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Rejoice: "Now and Again" coming to DVD

By Rich Heldenfels Published: July 9, 2014

I deeply admired this series from Glenn Gordon Caron when it premiered in 1999, and lamented its quick demise. Below the DVD announcement I have included a couple of pieces I wrote when the show was on, to give you an idea of my mad love for it. As for the DVD news ...

You only live twice in the gripping series NOW AND AGAIN. Hailed as “stylish, clever, and unpredictable” (People) and “a joy ride full of surprises” (New York Daily News) upon its broadcast premiere in 1999, the drama stars Eric Close, Dennis Haysbert, Margaret Colin and Heather Matarazzo.

From the creator of Moonlighting and Medium, Glenn Gordon Caron, NOW AND AGAIN: THE DVD COLLECTION arrives August 26 as a five-disc set including all 22 episodes of the series, along with all-new bonus material exclusive to the collection from CBS Home Entertainment and Paramount Home Media Distribution.

Special to this release are several must-see, in-depth featurettes that delve into the making of the critically acclaimed series. A special highlight is the four-part documentary, “Gimme A Sign: Engineering Now And Again,” which features newly filmed interviews with the cast members including Eric Close, Dennis Haysbert, Margaret Colin, Gerrit Graham,Heather Matarazzo, Chad Lowe, along with Glenn Gordon Caron, director and executive producer Ronald L. Schwary, and writers René Echevarria, and Michael Angeli.

Plus, “Now And Again: On The Set” takes fans on location with behind-the-scenes looks at the making of the series, including interviews and footage filmed during its production. Also, “In Conversation: Writing Now And Again” includes fascinating interviews with the series creator Glenn Gordon Caron and members of the show’s writing staff as they discuss the process of crafting the series-long story arc, and share details on some of the ideas that were in development had the show been picked up for a second season.

Insurance salesman and family man Michael Wiseman is tragically killed in a subway accident, leaving behind his wife (Colin) and daughter (Matarazzo). Little do they know that the U.S. government, with the help of Dr. Theo Morris (Haysbert), preserved his brain and inserted it into a new, genetically bio-engineered body (Close) to use as a top-secret weapon.  Artificially created for physical perfection and superhero strength and agility, the new and improved Michael – with Morris as his mentor – takes on deadly terrorists, corrupt agents, killer bugs, and an extremely dangerous international criminal known as “the Egg Man.” However, Michael can never let his wife and daughter know his true identity, and is forced to watch from the shadows as they grieve for the man he used to be.

NOW AND AGAIN: THE DVD COLLECTION will be available in 4x3 Full Screen with English Stereo audio and English SDH subtitles. It will be available for the suggested retail price of $42.99 U.S. and $47.99 CAN. The disc breakdown is as follows:

Now some context. I wrote this when the show premiered in September 1999:

The pilot episode of Now and Again begins with a grisly crime on a subway train, one bloody enough that some viewers aren't going to stick around after it's over.
Stick around.
Then comes the story of the tattered domestic and professional life of an insurance man Michael Wiseman (John Goodman), whose musings about how his life turned out are interrupted by his death. And you may be thinking, what is going on here?
Stick around.
Then -- in the episode premiering at 9 tonight on CBS -- there are the parallel stories of how Wiseman's death affects his family and of his rebirth in a new, scientifically advanced body created by the eccentric Dr. Theodore Morris (Dennis Haysbert in a knockout turn). In a scene at once astounding and endearing, Wiseman (now played by Eric Close) studies his new body while being secretly observed by Morris, who is singing the Carpenters' Close to You.
And please, really, honestly, stick around.
At least, I will stick around as Now and Again unfolds, based on the pilot, in weird, unexpected and somehow endearing ways.
The show comes from Glenn Gordon Caron, famous for the what-will-they-do-next antics of Moonlighting and here determined to keep people guessing about the show, its stories, the characters and the state of the world.
He may have gone too far -- the violence at the beginning of the premiere was too graphic in the preview version and hard to erase from memory. But once he's established that this menace is loose in the world, he turns his attention to something he knows far better: cockeyed romance.
What should make viewers keep tuning in for Now and Again is not the fantasy adventure -- I wish CBS would stop running promos pushing it as the second coming of The Six Million Dollar Man -- but the love story between Michael and his wife, played with her usual weary tear-jerking knack by Margaret Colin.
Not even Michael's apparent death or the rules requiring him never to contact her again is going to dim their love. And when it comes to defining romance, I'll take Goodman gazing adoringly at his sleeping wife over the clumsy sexual gropings of most other prime-time characters.

And in January 2000, I wrote up this interview with Caron:

It takes some doing to bring a person back from the dead once, let alone twice.
But Glenn Gordon Caron is planning to do it on his fine romantic comedy-drama series Now and Again. And given how the series has gone so far, he'll probably pull it off.
The series, which airs at 9 p.m. Fridays on CBS, began with John Goodman playing an insurance man, Michael Wiseman, killed in a subway accident. Though his body is destroyed, Michael's brain is saved and transplanted into a new, scientifically engineered body (courtesy of actor Eric Close) for use in special government projects.
The last we saw of Goodman was in the series' premiere, though Now and Again creator Caron said awhile back that Goodman "keeps calling and joking about his identical twin cousin Larry making an appearance."
And in a recent telephone interview from his New York offices, Caron said, '"John Goodman is coming back."
Caron was hazy about the details, not surprising on a show that likes to startle viewers with sudden turns in plot and dialogue.
Still, he said, "It's not technically a flashback. It's something dealing with the life of Michael Wiseman before he was killed."
It's also something that wasn't clear to Caron when the series started last fall. At a press conference last July, he said that if Goodman were to come back, "I think it should be for an important reason . . . and in some important context which I haven't figured out yet."
Writer-producer-director Caron, who has worked mainly on big-screen films after making a TV splash with the 1985-89 series Moonlighting, set out to make a TV show that offered almost limitless possibilities.
"I've always worried that . . . repetition would kill me," he said. Now and Again offers a foundation for variety.
The body-changing story sets up fantasy adventures. Michael's relationship with the brilliant scientist Theodore Morris (Dennis Haysbert) at times recalls buddy comedies. Michael's emotional ties to his wife Lisa (Margaret Colin) -- who is not allowed to know Michael is alive -- give the show an aching romantic underpinning. Even Michael's daughter Heather (Heather Matarazzo) takes center stage at times. And those characters have led into ruminations on faith, marital love and the very nature of identity.
That array of characters and situations has a practical effect beyond stories. Moonlighting was focused on stars Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd, so problems with either could stall the show.
Now and Again, Caron said, "is much more, by design, an ensemble format. . . . No one feels the oppressive weight of carrying the show."
Still, for all the thought that went into the new series, Caron has seen other things as he's gone along.
Of Colin, he said: "I was just blown away by her in the pilot, and she just continues to amaze me. She brings this wonderful mix of ache and humanity." Close, meanwhile, has shown a finely tuned knack for comedy -- ever more evident in the hilarious Wiseman-Morris relationship -- and "I see him growing from week to week."
Sometimes all sorts of things come together at once. In one episode, Heather was injured, and Michael tried to get a look at her in the hospital -- while wearing a suit that could give off bright light. The light went off, convincing Heather she had seen an angel, and starting a discussion of whether she did, if people were going to believe that she did -- and how her life would be if no one believed her. At the end, Heather had to rely not on some easy proof of her belief, but on the belief itself.
And all that started with Matarazzo, best known for her movie work, most notably in 1995's Welcome to the Dollhouse. Caron said, "When we were doing the pilot, I just felt so proud that Heather did a TV series . . . (that) I said, 'I'm going to develop an episode just for you.' "
At the same time, he said, "I wanted to do something about the power of faith." He then remembered an odd ritual from his college days, which led him to the old story of King Arthur and the sword in the stone, all the while pondering as well the vulnerability of a high-school student like Heather, especially "if everybody says you're nuts." The angel came up during talks with writer-producer Marlane Meyer -- "The angel may have been from me, it may have been her," Caron said.
The end result was something that left Caron "very pleased" -- high praise from someone who concedes "there are some shows where you just go 'eh' " and "I approach everything with this major sense of dread."

 

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