Winnipeg Sun
by Pat St.Germain

Back in the spy life
Adventure series Now And Again a monstermash of drama, comedy & action

There's bound to be some confusion between CBS's intriguing new drama Now And Again and ABC's outstanding new drama Once And Again. But then again, the confusion is easy to clear up.

Once And Again is about middle-aged parents (Sela Ward and Billy Campbell) falling in love like it's the very first time. Now And Again is about a middle-aged guy (John Goodman) falling in front of a subway train for the very first time --and then having his brain transplanted into a modern-day Six Million Dollar Man.

That's the bad news. The good news is, Goodman's grey matter is trapped in a heavenly body -- one that boasts billion-dollar masculine equipment.

"Made in America, baby, made in America," semi-mad scientist Dr. Theo Morris (Dennis Haysbert) crows as his high-tech creation checks his "package" in the pilot on CBS Ch. 4 at 8 p.m.

The show from Moonlighting creator Glenn Gordon Caron -- who says CBS told him to ignore the Now And Again-Once And Again identity crisis -- is a Frankenstein's monster-mash of comedy, drama, romance and terrorist-fighting action all wrapped up in one lively hour of compelling entertainment.

The formula has happily married insurance salesman Michael Wiseman (Goodman and Eric Close) dying large in a physical sense but waking up to an offer he can't refuse when Dr. Morris explains to his disembodied brain that it can live on in an experimental superman's body.

There are strict conditions, though. Wiseman can have no contact with his widow Lisa (Margaret Colin) or their teenage daughter Heather (Heather Matarazzo) -- a rule made to be broken. And he has to lead a spartan, micromanaged life in service to a top secret government agency that's given him superhuman strength but, alas, no super powers.

"It just never occurred to us to shove a rocket up your a--," Dr. Morris tells him. "No, you can't fly. You can't see through people's clothes, either."

Presumably, however, he is equipped to deal with an enigmatic elderly "egg man" who leaves a carton of serin-laced eggs on a Japanese subway train -- accompanied to the goo-goo-ga-choob strains of The Beatles' I Am The Walrus -- before hopping a plane to North America.

But first, Wiseman has to come to terms with his death. And his grieving widow, with help from a mysterious and scrappy lawyer, has to battle insurance company villains who refuse to honour his life insurance policy.

Caron, who successfully mixed action and romance in Moonlighting, says there will be a mix of darkness and light later on, but the pilot had to be fairly heavy -- the hero does die, after all. And it's unlikely Goodman will ever return.

"We'd love to have him come back. He keeps calling and joking about his identical cousin Larry making an appearance," Caron says. "If he comes back, I think it should be for a very important reason, though, and in some important context which I haven't figured out yet."

Goodman (Roseanne) says his role was a one-time gig and he doesn't expect to return for flashback scenes.

"I told them I'd come back and play my evil cousin Jerry or something like that. But it was more or less a favour to Glenn Gordon Caron. He's a great guy."

And he says acting out his death scene was easier than it looks, despite all the manic thrashing onscreen.

"They took me and put a blue screen thing around my neck and then had me fall down a bunch of different ways. And then I saw what they did -- they put my head on a computer. It's a stunt guy falling and doing all this goofy crap. They took my head!"

Close (The Magnificent Seven) didn't get off so lightly. In order to play the perfect male specimen, he dieted and worked out for six weeks to shape up for the pilot, only to have Caron tell him, "OK, now it's time to do some real work. You have six to eight weeks to get ready for this show. Go home, get together with your trainer, make it happen."

Not that Close is complaining. Thrilled with his newly buff physique, he says the work is paying off now and if he had to, he'd happily do it all over again, and again.

September 24, 1999