Original Air Date: September 28, 1996
Starring: Kyle Chandler, Shanesia Davis, Fisher Stevens
Also Starring: Panther
Directed by: Michael Dinner
Cat Out of the Bag Alert! This review contains spoilers for this episode!
Synopsis: Gary Hobson (Kyle Chandler) is a stockbroker whose life is changed completely when he starts to receive a newspaper from a mysterious cat every morning which reports news before the events actually happen.
Cinema Cat: Early in the episode Gary is kicked out by his wife and has to stay in a hotel. His friend Chuck (Fisher Stevens) comes over one morning and they hear a noise at the door. Gary opens the door to find a cat sitting on a copy of the newspaper.
Gary takes the newspaper and rudely shooes the cat away.
By the next morning Gary has realized that the newspaper shows the future, so when the cat meows and he hears the paper drop he opens the door. Once again the cat is sitting with the newspaper.
This time the cat runs inside the hotel room with Gary but a moment later the cat yowls and Gary opens the door and puts the cat back into the hallway.
By the time Gary gets the third newspaper he lets the cat come into his room.
As Gary gets dressed he talks to his friend Marissa (Shanesia Davis) as her guide dog Spike (played by canine actor Trucker) and the cat sit on the bed behind him.
At the end of the episode, Gary decides to get away from everything to try to resume a normal life. He goes to a remote cabin but in the morning he again hears the meow and the plop of the newspaper. He is amazed to see the cat has brought him the newspaper yet again.
The mysterious orange tabby cat which features so prominently in this series was played by cat actor Panther, a shelter rescue cat adopted by trainer Bill Casey. The cat was so important to the series that he even appears in the opening credits.
According to the book The Encyclopedia of TV Pets, trainer Casey kept seeing Panther in a shelter and that he seemed sickly, so he eventually adopted the cat and spent much time and money trying to cure him. When the director Michael Dinner requested Panther specifically for the series, Casey let him do the pilot. Panther then went on to appear throughout the series, although he did later have an understudy named Carl (which Casey explains was the name of the cat character, even though it wasn’t necessarily mentioned on the show itself. According to one newspaper report, director Dinner wanted a cat for the part which reminded him of an orange tom named Carl that used to hang out on the Twentieth Century lot).
Casey explained in many print articles about how Panther’s favorite incentive treat was Fancy Feast on a spoon. Even though Panther was already an older cat when he got the job on the series and even had a major surgery between the first and second season, there’s no question that he was a natural and his personality came through on screen.
Final Mewsings: Who says only dogs will bring someone the newspaper?