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News » TV & Games

Never Again

ABC cancels Once & Again; Earth hangs in peril.



On Friday, March 29, ABC announced that it was canceling one of the most poignant, richly-drawn romantic dramas in the history of the known universe, Once & Again. We, the collective O&A fans worldwide, our numbers steadily growing into four digits, were so upset by this news we could barely bring ourselves to finish our lattés and step out of our Lincoln Navigators to browse the Pottery Barn sale—yes, a sale.

That the network would choose to shut down this compelling, sophisticated weekly slice of heaven handed down from God Herself only further proves ABC’s affiliation with Satan and the dark forces of evil. Since the network has so cruelly deemed to deprive us of our precious time with the luminous Lily (Sela Ward) and ruggedly handsome Rick (Billy Campbell)—after only giving the show a mere three years in several timeslots to find a wider audience, as well as repeat airings on Her cable channel, Lifetime—they must, and will, pay.

I, as a thoughtful, respected TV critic, will write column after column bemoaning the erosion of quality television programming, the precarious state of taste in America and the general public’s sheer stupidity for not falling in love with a wonderful, charming show like Once & Again. The housebound forces of O&A fans will diligently update their websites with the phone numbers of ABC executives’ secretaries, and then e-mail them polite-but-firm template requests to “save Once & Again, you godless puppy rapists” around the clock until justice is done! We can bring it back! We can, we can …

[Fade to black and white, camera pans in] … OK, enough already, I can’t keep this up: Once & Again is canceled and I could not be fuggin’ happier! Woo-hoo! Finally, that insufferable fortysomething mope opera is taking a well-earned dirt nap! In your face, disturbingly angry and unbalanced soccer-mom e-mailers! This is me cabbage-patching on Lily and Rick’s grave! And I don’t care what happens to the damn whiny kids, either! Let ’em move in with The Osbournes and get a real taste of family drama! Once & Again … never again!

Not after the show’s Monday, April 15 finale, anyway. Unlike the show’s psychotically devoted fan-base (who, rest assured, fired off e-mails calling for my head on a stick before the end of the previous paragraph), the producers of Once & Again had accepted that the end was nigh months ago. Thanks to their foresight, Monday’s farewell show is an actual farewell show with most of the loose ends tied up—unlike so many of my favorites, which were/are usually just yanked without fanfare or closure. I think we all know just how painful that can be, especially the yanking … pax vobiscum, Tick.

I’ve been a Once & Again playa-hata since it debuted in September 1999, breaking from the “accredited” TV-writer pack who unilaterally declared this irritating celebration of suburban white-folk angst and ennui The Bestest Show Ever, mostly, I’m speculating, because their wives told them to; or because they thought their doughy asses had a shot with Sela Ward at one of those glad-handing television conventions.

They can’t have been actually identifying with impossibly pretty fortysomethings who hook with other impossibly pretty fortysomethings in their impossibly pretty SUVs after dropping their impossibly pretty kids off at soccer practice, right? Sheesh, they’re as delusional as the Once & Again nuts who keep concocting conspiracy theories to explain away the show’s sub-crap ratings. Not enough time to develop the series? Three ratings-dry seasons, people. Too many timeslot shifts? You know how to use a TV Guide. Not enough promotion? For a molasses-slow drama where barely enough happens to draw even a workable 15 seconds from for commercials, ABC did what it could—hell, they perform weekly miracles by reminding us that Dharma & Greg is not only still on the air, but a comedy!

My head, on a stick, I know …