Twice in a Lifetime (TV series)

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Twice in a Lifetime
Genre Drama/Mystery
Created by Steve Sohmer
Written by Randy Brown
Liz Coe
Star Frohman
Babs Greyhosky
Jim Kramer
Neil Landau
Suzanne Marcus Levine
Pamela K. Long
Mike Scott
Steve Sohmer
Marcy Vosburgh
Robert Wolterstorff
Directed by Graeme Campbell
Holly Dale
Steve DiMarco
Alan Goluboff
Manfred Guthe
Allan King
Eleanor Lindo
Graeme Lynch
David Winning
Starring Al Waxman
Gordie Brown
Paul Popowich
Theme music composer Glenn Morley
Composer(s) Marvin Dolgay
Glenn Morley
Country of origin Canada
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 44
Executive producer(s) Stephen J. Brackely (2000-2001)
Pamela K. Long (2000-2001)
Michael Prupas (1999-2000)
Barney Rosenzweig (1999-2000)
Producer(s) Paul Leishman
Deborah Nathan
Michael J. Maschio
Paula Smith
Marilyn Stonehouse
Editor(s) Jean Coulombe
Eric Goddard
Rob MacKinnon
Brett Sullivan
Cinematography Manfred Guthe
Maris H. Jansons
Harald Ortenburger
Running time 60 minutes
Original network CTV
Original release August 25, 1999 (1999-08-25) – May 30, 2001 (2001-05-30)

Twice in a Lifetime is a Canadian mystery/drama series that originally aired from 1999 to 2001. Created by Steve Sohmer, the series aired on CTV in Canada and PAX in the United States.


The series follows an aspiring angel who for some reason, will not enter heaven, but is assigned to guide a man who died prematurely. The prematurely deceased, played by the episode guest stars, may choose from the afterlife to correct something that went wrong earlier in his life. The key concept to the series was that each episode featured a different guest star in the leading role, while the series regulars played a supporting role.

Episodes are centered on an individual who had reached the end of his life in one timeline, and due to circumstances seen by his advocate or judge, been given 3 days to travel into his past, and without revealing his true identity, convince his younger self to make a different choice at a pivotal point to effect a different outcome for example, by quitting smoking, or choosing a different job. This way, the series was an anthology of many different arenas and characters.

Season One featured Gordie Brown as advocate Mr. Jones, and Paul Popowich played the role of advocate Mr. Smith in Season Two. Al Waxman played Judge Othniel in 42 of the 44 episodes, spelled for two episodes of Season One by Polly Bergen as Judge Deborah. Waxman died in heart surgery on January 18, 2001, while the second season was airing.

Production staff[edit]

Ten episodes were directed by sci-fi veteran David Winning; including "The Trouble with Harry" (Jere Burns, Brent Carver), "Moonshine Over Harlem" (Earle Hyman) and "It's a Hard Knock Life" (Markie Post). Veteran television producer Barney Rosenzweig (Charlie's Angels, Cagney and Lacey) oversaw the first season of the series.


Main actors[edit]

Recurring cast[edit]

Episode development[edit]

  • The scenario of this series always takes place in four stages: the accidental death of a person, his judgment, his second chance in the past and the happy ending.
  • In season 2, Mr. Jones, Mr. Smith is replaced by a firefighter whose death made him lose his memory. Jones is as much an expert as Smith is a clumsy beginner. Note that in the second season, the passage to the afterlife is different from season 1.
  • In two episodes of the first season, we see the judge Deborah, played by Polly Bergen, playing the role of prosecutor.

Episode list[edit]

Season 1[edit]

Episode # Episode title Synopsis Guest star(s) Original airdate
1-1 "Sixteen Candles" A woman who dies in a fire while drinking is given the chance to prevent her addiction. Gwynyth Walsh August 25, 1999
1-2 "Death and Taxes" When his son vanishes on a camping trip, a cold-hearted IRS agent is killed looking for him. He's given the chance to convince his younger self not to be so harsh with others. But when he returns, he finds his son still gone and worries things aren't for the best. Corbin Bernsen September 1, 1999
1-3 "Healing Touch" An ambitious doctor, who actually cut her own husband's medical career short to get ahead, is given a chance to sway her younger self from this selfish path. Her journey is complicated by how her future husband is attracted to her "new" self. Jonelle Allen and Maurice Dean Wint September 8, 1999
1-4 "Ashes to Ashes" A chain smoker dying of lung cancer is killed in a car accident. She's sent back as a guidance counselor to get her younger self to stop but discovers a shocking family secret that drove her to this path. Stephanie Zimbalist September 15, 1999
1-5 "Double Exposure" A woman who listened to her mother's advice lives a cold and empty life with a cheating husband before dying in a park. She's given the chance to convince her younger self to follow her dreams of being a photographer. Kate Jackson and Richard Eden September 22, 1999
1-6 "The Blame Game" Feeling bitter toward his aged mother for never letting him go to college, a Vietnam veteran is given the chance to convince his younger self to follow his dreams and learns more of his mother's true motives. Ron Glass and Michael Cera. Polly Bergen filled in for Al Waxman September 29, 1999
1-7 "Blood Brothers" A former baseball pitcher is wallowing in guilt over sending his brother to prison when they were teenagers. When the brother gets out, he kills the pitcher, who's given a chance to stop his brother's path to crime...but time is running out before the key event happens. Joe Penny. Polly Bergen filled in for Al Waxman October 13, 1999
1-8 "School's Out" A retiring teacher, hated for her cold ways with students, is killed in a robbery. She is sent back to convince her younger self to give a second chance to a promising athlete. Roberta Maxwell and Cedric Smith October 27, 1999
1-9 "O'er the Ramparts We Watched" After being killed in a robbery, a woman is ready to be accepted into heaven but instead argues that she be sent back to try and save a former love. But her attempts soon draw her into a conflict between her father and her love's radical group. Mariette Hartley and Diahann Carroll November 3, 1999
1-10 "A Match Made in Heaven" Long trapped by a loveless marriage to the woman he got pregnant and raising two spoiled children, a designer is sent back to pose as a priest. Along the way, he discovers a big secret as he tries to hook his younger self up with the love of his life. Patrick Duffy November 10, 1999
1-11 "The Quality of Mercy" A bigoted prosecuter dies of a heart attack in a rough neighborhood and is sent back as a cop to try and save her former love from a shooting. She fails but then discovers the man she identified as the killer and was executed for the crime was truly innocent. Now, she must convince her grieving younger self to not make the same mistake. Joanna Cassidy November 17, 1999
1-12 "What She Did for Love" A washed-up actress dies in a freak accident and Mr. Jones uses one of his three "freebies" to give her a second chance. She attempts to nail the audition she's convinced she was cheated out of only to realize that becoming a star is secondary to how to save her life. Donna Mills November 24, 1999
1-13 "Second Service" Trapped in a wheelchair by a car accident, a bitter former tennis player is given a chance to return to her past. Becoming her own physical therapist, she tries to get her younger self to overcome her bitterness while helping a young girl also injured by an accident. Susan Blakely December 1, 1999
1-14 "The Gift of Life" Just after deciding to call off her wedding, a bride sees her long-absent father (who she blames for not giving the bone marrow her dying younger sister needed) there and dies falling down the stairs. Sent back as a doctor, she discovers the true reason her father left the family long ago and perhaps save her sister and keep them together. Michele Greene December 15, 1999
1-15 "Birds of Paradise" A music teacher is given the chance to prevent the fatal overdose of his girlfriend but gets into trouble when he tells their band who he really is. Steve Landesberg January 1, 2000
1-16 "Take Two" Dying of a heart attack on the set of a commercial, an arrogant and bigoted director is stunned to discover his former love raised their son he never knew about. He's sent back as a costume designer at the theater group they met at, trying to convince his younger self not to break them up for an audition. Daniel Hugh Kelly and William Hutt February 2, 2000
1-17 "For Love and Money" Finding a sack of drug money in the woods years before, a woman uses it to become a successful TV chef but also leads to her son becoming a criminal. Dying in a spa accident, she discovers an innocent cop went to jail for stealing that money and is given the chance to stop her younger self from that mistake. Julia Duffy February 9, 2000
1-18 "Old Flames" Mr. Jones is stunned when Judge Othniel gives a woman the chance to go back and convince her younger self to have an affair with a friend. But there's a method to the Judge's madness and an important lesson for both the woman and Jones. Michelle Phillips and Amy Price Francis February 16, 2000
1-19 "Pride and Prejudice" After dying in a freak accident, a bitter publisher is sent back at first to convince his young wife to become a stay-at-home mom so their daughter won't turn out to be a mess. But when he sees how much his wife loves her job, he begins to rethink his plan. Lance Kinsey and Lisa Yamanaka March 1, 2000
1-20 "Party Girls" After losing custody of her daughter due to her drinking, a woman dies in a bar and is given a chance to stop her younger self from this path. But a tragic turn ensures her life will never be the same no matter what. Tracey Gold May 3, 2000
1-21 "The Trouble with Harry" Dying in an apartment fire, a composer is sent back to convince his younger self to be more accepting of his neighbors. But he makes the mistake of telling his younger self point blank who he is which earns him a trip to the psych ward and he must find a way to get out before his time is up. Jere Burns and Brent Carver May 10, 2000
1-22 "Sins of Our Father" After seeing his photo on a milk carton, a teenager is told by his father that he took him and his sister to protect them from their drug-addicted mother. Killed in an accidental shooting, the teen is sent back to get his younger self to discover the truth of what really happened. Thomas Ian Nicholas May 17, 2000

Season 2[edit]

Episode # Episode title Guest star(s) Original airdate
2-1 After being accidentally shot by his own son, a firefighter is sent back as a psychiatrist to get his son to open up about the beating of another boy. With him is Mr. Smith, who died in a fire despite the man's attempts to save him and is getting used to this new job. Bruce Boxleitner August 20, 2000
2-2 A woman who lived alone with just cats dies and is sent back to the orphanage where she grew up, determined to get her younger self adopted by the perfect family. But along the way, she realizes that the orphanage owner she long hated was under a lot of pressure and that the "perfect" family may not be what she thinks. Markie Post August 30, 2000
2-3 Dying from a fall at a construction pit, a divorcee learns that her warnings about men will lead to her daughter becoming a bitter and lonely woman. She's given the chance to sway her daughter to love but must contend with her own hard self. Lesley Ann Warren September 6, 2000
2-4 Mr. Smith is upset when instead of an older abusive father, it's the man's teenage son who dies in a baseball fight. The boy is sent back to when his father was his age to discover the source of his anger, the truth of his dad's "fame" as a player and get his younger self to go his own way. Miko Hughes and Ed Marinaro September 13, 2000
2-5 Killed by a man he once framed, a corrupt cop is given the chance to stop his younger self from going down that path. However, posing as an Internal Affairs officer doesn't help or the discovery of his own father's corrupt ways. Meanwhile, Mr. Smith is sent with him as a priest with a bad record to learn his own lesson. Ralph Macchio October 4, 2000
2-6 Killed on a car ride together, a long-fighting couple are sent back as the owners of the hotel their younger selves honeymooned at. Along the way, each discovers why the other has held such long grudges and try to get their selves back on track. Martin Mull October 11, 2000
2-7 Executed for the murder of his sister, a stage magician is sent back to discover the identity of the real killer...but must face the fact it's someone he thought he trusted. C. Thomas Howell October 18, 2000
2-8 After wasting her talent, a tabloid reporter is sent back to prevent her younger self from ruining the life of an actress. She finds it hard to sway her ambitious self until she decides to reveal their deepest secret. María Conchita Alonso October 25, 2000
2-9 After Mr. Smith agrees with the viewpoint of a womanizing dentist at only judging women by their appearances, Judge Othniel decides to teach them both a lesson by sending them to sway the dentist's younger self...only both men will be seen by everyone else as women. Patrick Cassidy November 1, 2000
2-10 A man who blames the toxic waste his company dumped for his son having Down's Syndrome is sent back and intends to ensure his son isn't born to "spare" him from that life. But as he sees his younger self and his wife, he realizes how important his son truly is. Reginald VelJohnson November 8, 2000
2-11 A used car saleswoman is granted the chance to stop her younger self from selling a defective car that killed a teenager. But she finds it hard due to her feelings for the girl's brother and her own secret guilt. Jackée Harry November 15, 2000
2-12 A woman discovers her brother died of a snakebite because she convinced him to bury their late grandmother's shoes. Dying after a return to their run-down farm, the woman intends to get her brother to leave with her as children...only to find a big family secret along the way. Cloris Leachman November 22, 2000
2-13 A woman who has hated Christmas ever since her twin sister walked out on her that day is given the chance to heal the rift they had over a boy in their band. Stepfanie Kramer and Gordon Currie December 13, 2000
2-14 Dying after an argument with his brother, a bar owner is sent back to oversee the hazing her put on his brother at a fraternity and convince his younger self to cut the boy a break. Dale Midkiff January 1, 2001
2-15 Having long blamed a high school bully for ruining his life and costing him his dream girl, a doctor is sent back, at first to get back at this bully but soon discovers all is not what he believed it to be. Ian Ziering and Dean McDermott January 31, 2001
2-16 A former gangster in the 1930s, having long lectured at schools about a life of crime, is granted the chance to save his former love but faces opposition from her FBI agent father. Earle Hyman and Candace Cameron Bure February 7, 2001
2-17 Killed after a bad poker game, a lifelong gambler learns that the woman he walked out on a decade before died and their daughter was raised in a cold environment. Posing as a family services agent, he tries to get his younger self to finally accept the responsibilities of fatherhood. Eric Lutes February 21, 2001
2-18 A former boxing champ, who gave up on it all after killing his brother in a rigged fight, is given the chance to stop the death...but still determined to win the fight. Richard Burgi February 28, 2001
2-19 A rich man is sent back as a hospital administrator who must decide who to give a kidney to. He falls in love with the mother of a sick child but when his own younger self gets sick, he must decide whether to save himself or the boy. Daniel Baldwin and Kim Schraner April 25, 2001
2-20 Having long put her own dreams aside to take care of her granddaughter, a woman must convince her younger self and daughter to take more responsibility while following her own dreams. Joan Van Ark and Yannick Bisson May 2, 2001
2-21 Dying during a flight to see his first wife, a pilot is sent back as a flight attendant to convince his arrogant younger self to correct the mistake that led to a dog's death on board. Meanwhile, Mr. Smith helps a cancer-stricken woman deal with her last days. John Schneider May 9, 2001
2-22 Having long blamed himself for convincing his father to have a heart operation that left him brain damaged, a man is granted the chance to prevent it but must deal with how else to save his father's life. Wil Wheaton May 30, 2001

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Result Category Recipient
2000 Chicago International Film Festival Won Best Direction, Variety/Entertainment David Winning
(For episode: "Match Made in Heaven")
2003 Special Achievement in Direction David Winning
(For episode: "Then Love Came Along")
2000 Columbus International Film & Video Festival Won Entertainment David Winning
(For episode: "The Trouble With Harry")
2002 Directors Guild of Canada Nominated Outstanding Achievement in Direction David Winning
(For episode: "Moonshine Over Harlem")
Won Outstanding Achievement in a Television Series - Drama Production crew
2000 Gemini Awards Nominated Best Performance by an Actor in a Guest Role in a Dramatic Series Brent Carver(For episode: "The Trouble with Harry")
Best Performance by an Actor in a Guest Role in a Dramatic Series Jere Burns(For episode: "The Trouble with Harry")
Best Dramatic Series Stephen Brackley, Michael J. Maschio, Michael Prupas, Barney Rosenzweig and Marilyn Stonehouse
2001 Best Performance by an Actress in a Guest Role in a Dramatic Series Cloris Leachman
Best Performance by an Actor in a Guest Role in a Dramatic Series Frank Moore
2000 New York Festivals Won Television Programming & Promotion - Craft: Program - Best Direction David Winning
(For episode: "The Trouble With Harry")
2003 Television Programming & Promotion - Craft: Program - Best Direction David Winning
(For episode: "Then Love Came Along")
2001 WorldFest Houston Won Television and Cable Production - TV Series-Dramatic David Winning
(For episode: "Moonshine Over Harlem")
Television and Cable Production - TV Series-Dramatic David Winning
(For episode: "Hard Knock Life")
2002 Television and Cable Production - TV Series-Dramatic David Winning
(For episode: "Then Love Came Along")
2001 Young Artist Award Nominated Best Performance in a TV Drama Series - Guest Starring Young Actor Trevor Blumas
2002 Best Performance in a TV Drama Series - Guest Starring Young Actor Corey Sevier
Best Performance in a TV Drama Series - Guest Starring Young Actor Marc Donato

Syndication and DVD Release[edit]

Video Service Corp has released a two volumes of Twice in a Lifetime on DVD, with each volume featuring two episodes.

Reruns of Twice in a Lifetime are currently airing on the W Network in Canada.

External links[edit]