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NOW AND AGAIN

A Superhero of insurance?




Season Overview

  1. Origins
  2. On The Town
  3. Over Easy
  4. One For The Money
  5. The Insuranceman Always Rings Twice
  6. Nothing to Fear, but Nothing to Fear
  7. A Girl's Life
  8. Pulp Turkey
  9. By the Light of the Moon
  10. I've Grown Accustomed to His Face
  11. Fire and Ice
  12. Disco Inferno
  13. I Am The Greatest
  14. Film at Eleven
  15. Deep In My Heart Is A Song
  16. Everybody Who's Anybody
  17. Boy Wonder
  18. Lizzard's Tale
  19. There Are No Words
  20. The Bugmeister
  21. The Bugmeister Part Bee
  22. The Eggman Cometh




Michael Newman -
Eric Close

Dr Theodore Morris -
Dennis Haysbert

Lisa Wiseman -
Margaret Collins

Roger Bender -
Gerrit Graham

Heather -
Heather Matarazzo



OTHER ENHANCED PEOPLE SHOWS
The Champions
The Bionic Woman (2008)
Kyle XY
OTHER ERIC CLOSE SHOWS
DARK SKIES







Season Overview

A secret military project creates a superhuman artificial human body. There is only one more thing to be acheived and that is the placement of a brain within the body. For that, the head doctor chooses the brain of....and insurance salesman. Michael Wiseman was a happily married father of one when he was killed by a subway train. Now he is the reluctant subject of the project's experiments. His choice is to obey Dr Morris absolutely or for his brain to be removed and his death reinstated. It's not murder because he's already dead.

So, having created a SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN update (and at inflated rates) what does the project do with him? Well, mostly they tell him to stay home and eat his vegetables. Whilst a real project might act in this fashion in reality, great television it doesn't make. Most episodes involve Michael and the Doctor arguing over whether he can go out, read newspapers, watch TV etc. At first amusing, this very quickly becomes dull.

The show wastes its central duo of Eric Close (Dark Skies) and Dennis Haysbert, by not giving them anything meaningful to do. I mean a superman who never does anything super is really just a man.

Thank goodness then for Margaret Collins who makes far more of her role as the bereaved wife than she has any right to with her innate charm. Spending time with her if effortlessly more entertaining than being with the secret project men. It is, however, ultimately as fruitless.

NOW & AGAIN takes and old idea, breathes new life into it through modern technology and then resolutely makes us as bored with it as its central character is consistently complaining about being.

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Origins

Insurance man Michael Wiseman is dead, accidentally falling in front of a train. A government agency offers him the chance of a new life in a souped-up superbody on the understanding that he makes absolutely no contact with anyone from his former life. As he adjusts to his new body, his wife finds that life without her husband has difficulties and opportunities she had not envisaged.

As an opening episode, Origins is so understated as to be written in tiny, tiny print. Nothing actually happens. We meet the newly-enhanced Michael (and the government choose to spend all this money on somebody who was in insurance? Not an injured soldier or spy or anything, but an insurance man? I don't think so!) who does a couple of handstands to show he is newly-enhanced and then gets a bit lonely. We meet his doctor who would like to be shadowy and potentially a bad guy, but comes off more as a bit wierd and unlikely to head up something with this much money attached. Then there is Mrs Wiseman who is having problems getting the insurance company to pay out. That is really action-packed stuff (not).

Only the elderly asian man who sets off some kind of chemical bomb in Charles De Gaulle airport promises that the show is going to do something of interest. If we can be bothered to tune in again that is.


On The Town

Michael breaks out and goes to see his old family.

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Over Easy

Michael gets his first real assignment when he is ordered to deliver a ransom to the eggman. Following the events of On The Town, his wife and his insurance pal are on his trail, so when the drop goes down, he is faced with risking all their lives for the purpose of ending the eggman's reign of terror.

Slick and stylish as this show actually is, it really doesn't make a lot of sense. Michael has the eggman on the train and lets him get away and then stalks him through the underground system where he has another chance to take him out because he is holding an egg full of poison, but then he chases after him again in full sight through the streets.

The comedy moments with Michael meeting up with the people from his past life undermine the drama and tension that the action part of the plot would like to build.

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One For The Money

Michael is ordered to take part in an assassination in which he is to infiltrate a highly defended building with an old time killer and take out the enemy, something that he has some ethical problems with. At the same time, his wife Lisa is finding that a lifetime as a homemaker hasn't equipped her with the qualifications for getting a great job.

The plot here could probably have been played out in about ten minutes. Michael doesn't want to be an assassin. That's it. This is spun out for the whole length of the show and the final twist in what happens at the moment when the enemy is faced hardly comes as a surprise at all. It's all very competently done, but not with any flair, style or conviction.

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The Insuranceman Always Rings Twice

Michael learns that his house for sale and that this is because of his wife's money troubles. He persuades Morris to allow him three days to sort out the mess. Getting a job as the head of the insurance company's personal assistant, he learns what he needs to hang the man out to dry (literally).

There is absolutely nothing here to convince. The plot is slight at best and makes little to no sense at all. Michael walks into the job as the assistant to his nemesis at a moment's notice. The bad guy has a bank account that can only be accessed through numbers and millions will be lost if he forgets the numbers? What is that about?

That said, the tour that Michael takes of his house with the wife that doesn't know him is actually quite touching.

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Nothing to Fear, but Nothing to Fear

As Michael investigates a spate of people doing stupid things as if without fear, his wife plucks up courage to ask him out on a date.

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A Girlís Life

When Michaelís daughter sees him outside her hospital window, she believes him to be an angel Her story brings out conspiracy nuts by the score, which threatens the project.

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Pulp Turkey

Michaelís friend and an uninsured item puts his family at risk over Thanksgiving

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By The Light of the Moon

When it's felt that Michael is not making the sort of progress that he should be, a beautiful young physiotherapist is brought in to take over his physical training. Working in close proximity, an intimacy begins to develop. Lisa at the same time accepts an invitation from a smarmy businessman who turns out not to be so bad, much to the disgust of her daughter.

It's rare for a science fiction show to jettison all of the science fiction to concentrate solely on the characters and their emotions. It is even rarer for such episodes to be truly satisfying and By The Light of the Moon shows exactly why that is. With precisely no action throughout the entire running time, we are presented with two would-be romances that are, quite frankly, damp squibs. If you're going to have a love story then it better be a damned good one because we've seen it all before.

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Iíve Grown Accustomed To His Face

After wishing for a change in his routine, Michael wakes up to find that he is all alone and penniless. Dr Morris has disappeared and there are men in biological warfare suits chasing him. A stranger is also threatening and offering huge amounts of money to his family to tell of his whereabouts.

Be careful what you wish for because you might get it. What we don't get here is action, adventure, entertainment or any common sense. There are shows where the moment the episode is over you are left thinking to yourself 'That didn't make any sense', but this show has you thinking this all the way through. Dr Morris is kidnapped, but where did all Michael's other bodyguards disappear off to? For a top secret project there seems to be damned little in the way of security. Wouldn't the alarm have brought in armed forces personnel when nobody signed it that morning?

It gets to the point where you are left wondering if it's all some sort of dream or hallucination in order to make sense of it at all. It is a telling sign of the show that Michael's first response to the crisis is to sit still and do nothing - for quite a long time.

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Fire and Ice

Michael's new body is being tested against extremes of weather and temperature in a laboratory that is shared with other scientists. Dr Morris gets a crush on one of them and proves to be completely unable to talk to her. Michael, the salesman, uses his skills in communication to help the good Doctor to get his relationship off the ground, but is wracked with sadness as the date of his anniversary looms.

OK, I'm all for characterisation in science fiction shows, but I am also for plot and something, anything, actually happening. In this episode, nothing happens. Michael does his Cyrano de Bergerac act, but that's completely muffed and totally unbelievable. Apart from that Michael and Lisa feel sad about their first anniversary following his death.

There are hints of people bursting into flame for no reason, hinting that a plot might appear in future episodes, but in the meantime NOW AND AGAIN is in danger of disappearing up its own rectum.

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Disco Inferno

The cases of spontaneous combustion shown in Fire and Ice are laid at Doctor Morris's feet and he takes Michael, newly enhanced with superhearing, along for the ride. He announces that it's all a hoax as it can't be explained, but Michael insists that they dig deeper into the only clue that they have, a religious cult with a charismatic and mysterious leader.

Finally there is a case for Michael to solve and yet he does nothing. He has a body that can do all this stuff, so we're always being told, and yet he has no obstacles to overcome. All he does is sit in the back of a limo and listen to Dr Morris expound on first why it's a hoax and then why it's not. What's the point of having a show about a superenhanced human if he does less than most normal humans?

As for what's happening in his old home - I mean old, tired jokes about student drivers? Is that really all that this show has got?

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I Am The Greatest

Michael learns that he is not the first enhanced human that the US government has come up with, but the other escaped his prison and went into hiding. A few years (and some plastic surgery later) he has come out of hiding to become the heavyweight champion of th world. Michael needs to prove that the two men are the same and then ensure that he is captured, something that is made more difficult when he bonds with the man.

There are all kinds of possibilities for a story like this for a little excitement and action and the episode ignores every single one of them in favour of sitting around talking. The face-off between the two enhanced men is a quick run and a rugby tackle. That's it. If this is the best that this show is going to come up with then it really needn't bother.

Lisa starts her new job and finds it dull until a stranger walks through the door and insists on charming her into dinner. He's too good to be true and we can only hope that he has ulterior motives that are likely to spice up the show.

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Film At Eleven

Unexpectedly gifted some free time in the outside, Michael tries to send some flowers to his wife for Valentines Day. Whilst he is withdrawing money from the bank, he is caught up in a robbery and locked in the vault with other customers, one of whom has a heart attack. Michael is forced to open the vault, but things get messy when a security camera catches him doing it.

Superman Wiseman actually gets a chance to do something for a change. Admittedly it is only opening a bank vault in an unconvincingly easy manner, but it is at least a sign that some of the much talked about science actually works. The rest of the episode is spent arguing over whether he ought to have done it. Dull or what?

In the meantime, someone forging her husband's signature to buy her a bouquet of her favourite flowers freaks her out and she eventually figures out who it was and comes to challenge him. When he fails to convince her that it wasn't him, she warns him to stay away from her forever. This at least is interesting, but not enough to save a show that is rapidly becoming a total bore.

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Deep In My Heart Is A Song

On the day that a visiting General comes to assess the project's future funding, Michael lapses into a comtose state that defies all of Dr Morris's attempts to diagnose. When the General decides that what is needed is a new brain, Morris kidnaps Michael and goes on the run.

Flashbacks are not something that we generally get on with at the SCI FI FREAK SITE mainly because they don't usually add much to the present day plot. Here, the flashing back to the family life of John Goodman's Michael Wiseman is used to build up a picture of not only what is wrong with Michael, but why he misses that family life so much. It's not perfect and he is causing most of the problems by hiding his illness from his wife, but it is still his life.

When the General announces that Michael's brain needs to be jettisoned, Dr Morris takes a major character-defining step, risking his own life for that of his patient. There cannot be any stepping back from that. Their relationship has changed forever and this makes for one of the most enjoyable episodes of the show.

It is also surprising how genuinely touching the final few moments of the episode are with the final, happy, flashback.

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Everybody Whoís Anybody

The General in charge of the programme's funding comes to Dr Morris asking for Michael's help in getting some compromising photos out of a Senator's safe during a party. The operation looks to be going smoothly, but then Michael's wife shows up and the question of just what is on the disc is forcefully raised.

Michael finally gets a job to do, but it turns out to be so utterly unconvincing that it wouldn't even get past the scripting team of THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN. Once again NOW & AGAIN underacheives spectacularly. The relationship between Michael and his wife continues to be the only interesting thing in the show. They really, really have to give the new bionic man something to do worthy of him.

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Boy Wonder

Michael is seen in action by a boy who follows him, wanting to meet a real superhero.

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Lizzardís Tale

Michael continues to complain about being locked up, so Dr Morris allows him to go to a medical conference with him. There, an old friend of the Doctor offers him a lucrative job in researching the possibility of synthesizing replacement organs for rich men. Following an accident in the restaurant, he realises what Michael is and kidnaps him.

This is a morally questionable episode, which is all to the good as the show seriously needs something to pique the interest levels. The idea that Michael could be used as an organ farm, growing new organs for rich men to buy whenever it pleases them is an idea that is chilling in both its evil and the probability that such a man might be used in such a way. As a chance to look at the ethics of organ donation it is interesting. As an exercise in entertainment it fails on almost every level.

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There Are No Words

Dr Morrisís presence is wiping all the words out of every publication as he passes. Michael needs to find out how and why and stop it.

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The Bugmeister

All over the city, powerful men in charge of large companies are falling prey to the poisonous bites and stings of insects. The authorities are, quite frankly, stumped for an explanation and invite Dr Morris to be part of the think tank solving the problem. He nominates Michael to catch one of the wayward insects, which proves to be more difficult than imagined.

Bugs are killing people and Michael's daughter has just met a very interesting bug scientist who hates big companies that are raping the land. It's either a very clever distraction play, or it's a disappointingly obvious story. Nothing much happens, Michael gets to do more nothing and then finally to jump off a building to catch the bee.

Quite frankly, it's nonsense.

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The Bugmeister Part Bee

Now that Michael has managed to capture the killer bee, the only plan that the team have is to implant a tracking device into it and hope that it will lead them back to its master. The only device to hand is the one implanted in Michael. Heather gets into trouble when she recognises the man who was the last to die and insists on going back to confront the museum bug man. It's then that he reveals his plan to set 250,000 bubonic plague ridden bees loose on the city.

At last a plot and a threat. Not much of one, but one at least. You would think out of that the writers could come up with at least one moment of action, but you'd be wrong.

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The Eggman Cometh

Lisa learns some disturbing news about the manner of her husband's death and goes in search of Dr Morris, determined to learn the truth. This prompts Michael to take drastic action to save her. An old enemy, meanwhile, stages a jailbreak.

The series comes to an end on something of a damp squib of a cliffhanger, but then the whole show has been something of a damp squib. The Eggman's jailbreak is pretty brutal, but is about the only thing to actually happen in the whole episode.

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