Golden Globe(R) award-winner Sela Ward and Billy Campbell star in the highly acclaimed second season of ONCE AND AGAIN. Celebrate the loves and experience the triumphs and heartbreak that made ONCE AND AGAIN a favorite amo... more »ng critics and audiences everywhere. It's "a great show," raves Robert Bianco of USA TODAY. Now you can experience all 22 episodes of season two in this spectacular five-disc set, featuring exclusive bonus features. It's everything you remember and so much more.« less
"Ah, the second season. So dark and complex and utterly lifelike, it may be the most involving and thought-provoking of the three. (If I remember correctly, the ratings really started to flag here because 'Once and Again', Season 2, wasn't much fun to watch for ABC viewers who were better suited to, say, 'Full House' or 'Home Improvement'.) Much of the activity takes place at night or in dimly lit rooms with windows covered over; unlike Seasons 1 and 3, I can't remember a single cheerful, outdoor daylight scene in the second season, and all this mirrors the moody, turbulent events that take place.
It's dense and economical in the amount of material that it covers in one season, making use of each episode to weave together two, sometimes three, story elements that "resonate back and forth," as series creators Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz describe the structure. It cannot be watched half-way or between bathroom trips, because just as much happens on the characters' faces as in what they do and say, and the performances from the cast are critical to how this works. Most viewers of 'Once and Again' will no doubt recall Claire Danes' emergence in 'My So-Called Life'; here we get two such revelations, with Julia Whelan and Evan Rachel Wood. Whelan consistently animates her Grace with complexities that most actors never achieve, and in the masterful episode "Food for Thought," Wood makes it absolutely clear why she is the best actor of her generation. Her performance here is as powerful as I've seen from a television or film actor of any age. A lesser cast would have been acted off the screen by these two rising stars, but the sets of 'Once and Again' are fully carpeted with wall-to-wall masters of the subtlety needed for this kind of drama -- people like Jeff Nordling, Susanna Thompson (Does it say something that both exes are played by actors who are highly skilled in stage combat?), Marin Hinkle, Bill Campbell, and Sela Ward, at her best. Reviewers don't always mention Shane West and Meredith Deane, but they're both very good, adding authentic, original textures to characters who could easily have been treated as afterthoughts. Deane, in particular, is almost supernaturally precocious as she articulates the ambitiously written character of Zoe. The antithesis of the well-coached but ineffectual child actor, she keeps up with the adult writers at every turn by making her lines seem as if they are not the words of a grown-up but rather her own. She is one of the many delights of the series.
So much happens, and I love the way the writers leave much unsaid. Example: When Lily discovers that Carla has stolen prescription medication from her, she goes to Carla's house to speak with her parent/guardian and meets a woman (perhaps Lily's own age) who's dealing with a crying baby, and the writers do not insult our intelligence by suggesting whose baby it is. There's the brilliant "Thieves Like Us" episode, which I adore and treasure for many reasons. (Watch how Rick reacts when his cell phone rings unexpectedly as he's letting the air out of those tires.) I also think of Paul, whom Judy dated briefly, then dumped, only to be haunted by suspicions that he had now begun stalking her. When Jake confronts him at the restaurant, we do not know whether he was behind the phone calls or the incident at the bookstore, and the creepiness of not knowing reminds us of how such things often go in our own lives. As usual, it's spot-on in rendering those dark, unsettling moments of modern life and showing us how we're not safe anytime, anywhere, from our own character flaws and grim paranoias.
One of the most overlooked elements by which 'Once and Again' achieves its authenticity is the direction. Watch how the cameras in this show capture people moving and occupying space, not only within shots but within the interiors of homes, businesses, schools. They lean against kitchen counters, drape themselves on furniture, and perch awkwardly on stairways. They talk while they take out the trash; they brush their teeth and spit in the sink. The camera almost never circles around in that highly stylized Hollywood way that makes you feel like you're missing something, but rather, it sits still and quietly shows what it needs to show, putting the viewer inside the room with the characters. Sometimes you see corners of rooms for the first time and think, "Oh, so that's what's over there." It has the effect of making the people and settings seem more real than they usually seem on TV -- so real, in fact, that some fans have drawn floorplans of Lily's house, with astonishing detail and accuracy. It is a testament to the greatness of the actors and writers that what happens in these places seems worthy of such adoration.
'Once and Again' is a towering fictional achievement, and the superb second season, in my mind, really anchors the series and gives it gravity, so that the third season has a feeling of weight and time behind it that makes it so rewarding when, toward the end, beautiful things start to happen to some of the people we've seen suffer so much."
Excellent show and about damn time!
P Daniel Freeze | kannapolis, n.c. USA | 04/18/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm extremely happy to hear this season is FINALLY being released. Although, I'm skeptical about it actually being available in stores like the first season. It was too hard to find! No wonder it didn't sell very well. Let's hope this really does get released and finally answers many prayers of fans of this wonderfully real show. *ahem, there's still one more season Buena Vista! Please don't make us wait 3 more years for it, too!*"
Television of the gods.
Doorstop | Deerfield, IL | 08/07/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Amidst the backdrop of ugly, offensive, stupid noise that network television has taken up as its standard in recent years, Once and Again plays out with the brilliance and sophistication of a great jazz ensemble. If it is a normal function of abject mediocrity that produces the average situation comedy or tired, unremarkable drama, then what might result if the most gifted creative forces from the various disciplines of television writing, production, directing, and acting were to converge on a single project? How good could TV be if the right people were involved from the outset and, maybe, got a little bit lucky on top of it? Once and Again suggests an answer.
This was an hour-long drama that lasted three seasons and aired on ABC from fall 1999 to spring 2002. Its careful, measured pace follows a similar timespan in the lives of two Chicago-area families splintered by divorce. Sela Ward stars as Elizabeth "Lily" Brooks Manning, who is separated from her husband Jake (Jeffrey Nordling) and now lives in the family house with their daughters, Grace (Julia Whelan) and Zoey (Meredith Deane). Billy Campbell co-stars as Rick Sammler, an moderately successful architect with his own firm (more or less) and a three-year-old divorce from Karen (Susanna Thompson), mother of Eli (Shane West) and Jessie (Evan Rachel Wood). The essential development of the series is that Rick and Lily meet, begin dating and somehow, over the course of two and a half years, manage to hammer out what they have into a hybridized, modern American family, a kind of Brady Bunch for the new millennium. Spinning around them are numerous peripheral characters, among whom notables include Lily's perpetually single sister Judy Brooks (Marin Hinkle), Rick's long-time fried Sam Blue (Steven Weber), Jake's on-again off-again girlfriend Tiffany Porter(Ever Carradine), and Lily's mother Barbara (Bonnie Bartlett).
To read a description such as the one above is to be supplied with most of the essential facts but to miss out on everything that's really worth knowing about the series. For example, it's probably more useful to mention that, of the actors listed, each and every one delivers a stellar, pitch-perfect performance that humiliates most of the actors who usually snap up the Emmys. No other television show I've seen has been populated with characters so solidly embodied by the actors who portrayed them, that at the end of a season, I felt as if I'd spent a year living with them instead of watching them on TV. It's amazing to observe how vivid and multidimensional they are, as if they have mass, heat up the air around them, and will continue to go on living their lives every day, whether the cameras are rolling or not. When you wake up in the morning and realize that you're worrying about Judy or Eli, you know it's not TV as usual.
Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz may not have built a ratings giant that would go on for too many seasons and make them billionaires, but they did something that, in my estimation, is far more noteworthy; they created a polished, masterful production where the soundtrack, color palettes, and careful, patient camera work consistently generate a viable space for their characters to live and breathe, a space that doubles as a stage with a great view from the bleachers. For example, much has been made of the black-and-white scenes, in just about every episode, which typically feature one character speaking frankly, at the camera, as if to an unseen psychotherapist. These scenes work not despite the artistic pretention of the black and white, but because of it. Executed with a suprising blend of restraint, humor, sensivity and wit, they give us these well-timed, cogent, honest glimpses at characters expressing -- at times struggling to express -- their private thoughts to another, one who sees and will judge but cannot act out. Sometimes the lines separating these realms would break down, as in the episode "Food for Thought," in which Zwick began a guest stint as Dr. Daniel Rosenfeld, a therapist counselling Jessie, first about her eating disorder then, later, about other things. I like to imagine how Zwick must have felt, sitting in that chair, facing Jessie Sammler, talking with her, because after Season Two, you feel like you know Jessie and her world, and the people who inhabit it."
Why was the Season 3-DVD cancelled?
S. Rogall | Frechen-Königsdorf, NRW Deutschland | 11/12/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Season 1 and 2 of "Once and again" were simply fabulous and great. And I was looking forward to getting Season 3 on DVD when it was announced for January 2006. Now it is suddenly pulled from the release schedule. Why??? I sincerely hope that all "Once and again"-fans stand up for this and urge Buena Vista to release Season 3 as soon as possible!!!"
Todd Stites | West Hollywood, CA | 04/29/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I bought the first season of "Once And Again" on DVD the day it was in released. When I first heard that Buena Vista was NOT going to release Seasons 2 or 3 of OAA, I was upset. Season 2 was my favorite season. The episode "Booklovers" is one of the best hour long episodes I have ever seen. It is a mini-movie, self contained and worth the price of the entire box set. Even if you have never watched an episode of OAA, you will enjoy "Booklovers." The Emmy VHS screener of that episode used to go for near $50 on ebay. -I know, I got outbid once :( I've pre-ordered Season 2 and look forward to reading that Season 3 will be released as well."