ever and again

Once and Again


Once and Again is an American television series that initially aired on ABC from 1999 to 2002. It depicts the family of a single mother and her romance with a single father. It was created by Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick, the same team that created Thirtysomething and produced My So-Called Life.

One of the show's more unique aspects were the "interview" sequences filmed in black and white and interspersed throughout each episode, where the characters would reveal their most innermost thoughts and memories to the camera.


Lily Manning (Sela Ward) is a 40ish suburban soccer mom living in Deerfield, Illinois. Recently separated from her philandering husband Jake (Jeffrey Nordling), Lily is doing the best she can in the raising of her two daughters, insecure, anxiety-ridden 14-year-old Grace (Julia Whelan), and wide-eyed, innocent 9-year-old Zoe (Meredith Deane). Lily is a woman who, in her own words, has "always wanted to be safe." Now, for the first time in her life, she sees no clear direction as the life she had always imagined for herself and her family seems to be slipping away. Although well supported by her younger sister, Judy (Marin Hinkle), at whose bookstore, called My Sister's Bookstore, she works, she still feels very anxious about the future. Then, one day, she discovers an unexpected new possibility for herself when she meets Rick Sammler (Billy Campbell) in the principal's office at Grace's school, Upton Sinclair High School.

Rick is a single father and co-head of an architectural firm, Sammler/Cassili Associates, which is located in downtown Chicago. Rick has been divorced from his uptight ex-wife Karen (Susanna Thompson), for three years and has two children, Eli (Shane West), a 16-year-old basketball player at Sinclair High who suffers from a learning disability, and sensitive 12-year-old Jessie (Evan Rachel Wood), who longs for the days before her family's disintegration.

Lily and Rick share an immediate mutual attraction and begin dating. Their budding relationship causes problems in both of their respective families. Jake, who still maintains a close relationship with Lily's parents, Phil and Barbara (Paul Mazursky and Bonnie Bartlett on a recurring basis), is in the midst of remodeling and reopening their restaurant, Phil's, which they have left to him before retiring to Florida. His high level of continued personal involvement with them keeps them from accepting Lily's relationship with Rick right away, even as Jake gets them all into increasingly worse financial situations in his endeavor to get the restaurant up and running again. Grace strongly objects to Lily and Rick's relationship as she still hopes to see her parents get back together. Judy doesn't care much for Rick, but still supports her sister since it seems like no one else is going to. Karen, a public interest attorney at the downtown law firm of Harris, Riegert, and Sammler, is worried about the toll Rick's new relationship would take on their children, particularly Jessie, who is shy and emotionally fragile. She is also working through her own feelings of jealousy that Rick is moving on to a new relationship.

The stories presented on 'Once and Again' explore the wonder and the difficulty of a second chance at love, as well as the family dynamics of divorce and subsequent remarriage, parent and child relationships, and the search for love, self-discovery, and personal fulfillment.

Plots and Subplots

The relationship between Rick and Lily in "Once and Again" is definitely the main plot of the series. Although they discover a rare and lasting connection right away in the beginning (Pilot season one), their love must withstand great tests if it is to survive. In the first season, the main issue between the two is that of timing, particularly because Lily has not formally ended her marriage to Jake as the romance first blossoms. This problem is overcome when Lily finally stands up to Jake and asks for a divorce and accepting all the challenges that come with being a single parent. In the second season, Rick and Lily must hang in there together as they make a transition from romantic couple to husband and wife. It is particularly challenging when Rick and Lily must unite their children into one home and as Rick faces legal and professional troubles. The third season portrays their new life together. The fact that Rick and Lily are able to commit to one another and start a new life in the midst of ex-spouses, children, family, and finances in three seasons shows the great success and fulfillment found in their union and also the real success of the series.

In addition to the relationship between Rick and Lily, the stories of the other main characters are also brought to center stage. The series explores the lives of each one of the characters closest to Rick and Lily: including Karen's troubles and new relationships, Eli and Jessie's relationships and troubles, Jake's evolving relationship with one of his women Tiffany, with whom he inadvertently starts a new family, Grace's and Zoe's relationships and troubles, and also Judy's relationships and personal struggles with being a single woman in her mid-30's.

The show also explores the families that Rick and Lily have come from. Rick's father died when he was only fourteen, and he doesn't speak to his brother. His mother visits during the second Thanksgiving and meets Lily (Feast or Famine) and confronts Rick when she sees how his children need him. Lily is the oldest of three. While the series shows Judy (the youngest) as a main star, it also includes the middle child Aaron as a powerful figure in the world of the story. Aaron has schizophrenia, and episodes in each season show him finding success and contentment with family in the midst of the tragic illness. Lily's parents are also main characters in the story. Unfortunately, Lily's father passes away in the first season, and the family must then come closer together like never before after the loss.

Issues explored in series

Once and Again examines and analyzes many issues present in modern society. In a day and age where half of all marriages end in divorce, it is promising to have shows such as Once and Again where characters work to make sense of what happened in their broken marriages.

In the three seasons of Once and Again, both Rick and Lily work to make sense of how their first marriages fell apart. Rick spent years in wedded bliss with the idealistic, righteous, and somewhat controlling corporate fighting attorney Karen. Then, when their children Eli and Jessie were 13 and 9, the two decided to end things.

Once and Again also tackled various other hot button issues including mental illness, substance abuse, eating disorders, and sexual identity. Several of these plotlines reached fruition among supporting characters in the show's final season. Among these were Karen Sammler's battle with depression, the doomed romantic attraction between Grace and a male teacher, Mr. Dimitri (Eric Stoltz), and Jessie's coming to grips with her romantic interest in a female classmate named Katie (played by a young Mischa Barton).


  • Sela Ward (Elizabeth 'Lily' Manning) Grace and Zoe's mother, separated from Jake
  • Billy Campbell (Richard 'Rick' Sammler) Eli and Jessie's father, divorced from Karen
  • Jeffrey Nordling (Jake Manning) Lily's estranged husband, Grace and Zoe's father
  • Susanna Thompson (Karen Sammler) Rick's ex-wife, Eli and Jessie's mother
  • Shane West (Eli Sammler) Rick's son
  • Julia Whelan (Grace Manning) Lily's elder daughter
  • Evan Rachel Wood (Jessie Sammler) Rick's daughter
  • Meredith Deane (Zoe Manning) Lily's younger daughter
  • Marin Hinkle (Judy Brooks) Lily's younger sister
  • Todd Field (David Cassilli) [2nd season 23-35, recurring previously] Rick's business partner and friend
  • Ever Carradine (Tiffany Porter) [2nd season 36-44 & 3rd season, recurring previously] Jake's mistress/girlfriend
  • Jennifer Crystal Foley (Christie Parker) [2nd season] Lily's boss at
  • David Clennon (Miles Drentell) [2nd season 23-43] Rick and David's primary client
  • Steven Weber (Samuel Blue) [3rd season, recurring in 1st season] Rick's friend and Judy's lover

Recurring characters

Main Crew

Ron Lagomarsino is an American television and theatre director. He is the recipient of an NEA Directing Fellowship, and the Outer Critics Circle Award for Driving Miss Daisy, Christopher Durang's Laughing Wild (Playwrights Horizons), and Timothy Mason's Only You. Lsgomarsino is a graduate of Santa Clara University (valedictorian) and New York University School of the Arts (Seidman Award Graduate in Directing).

His television credits inlcude The Unit, Once And Again, Ghost Whisperer, The Brotherhood of Poland, New Hampshire, Big Shots, Homefront (Friend of LML), Picket Fences, The Trials of Rosie O'Neill, My So-Called Life, What About Brian, Ally McBeal, Joan of Arcadia, Side Order of Life, Shark, Another World, thirtysomething, One Life to Live, Dinner At Eight, The Counterfeit Contessa, Sweet Temptation, and The Madam's Family: The Truth About The Canal Street Brothel.

His theatre credits include The Last Night of Ballyhoo, Driving Miss Daisy, My Favorite Year, Laughing Wild, and Only You.

External Links: , Playbill


Season 1: 1999-2000

  • 1. Pilot (Boy Meets Girl) - September 21, 1999
  • 2. Let's Spend The Night Together - September 28, 1999
  • 3. The Scarlet Letter Jacket - October 5, 1999
  • 4. Liars And Other Strangers - October 12, 1999
  • 5. There Be Dragons - October 19, 1999
  • 6. A Dream Deferred - October 26, 1999
  • 7. The Ex-Files - November 2, 1999
  • 8. The Past Is Prologue -November 9, 1999
  • 9. Outside Hearts - November 16, 1999
  • 10. Thanksgiving - November 23, 1999
  • 11. Where There's Smoke - December 7, 1999
  • 12. The Gingerbread House - December 21, 1999
  • 13. Mediation - January 24, 2000
  • 14. Sneaky Feelings - January 31, 2000
  • 15. The Mystery Dance - February 7, 2000
  • 16. Daddy's Girl - February 14, 2000
  • 17. Unfinished Business - March 6, 2000
  • 18. Strangers And Brothers - March 13, 2000
  • 19. Cat-In-Hat - April 3, 2000
  • 20. My Brilliant Career - April 10, 2000
  • 21. Letting Go - April 17, 2000
  • 22. A Door, About To Open - April 24, 2000

Season 2: 2000-2001

  • 23. Wake Up Little Susie - October 24, 2000
  • 24. Booklovers - October 31, 2000
  • 25. I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down - November 14, 2000
  • 26. Feast Or Famine - November 21, 2000
  • 27. Ozymandias 2.0 - November 28, 2000
  • 28. Food For Thought - December 5, 2000
  • 29. Learner's Permit - December 19, 2000
  • 30. Life Out Of Balance - January 10, 2001
  • 31. Scribbling Rivalry - January 17, 2001
  • 32. Love's Laborers' Lost - January 24, 2001
  • 33. Thieves Like Us - January 31, 2001
  • 34. Suspicion - February 7, 2001
  • 35. Edifice Wrecked - February 14, 2001
  • 36. The Other End Of The Telescope - March 7, 2001
  • 37. Standing Room Only - March 14, 2001
  • 38. Aaron's Getting Better - March 21, 2001
  • 39. Forgive Us Our Trespasses - March 28, 2001
  • 40. Best Of Enemies - April 4, 2001
  • 41. Armageddon - April 11, 2001
  • 42. Won't Someone Please Help George Bailey Tonight - April 18, 2001
  • 43. Moving On - April 25, 2001
  • 44. The Second Time Around - May 2, 2001

Season 3: 2001-2002

  • 45. Busted - September 28, 2001
  • 46. The Awful Truth - October 5, 2001
  • 47. Kind Of Blue - October 12, 2001
  • 48. Acting Out - October 19, 2001
  • 49. Destiny Turns On The Radio - November 2, 2001
  • 50. Jake And The Women - November 9, 2001
  • 51. Chaos Theory - November 23, 2001
  • 52. The Sex Show - November 30, 2001
  • 53. Tough Love - December 7, 2001
  • 54. Pictures - December 14, 2001
  • 55. Taking Sides - January 4, 2002
  • 56. Gardenia - January 11, 2002
  • 57. Falling in Place - March 4, 2002
  • 58. The Gay-Straight Alliance - March 11, 2002
  • 59. One Step (Parent) Backward - March 18, 2002
  • 60. Aaron's List Of Dreams - March 25, 2002
  • 61. Experience Is The Teacher - April 1, 2002
  • 62. Losing You - April 8, 2002
  • 63. Chance of A Lifetime - April 15, 2002 (Series Finale)



  • Todd Field played David Cassilli on the show until midway through the second season. It is fair to assume that co-writing and directing the Academy Award-nominated film In the Bedroom played a significant role in his departure from the series. He has also directed episodes of Once and Again and Carnivàle.
  • Miles Drentell, the arch client who destroys Rick and David's partnership, nearly had a similar effect on Michael Steadman and Elliot Weston's friendship on thirtysomething.
  • Miles Drentell would die of pancreatic cancer in the 2000-2001 season. ,
  • Series creators and executive producers Herskovitz and Zwick also appeared as minor characters on the show. Herskovitz played Dr. Frankl, the physician who reported Phil's death to the Brooks/Manning family. Zwick portrayed Dr. Daniel Rosenfeld, the child psychologist who counseled Jessie while she had an eating disorder, in six episodes.
  • Series producer Winnie Holzman appeared as Aaron's social worker, Shelly, in three episodes.
  • The show received particular media attention and, in the introductory episode, ratings figures, for its depiction of Jessie's budding lesbian relationship with Katie, a previously introduced friend. Besides the expected piqued interest and controversy over an instance of homosexuality (or possibly bisexuality) on TV, in a drama series, the storyline also stood out as one of the few depictions of a lesbian relationship between two teenaged girls in a drama series with recurring manifestations of affection, distancing itself from an often used angle in the media, that of attributing the experience to sexual experimentation.
  • For the second season, Steven Weber was cast in Cursed and was not available, so Mark Valley as Wil Gluck was introduced to fill the void. The next season Valley was unavailable because of his role in Pasadena, so he was written out and Weber (who was again available) returned, this time as a regular cast member.
  • As of episode 39, the ABC network eliminated the opening credits and replaced them with a brief interstitial logo. This graphic had previously been used as a bumper between the double commercial break at the half-hour mark. The cast listings were then incorporated into the opening scene(s). It is likely that ABC used this additional time to add an extra commerical and therefore increase ad revenue, since the episodes did not increase in length. This technique had been used once before, in the pilot.


It originally aired on ABC from 1999 to 2002. In the U.S it was in syndication on Lifetime Real Women the spinoff channel from Lifetime Television. The channel stopped running O&A in April 2005, and no American outlet presently carries the show. However, on August 2, 2008, it was announced that Once and Again will return to United States television for the first time in 3 years. Once and Again was seen on the now-defunct ABC1 in the United Kingdom and the Seven Network in Australia. In Canada, the show was seen on the W Network until late 2007 or early 2008. Today, the show might be seen in full-length episodes on YouTube.W Network will be broadcasting the series at 3 am beginning September 2008 (from their network schedule).

DVD releases

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment (formerly Buena Vista Home Entertainment) released Season 1 on November 5, 2002, mere months after the series finale. It was expected that the remaining two seasons would be released soon afterward. However, it took three more years and numerous petition drives for season two to be released, which occurred on August 23, 2005. A little over a month later, on September 30, 2005, news broke about the release of the third and final season, which was slated to occur on January 10, 2006, but by October 2005 the title was delayed and has been ever since, with no explanation. It was almost two years before another official word was uttered on the subject and in July 2007, it was reported that Buena Vista's license on the program was soon to expire and, as a result, could lead to a new company acquiring the distribution rights to the title and thus a potential third season release.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
Season 1 22 November 5, 2002
Season 2 22 August 23, 2005
Season 3 19 TBA

External links

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