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Once and Again is an American television series that aired on ABC from September 21, 1999 to April 15, 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.

Once and Again
Once and Again logo.jpg
Once and Again title card
Created by Ed Zwick and
Marshall Herskovitz
Starring Sela Ward
Billy Campbell
Jeffrey Nordling
Susanna Thompson
Shane West
Julia Whelan
Evan Rachel Wood
Meredith Deane
Todd Field
Marin Hinkle
Jennifer Crystal Foley
David Clennon
Ever Carradine
Steven Weber
Composer(s) W.G. Snuffy Walden
Joey Newman
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 3
No. of episodes 63
Running time 60 minutes
Production company(s) The Bedford Falls Company
Touchstone Television
Distributor Disney-ABC Domestic Television (formerly Buena Vista Television)
Original network ABC
Original release September 21, 1999 (1999-09-21) – April 15, 2002 (2002-04-15)
Related shows thirtysomething

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



Lily Manning (Sela Ward) is a suburban soccer mom in her forties, who lives in Deerfield, Illinois. Recently separated from her philandering husband Jake (Jeffrey Nordling), Lily is raising her two daughters, insecure, anxiety-ridden 14-year-old Grace (Julia Whelan), and precocious nine-year-old Zoe (Meredith Deane). For support, she turns to her more free-spirited younger sister, Judy (Marin Hinkle), with whom she works at their bookstore called My Sister's Bookstore (renamed Booklovers later in the series).

Lily's life changes when, during the pilot episode, she meets Rick Sammler (Billy Campbell) in the principal's office of 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. Grace strongly objects to Lily and Rick's relationship as she still hopes to see her parents get back together. 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.

In addition to Lily and Rick's relationship, the show also focused to a lesser degree on their exes, Jake and Karen, and their own struggles to move on in a post-divorce environment.

Plot summaryEdit

Season 1Edit

Lily is in the process of divorcing her restaurateur husband, Jake. She is reluctant to begin dating again due to the sensitivities of her daughters, who are still emotional about the divorce. She meets and is instantly attracted to divorced architect Rick Sammler. However, their new relationship is complicated by Lily's many remaining emotional and financial issues with Jake. Grace and Eli become close when she becomes his tutor. Judy has a relationship with Rick's friend, Sam Blue (Steven Weber) before discovering Sam is married.

Season 2Edit

Lily and Jake's divorce is finalized, and she hopes to spend more time with Rick. However, Rick becomes sidetracked by difficulties at work and has to begin working with unscrupulous developer Miles Drentell (David Clennon, reprising his role from the series thirtysomething). Things become difficult for Lily when Rick's project runs into legal difficulties and his ex-wife Karen is hired to represent the opposition. Jessie flirts with an eating disorder, and begins to address her problems with the help of a therapist (played by show producer Edward Zwick). Jake's girlfriend Tiffany announces she is pregnant. At the end of season two, Rick has to dissolve his architectural firm, and Lily and Rick get married.

Season 3Edit

Rick resumes his partnership with Sam Blue, now divorced, to design a hotel for a new client. Sam and Judy try to be friends but eventually resume their romantic relationship. Jake and Tiffany have a baby girl and eventually decide to get married. Grace develops a crush on her English teacher, Mr. Dimitri (Eric Stoltz); although their relationship never became sexual, an investigation eventually forces Mr. Dimitri to leave the school. Meanwhile, Jessie discovers she is attracted to another girl: upperclassman Katie Singer (Mischa Barton), and after Katie acknowledges her own romantic feelings towards Jessie with a love letter, the two girls quietly begin dating while hiding their romance from everyone. Karen deals with her depression; just as she is starting to make progress, she is hit by a car, leading to months of painful rehabilitation where she meets physical therapist Henry Higgins (DB Woodside). Lily faces more painful domestic struggles when her mother begins to show signs of Alzheimer's Disease and her brother Aaron (Patrick Dempsey), who is schizophrenic, wants to move in with his girlfriend. By the end of the season, Rick and Lily face big decisions when he is offered a job in Australia, and she is offered a nationally syndicated radio show. Their decisions are never shown, but in the last moments of the series finale, Lily reveals she is pregnant, and everyone comes together to attend Jake and Tiffany's wedding.



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



Season 1 (1999–2000)Edit

  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)Edit

  1. "Wake Up Little Susie" (October 24, 2000)
  2. "Booklovers" (October 31, 2000)
  3. "I Can't Stand Up for Falling Down" (November 14, 2000)
  4. "Feast or Famine" (November 21, 2000)
  5. "Ozymandias 2.0" (November 28, 2000)
  6. "Food for Thought" (December 5, 2000)
  7. "Learner's Permit" (December 19, 2000)
  8. "Life Out of Balance" (January 10, 2001)
  9. "Scribbling Rivalry" (January 17, 2001)
  10. "Love's Laborers Lost" (January 24, 2001)
  11. "Thieves Like Us" (January 31, 2001)
  12. "Suspicion" (February 7, 2001)
  13. "Edifice Wrecked" (February 14, 2001)
  14. "The Other End of the Telescope" (March 7, 2001)
  15. "Standing Room Only" (March 14, 2001)
  16. "Aaron's Getting Better" (March 21, 2001)
  17. "Forgive Us Our Trespasses" (March 28, 2001)
  18. "Best of Enemies" (April 4, 2001)
  19. "Armageddon" (April 11, 2001)
  20. "Won't Someone Please Help George Bailey Tonight" (April 18, 2001)
  21. "Moving On" (April 25, 2001)
  22. "The Second Time Around" (May 2, 2001)

Season 3 (2001–2002)Edit

  1. "Busted" (September 28, 2001)
  2. "The Awful Truth" (October 5, 2001)
  3. "Kind of Blue" (October 12, 2001)
  4. "Acting Out" (October 19, 2001)
  5. "Destiny Turns on the Radio" (November 2, 2001)
  6. "Jake and the Women" (November 9, 2001)
  7. "Chaos Theory" (November 23, 2001)
  8. "The Sex Show" (November 30, 2001)
  9. "Tough Love" (December 7, 2001)
  10. "Pictures" (December 14, 2001)
  11. "Taking Sides" (January 4, 2002)
  12. "Gardenia" (January 11, 2002)
  13. "Falling in Place" (March 4, 2002)
  14. "The Gay-Straight Alliance" (March 11, 2002)
  15. "One Step (Parent) Backward" (March 18, 2002)
  16. "Aaron's List of Dreams" (March 25, 2002)
  17. "Experience Is the Teacher" (April 1, 2002)
  18. "Losing You" (April 8, 2002)
  19. "Chance of a Lifetime" (April 15, 2002)


The series was filmed at the Century Studio Corporation sound stages in Culver City, California, and also on location in the Los Angeles area.


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. Once and Again was seen on Sky One and the now-defunct ABC1 in the United Kingdom (in both cases, only the first season was shown) and the Seven Network in Australia. In Canada, the show was seen on the W Network until late 2007, then returned to the network in September 2008, albeit in a 3 a.m. time slot.

DVD releasesEdit

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment (formerly Buena Vista Home Entertainment) released Season 1 on November 5, 2002, mere months after the series finale. 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. Mock-up photos of the packaging were even released. However, by October 2005 the title was delayed indefinitely with no explanation and was never released.

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. As a result, a new company could acquire the distribution rights to the title and potentially release the third season.[1]

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


Season Timeslot (EST/EDT)[2] Season Premiere Season Finale TV Season Rank Viewers
(in millions)
18–49 Average
1 Tuesday 10:00 p.m.
(September 21 – December 21, 1999)
Monday 10:00 p.m.
(January 24 – April 24, 2000)
September 21, 1999 April 24, 2000 1999–2000 #51[3] 10.93 7.9/13
2 Tuesday 10:00 p.m.
(October 24 – December 19, 2000)
Wednesday 10:00 p.m.
(January 10 – May 2, 2001)
October 24, 2000 May 2, 2001 2000–2001 #84[4] 8.5 N/A
3 Friday 10:00 p.m.
(September 28, 2001 – January 11, 2002)
Monday 10:00 p.m.
(March 4 – April 15, 2002)
September 28, 2001 April 15, 2002 2001–2002 #107[5] 6.7 N/A



  1. ^ "Once and Again on DVD, Release Info, News at", Retrieved on 30 October 2011.
  2. ^ "Once and Again -", Retrieved on 30 October 2011.
  3. ^ "US-Jahrescharts 1999/2000",, 30 May 2002. Retrieved on 30 October 2011.
  4. ^ "The Bitter End",, 1 June 2001. Retrieved on 30 October 2011.
  5. ^ "How did your favorite show rate?", USA Today, 28 May 2002. Retrieved on 30 October 2011.

External linksEdit