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Fall '99: "Now & Again"

Truth be told, when I picked Now and Again as one of the shows I was going to review, I thought I'd be writing about the the lousy new ABC show about two divorced fortysomethings who start dating again. In actuality, I didn't choose Once and Again -- I picked Now and Again, the new CBS show about a man whose brain is transplanted into a superhuman body.

Lucky me.

Because of all the new shows I've seen this season, Now and Again is the one that stands head and shoulders above the rest. Simply put, it is the best new show of the season.

It would have been easy for this show to have been nothing more than a stupid knockoff of The Six Million Dollar Man. But producer Glenn Gordon Caron (the creator of Moonlighting) has done something very intriguing with his show's hero. Whereas your typical show would have been about a man who happens to have a secret identity as a superhero, Now & Again is about a superhero whose secret identity is that he's a man.

It's a subtle distinction, but an important one. The characters in Now & Again move the story, not the action. Dialogue and interplay are more important than pyrotechnics. The writing has a certain snarkiness to it which adds to the fun, but unlike what you might expect from, say, a David E. Kelley series, Now & Again doesn't overdo it.

Eric Close is endearing as Michael Wiseman, a reluctant hero who wants to find a way to contact his family despite the fact he's been sworn to secrecy and that any contact with the family would guarantee their deaths. Dennis Haybert is wonderful as Dr. Morris, the man who created the superbody and who also serves as the show's Oscar Goldman--albeit one without an ethical subroutine. Margaret Colin (Wiseman's wife) and Gerrit Graham (Wiseman's best friend) also have fine turns.

If you haven't checked out the show, you're missing something special. Last week's episode ended with a scene in a hotel showing the aftermath of an accidental release of nerve gas by a terrorist. The scene was a simple point-of-view shot through the villain's gas-mask. It was simply one of the most chilling shots I've seen on television in a long time. And I'm hooked.

Lucky me.


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