Will Ziffel (Bill Hedges) and his faithful cat Penny (Penny and Judy Ziffel) are traveling in space when they hear Earth style radio signals. They investigate and find that the signals are coming from a planetoid surrounded by asteroid debris. Hoping that it is an Earth outpost, Will lands his spaceship. Will sees a building sitting on top of a tall hill. He and Penny head up to it to see if it is manned.
The building turns out to be more of an observatory and a bit of a museum. Old Earth antiques are scattered everywhere. Will sees a man sitting and playing an old organ. He is Dr. Tempus (Walter Shatley), the station manager. Dr. Tempus tells Will that the telescope at the station is actually a time machine. To demonstrate the machine, Tempus asks Will for a date in his past. Will tells him July 20th, 1967. Will had gotten a motor scooter for his birthday and it was stolen that day. By looking into the past, perhaps he could find out who stole it. Tempus types in the data and a vision of 1967 comes up on a tall screen. Tempus explains to Will that they can observe what is going on during that time from the outpost. The screen is also a portal that can transport you through time to whatever view is on the screen. Just then Penny walks through the portal into 1967.
Not long ago an asteroid broke up near the planetoid. The planet travels through the debris and therefore is constantly being bombarded. To protect the observatory Tempus uses an asteroid deflector. Tempus’ deflector comes from a company called Clarke Industries. After Penny goes through the portal the equipment that protects the planet, disappears. Somehow, when Penny went through the portal her presence did something to interrupt the space time continuum. Will and Dr. Tempus are now in danger from the asteroid pieces raining down on them. The only thing Will can do is to go through the portal himself to 1967, find Penny, and somehow stop her from changing history.
“The Cat Came Back” was released in 2023 and was written and directed by Bill Hedges. It is a 37-minute science fiction time travel short and is the eleventh episode in the Cosmic Cat series.
In this episode Bill takes us back to where he spent his childhood. He adds a personal touch to this space traveler story. Bill must decide whether or not to change his own history while he is trying to prevent Penny from changing world history. The story uses The Butterfly Effect as a plot devise. The Butterfly Effect states that small changes can change big things in the complexity of life. Here Penny went back in time and became the muse to Adele Clarke (Katie Otten). This caused Adele to change her mind about going to MIT and become a painter instead. In essence, since she didn’t go to MIT, she didn’t create the Asteroid Deflector.
The movie was partly filmed on the main street in Lyons, Nebraska. The charming town hasn’t changed much since the sixties, so it came in handy as the setting for the film. A stylized version of the song “The Cat Came Back” is used nicely in the closing credits. This version is called “The Ballad of Will and Penny” and was sung by Mike Semrad. The short is also the debut of Bill’s new cat, Nova. Nova is a tuxedo cat. She plays the part of Winnie, Will’s cat from the past. Chance Mock plays the part of young Will Ziffel.
As always, Bill has a few Easter eggs scattered here and there that hints at the next episode coming up. This time there are a comic book, an article on a bulletin board, the image of a village scene reflected in the portal doorway and the book “Germelshausen” to tease you. Also of note, the push button control pane that Dr. Tempus uses to designate the time destination is the same prop used in the “Lost in Space” episode, “The Time Merchant”. Once again, Bill has lots of wonderful things going on.
Behind the scenes