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307 - (CT)     Chaos Theory     11/23/01
Lily and Karen both suffer from unrealistic expectations raised by the coming of Thanksgiving.

WRITER: Liberty Godshall     DIRECTOR: James Eckhouse
Go to SPOILERS for this episode
 Brooks-Manning Lily    Grace    Zoe
 Sammler Rick    Eli    Jessie
 Ex's Karen
 Other Family Judy   
 Significant Regulars Tiffany    Sam   
Eric Stoltz - Mr. Dimitri
Benito Martinez - Raoul
Natasha Gaty - Alexa Yagoda
Ashlee Turner - Cynthia McCormick
Granger Green - Sue
Josh Breslow - Silvius
Lamont Johnson - the fireman
Scott Clerverdon - Ian
Jennifer Riley - young Lily
Samantha MacLachlan - Victoria
Ben Gould - Ted
Jerry Fitzgerald - Wink

Lily's house
Sammler Associates
Upton Sinclair
Supermarket -


Jessie - "Sometimes it seems like nobody even lives there."

Karen - "Don't ever change."
Karen - "I used to wake up at dawn and run outside naked to the porch swing."
Karen - "Have I ever really been happy?"
Karen - "I come from a long line of professional worriers."
W.G. Snuffy Walden Production/incidental music

The Shaker hymn "Simple Gifts." ("'Tis a gift to be simple, 'tis a gift to be free...")


Spew Alert
As she begins her preparations for "Dead Bird Day," Lily's kitchen tap starts spewing brown muck. Lily gets increasingly upset about no one being around to help. Rick has to work, Jessie and Grace are at rehearsals and Eli is practicing with his band. Judy and Sam are not sure they want to attend if the other is there.

Raoul - Super Plumber
Raoul, the plumber, comes to the rescue, fixing not only the sink, but much of the dinner.

I have plans
Karen plans to spend Thanksgiving with friends Deb and Steve but cancels to spend the day alone. She's so depressed she doesn't even get dressed.

Karen remembers a happy Thanksgiving with Rick and the kids that weren't so happy as they appeared. Lily remembers happy pie nights with her Mom that weren't really so happy as she remembers.

What else can go wrong?
The rehearsals are going so badly that Mr. Dimitri makes the cast rehearse on Thanksgiving morning. After being kicked out of the theatre, the rehearsal is moved to Lily's living room. Grace leaves Jessie at school and she has to walk home. After realizing that Karen wants to be alone, Eli takes the band to Lily's to rehearse in the garage.

Tiffany feels a Braxton Hicks contraction and sets a lit candle on the stove.

Even though everyone isn't there yet, they sit down to dinner and the bickering starts. Lily yells at them for not trying to be a family, as a fire starts in the kitchen. Rick arrives as the fire department are leaving.

Lemonade out of lemons
Rick Tiffany, Raoul and the kids salvage dinner. Same and Judy decide to join them. Lily says a prayer and Jessie takes dinner to Karen.


Not currently available


Original Order
This episode was filmed as episode 308 and actually shown on the planned date. However, the original 307 was pre-empted and shown at a later date, making this, effectively, 307.

Pie Night
Lily's family tradition is to make pies the night before Thanksgiving.

Playing for time
The play opens nine days from the day before Thanksgiving.

Where's Jake?
Jake went to see his Mom.

Where's Barbara?
Barbara is helping to serve dinner at a homeless shelter.

More on Tiff
Tiffany's Mom was once in rehab at Thanksgiving.

Even more on Tiff
Tiffany wants a drug-free birth for her baby, in contrast to her own heavily medicated one.

Country Roads
Karen lived in the country as a child.

An Address!
Rick and Lily live at 714 Oak Road.

Long arms
Rick wears a white dress shirt with the sleeves about an inch too long for him. -- AdamBomb1701


Where's Zoe?
Lily tells Judy that Zoe is on a sleepover, but she answers the door to the plumber the next morning.

Is Lily psychic?
Lily told the plumber that there would be nine people for dinner before Sam and Judy were invited.

Color Wheel
When Rick finally left work to go home for Thanksgiving dinner, he was wearing a *white* shirt and black tie; but when he got home he was wearing a *dark brown* shirt and colored tie! -- mariooanda

Original episode spoilers

Rita Sherrow Kevin McDonough Mike Duffy Tim Cuprisin David Biancuili Robert Bianco
Gist TV Guide ABC ABC (Pictures) ABC ABC

From Rita Sherrow at The Tulsa World:

There's not much thanks on Thanksgiving on "Once and Again" at 9 p.m. Friday on ABC, channel 8. Lily (Sela Ward) is trying to master her first mammoth holiday feast without the traditional angst, while Rick's first wife, Karen (Susanna Thompson) is spending her holiday alone. Count this episode as your first Christmas gift from ABC.

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From Kevin McDonough at the Charleston Daily Mail:

'Once and Again' stuffs turkey with angst Thanksgiving meal more dysfunctional than delicious

NOBODY looks more gorgeous while enduring emotional earthquakes than Sela Ward on "Once and Again" (10 p.m., ABC, TV-PG). She plays Lily Sammler, the serene queen of divorce and dysfunction. On tonight's episode, Lily's dreams of a "perfect" Thanksgiving meal are dashed when the combined families seems to be following their own agendas. Earth to Lily: They're teen-agers! Meanwhile, her husband's ex-wife, Karen (Susanna Thompson), decides that Turkey Day is a good time to baste in self-loathing. Bummer.

It is increasingly difficult to find empathy for these improbably good-looking people as they turn to the camera and whine about their unhappy lives. Even Grace (Julia Whelan), who used to be the gawky inarticulate adolescent, is putting on airs and excelling as a teen-age Shakespearean actress. After a four-alarm Thanksgiving disaster, Lily still has enough poise to compose an eloquent off-the-cuff prayer. This comes weeks after she waltzed into a studio and became an instant hit as a radio star. Puh-lease!

Even under the best of circumstances, most mortals aren't that articulate about their feelings. And if they were, I'd find it a tad smug if they shared them with me - all the time! Color me repressed, but I'd rather silently choke down my dry turkey of despair than listen to another monologue from this crew.

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From Mike Duffy at the Detroit Free Press:

Holiday blues. It's a bittersweet Thanksgiving for frenzied Lily (Sela Ward) and lonely Karen (Susanna Thompson), each sorting through their unrealistic expectations for the holiday. Superlative writing, terrific acting.

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From Tim Cuprisin at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Although you're sick of turkey, the cast is still celebrating Thanksgiving, the first holiday for the newlyweds and their blended family of troubled kids.

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From David Biancuili at the Dallas Ft. Worth Star Telegram:

Here's another Thanksgiving episode of a family TV series, one that can be counted on to be both tender and intense, as well as both funny and dramatic.

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From Robert Bianco at USA Today:
'Again' serves a quality feast
By Robert Bianco, USA TODAY
Once and Again
ABC, tonight, 10 ET/PT
(***1/2 out of four)

Something about holidays just seems to breed unattainable expectations. For newlywed Lily Brooks Manning Sammler, it's that vision she has nursed all her life of the perfect Thanksgiving dinner, with a happy, blended family gathered around the table joyfully eating the meal they all helped prepare. For fans of ABC's Once and Again, it's the perhaps-dimming hope that this superb family drama will someday find the audience it deserves. Failing that, it's the still-vibrant hope that ABC will be content with the audience it finds.

Heaven knows, the show deserves a happy holiday, as tonight's post-Thanksgiving episode once again proves. There are a host of wonderful dramas on television of all shapes and kinds, from the soaring romanticism of The West Wing, to the fantasy wizardry of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, to the good-natured glow of Gilmore Girls, to the breakneck thrills of Alias and 24. But there's no show like Once and Again - a beautifully heartfelt hour that treats domestic life and the American home as worthy of serious, dramatic exploration as any hospital, courtroom or police station.

As usual with families, the expectations Lily (Sela Ward) has built for Thanksgiving present are based upon carefully edited memories of Thanksgivings past. Without much input from anyone else, she has everything planned, from the pre-dinner preparatory "Pie Night" to the post-dinner toasts to the cook.

Is there anyone who doesn't know that her plans will go awry? Her new husband, Rick (Billy Campbell), is having trouble getting in the proper grateful spirit. Her daughter Grace (Julia Whelan) is sniping at stepsister Jesse (Evan Rachel Wood). Her sister Judy (Marin Hinkle) is too upset over a breakup with Rick's pal Sam (Steven Weber) to be of any help. And her stepson, Eli (Shane West), is nowhere to be found, convinced Lily's family has one too many holiday traditions.

"We're either family or we're not," an exasperated Lily finally tells Rick. "And there's not much indication that we're much more than six strangers in a boarding house, with a pretty stressed-out short-order cook." Naturally, dinner collapses - and just as naturally, the family regroups, which is what separates them from strangers in a boarding house. The joy of Once is that both the low and the high moments ring true.

To be sure, there are moments when tonight's episode makes its point a bit too forcefully. The subplot about Grace and Jesse's play is terribly exaggerated. And in the end, there's at least one too many pre-dinner crises in the household. Still, that's a small price to pay for a show that can make you laugh and cry in the same hour, and leave you wishing all the characters well. "Life just goes by when we're not looking," Lily says, in a moment of despair. "It just goes by."

Let's hope we don't end up saying the same about Once and Again.

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Once and Again: "Chaos Theory"
Friday, Nov. 23
ABC, 10 to 11 p.m. ET

Ever the optimist, Lily (Sela Ward) has big plans for her first blended-family Thanksgiving dinner. It doesn't take long for those plans to go awry, what with Grace (Julia Whelan) and Jessie (Evan Rachel Wood) at odds and on-the-job stress making Rick (Billy Campbell) crazy. Oh, and there's also a plumbing problem that could prove disastrous.

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From TV Guide:
Chaos Theory

A tumultuous Thanksgiving finds Grace and Jessie feuding, Rick stressing out at work and Lily coping with a plumbing problem that's a prelude to a kitchen disaster. Mr. Dimitri: Eric Stoltz. Raoul: Benito Martinez. Alexa: Natasha Gaty. Sam Blue: Steven Weber. Tiffany: Ever Carradine. Karen: Susanna Thompson. Lily: Sela Ward.

Cast: Billy Campbell, Sela Ward, Shane West, Evan Rachel Wood, Meredith Deane, Julia Whelan, Susanna Thompson, Marin Hinkle, Steven Weber, Ever Carradine, Eric Stoltz, Benito Martinez, Natasha Gaty.

Rating: TV-PG

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From ABC:

"Chaos Theory" Lily and Karen both suffer from unrealistic expectations raised by the coming of Thanksgiving, on "Once and Again," FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 23 (10:00-11:00 p.m., ET), on the ABC Television Network.

"Once and Again" stars Sela Ward as Lily Sammler, Billy Campbell as Rick Sammler, Julia Whelan as Grace Manning, Shane West as Eli Sammler, Meredith Deane as Zoe Manning, Evan Rachel Wood as Jessie Sammler, Susanna Thompson as Karen Sammler, Jeffrey Nordling as Jake Manning, Marin Hinkle as Judy Brooks, Steven Weber as Samuel Blue and Ever Carradine as Tiffany Porter.

Guest starring are Eric Stoltz as Mr. Dimitri, Benito Martinez as Raoul, Natasha Gaty as Alexa Yagoda, Ashlee Turner as Cynthia McCormick, Granger Green as Sue, Josh Breslow as Silvius, Lamont Johnson as the fireman, Scott Clerverdon as Ian, Jennifer Riley as young Lily, Samantha MacLachlan as Victoria, Ben Gould as Ted and Jerry Fitzgerald as Wink.

"Chaos Theory" was written by Liberty Godshall and directed by James Eckhouse.

"Once and Again" is broadcast in 720 Progressive (720P), ABC's selected HDTV format, with 5.1-channel surround sound.

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From ABC:
Pictures courtesy of ABC (Click on thumbnails for bigger picture)
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From ABC:
Nov. 23, 2001 (Fri.)
ONCE AND AGAIN - "Chaos Theory"

Lily and Karen both suffer from unrealistic expectations raised by the coming of Thanksgiving.

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From ABC:

ONCE AND AGAIN - "CHAOS THEORY" - FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 23 (10:00-11:00 p.m.) - Lily's (Sela Ward) dream of the perfect blended-family Thanksgiving goes up in smoke. Thanksgiving-themed episode.

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