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Series / Now and Again

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"We only want what we can't have."

"An ordinary man - insurance executive, 45 years old - stumbles to his death on a subway platform in New York City. Or does he? Unbeknownst to his wife or child, his brain is rescued from the accident scene by a secret branch of the United States Government and put into the body of an artificially produced 26-year-old man with the strength of Superman, the speed of Michael Jordan, and the grace of Fred Astaire. The only catch: under penalty of death he can never let anyone from his past know he is still alive. And that, my friends, is a problem... for this man is desperately in love with his wife, his daughter, and his former life."

Now and Again was a 1999 CBS Science Fiction show. After New York Everyman Michael Wiseman is killed in a subway accident, the U.S. government steals his brain for use in a top secret project to create the perfect specimen. The justification being that although the body could be created, the mind turned out to be more complicated.

Michael is put to work for the government in a new life as Michael Newman, a modern-day Six Million Dollar Man. There's just one catch - he can never contact anyone from his past again. Fate, however, seems to have a way of bringing them together.

The program featured Eric Close as Michael Wiseman and Dennis Haysbert as Dr. Theodore Morris, but its cancellation would leave them free to move on to their most defining roles - Close as an agent on Without a Trace and Haysbert as President David Palmer on 24 (or the Allstate insurance spokesman, take your pick).

The show was cancelled after one season, with high production costs cited as the reason for its cancellation. It was released on DVD in August 2014.

Now and Again features examples of:

  • Berserk Button: Threaten Michael's wife Lisa and/or daughter Heather.
    • He convinces Theo to let him get Lisa his life insurance claim in The Insurance Man Always Rings Twice, getting himself hired by Craig Spence, the agent who denied the claim to infiltrate the company and figure out how to make the payment. Then he finds out that Spence is intentionally withholding the claim strictly to hurt his family out of spite because Michael was honest about a bridge collapse and forced the company to pay up. Hearing that, he's well and truly tempted to kill Spence. This is pretty significant given how unwilling he was to kill in the episode before it.
    • Then, in that same episode, he goes even farther by tricking the slimeball out on a window ledge, dangling him over the ledge and tossing his "suicide note" down to the street - and tells Spence that unless he pays Lisa Wiseman's claim, he might not be able to hold on.
    • Michael tries to play normal when he and Theo are stuck at Lisa's house in Pulp Turkey, even when a couple of armed thieves take them all hostage. But when he's handcuffed in another room and they start antagonizing Lisa...
    Heather: You're lucky my dad's not here right now. Because if he were, he'd kill you."
    Michael: Sorry, Doc. (coughs to cover up handcuffs snapping.)
    • At the end of Everybody Who's Anybody, Michael is initially hesitant when a Senator informs him that General Irving has been using Michael and Theo to steal sensitive data at the Senator's party. But when Irving takes Lisa hostage, Michael takes several shots to the chest point-blank and nearly chokes the other man to death to save her.
  • Bland-Name Product: With a company. Trucks with the logo "Toys B' Fun" are often seen.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Dr. Theodore Morris. He's a brilliant scientist, with a reputation even outside those who know his classified achievements (he's the founder of the "human construction sciences" movement). He also bursts randomly into song at least once per episode, and when he falls for a woman he's reduced to Gibberish of Love.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: In Over Easy Michael kisses a furious Lisa (who's convinced he's a crazy man), a long, lingering kiss that completely overrides her fury.
    Michael: And don't hold this against me. [kisses her passionately]
    Lisa: Okay. I won't.
  • Butt-Monkey: Roger Bender, Michael's best friend (played by Gerrit Graham). He gets his car trashed and is kidnapped and embarrassed by Dr. Morris's team in the second episode, is constantly at the mercy of his wife, gets himself handcuffed to a priceless treasure on Thanksgiving, gets ambushed by Men in Black in a bathroom stall, and tries and fails to safely teach Heather how to drive (with disastrous offscreen consequences for his car).
  • Came Back Strong: After his "death" in the subway accident, Michael comes back with amazing strength, speed and grace.
  • Ceiling Cling: Michael does this in the Thanksgiving episode, "Pulp Turkey". A couple of thieves have barged into the Wiseman home and taken everyone hostage, and the Ceiling Cling signals the start of his move to pick them off individually.
  • Comm Links: Theo supplies Michael with an earpiece that will allow them to stay in contact when he's on a mission. Half the times he runs into Lisa, though, Michael usually yanks the earpiece out.
  • Cut Short: The show ended on an extremely major Cliffhanger.
    • In the making of documentary on the DVD set released in 2014, show creator / executive producer Glenn Gordon Caron revealed that this was a deliberate ploy aimed at CBS to keep the show on the air and he never would have done it if he didn't think it had a good chance of working.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Everyone has their moments, really. Michael, Theo and Heather fall into this habit most often.
    • After testing how long Michael can hold his breath underwater:
    Theo: How do you feel?
    Michael: It's hard to tell. The lack of oxygen may have given me brain damage, but I'm under warranty, right?
  • Deflector Shield: One episode starts with Michael being dropped from an airplane, wearing a glowing bodysuit but no parachute. He "lands" on a prototype force field developed as an anti-missile shield and slides down the curve. Why? As a demonstration to the backers of the force field project. Morris does mention that, currently, the shield only operates in a highly-charged (i.e. stormy) weather, but that's a problem they're working on.
  • Dream Within a Dream: Played with in There Are No Words. Namely, the fake-out when Theo dreams he's reading Tom Sawyer to an audience, but he still thinks the whole crisis with printed words vanishing is real when he wakes up, until he discovers that the entire episode was a dream as well. The reading could be considered this, in a sense, although it serves as more of a way of tricking the audience as well as Theo.
  • Fresh Clue: In the last shot of the last episode, the government goons sent after Michael Wiseman and his family get there just in time to see the breakfast still on the table and the back door swaying.
  • Friend to Bugs: Dr. Bing, the entomologist in the two-part Bugmeister episode.
  • Grappling-Hook Pistol: Theo supplies Michael with a version of this and it actually comes in handy in several episodes. He forgets to bring it in Everybody Who's Anybody and has to resort to wall-climbing by digging his fingers into the concrete.
  • Healing Factor: The synthetic body is designed to regenerate damage far faster and more thoroughly than a regular human.
  • Hit Me, Dammit!: Michael to PFC Foster, an "older prototype" he's been instructed to bring in and decides to let escape. Foster doesn't argue the point that much, but he thanks Michael sincerely before knocking him out.
  • I'll Be Your Best Friend: Michael uses this in "Nothing to Fear But Fear" to try to get Dr. Morris to call Lisa and tell her that they're canceling their dinner date. It doesn't work.
  • I Miss Dad: Heather has several moments of this, especially in A Girl's Life.
  • Ironic Echo:
    • In Origins, the morning before Michael's fatal accident, Lisa rebuffs him in bed:
    Lisa: It's a weekday.
    • Then in Over Easy when she thinks he's just a crazy man on the subway:
    Lisa: Stop saying my name like you've known me for a million years! And stop acting so familiar! You are completely unfamiliar! In fact, you're crazy! In fact, you're a crazy man walking around asking people to hold his eggs. (over the roar of the train) Screw you! SCREW YOU!
    Michael: Really? You sure? It's a weekday, you know!
    • In The Insurance Man Always Rings Twice, Spence blathers drunkenly about his excuse for not paying Michael's life insurance claim out of spite: "But I like that it was a suicide." Later, Michael works that into his ultimate revenge maneuver:
    Spence: What was that?
    Michael: Your suicide note.
    Spence: Suicide note? (screams as Michael pulls him off the ledge and dangles him off the side of the building)
    Michael: It's important that somebody find that suicide note to establish that you took your own life. I know you really didn't kill yourself but I like that it's a suicide.
  • It's Not You, It's My Enemies: Michael wants to help his family, but if he does then the whole weight of the government could come down on them. Even when he ends up in situations where circumstances put him together with his family, he can't stay with them or give himself away, because that would break the rules.
  • Made of Iron: Michael's new body is made to be far more durable than a normal human and is able to resist small-caliber gunshots.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Theo, usually with regards to Michael.
    • At the end of Origins, Michael is clearly so lonely that he actually asks Theo for his death back. The next day, in On the Town, Michael escapes from the agents into the city and in the course of that evening, encounters Roger again and manages to see and speak to Lisa, who thinks he's a homeless man. After he sees her safely to Grand Central, feeling better about life, the agents grab him. It turns out that Theo had a tracking device implanted in Michael and could have grabbed him at any time. When Michael fights back and screams "I want to live! I want to live!" It's heavily implied that Theo let him run free to remind him that he did have a reason to go on.
    • Justified in One For the Money. Michael is led to believe that he's going to help an old friend of Theo's assassinate a rogue spy who's leaked the identities of other agents and gotten many of them killed. He's not comfortable with the assignment at all. Near the end of the episode, though, Theo takes him aside and clues him in: he suspects that the old friend is the real mole, and the whole mission is a setup to trap him into confessing what he's done so he can be taken into custody. Nobody gets killed, since Theo made sure that all their weapons have blanks.
    • In Nothing to Fear, but Nothing to Fear Theo actually allows Michael to accept the offer of a date from Lisa. Then he reveals that he had no intention of letting Michael actually go to that date, thus standing Lisa up and making her angry with him.
    • He really pushes it in By the Light of the Moon. At the end of the episode, it's revealed that the attractive "Dr. Taylor" was acting on Theo's orders, in an attempt to get Michael to move on from his wife. It doesn't work, of course, but Theo isn't particularly surprised.
    • Played for laughs in I Am the Greatest when he brings a big-screen TV into Michael's spartan apartment purely for briefing purposes, much to Michael's delight:
    Michael: I just... I need to know. Is she... cable-ready?
    Theo: Oh, I'm sorry, Mr. Wiseman, but it's only temporary.
    Michael: You're really an evil man.
    Theo: You're making me blush.
    • In another episode, Michael accidentally gets his daughter to think that she was contacted by an angel. Theo tells him to let her know that she'll appear in a park at a certain time. Later, when Michael asks how it's going to happen, Theo tells him that it's not. The point is to make his daughter appear crazy to the public, so they stop believing her story and prevent them from accidentally stumbling on the project. Naturally, Michael hates him for that.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Eric Close. There's plenty of scenes that involve him shirtless or in a tank top, and there are no lack of appreciative characters - Lisa, for one, and Heather refers to him as "the hottie" when trying to get her mother to ask him out.
  • Missed Him by That Much: In By The Light of the Moon both Michael and Lisa are on separate dates and both wind up in the same park around the same time, looking at the same view, but their paths fail to intersect in the end.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Dr. Frederick Lizzard, Theo's old buddy from college. Turns out he's running a black-market organ ring and kidnaps Michael to use him as an "organ farm" due to his accelerated healing.
  • No Name Given: Dr. Morris' right-hand man, who appeared in several episodes, is only referred to as "Special Agent #1."
  • Not Listening to Me, Are You?:
    • Heather resorts to this once or twice:
    Heather: Mom? My 35-year-old ex-convict boyfriend is here to take me away, but he wanted to meet you before we take off for the state line. Would that be okay?
  • Only Mostly Dead: Since Michael's actual brain wasn't really damaged by the subway crash, the government is able to get to him and revive him in a new body.
  • Playing Cyrano: Michael does this to an extent via earbud to boost Theo's confidence and help him talk to a scientist he's smitten with.
  • Title Theme Tune: "Now and again, blow me a kiss through space and time / We never know how good it is until it's gone."
  • "Reading Is Cool" Aesop: The episode There Are No Words in which printed words start vanishing from pages all over the world and it's partly Theo's fault. Turns out it was All Just a Dream - the product of his guilty conscience over not even allowing Michael reading materials in his spartan apartment. This results in a trip to the bookstore and a Heel–Face Turn when he delivers a ton of books to a confused and delighted Michael and a just plain confused Special Agent #1. He even quotes A Christmas Carol at the end.
  • Reincarnation Romance: Even when she thinks he's just a crazy IRS agent, Lisa can't help but be drawn to "Mr. Newman" because he's so familiar. (Roger even gets fooled into thinking that Michael's his own reincarnation at one point.)
  • Re-Release Soundtrack: It wasn't until 2014 that a DVD was released for the series (the show aired 1999-2000), and unsurprisingly, many of the popular songs were replaced, though certain ones that were important to the plot were left in.
  • Something Only They Would Say: Michael regularly uses this to insinuate to people from his past life just who he really is.
    Lisa: Screw you! Screw you!
    Michael: You sure? It's a weekday!
  • Sound-Only Death: At the end of Lizzard's Tale. Theo and Frederick move out of frame, and it's heavily implied that Theo kills Frederick with the same tools he was about to use to cut Michael open.
  • Strange-Syntax Speaker: Theo becomes this when trying to talk to Dr. Rivers, much to Michael's amusement.
    Theo: I was wondering if coffee you'd like to get perhaps?
    Dr. Rivers: Excuse me?
    Theo: No, no. I was wondering, if you... walked with me, wanted and coffee get it. Excuse me.
    [runs over and grabs earpiece]
    Theo: Mr. Wiseman?
    Michael: Ask something me want to you?
  • Street Performer: Michael resorts to this to get some quick cash in I've Grown Accustomed to His Face.
  • Super-Strength: The synthetic body is engineered with superhuman strength. One time Michael is time-locked inside a bank vault with a man suffering a heart attack and is able to force open the vault door so medical help can arrive.
  • Testes Test: Michael Weisman dies and his brain is stolen by the government to be used in an experimental procedure, putting it into a new body. When he wakes up, one of the first things he does after realizing he's in a new body is check out his package. He is pleasantly surprised.
  • Themed Aliases: Michael's standard alias is "Mr. Newman," but the other aliases he uses aren't much different. Lampshaded slightly in Everybody Who's Everybody when Michael has to throw out a couple of different aliases, and as the people he's met pass him by they all greet him with different variations.
    Theo: [via earpiece] Well, brighten up. Sounds like you're almost done with this, Mr. Wiseman.
    Giddy Woman: Hi, Michael William.
    Senator Kragen: Mr. Lerman.
    Michael: Senator.
    Roger: Mr. Newman.
    Lisa: Oh... my... God.
    Michael: Hi.
  • The Voice: Roger's wife Ruth was often mentioned and heard offscreen (voiced by Christine Baranski), but was never seen. Word of God indicated that had the series continued, they would continue that trend with her.
  • You, Get Me Coffee: In "The Insurance Man Always Rings Twice," Michael takes a job for Craig Spence, the guy who got the job he wanted at Grand Empire Insurance, that is essentially this in order to get in to figure out how to get the insurance money for his wife, Lisa.