When you think about science fiction, usually you think spaceships and aliens and monsters and time travel and crazy technology. You think about giant differences between life as we know it and the reality depicted on your screen. But there's this whole set of TV shows where the differences between that reality and our own only vary by a tiny margin, where a single slight change suddenly drops the main character into a whole new world of possibilities.
There were a lot of these during the late '90s/early '00s. You had John Doe, where one guy has no memories but all the knowledge in the known universe (who apparently had, like, God's brain or something, but luckily we never got to the explanation part). There was The Pretender, where one guy was trained since childhood to be the ultimate spy and which, I'm pretty sure, had human cloning. The 2000s gave us shows like Joan of Arcadia, where a young girl literally talks to God and doesn't have a brain tumor, or Tru Calling, where Eliza Dushku talks to dead people and relives days and dates Matt Bomer. But the greatest of these, of course, was none other than Early Edition.
If you're too young to remember this gem of a program -- or if you were somehow under a rock in 1996 -- then let me set the stage. Kyle Chandler, pre-Friday Night Lights, wakes up every morning to find a copy of tomorrow's Chicago Sun-Times outside his door. He has 24 hours to stop whatever tragedy is going to happen that day and change the headlines. It's not a bad concept for a procedural, actually, except for the fact that we could never reboot it. (What's he gonna receive? Tomorrow's e-mail newsletter? Future Google? A strangely prescient Twitter feed?) What was most interesting about the whole future newspaper delivery, though, was the fact that the paper never showed up alone. It was always accompanied by a ginger tabby cat.
That cat is the reason I remember this show, to be honest, which makes me think it was quite the scene-stealer. That said, it does leave me with a few unanswered questions. Like, did the cat deliver the paper with its surprisingly sturdy jaw? Did it hang around because it was expecting a tip? Since the cat was played by three different cats during the run of the show, was it always the same cat, or is there like a contingent of orange tabbies delivering future papers across the country? Was it secretly a person who turned into a cat for the purposes of future paper delivery? As the newspaper receiver is apparently a role passed down like pope-hood, was the cat immortal?
And finally, how does a single fictional cat spur so many questions nearly two decades after the show went off the air?