Now and Again: The Only Season
September 20, 2021 6:42 PM - Season 1 (Full Season) - Subscribe

Middle-aged insurance exec Michael Wiseman (John Goodman) finds himself dead, then gets involved in a secret government experiment that requires his brain tissue. However, his refusal to give up his family from his "past life" has proven move challenging than anyone had anticipated.

A weird hybrid of romantic comedy and The Six Million Dollar Man that lived just own, terrific season on CBS. Currently streaming on YouTube.
posted by DirtyOldTown (26 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
This is the canceled-before-its-time show I think about the most. Essentially, the government makes the ultimate bionic body but needs a brain to make it work. The only thing they need is a functioning brain who can let go of his past. They pick the one man who cannot. I love this show so much. The ratings weren't even bad but Leslie Moonves of CBS got into a pissing contest with non-CBS producers and canceled everything.

This needs rebooting so badly.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:43 PM on September 20, 2021 [4 favorites]

Oh, wow. This was a surprise. I was obsessed with this show, dragged everyone I knew into it at the time. It was such a loss to see the production pissing contest result in this being cancelled on such an incredible cliffhanger; I spent many hours discussing what could have happened afterward, read anything I could find (there was never much). I never bought the DVD set that came out because I'd read they didn't keep any of the music, though I probably should just bite the bullet and get them for posterity, since the copies of videotapes that I drag out every few years are all but unplayable now that I'm not able to use the DVD recorder I copied them on.

It's hard for me to imagine a reboot, though. I just wouldn't want to think of anyone other than Eric Close as Michael Wiseman, I fell so in love with him, and I just...I don't know, the mercurial, sometimes sinister, sometimes charming doctor just would never work for me without being played by Dennis Haysbert--he was amazing. Margaret Colin was so affecting, and Heather Matarazzo was such a perfect teenager. I mean, maybe there are actors I could like as well, but it's just...this thing meant so much to me. I was all about fanworks for it at the time, but there was never much in the way of them, and I always wondered if it had come out when online fandom was more prevalent if we'd have seen more of a presence for it.

I remember just being so utterly gobsmacked by that first episode--the fact that the opening credits and commercial break didn't even happen till 20 minutes into the episode, the whole monologue scene where Dr. Morris explains the situation to Mr. Wiseman's brain, it was just like nothing I'd ever seen. And they kept doing it, over and over--the episode with the nanobots, the one where John Goodman returned and we found out about the seizures, that one with the doc's old school chum trying to steal Mr. Wiseman, they were all just so good.

Thanks for posting about this. I am definitely going to rewatch; it'll always be one of the best series I've ever been a fan of.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 9:47 PM on September 20, 2021 [2 favorites]

If I were remaking it today, I'd cast Michael B. Jordan as Michael and Nathan Fillion as Dr. Morris.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 3:58 AM on September 21, 2021

We are up to episode three in the rewatch and I had forgotten how funny Lisa Wiseman consistently is.

"What are you hoping to accomplish by getting welfare?"
"I am hoping to accomplish the getting of money."

"I see that you went to college. Have you considered using that education and getting a job?"
"I did consider that, but it turns out all of the art historian positions near me are taken."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 4:01 AM on September 21, 2021 [2 favorites]

I am looking forward to that one where Michael escapes, gets some money by doing physical feats in the park, and after buying what he needs, spends everything left on peanut butter cups. Because after all, he may look like a super hero, but that is John Goodman in there.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 4:07 AM on September 21, 2021

Oh man, I loved this show when it aired. It was so hard to find stuff about this show online for a long time, partly because there was a show that debuted the same year called "Once and Again".

How is this not streaming somewhere? Seems like a no brainer for Paramount+ or whoever owns the rights.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:27 AM on September 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

It's also neither HD nor widescreen, which hurts its marketability, even as an after-the-fact cult classic.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:44 AM on September 21, 2021

If you are in area where this works (and apologies if you are not) here is a YouTube playlist with the entire series. It really does have a truly singular tone/vibe: sci-fi/government conspiracy by way of romantic comedy. Very serious terrorist attacks interrupted by like Thanksgiving dinners or a superhero using all of his powers to try to get away with calling his wife.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:48 AM on September 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

I also loved this show, but can't imagine a reboot. I mean, aside from the perfection of the original cast. And also because, as bummed as I was by the cancellation at the time, it also occupied a very pre-9/11 space in my head -- not just geographically, but in that I found things like the egg man's actions too horrific for fiction for me, and couldn't imagine how a second season would deal with the paradigm shift.

I haven't re-watched it in forever (if ever?), though I do have a crappy bootleg dvd at least.

I remember especially loving the music in that scene where Wiseman takes a bullet for his wife during that party. It was just some instrumental scoring I think, but the pace/build was so electrifying.
posted by oh yeah! at 5:49 AM on September 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

More realistic fan casting for TV: Robbie Amell as Michael, DB Woodside as Dr. Morris.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:51 AM on September 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

I just watched the first five minutes. Holy shit.
posted by Mogur at 6:30 AM on September 21, 2021 [2 favorites]

It really does have a truly singular tone/vibe: sci-fi/government conspiracy by way of romantic comedy.

It's weird that you mention this, as I just recently started watching Manifest and I keep getting thrown by the way that the characters keep letting normal-ass life get in the way of the inexplicable events that they have been thrown into the middle of. In Now and Again, however, it felt totally real. Like, yeah, he absolutely would let Thanksgiving dinner interrupt his response to this terrorist attack. Maybe it was just the excellent characterization of Michael as a truly reluctant protagonist, or maybe I was just less jaded 20 years ago.

Channing Tatum circa 2010 would have been perfect for Michael, but Robbie Amell is a good call.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:40 AM on September 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

I just watched the first five minutes. Holy shit.

The first fifteen minutes of the first episode are, as described above, a stunner.

Legitimately terrifying bioterrorism incident -> family comedy -> sad sack Willy Loman-esque workplace drama -> shocking death of biggest star -> hypnotic and darkly hilarious semi-monologue as Dennis Haysbert, with maximum charm and sarcasm, describes the terms of the government's offer... to a disembodied brain -> cut to the smooth 90s R&B theme song...
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:42 AM on September 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

If I'm not rubbing anyone the wrong way by talking too much... (Didn't realize anyone else would care after twenty years!)

The other other reason this show probably won't get rebooted is that it was created by Glenn Gordon Caron, who created Moonlighting and later created Medium and served as showrunner on Bull. He's been outed as a truly toxic person to work with/for in Hollywood. Given where he was in his career when he made this show, he likely still owns the rights and the prospects of a new Glenn Gordon Caron show at this moment would only be worse if it starred Kevin Spacey and Louis CK and had songs by Ryan Adams.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:51 AM on September 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

He's been outed as a truly toxic person to work with/for in Hollywood.

Ugh, that sucks so bad.

I just want to emphasize how good Margaret Colin (who according to Wikipedia is a pro-life activist for additional ughitude) and Heather Matarazzo (who is cool, thank Talos!) were on this show. They really made the "family" stuff hit home, which is remarkable when you look at the sci-fi madness they were up against.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:59 AM on September 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

I definitely don't mind the multiple comments! My only problem is that I wish so much something like this had been around back then. It's hard to talk about it with the passion I once had, my memory's a bit shot even with all the clip memorizing I did to make fanvids back then.

I had no idea about the behind the scenes stuff, that's just...awful. I'm easily influenced by knowing people are garbage, and I can't always look past the actors/crew to the characters or product and forget about the real lives of the players. I wish I was better at that, but I'm so not.

I sort of went backwards after this series to Eric Close's previous one, Magnificent Seven, where both he and Michael Biehn had a really weird undue influence on the fandom at large because of their Christian beliefs. Strange times, man.

So it's extra disappointing to find out about Carron, especially since many of the things I loved most about the series were things I'd loved about Moonlighting before they ran that all into the ground. I did read some comments by people involved with the show about what would have happened to resolve the cliffhanger, but all I recall was that they were disappointing--and I'll have to read that Vice article.

I had a lot of favorite scenes in the series, but nothing will ever compare to that scene at the end of Deep In My Heart Is a Song when Heather is looking out her window and Michael turns back, with the snow falling all around and that lovely music playing, and he waves at her and she waves back, while inside, Lisa is collapsing against the door. Ugh, god, the feels. I loved it so much.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 2:16 PM on September 21, 2021 [2 favorites]

Also, I keep forgetting to mention just how fucking hilarious Gerrit Graham was as Roger Bender. He absolutely deserves a mention. In that second episode, he's so riotously scared and confused, I just loved him. That whole episode gave me tons of lines I still use to this day, especially the stuff about "not peep, peek" and when Michael's climbing up the outside of the building and he just shrugs and says "I'm a nut" when that guy stops and stares at him. Such a perfectly New York line.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 2:24 PM on September 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

Can a mod add the cover art to this show, or is it just up to the whims of the imdb API? It would be nice to have it visible on the sidebar for a bit.
posted by oh yeah! at 3:18 PM on September 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

Mod note: Hopefully good now, carry on.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:34 PM on September 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

Our kid: how is this music so... funky??
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:57 PM on September 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

The theme song had absolutely no reason to go as hard as it did. I had a shitty YouTube rip of it in my iTunes library for a hot minute.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:30 AM on September 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

So it looks like episode 7, A Girl's Life, and episode 18, Lizzard's Tale (sob! one of my faves!), are both missing from the various collections. I can find 7 if I bounce around different channels, but I can't find 18. My guess is a copyright block for music in the eps, either by legit rights holders or more likely those freaking scammers who block even non-monetized channels, claiming to own copyrights. If you can find 18, I'd love to know!
posted by kitten kaboodle at 10:59 AM on September 22, 2021

It was a magical show at the time - the casting was *absolutely perfect* in every way. Haysbert singing to Michael in one episode was particularly wonderful.

I have nothing to add to all of the praise heaped above - all of it is true.
posted by davidmsc at 11:40 AM on September 23, 2021

We just watched the sixth episode, "Nothing to Fear But Nothing to Fear" and while it wasn't the strongest episode, is a pretty good encapsulation of this show, with the prime storylines being: "will Lisa work up the nerve to ask Michael out?" and "will a madman amateur drugmaker kill thousands by putting a chemical into the water supply that eliminates all fear?"
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:09 AM on September 28, 2021 [2 favorites]

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