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I first caught this show early Sunday morning on the Sci Fi channel. The
quality of the episode and the early morning air time told me that the
series had already been canceled. I have still never seen the pilot with
John Goodman, but I have seen most of the episodes.
It is a marvelous show. Eric Close is brilliant as Mr. Wiseman, the human guinea pig of a government experiment in creating a super soldier/agent. His humor in dealing with the dour Dr. Morris and his almost palpable yearning for his wife and daughter left me with an aching pain for a man caught in a surreal nightmare. What makes it even more poignant is Wiseman's refusal to allow himself to be just a guinea pig. He adamantly asserts his humanity and forces Dr. Morris to accept it also.
Dennis Haysbert is Dr. Theodore Morris, the brilliant but tightly wound Frankenstein creator of a most uncooperative monster. One of the great aspects of this show is the fact that Dr. Morris is not a villain. He is a complex man who needs the humanity his creation forces from him. Wiseman refuses to let Morris be a cold and heartless mad scientist. He picks and prods and digs out all of humanity that Dr. Morris tries so hard to bury.
Margaret Colin and Heather Matarazzo are Lisa Wiseman, his grieving widow, and Heather Wiseman, his grieving and angry daughter. They are confused and frightened of this strange handsome young man who calls himself Mr. Newman. He moves in and out of their reality doing inexplicable things (such as asking Lisa to hold an egg without breaking it on a busy subway platform) and displaying an uncannily intimate knowledge of their lives and thoughts.
Now and Again was intelligent, touching and funny all at the same time and it was much too good to last.
I caught Now & Again during it's first run on the UK Sci-Fi Channel in
2001 and I was nothing short of blown away. My enthusiasm for the show was
dulled only by the knowledge that it had already been cancelled
another brilliant exec's move no doubt. That aside, Now & Again still
remains a high point for television sci-fi drama.
To synopsise the plot :
Michael Wiseman (played somewhat appropriately by John Goodman) is a 45 year old insurance salesman with a happy marriage and a content - if somewhat typical - teenage daughter. After being passed over for a big promotion - and drinking away his sorrows afterwards - Michael is killed when he is accidently knocked into the path of an oncoming subway train.
Michael awakens to find himself before US Government scientist Dr Theodore Morris (played to unbelievable perfection by 24's Dennis Haysbert). Morris offers Michael a choice - he can either rest in peace, or he can become a part of the greatest government experiment in history. Since World War 2, Morris tells him, the government has spent billions on trying to create the perfect artificial human being. Now after three billion dollars of research, they've succeeded - the catch? They need a live human brain to transplant into it. Seeing it as his only chance to live, Michael accepts - and the fun begins...
Michael reawakens again to find himself in the body of an artificially created 26 year old man (now played excellently by Dark Skies' Eric Close) - the perfect human specimin, with (as Morris phrases it) the strength of Superman, the speed of Michael Jordan (he can run with a landspeed of approximately 30mph) and the grace of Fred Astaire (that one is never explained!). Assigned to undertake covert operations for the government under the watchful eye of Morris (or "Doc" as Michael names him), Michael begins his new life - taking down terrorists bent on unleashing nerve gas, fishing out government traitors and testing experimental technologies.
It's a good arrangement for all involved - but with one minor glitch : under penalty of death, Michael can never make contact with his wife, his daughter or anyone from his former life. They must believe that Michael Wiseman is dead. Along the way though, Michael's path crosses with his wife Lisa - forming an attraction between the two and creating no end of problems for the doc, who would like nothing more than keep them apart.
Although this sounds a fair bit like The Six Million Dollar Man (or in this case, The Three Billion Dollar Man), it's surprisingly fresh. Now & Again began with a three part pilot that laid the scene perfectly. Episode 1 showed us Wiseman's origins - his accident and resurrection, while Episode 2 showed both how Wiseman's abilities actually worked and how his loved ones had moved on since his death. Episode 3 is the launchpad for Michael's first proper mission, the first episode to really demonstrate the shape of things to come.
Episode 3 - entitled "Over Easy" - sets up the standard in that Now & Again manages to maintain the perfect formula. Although not every one of the 19 episodes that follow the pilot trilogy contain villains or a central bad guy, the show manages to combine aspects of science fiction, drama, suspense and a high level of comedy to a perfect ratio. There are no "comedy episodes", no "thriller episodes", each one contains the same perfect balance - one of the show's two biggest strengths.
The show's other - and rankly, biggest strength - is it's cast. Prior to Now & Again, I had seen every single cast member in another movie or show and despite Eric Close, none of them really blew me away. In fact, prior to Now & Again I found Gerrit graham to be a truly annoying performer that did nothing for me whatsoever. Combining these actors though is what makes the show. The entire cast has such an intense and believable chemistry between them that they really do charm you and make you a believer in each of them. Special kudos goes to Haysbert though, a truly terrific actor that until 24 was a virtual unknown. Haysbert plays Morris with such presence and charisma that on many occassions he manages to steal the spotlight away from the central character - not surprising when you consider that Morris is essentially the anti-hero of the piece. Graham, Colin and Matarazzo all turn in fine performances - although it has to be pointed out that most of the science fiction on the show comes from trying to believe that Matarazzo could actually be Margaret Colin and John Goodman's daughter given that there is zero physical resemblence.
Created by Glenn Gordon Caron - creator of "THAT show that gave the world Bruce Willis", Now & Again was the perfect show. It never overstepped the mark by trying to be something else, and it never condescended it's audience. When it needed comedy, it was funny. When it needed sci-fi, it maintained believability. When it needed action, it had you on the edge of your seat. It was the perfect project and I fully believe that had it continued for a few seasons, it would have made huge stars out of both Eric Close and Dennis Haysbert.
That said, no show is perfect and Now & Again did have several flaws during it's run. Predictably the biggest flaw was the dynamic between Michael and Lisa Wiseman - the entire basis of their relationship was that he was her ressurected-husband-turned-superhuman and that she didn't know but was attracted to him anyway. Although the chemistry between the pair was utterly convincing to even the most anally retentive skeptics, the convienient ways that their paths constantly seemed to cross (without Lisa discovering the truth) has been outdone only by Lois & Clark in terms of pure frustration. Another flaw would be the lack of growth in Matarazzo's character of Heather Wiseman. Heather's character in the pilot is spot for spot the same as her character in the finale, no growth whatsoever. Although attempts were obviously made to centre episodes around the character, they flat-out didn't work - leaving her as the token troubled teen of the piece.
And finally we come to the show's big finale - the send-off entitled "The Eggman Cometh". Again a fantastic balance of all the genres, the finale didn't so much tie up loose ends as it did tangle them up a little bit. Lisa and Michael's relationship became more intense, while the relationship between Michael and the doc began to degrade quickly - building on both character's underlying frustrations with each other. Although I will not go so far as to flat out spill the details of the finale (I went into it blind and I was on the edge of my seat, I wouldn't have wanted it ruining for me), it ended with a cliffhanger that could have fuelled at least another half a season of the show, if not altered the dynamic for years to come.
I'll put it simply : Now & Again was great, it was pulled before it's time, it shouldn't have been. CBS should at least give us a TV movie to tie up the loose ends. That would be a decent end at least.
I can see why it was cancelled, I mean, it's intelligent, funny and has
great characters and dialogue. How dare it!
This is a great show that positively demanded a second series but was dropped like a hot cake on a hot day on top of an erupting volcano. I freely admit it could have done with a little more action (which we would've got in the second series) but this is a minor quibble when this show is in the same league as 24 (also starring Haysbert) and The West Wing.
Couldn't agree more with other comments - though they have been made some
time ago now.. about how good this series was.
This is coming from someone who normally doesn't enjoy watching most US drama serials. But this one had a heart and feel to it that was just special. As soon as the smooth & groove of the opening theme music came on I was loving this show. The chemistry between the "young" Eric and his "older" wife was fantastic. Dennis Haysbert played I think his best role as the government guy.
Huge shame it didn't go on..
it pains me to no end that CBS cancelled this show after only one year (22
episodes). almost a year after the show is cancelled, i STILL wonder what
happened to the characters. i mean, dang, i NEVER do this. it's just a tv
show! but i'll be dang if this show didn't get under my skin and has refused
to let go.
it's a great series, and if you have never seen it, i suggest catching its reruns on the sci-fi channel (though i hear the sci-fi channel has yanked it as well). this show does something incredibly hard: it combines sci-fi, drama, comedy, and romance, and does it in a way that is just, well, PERFECT. i mean, everything is perfect. everything is exactly...RIGHT.
the only "clear lining" i can find is that the show was cancelled in 1999, so there IS still a chance the show can start over again. it's only been 2 years, after all. or, at the very least, someone can pick up the show and do a 2-hour movie to tie up all the loose ends. you know how a show gets cancelled before its time and it doesn't wrap up any loose ends? well, this one's cliffhanger is KILLING me.
I MUST KNOW WHAT HAPPENED! SOMEONE, FOR GOD'S SAKE, PICK UP THE SERIES AND FINISH IT! PLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLEASE.
This show was amazing, its the best program to come out in a long while, I just can't understand why it was cancelled. That final episode had me begging for more. I think it was fairly popular over here in Australia because it was on 2 nights a week. It had great story lines, I just hope to god somehow they can bring it back. I think it was produced by CBS over in the states but i'm not sure. I just can't see how they can cancel such an amazing show over other programs like JAG and that trash they called Survivor, that was garbage. I'm glad survivor failed in Australia. But Now and Again was original and had a great cast and left you wanting more. Such a shame to see such a terrific program gone. An extremely solid, 10/10
I love this show more than any show I've seen in a very long time. It's full of action, adventure, humor, even romance. Eric Close is superb, as are Dennis Haysbert, Margaret Colin, Gerrit Graham, and Heather Matarazzo. They have great on screen chemistry. It's a joy to watch every episode. I can't recommend it highly enough!
Now & Again is one of my favorite TV shows of all time. I had a great time watching these characters. My favorite scene was Michael appearing as an angel to help Heather come back from the near death of the lightening strike. I was terribly disappointed when the show was canceled but do not wish to see a neat and tidy wrap up. The stories in this program were creative and unpredictable and never neat and tidy.
I've seen 4 episodes so far, and all I can say is that this series is going to be great! I love the story, the actors and everything, I hope they keep this series on as long as the x-Files. Its fun, exciting,Action and everything! I really recommend this series!
Why did CBS cancel this year's best show? It was funny, clever, and just plain really enjoyable. Michael Wiseman's smart a** wisecracks were hilarious, as were Dr. Morris' irritated comebacks. I hope CBS will come to its senses and bring it back in the fall. At least give us some closure to the season/series ending cliff hanger!
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