I’ve been watching the tv series Once and Again (on dvd), recalling the pleasures it gave me in its original run. From the Wikipedia entry:

Once and Again is an American 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, the same team that created thirtysomething and produced My So-Called Life.

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.

The central figures are Lily Manning (played by Sela Ward) and Rick Sammler (played by Billy Campbell). In an episode I watched yesterday, both their mothers came to visit — so we got two fine character actors in the scenes: Bonnie Bartlett (as Lily’s mother) and Barbara Barrie (as Rick’s mother). Two BBs.

Both BBs (Bartlett born 1929, Barrie born 1931) have long acting careers in films and tv and are still working. Bartlett is probably best known for her work in St. Elsewhere, Barrie for Barney Miller.

Once and Again has a wonderful ensemble cast, playing: two children for each of the principals, Lily and Rick’s former spouses (Jake and Karen), Lily’s sister Judy, lovers for Jake, Karen, and Judy, and more. Ward is noted for her performance as Teddy Reed in Sisters, Campbell as Dr. Jon Fielding in the Tales of the City miniseries. Both are very attractive people, and they have great chemistry with each other, so that the series would be watchable even if it weren’t so well done overall, but in fact all the characters are complex, engaging but flawed (with the possible exception of the Evil Boss, Miles Drentel, played by David Clennon, reprising his role in thirtysomething).

Meanwhile, I’m working to keep the two BBs distinct. As actors, they’re quite different, but I have trouble keeping their names apart.

[Addendum: To add to the complexity, Bonnie Bartlett and Barbara Barrie are both doubly trochaic names. I’m leaving out Barbara Babcock (b. 1937, played Grace Gardner in Hill Street Blues) and Barbara Billingsley (1915-2010, played June Cleaver in Leave It to Beaver) and Bonnie Bedelia (b. 1948, known largely for her film roles) and goodness knows how many other BB women (Brigitte Bardot, Billie Burke, etc.).]


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