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Once and Again
Once and Again title card
Created byEdward Zwick and
Marshall Herskovitz
StarringSela 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
ComposersW.G. Snuffy Walden
Joey Newman
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons3
No. of episodes63
Running time60 minutes
Production companiesThe Bedford Falls Company
Touchstone Television
Original release
ReleaseSeptember 21, 1999 (1999-09-21) –
April 15, 2002 (2002-04-15)

Once and Again is an American family drama 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.

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 summary

Season 1

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. Lily must navigate the complicated worlds of divorce, finding herself in midlife, and reentering the workforce. She is able to find strength and resilience as she affirms her marriage to Jake is over, starts a new job as a publishing assistant at the magazine Pages Alive, and grows in her relationship with Rick. 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 2

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 3

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, in what became the first teen lesbian romance on American network television.[1] 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 (D. B. 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 received several awards and nominations for her role as Lily Manning.



  1. ^ Field was credited in the main cast for episodes 1 through 13 of the second season.
  2. ^ Carradine was credited in the main cast starting with episode 14 of the second season.
  3. ^ Clennon was credited in the main cast for episodes 1 through 21 of the second season.


SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
122September 21, 1999 (1999-09-21)April 24, 2000 (2000-04-24)
222October 24, 2000 (2000-10-24)May 2, 2001 (2001-05-02)
319September 28, 2001 (2001-09-28)April 15, 2002 (2002-04-15)

Season 1 (1999–2000)

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
11"Boy Meets Girl"Marshall HerskovitzMarshall HerskovitzSeptember 21, 1999 (1999-09-21)
Lily Manning is separated with two daughters, Grace and Zoe. Rick Sammler has been divorced for three years with a teenage boy Eli and a daughter Jessie. They meet by chance one day when Grace is injured during a soccer game at their kids' school. Rick decides to ask Lily out and the two start dating while juggling their family problems. After a few dates, they end up at Lily's house but are surprised by her children and her ex walking in on them making out on the couch.
22"Let's Spend the Night Together"Marshall HerskovitzMarshall Herskovitz and Edward ZwickSeptember 28, 1999 (1999-09-28)
Rick and Lily want to take their relationship to the next level. While out on a lunch, they run into an ex-girlfriend of Rick. Rick is embarrassed and Lily becomes anxious about being intimate for the first time since separating from Jake. Eli asks his father advice about sleeping with his girlfriend Jennifer for the first time. A rumor starts at school about Eli and Grace.
33"The Scarlet Letter Jacket"Dan LernerMarshall Herskovitz and Edward ZwickOctober 5, 1999 (1999-10-05)
Rick, Karen, Jake and Lily all sign up to help with the school carnival. Lily and Karen are paired together to work a booth but Karen still doesn't know about Lily dating her ex husband. Lily acts awkwardly all day around Karen, while Jake and Rick seem to get along. Eli and Grace also work the popcorn booth together but Grace becomes embarrassed when some girls at school make fun of her for being interested in Eli.
44"Liars and Other Strangers"Ron LagomarsinoWinnie HolzmanOctober 12, 1999 (1999-10-12)
Lily and Rick try to find a place to spend time together without the risk of being interrupted by their kids. Judy offers to lend her place and ends up meeting Rick. She expresses her doubts about him to Lily. Eli lies to Karen about his dad being with Lily to protect her feelings.
55"There Be Dragons"Robert LiebermanLiberty GodshallOctober 19, 1999 (1999-10-19)
Rick arranges to have Lily stop by his place when his kids are there in order to introduce her. When Rick cuts himself while cooking, Lily helps handling the situation, which leads to some tension with Jessie. Jessie gets her first period. Jake tries to get back together with Lily, who refuses.
66"A Dream Deferred"Scott WinantJan OxenbergOctober 26, 1999 (1999-10-26)
Lily discovers that Jake hasn't paid the mortgage. She is hit with the reality that she has to take care of herself and be more careful about her financial situation and arrangement with Jake. At the bookstore, Judy wants to remodel but her plans are taken over by Lily and Rick. Judy, feeling left out and unable to help her sister, considers moving on from the bookstore.
77"The Ex-Files"Robert Allan BlackWinnie HolzmanNovember 2, 1999 (1999-11-02)
Rick and Karen both attend Eli's weekend basketball tournament. The situation brings some awkwardness between the two. Grace and Zoey spend the weekend at Jake's and meet a friend of his, Tiffany, who he has a romantic history with. Grace is uncomfortable and calls Lily for help, which leads to a fight with her father.
88"The Past Is Prologue"Patrick R. Norris and Claudia WeillMarshall Herskovitz and Edward ZwickNovember 9, 1999 (1999-11-09)
Rick has to work non stop on an important architecture project for his firm. He tries to juggle working and spending time with Lily. The situation triggers memories from their past marriages and how Lily would spend time waiting around on Jake, and Rick would be criticized by Karen for working too much.
99"Outside Hearts"Todd FieldAlexa JungeNovember 16, 1999 (1999-11-16)
Lily goes away for a convention and leaves her daughters with Judy. Judy naively lets Grace go to an unsupervised party. Karen and Rick decide to trust Eli with driving to the same party. At the party, things turn bad leaving Grace in shock and Eli trying to be responsible under pressure.
1010"Thanksgiving"Claudia WeillMarshall Herskovitz and Edward ZwickNovember 23, 1999 (1999-11-23)
Lily's parents, Phil and Barbara, visit for Thanksgiving. They decide to go see Jake at the restaurant, ignoring Lily's complaints. Lily and Judy discover that Jake still owes money to their parents. Phil empathizes with Jake's situation and tries to convince Lily to give her marriage another chance. Rick spends Thanksgiving alone while Karen invites a coworker, Lloyd, over for dinner.
1111"Where There's Smoke"Edward ZwickMichael WellerDecember 7, 1999 (1999-12-07)
A small fire at Lily's house leads to Jake spending more time at her house to fix wiring issues. At Karen's, Eli asks to move into the basement with some help from Rick. Karen has trouble accepting that Eli wants more independence. Lily organizes a dinner to officially introduce Rick to her daughters. Jake has problems at the restaurant which worries Lily and Grace. Jake confides in Lily bringing them closer together.
1212"The Gingerbread House"Dan LernerPamela Gray and Winnie HolzmanDecember 21, 1999 (1999-12-21)
After sleeping with Jake, Lily is uncomfortable around Rick and tries to hide it from him. Rick figures out something is wrong and tries to learn the truth. Grace, who saw her parents together, think Lily and Jake are getting back together.
1313"Mediation"Peter HortonPamela GrayJanuary 24, 2000 (2000-01-24)
Rick and Lily each try to deal with their breakup but decides to get back together. Lily and Jake start mediation in their divorce proceedings and Lily worries about having to sell the house. Pushed by Jennifer, Grace starts tutoring Eli. Rick begins working with a difficult new client, Miles Drentell, which puts him at odds with his business partner, David.
1414"Sneaky Feelings"Claudia WeillDaniel Paige and Sue PaigeJanuary 31, 2000 (2000-01-31)
Karen has a new client, Leo Fischer, whom she's attracted to. Eli wants some space from Jennifer and starts to hang out with another girl, Cassidy. Jessie, who likes Jennifer, is uncomfortable with her brother's actions.
1515"The Mystery Dance"Dan LernerDaniel Paige and Sue PaigeFebruary 7, 2000 (2000-02-07)
Judy goes on a dating spree. At an art gallery, she meets Sam Blue, a sculptor working on a project for Miles Drentell with Rick. Lily and Rick try to mend their relationship but Rick has trouble letting go of her infidelity.
1616"Daddy's Girl"Barnet KellmanLiberty GodshallFebruary 14, 2000 (2000-02-14)
Jake's restaurant is reopening and Lily's father, Phil, visits them for the occasion. Lily is in financial trouble because Jake maxed out their credit card for the restaurant. She decides to hire a divorce lawyer which escalates the situation with Jake. Grace meets a boy in school that she has a lot in common with.
1717"Unfinished Business"Edward ZwickMarshall Herskovitz and Edward ZwickMarch 6, 2000 (2000-03-06)
Lily applies for a job in a magazine. Lily's father, Phil has a car accident with Grace. Recovering from minor injuries at Lily's house, he collapses on the floor. The family gathers in the hospital to face his difficult health predicament.
1818"Strangers and Brothers"Marshall HerskovitzRichard KramerMarch 13, 2000 (2000-03-13)
Aaron, Lily's brother, reunites with the family for their father's funeral. They also have to deal with Phil's will and find out that he put his family in charge of the restaurant over Jake.
1919"Cat-in-Hat"Claudia WeillMichael WellerApril 3, 2000 (2000-04-03)
As Karen and Leo grow closer together, they are forced to define their relationship when Leo invites himself over to Karen's and meets the kids. Eli becomes interested in joining a band and manipulates his parents in order to go see the band in a bar. His lies are discovered when he bumps into Karen at the bar. Jessie gets upset about her taekwondo belt test when she realizes that boys treat her differently because she's better than them.
2020"My Brilliant Career"Dan LernerJan OxenbergApril 10, 2000 (2000-04-10)

Lily starts her new job at the magazine with Chrissy Parker. Overwhelmed by her new responsibilities and her family life, she struggles to find her place and show her skills.

Grace has a date with Jared to go see his father play jazz in a club. After a conversation with Tiffany, Grace understands that she started seeing her father when he was still with Lily.
2121"Letting Go"Peter HortonAlexa JungeApril 17, 2000 (2000-04-17)
Rick and Lily find out that Judy has been seeing Sam even though he's still married. Being out of her bubble with Sam leads to Judy to make decisions about her relationship. Jake tries to mend his relationship with Grace after she discovered he cheated on Lily with Tiffany. When Rick gets sick with pneumonia without her noticing, Lily realizes she's been taking him for granted.
2222"A Door, About to Open"Dan LernerWinnie HolzmanApril 24, 2000 (2000-04-24)
Lily and Rick decide to organize a dinner to officially introduce their kids. It triggers a domino effect of everyone trying to figure out their places in the family. Lily realizes that her friends hang out without her anymore since she started dating Rick. Rick is in a lot of stress at his firm because of the pressure Miles puts on him. Grace is forced to have a difficult conversation with Eli about his girlfriend Cassidy. Judy bonds with Karen when she visits the bookstore.

Season 2 (2000–01)

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
231"Wake Up, Little Susie"Marshall HerskovitzMarshall Herskovitz & Edward ZwickOctober 24, 2000 (2000-10-24)
242"BookLovers"Dan LernerWinnie HolzmanOctober 31, 2000 (2000-10-31)
253"I Can't Stand Up (For Falling Down)"Peter HortonSue Paige & Daniel PaigeNovember 14, 2000 (2000-11-14)
264"Feast or Famine"Claudia WeillMarshall Herskovitz & Edward ZwickNovember 21, 2000 (2000-11-21)
275"Ozymandias"Michael EnglerJoseph DoughertyNovember 28, 2000 (2000-11-28)
286"Food for Thought"Edward ZwickMarshall Herskovitz & Edward ZwickDecember 5, 2000 (2000-12-05)
297"Learner's Permit"Arvin BrownLiberty GodshallDecember 19, 2000 (2000-12-19)
308"Life Out of Balance"James EckhouseLynn SiefertJanuary 10, 2001 (2001-01-10)
319"Scribbling Rivalry"Dan LernerJan OxenbergJanuary 17, 2001 (2001-01-17)
3210"Love's Laborer's Lost"Michael EnglerEmily WhitesellJanuary 24, 2001 (2001-01-24)
3311"Thieves Like Us"Claudia WeillWinnie HolzmanJanuary 31, 2001 (2001-01-31)
3412"Suspicion"James EckhouseLiberty GodshallFebruary 7, 2001 (2001-02-07)
3513"Edifice Wrecked"Dan LernerWinnie HolzmanFebruary 14, 2001 (2001-02-14)
3614"The Other End of the Telescope"Robert BerlingerSue Paige & Daniel PaigeMarch 7, 2001 (2001-03-07)
3715"Standing Room Only"Arlene SanfordJan OxenbergMarch 14, 2001 (2001-03-14)
3816"Aaron's Getting Better"James KramerRichard KramerMarch 21, 2001 (2001-03-21)
3917"Forgive Us Our Trespasses"Dan LernerStory by : Lynn Siefert
Teleplay by : Lynn Siefert and Winnie Holzman
March 28, 2001 (2001-03-28)
4018"Best of Enemies"Barnet KellmanEmily WhitesellApril 4, 2001 (2001-04-04)
4119"Armageddon"Marshall HerskovitzMarshall Herskovitz & Edward ZwickApril 11, 2001 (2001-04-11)
4220"Won't Someone Please Help George Bailey Tonight?"Dan LernerLiberty Godshall and Marshall Herskovitz & Edward ZwickApril 18, 2001 (2001-04-18)
4321"Moving On"Ken CollinsSue Paige & Daniel PaigeApril 25, 2001 (2001-04-25)
4422"The Second Time Around"Dan LernerWinnie HolzmanMay 2, 2001 (2001-05-02)

Season 3 (2001–02)

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
451"Busted"Dan LernerMarshall Herskovitz & Edward ZwickSeptember 28, 2001 (2001-09-28)
462"The Awful Truth"Michael EnglerWinnie HolzmanOctober 5, 2001 (2001-10-05)
473"Kind of Blue"Peter HortonRichard KramerOctober 12, 2001 (2001-10-12)
484"Acting Out"Michael EnglerSue Paige & Daniel PaigeOctober 19, 2001 (2001-10-19)
495"Destiny Turns On the Radio"Ken CollinsWinnie HolzmanNovember 2, 2001 (2001-11-02)
506"Jake and the Women"Mark PiznarskiSue Paige & Daniel PaigeNovember 9, 2001 (2001-11-09)
517"Chaos Theory"James EckhouseLiberty GodshallNovember 23, 2001 (2001-11-23)
528"The Sex Show"Dan LernerEmily WhitesellNovember 30, 2001 (2001-11-30)
539"Tough Love"Jim KramerMaggie FriedmanDecember 7, 2001 (2001-12-07)
5410"Pictures"Dan LernerAlexa JungeDecember 14, 2001 (2001-12-14)
5511"Taking Sides"Mark PiznarskiDavid SchulnerJanuary 4, 2002 (2002-01-04)
5612"Gardenia"Edward ZwickRichard KramerJanuary 11, 2002 (2002-01-11)
5713"Falling in Place"Eric StoltzSue Paige & Daniel PaigeMarch 4, 2002 (2002-03-04)
5814"The Gay-Straight Alliance"Patrick NorrisWinnie Holzman and Maggie FriedmanMarch 11, 2002 (2002-03-11)
5915"One Step (Parent) Backward"Elodie KeeneDavid SchulnerMarch 18, 2002 (2002-03-18)
6016"Aaron's List of Dreams"Dan LernerRichard KramerMarch 25, 2002 (2002-03-25)
6117"Experience Is the Teacher"Matt ShakmanWinnie Holzman and Maggie FriedmanApril 1, 2002 (2002-04-01)
6218"Losing You"Jim KramerLiberty GodshallApril 8, 2002 (2002-04-08)
6319"Chance of a Lifetime"Dan LernerSue Paige & Daniel Paige and Marshall Herskovitz & Edward ZwickApril 15, 2002 (2002-04-15)


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

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. 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.[2]

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


Season Timeslot (EST/EDT)[3] 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[4] 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[5] 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[6] 6.7 N/A


Main article: List of awards and nominations received by Once and Again


  1. ^ "Evan Rachel Wood on her queer roles, educating others about bisexuality and her preference for suits". AfterEllen. February 1, 2013.
  2. ^ "Once and Again on DVD, Release Info, News at" Archived 2012-10-21 at the Wayback Machine, Retrieved on 30 October 2011.
  3. ^ "Once and Again –", Retrieved on 30 October 2011.
  4. ^ "US-Jahrescharts 1999/2000",, 30 May 2002. Retrieved on 30 October 2011.
  5. ^ "The Bitter End",, 1 June 2001. Retrieved on 30 October 2011.
  6. ^ "How did your favorite show rate?", USA Today, 28 May 2002. Retrieved on 30 October 2011.