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"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.
Sela Ward stars in the role of her career as Lily Manning, the compassionate and sexy mother in the midst of a divorce and a new beginning with Rick (Billy Campbell). Besides the brilliant Sela, Billy Campbell is exceptional in his breakthrough role as are Shane West, Evan Rachel Wood, and the rest of the younger castmembers. Marin Hinkle is radiant as Lily's sister, and the exes of Rick and Lily are remarkable too. With this superb cast and intelligent (and real) storylines, this series is possibly the best family series in TV history.
Once and Again is a pearl of a show. It's always interesting, and more
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.
"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!
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.
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 :)
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!
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.
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.
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
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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