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Recap / Probe Black Cats Dont Walk Under Ladders Do They

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Originally airing on 17 March 1988, "Black Cats Don't Walk Under Ladders (Do They?)" begins with Austin preparing an experiment in his laboratory/warehouse. Mickey comes in while a timer is counting down (he was testing a bomb). She came in early to share exciting news; Marty Corrigan (Stanley Kamel), of The Marty Corrigan Show, is going to have Sabrina Stillwater (Lina Raymond) on as a guest to hex him on-air while top scientists like Austin James and Dr. Roman Drakovich (Eric Christmas) debunk her magical powers.

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While Austin is onstage for the talk show, Marty dies. Sabrina is the obvious suspect, but it's up to Austin, and Mickey, to prove who is really behind his death.


This episode provides examples of:

  • All Witches Have Cats: Sabrina Stillwater, who claims to be a witch, owns a black cat named Dragon.
  • Bluffing the Murderer: During The Summation, Austin uses the killer's own knowledge against them, causing them to believe that they've been affected by the same poisoned tea that was used to kill Marty Corrigan. He has to do it because until the killer confessed, he wasn't sure which of the suspects had done it.
  • Brick Joke: Unimpressed by Mickey's credulity with magic, Austin "curses" her to do three things in the next 48 hours; break out in hives, cook him a trout amandine, and kiss a bald man on the head. He explains that it's because Your Mind Makes It Real. The conversation moves on from there, but by the end of the scene, Mickey is already scratching her hands. The episode ends with Mickey having kissed an old bald man and the two having a fancy fish dinner. The joke is on Austin, though, Mickey cooked mackerel, not trout.
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  • Broadcast Live: Backstage for the Show Within a Show, The Marty Corrigan Show, Sabrina Stillwater challenges the Daytime Talk Show host to let her cast a hex on him while the whole country is watching him. It's a Ratings Stunt because they both need the publicity. Things go wrong when the hex actually kills Marty Corrigan.
  • Coincidental Broadcast: When Mickey is talking to Austin about going on the Show Within a Show, The Marty Corrigan Show, she turns on Austin's television during the episode where they announce Austin will be showing up as a guest star. Somewhat Justified Trope due to Mickey knowing what time the episodes air, but only the directly relevant parts of the episode are shown, rather than turning it on/off halfway through a sentence or during a commercial break.
  • Fatal Method Acting: In-Universe, Sabrina Stillwater, a witch, is a guest on the Show Within a Show, The Marty Corrigan Show. She casts a hex on the host while several scientists are there to debunk her "magic". Unfortunately, things go wrong when Marty actually dies from her hex, and Austin tries to figure out who is really behind Marty's death.
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  • Long Title
  • Omniscient Database: Austin uses his laboratory/warehouse computer to logon to the "world directory" when he needs to find information on geneticist Kevin Drake.
  • Ratings Stunt: For the Show Within a Show, The Marty Corrigan Show, the Daytime Talk Show host is going to let Sabrina Stillwater, a witch, cast a hex on him during a live show, while the "brightest scientific minds of the country" try to debunk her. Things go wrong when the hex actually kills Marty Corrigan.
  • "Scooby-Doo" Hoax: Austin, along with several other scientists, have been invited to be on the Show Within a Show, The Marty Corrigan Show while local witch, Sabrina Stillwater, tries to hex the host. They're supposed to be debunking her "magic", but when the host actually dies after she casts the hex, Austin and Mickey being to look for evidence to prove who really killed Corrigan.
  • Shout-Out:
    • William Shakespeare's Macbeth: Marty Corrigan misquotes one of the lines when Sabrina Stillwater enters his dressing room; "By the pricking of my thumbs, something rancid'' this way comes".
    • The Clovers: Marty Corrigan misquotes the title to one of their songs, "Love Potion No. 9", when he mocks Sabrina Stillwater for trying to cast a spell on him, calling it "hate potion number 9".
  • Show Within a Show: The Marty Corrigan Show is a Daytime Talk Show where the titular host invites Sabrina Stillwater to hex him as well as several celebrity scientists (like Austin James) to debunk her magic.
  • Smoke Out: When Sabrina Stillwater, a witch, appears on The Marty Corrigan Show, she makes her entrance with a bang and a cloud of smoke.
  • The Summation: Having proven that the "bearded man" and Sabrina Stillwater are both innocent of the murder, Austin has his four remaining suspects meet him on the stage of The Marty Corrigan Show, where he serves them tea, which he claims is poisoned with the same sort of Synthetic Plague that killed Marty Corrigan. He describes how the virus was developed and delivered, and convinces the murderer to confess.
  • Synthetic Plague: Austin realizes that the virus that killed Marty Corrigan was genetically tailored to affect only him, despite being exposed to several other people at the same time. He takes the virus to create his own that he unleashes during The Summation.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink:
    • Marty Corrigan, host of a Show Within a Show, dies during a live broadcast. Austin suspects someone did something to the tea that was served, but out of the three people who drank, only one died.
    • At The Summation, when Austin is revealing the killer, he reveals that the tea he served his suspects were poisoned the same way as Marty Corrigan's was.
  • Time Bomb: When we first see Austin in this episode, he's testing a new chemical explosive, and he sets up an egg timer to do the countdown for him. Unfortunately, his secretary walks in during this test and he has to stop the timer at three seconds.
  • Witch Classic: Sabrina Stillwater is a modern-day female wiccan, also known as a witch. She plays up several of the traditional stereotypes about witches, including owning a black cat that she named Dragon, and black clothing with occult jewelry.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real:
    • Austin insists that magic isn't real, it's merely the power of suggestion that will cause people to act out a curse.
    • Austin uses the killer's own knowledge against them, causing them to believe that they've been affected by the same poisoned tea that was used to kill Marty Corrigan.
    • Austin claims to be immune to the power of suggestion, so Mickey challenges him, then reveals that she's already tricked him (the dinner she served is actually mackerel, not trout).

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