Once And Again: The Complete Second Season

Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick, the creators of the series Once and Again, at least appear to be making progress. After only 19 episodes aired of their masterful ode to teen angst, My So-Called Life, ABC attempted to learn from its mistake by airing a whole three seasons of Once and Again. The second (and arguably, the best) is currently seeing its day on DVD, and for the viewers who probably have never even heard of the series, it is well worth a look. Sela Ward and Billy Campbell play two lovers who have recently endured the perils of divorce and come together with each of their respective children and ex-spouses to create a Brady Bunch-ian take on the complications of modern life. The premise could have easily come across as clichéd and repetitive, but Herskovitz and Zwick's unique talent for realistically portraying melodrama makes Once and Again one of the better network series of the last decade. The writing is impeccable and the cast is perfect (even the siblings have severe physical resemblances to their parents). Ward and Campbell's graceful performances create the show's centre, leaving a wonderful array of supporting characters (specifically Evan Rachel Wood as Campbell's daughter and Susanna Thompson as his ex-wife, whose lack of recognition is a crime) to beautifully create a world of dysfunction that probably exists in similar contexts throughout our society. It's unfortunate that the one and only extra is a commentary on one episode ("Food For Thought," dealing with Wood's character's anorexia, is a must with or without the commentary), but hopefully the third (and sadly, final) DVD set will make up for that. This is a series you must at least watch once, if not again. (Buena Vista Home)