What would you do if you received tomorrow's newspaper today?
After his wife throws him out of his house, Gary Hobson starts receiving tomorrow's issue of the Chicago Sun-Times
every morning, always accompanied by an orange cat. At first he tries to use this for personal gain, but after he sees an accident that was exactly described in the newspaper, he has a change of heart. In the end, he and his friends Chuck and Marissa start to use the newspaper to save people and prevent problems.
The series ran for 90 episodes from 1996 to 2000 on CBS
. It wasn't renewed for a fifth season, even with fan demand. The first season DVD came out in June 2008.
The show provides examples of:
- Action Girl: Renee Callahan and Gary's mom in "Don't Walk Away, Renee".
- All Just a Dream: Marissa Clark run over by car in "Run, Gary, Run".
- An Aesop: One for each episode.
- Apathetic Citizens: Many of the people of Chicago.
- Big "NO!": After a former recipient of tomorrow's edition of a different paper loses his.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Gary's former wife, Marsha.
- Black Best Friend: Once Chuck Fishman (Fisher Stevens) left the show, Marissa became Gary's best friend.
- Blessed with Suck: Gary views the newspaper as this.
- The Call Knows Where You Live: Gary once tried spending the night in a cabin in the woods to avoid getting the paper, and it still found him.
- At other times, Gary was unavoidably detained and tried to get the paper sent to him, but that wasn't necessary, either.
- The Cameo: Roger Ebert talks to a kid who runs crying out of a movie theater showing Bambi, assuring him that it's only a movie. It's later revealed that Chuck asked Roger to talk to the kid, thus preventing the kid from getting killed by running into heavy traffic.
- Cassandra Did It: Police and others sometimes put Gary in this role when he tries to avert disasters.
- The Cat Came Back: The pilot shows Gary tried to avoid the cat, to no avail.
- Celebrity Paradox: In "The Choice" someone yells at Gary not to move an injured girl. "Don't you watch Chicago Hope?" It doesn't stop the doctors from the series appearing in a season 2 episode.
- Chekhov's Gunman: The pilot begins with a shot of a man sitting on a train station bench. He tries to rob a bank later that episode.
- Chick Magnet: Gary, due to his heroics. Extreme examples of his in-universe fanbase include a cheerleading squad, a Russian princess, and a woman who turned down a marriage proposal from a world-famous, philanthropic doctor.
- The Chosen Many: Gary is not the only one who gets the paper.
- Christmas Episode: Gary and Crumb team up to find a bomber.
- Chronic Hero Syndrome: Gary
- Completely Missing the Point: From the episode "Dad":
Gary's Dad: Tomorrow's newspaper . . . today. Comes in the morning with the cat. So, you read a story in the newspaper and you run out into the city and save somebody's life and just like that, the story is gone?
Gary: Something like that.
Gary's Dad: Well, how do they do that? Some kind of special ink?
Gary: I—I'm not sure.
Gary's Dad: I bet it's the ink. Disappearing ink. The army was working on something like that when I was at Fort Briggs. Top secret stuff.
- Cool Car: Chuck's.
- Crossover: With Martial Law. It's really only noticeable if you're familiar with the show, as beyond explaining that Sammo was a Chinese detective currently stationed in Los Angeles, there is not much of a connection otherwise.
- The Determinator: Gary. No matter what life throws his way (be it plane crashes or rogue federal agents or Bat Masterson), he always prevails often through sheer force of will and some quick thinking.
- Enhance Button
- For Want of a Nail: In episode 2, "Choices," Gary has to choose between saving the life of one little girl and saving 200+ people in a plane crash. He keeps trying to prevent the plane crash but, in the end, he's only able to save the little girl. As it turns out, the little girl's father was the pilot of the plane. Because she got the proper medical attention, he was pulled off of the runway at the last minute to go see her in the hospital, so the plane crash never happens.
- Gallows Humor: The Future-Flashback scene in "The Wrong Man" is chock full of this.
- The entire episode is full of it really.
- Gangster Land
- Gilligan Cut
- "Groundhog Day" Loop: "Run, Gary, Run".
- Heroic BSOD: In "Fate", when he accidentally let a homeless man he was trying to rescue fall to his death.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Again in "Fate", when Gary goes into an abandoned building that's about to collapse so he can save a young couple, even though he knew his obituary was in tomorrow's paper due to the collapse. He ends up surviving though.
- I Have to Go Iron My Dog: Everyone questions Gary on why he has to run off and his excuses are always flimsy.
- I Let Gwen Stacy Die: Gary was using the paper for profit until someone he knew got into an accident.
- Impairment Shot: Gary takes a hit from a Capone-era T-Man and the shot goes out of focus from the camera's point of view rather than Gary's.
- Intrepid Reporter: Meredith
- In Mysterious Ways: The group of people who gives various people (and Gary) the papers.
- It's All About Me: Many of the people of Chicago think like this. One basketball coach from episode 6 made it quite clear that he cared more about his own career ambitions than about the health of his team.
- Jerk Ass: Gary's ex steadily evolved into this, though in all honesty, she was like that to begin with.
- Gary's former boss Phil Pritchard fits this to a T.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Chuck, and sometimes Gary, when having a particularly bad day.
- Karma: Mr. Phil Pritchard gets hit with this a lot in the episode "The Wrong Man". It's really quite satisfying to watch.
- Karma Houdini: Mobster Frank Pirelli.
- Lampshade Hanging: In "Blowing Up Is Hard to Do", Marissa warns Gary how dangerous this is: it's not some movie he's in.
- Literal Cliff Hanger/ Take My Hand: Happens quite a lot, actually.
- Mean Boss: Gary's ex-boss. Gary even saved him from being killed by an angry employee.
- Meaningful Name: Gary Hobson is presented with a daily Hobson's choice.
- Motor Mouth: Virtually every resident of the city of Chicago. They all seem to have a penchant for interrupting, and talking over Gary when he tries to get a word in edgewise.
- Never Win the Lottery: One story involved people trying to fix the drawing. Other stories establish Gary wagers just enough with the future knowledge to pay his living expenses, much to Chuck's dismay.
- Nice Guy: Gary in a nutshell. Kyle Chandler too, with an entire career Type Casting him as such.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero
- Noodle Incident: Gary has saved people off-screen. Like in episode 2, Chuck mentions the time Gary saved a trailer park from a tornado.
- Passing the Torch: Gary received the responsibility of getting the paper by a guy who gave him a Swiss army knife with his name on it. Gary later gives it to a little girl whose name is now on the knife, as she will receive the responsibility when he's done.
- People of Chicago Are Bastards: Just about everyone Gary runs into on the street is either a cynic, or a Jerkass, or both.
- Police Are Useless: The pilot gives the best example. When Gary and Frank, the man who was going to rob the bank are on the roof. The officer in charge says this:
Officer: The first shot you get, take 'em out.
Officer: How should I know, shoot the bad guy.
- Poorly Disguised Pilot: That episode about the girl with psychic powers.
- Put on a Bus: Chuck.
- Rear Window Witness: Gary gets caught up in a plot while stuck in his apartment with a broken leg in one episode.
- Refused The Call: Attempted by Gary several times. It never worked out well for him.
- Ripple Effect Indicator: The newspaper itself.
- Rogue Juror: Gary in the episode "The Jury".
- Secret Keeper: Gary's parents, Marissa, Chuck, Erica, and Henry.
- Selective Obliviousness: In one episode, Gary tries to approach the girlfriend of a mob boss in order to warn her of her impending assassination. Unfortunately when they find her she holds him and Chuck at gunpoint because she finds their behavior suspicious. What's downright appalling is the fact that she does this in the middle of a crowded hotel, and the people all around seem to outright refuse to comprehend the fact that there is someone literally waving a gun around right in front of them.
- Self-Defeating Prophecy: The whole show.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: The show was thoroughly on the idealistic side.
- ˇThree Amigos!: Gary and his two best friends Chuck and Marissa.
- Train-Station Goodbye
- Time Travel: The paper apparently comes from the future. (Occasionally people time travel, too.)
- Time Travel for Fun and Profit: Gary supports himself by using the paper to bet on horse racing.
- Threefer Token Minority: Marissa (black, female, and blind).
- Unbelievable Source Plot: the premise of the show. Gary gets tomorrow's newspaper today. He frequently asks for help from a detective on the police force, who eventually learns to trust his "intuition." Frustrating, because Gary would be so much more effective if someone on the police force just knew his secret, so he wouldn't have to persuade them from scratch to help out. They could just consider him a golden tip — but he never tells anyone, and each episode where he needs police help, he has to convince someone all over again. The detective, when he is around, usually reluctantly agrees to help based on years of experience with Gary.
- Ungrateful Bastard: Gary once saved an old lady from getting run over in the street by a fire truck. Her way of saying thanks? Hitting him over the head with her cane, then telling him to "get a life" as he walks away.
- Gary stands out in the frigid cold for hours in the episode "Frostbite" waiting to save a man from getting hurt in a car accident. Once he does it turns out the old con-man was going to deliberately break his leg so he could sue the driver. The man even has enough gall to insult Gary for his selflessness.
- Unlucky Everydude: Gary, full stop.
- Very Special Episode: A season 1 episode dealt with gun violence.
- Wake Up, Save The World
- Who Shot JFK? This was done in the episode The Wall.
- Who Would Want to Watch Us?: Chuck tries to pitch a TV show about a guy who gets tomorrow's newspaper. It doesn't go over very well.
- Word of God: Co-creator, Ian Abrams, has explained that the newspapers were being delivered by Mark Twain from Heaven as part of a bet.
- Wounded Gazelle Gambit: In the episode where Chuck is marrying Amber/Jade, Gary confronts her in the hotel room and they fight. When Chuck walks in, Jade claims that Gary had hit on her.
- Yes Virginia: Season 1's "Christmas".