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Review: Back to the Future Season 1 and Episode IV

July 24, 2011

I, like many people, was completely unaware that there was a Back to the Future cartoon, but there were two seasons on CBS in the early nineties. And I’m going to look at both of them for you. This is Season 1 and Episode IV: Double Visions.

Like all cartoons in the early nineties, Back to the Future: The Animated Series incorporated educational elements in with the core cartoon. Unlike all other cartoons, these educational segments contained the powerful one-two punch of Christopher Lloyd, reprising his role as Doc Brown, and Bill Nye, who actually conducted these mini-experiments. These experiments, on things like creating a small electromagnet from a nail or making a lemon battery, or lessons on water pressure or drag, are safe enough to preform at home that the viewers would immediate wake the nearest sleeping parent to ask them for help.

As for the cartoon itself…it’s okay. It’s pretty well average in comparison to the other cartoons of the time, even though it does deviate somewhat from the formula of the movies. The show focuses mainly on the Brown family, with Doc and Clara taking Jules and Verne sometime in either the past or future, with now-college-freshman Marty (and once in a while, Jennifer) tagging along. Through the misadventures they get in, Jules and Verne end up learning a lesson before returning home. So, on par with all the E/I programming of the early nineties.

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When last we checked in on 1986B, Marty had been captured by Edna Strickland and thrown in a cell to await “reconditioning”, while a now-believer Doc was being forced to undergo said “reconditioning”. Marty, seeing a gigantic amp behind Doc, gets an idea: He’ll simply push Doc out the doors with a well-strung guitar riff! It fails, of course, because science doesn’t work that way. His backup plan, fend off Edna and a guard with the gurney, does wonders. Doc and Marty escape, with Doc heading off to his secret lab out by Clayton Ravine to repair the Delorean. It takes him six months, his entire family fortune, and a shady deal with some Libyan nationals, but he finishes the time machine and shows up after five minutes to pick up Marty.

They head back to 1931, aiming for late August, but land in mid-October, right before the Hill Valley Exposition. And what’s worse, teenage Emmett is now hopelessly infatuated with Edna, hanging on her every word and desire! After failing to convince Emmett to take a break to see Frankenstein, Marty and Doc head to the Expo to try to reason with Edna. This, of course, fails about as hard as physically possible. And this is the point where the plot comes to a screeching halt, as you try to sabotage Emmett’s new experiment and convince Edna to break up with him.

This involves a number of convoluted and time-consuming fetch quests that completely drags the story along, kicking and screaming the whole way. Ultimately, Marty turns young Emmett’s spray cleaner into a strong solvent using time travel, having Trixie Trotter, who Edna got fired from the Expo, act out a scene where she claims to have a child by Emmett, and replaces Emmett’s “model citizen” brain scan with a “degenerate” one. And then, the plot comes back to save the day! Citizen Brown asks how his life turns out, and Marty tells him about Clara, Jules, Verne, and his “bitchin’ time train”. Then, he asks about Edna, and at first, Marty is reluctant to tell him about her. But when pressed, Marty tells him about Edna’s sad life of old newspapers and yelling at young people. At this point, Citizen Brown starts to get cold feet, and isn’t sure if he can go through with the plan.

Yes, it seems that even after the corruption of his science, the oppression of Hill Valley, and Edna trying to personally brainwash him, he still holds a candle for her. Long story short, Doc gets all sulky and refuses to take part in the plan, driving off in the Delorean. Meanwhile, young Emmett has climbed the courthouse clock tower in despair, and is sitting up there contemplating life when Marty arrives and tells him not to jump, which he hadn’t contemplated in the first place. Marty admits that he orchestrated his breakup, and then challenges Emmett to create a new invention for the Expo, antagonizing him into it. And then a bolt of lightning gives Emmett the inspiration he needed for his hover car, setting the timeline right, barring any other interference.

Honestly, this one is the weakest of the five, but even with the plot completely dropping away from the middle of the game it’s still pretty enjoyable. The game’s focus is really split between Marty trying to get back to his timeline and First Citizen Brown’s remaining infatuation with Edna, and it makes the game feel all over the place.

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One comment

  1. I liked your article is an interesting technology
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