photography to depict various cast members as though talking to a psychiatrist lent an authenticity to the entire concept. So many families in similar situations have to get some guidance to help with integrating the relationships. I miss this show and the high level of writing that went into the scripts. There was an attempt to tie up loose ends at the end of the series, but I wish they had been given more time.
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Great Show
sfc5 December 1999
Let me put some perspective on my opinion: I'm a 22-year old college student, so I guess I'm supposed to really like _Friends_, the crap on WB, UPN, and all these 18-25 (or whatever that magical span of years is) shows. I basically hate them all. A good example is _Jack and Jill_. My girlfriend likes it so I can't help the exposure.

I LOVE this show though. This is the only drama that I actually look forward to seeing every week (oups, except for _Freaks and Geeks_ which is struggling to stay alive). The story is actually different than the standard bed hopping, and I'll also agree the acting is great!

I do have to disagree though on something. I hope the show only goes for like 3 seasons at the most. After 3 seasons I think the writers should move on to another subject.
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Let's talk episodes:
kd-324 March 2005
But first please let's give our due to Julia Whelan, whose poignant performances from season 1 -- and especially in 3 -- were, more than anyone else's, worth the price of admission.

Some especially brilliant ones where the viewers' expectations are up-ended:

1. The purloined lip gloss! What better metonymy, I ask?

2. Best of all: the several episodes in which Lily thinks Grace might be a lesbian because of her interest in the gay/lesbian student support group, though she goes because of her huge crush on her way-too-old (male) writing instructor, the faculty mentor of the group. All the while her step daughter Jessie is in the throws of a crush on a beloved (female) friend, without anyone's notice.
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One brilliantly Written, Directed, Acted and executed family drama
matthews-terry7 January 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Wow... doesn't even begin to describe the feeling after watching the episodes. Each episode tackles a certain aspect of life and I personally could relate to a lot of them.

What makes this show brilliant, lies in its simplicity - everyday emotions, conflicts, passions, real life drama are brought out with amazing actors. I have already watched this twice from start to finish... every time I watched it, I saw something that I missed the first time and I have a different set of emotions that came into play. I have no idea why they stopped it after just 3 seasons ... just doesn't make any sense, at the end of the 3rd season, there was so much potential to have maybe a 4 or 5th or even a 6th season!! All this being said, only a few people have seen this show or know of its existence.. Its a must see for all age groups.
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The Best There Is
JudyLuft13 May 2006
So few shows are real about divorce, aging, growing up, fighting, loving, confusion...basically all those things that make us human. This show celebrates the frailty of us all with heart and humour, without ever being cheesy. Worth more than the discovery of Evan Rachel Wood (Jessie)and Shane West (Eli), this is worth your time. Sela Ward is full of psychosis as the mother, Lily, who falls for a father (Billy Campbell) at her daughter's school. Their relationship is the basis for the show, but so much time is put into the fabulous supporting cast. The sister, Judy, who cannot live up to Lily's luck; the daughters Zoe, Grace and Jessie who represent the different stages of young womanhood; the son, Eli, who so wants to be his father but whose maturity is questionable; the ex-wife who is discovering her sexuality; the ex-husband who is trying to be his own person with no one left to blame. This is an under-rated and remarkable show.
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keyser-724 January 2002
This show is an inventive, well-written show with well-drawn characters and the finest performances I've seen on television. It makes you realize that the networks could be putting on quality shows like the ones HBO has made such a splash with in the past couple of years. Sadly, ABC hasn't been fiscally rewarded for it, since Once and Again hasn't really found a broad audience, so I'm afraid they're probably going to cancel it. Kudos to the writers, directors, producers, and performers on this show. It truly is an artwork, and many episodes have been breathtakingly well-written and moving. Happily, I think this show will only do great things for the careers of the actors in its cast, and they well deserve the exposure and the chance to show what they can do when given the opportunity with such excellent roles.
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My best friend
pnkflydchik26 April 2001
I hate television...occasionaly you'll see me watching leno or something, but other than that , I hate t.v. When once and again started, my mom and brother raved about it but I never sat down and watched it...until the episode where Lily's father died. At that moment, this show took me to another place and I have watched every epsiode since then. There is nothing glamorous (i'm not a good speller :() about this show...it's all real...and the characters are real...It's an amazing show that is worth every minute I spend watching it. I hope the best to all the characters and the show.
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This show is pretty good
Jacey-413 October 1999
When I saw the previews for this show it didn't look that good to me, but when I actually watched it, I was surprised by how good it actually was :) All the actors and actresses are good, but the only thing that bothers me is the storyline kind of tends to drag a little, but other than that, its a pretty good show *smiles*
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The lesbian kiss
rodentsfoe19 March 2002
Surely one of the most touching, courageous scenes ever to grace the small screen! I read that ABC's affiliate in Lynchburg, Virginia refused to broadcast that scene; shame on them and bravo to Herskovitz, Zwick and company for ignoring the ratings game and taking the high road! A must-see for anyone interested in human relationships and tradeoffs, not only those from divided families or suffering growing pains!
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Innocence in Understanding.
meganbendall24 March 2019
Warning: Spoilers
As a 20 year old, watching this for the first time, my heart aches towards Katie and Jessie. They're the perfect example of queer adolescent love that is nurtured through friendship and innocence- quick kisses behind families backs, longing and loving stares across the room before someone comes in. It's such a beautiful example of understanding of emotion at such a young age and an incredible, well put together series that is not queer-baiting, it is not misleading; it is literally what it is. It is a young girl who was not exposed to such experiences as a child, who found comfort in her best friend, and who grew to understand that she her feelings were valid because of it, no one judged them, no one berated them, it was easy going and natural. I wish there was more because my heart aches for such kind of representation in teens and adults. It's so beyond it's time and I crave something similar and extended.
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really good
Vincentiu20 October 2013
a really good series. realistic, provocative, new form of confession and analysis of relationship, remarkable characters and large range of issues. a film who has not solutions. only questions about basic dilemmas of each family. a kind of mirror because it has not ambition to pimp the events or inspire ways for similar cases. so, in its case, the great virtue is the deep honesty to present in white/black manner the hopes, insecurity, joy, fear, needs and ghosts of characters in a way who reflect the realities of viewer. it is not a lesson and not a show. only an ordinary story about families, about broken relations and the dawn of new beginning. result - a bitter mixture, source of nice memories.
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Jessie and Katie should have had a spin off series/special.
lk_ie21 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Although the standard of the writing and acting in this series leaves other more famous U.S series in the shade, one storyline stands out in my mind, or should I say heart. Jessie & Katie's romance must go down as one of the most thoughtful and poignant relationships in television history, and it is literally a crying shame that this storyline was not allowed to be explored completely in a way that the actresses/writers involved had already proved they could.

I would ask anyone who has any power in TV to see the commercial and artistic merit in bringing these characters back in some format to at least give the massive following they have won around the world(you just have to check the fan sites, merchandising etc) what they, the characters, actresses, writers deserve.

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