Growing up I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for the Back to the Future trilogy. The original Back to the Future was one of the few movies my mom let us watch on a school night at a time when TV on school nights was nixed. I have a very clear memory of watching Back to the Future II in the theaters. I remember this particularly well because my sister really wanted to see Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which was playing that same year, but was outvoted by the rest of us who wanted to see the Back to the Future sequel. Finally I also have the cozy family memory of seeing the third installment of the trilogy at Thanksgiving one year with most of my extended family crammed into the living room (usually 12-14 of us at that time) to watch the VHS video (yes those old-fashioned pre-DVD devices we watched in the old days.) Just in case you’ve been a geek living under a rock for the last 30 years and have not seen the trilogy in its entirety, please be warned, here there be spoilers.
Top Ten Reasons I Love the Back to the Future Trilogy
- The phrase 1.21 giggawatts of electricity. I don’t know what it is about this phrase, but it manages to sound both cool and scientific at the same time. A geek oxymoron!
- The Delorean. When I was a kid, I totally wanted one of these cars cuz in my head I thought that all DeLoreans were automatically time machines. Who could blame me w/those cool flip-open doors?
- Skateboarding on the backs of cars. Michael J. Fox makes it look so easy, but could you do that? (I also must mention that I loved the Huey Lewis song “The Power of Love” that played while he was skateboarding through Hill Valley, for awhile as a kid I listed it as my favorite song. Heck I am still admitting that I like it today!)
- ZZ Top as the 1885 dance band in Back to the Future Pt III. I don’t think there was a more perfect group to portray an 1880’s band than these bearded brethren. I also love the instrument flip they do when they resume playing after a break in the music.
- The flying cars in Back to the Future Part II. 2015 is only three years away Spielberg! Where are our flying cars?
- The subsequent Family Guy Parodies.
- Stewie re-creating the skateboard chase scene in Back to the Future by causing Nazis to crash into a truck of manure in the ep “The Road to Germany.”
- Peter building a “time machine” out of a DeLorean in the ep Perfect Castaway” and when he crashes into a mall, saying, “Everyone in 1955 was on fire! I never knew that.”
- In the ep “The Courtship of Stewie’s Father,” an animated Doc Brown telling an animated Marty and Jennifer that “Something’s gotta be done about your kids. Your daughter marries a black man.” To which the animated Marty replies, “That’s actually not a big deal for me.”
- In the ep “Baby Not on Board,” Peter, dressed as Marty rides a skateboard to school to the song “The Power of Love,” parodying the opening sequence of Back to the Future.
- The entire ep of “Meet the Quagmires.” (In this ep Peter travels back in time to the 80’s where he must win Lois’ heart back, so he does not jeopardize the existence of Chris, Meg, and Stewie who are depicted in a photo (sound familiar anyone?)
- When Peter is back in the 80’s he hears Ronald Reagan on the radio and says, “Ronald Reagan, the actor, he’s president? And Brian awesomely replies, “Peter, you’re the one from the future, you should… Oh forget it.”
- Brian explaining why “…everything’s all messed up,” uses a chalkboard to explain how a chalk line represents the normal flow of events,” …Here’s where you met Lois, here’s where you got married, and here’s the present, and here’s the night at the bar. Now at some point during that evening you did something that changed the course of your history causing the timeline to skew off into in alternate tangent where you’re married to Molly Ringwald, Quagmire is married to Lois, and we have a chalkboard in the living room.” This is a direct reference to the scene in Back to the Future Pt II, when Doc explains to Marty how Biff’s stealing the future sports almanac and giving it to his younger self, caused the alternate universe 1985 to be created.
- Peter punches out Quagmire who is dancing w/Lois at the country club dance just as George punches out a jerk that cuts in while he’s dancing w/Lorraine.
- Brian, enlisted to play at the country club dance, plays the song “Earth Angel” then after that song is finished he says, “Here’s a song by a gay guy,” and proceeds to play Rick Astley and a band member calls his cousin, saying “Hey Rick. It’s your cousin Marvin. Marvin Astley. You know that mediocre, generic sound you’ve been looking for? Well listen to this!” This is very similar to the scene in Back to the Future where Marty also plays “Earth Angel” at a school dance, and then when encouraged to play another song, proceeds to play “Johnny B. Goode.”
- Honorable Mention goes to the online parody “Brokeback to the Future, which celebrates the Hoyay that is Marty and Doc’s relationship on Youtube.
7. The evolution of the clock tower from movie to movie. It goes from being struck by lightning in 1955, to being stuck at 10:04 p.m. in 1985, to Biff Tannen’s Pleasure Paradise Casino & Hotel in the alternate 1985 in Back to the Future Pt II, to being a mall in 2015, to being dedicated in 1885.
8. The consistency in the business names between the different time periods in Hill Valley, Calif.
- A. Jones Manure Hauling
- Statler Motors/Horses
- Lou’s Café (then Lou’s Fitness Aerobics Center)
9. Marty inadvertently influencing future events.
- Telling diner employee Goldie Wilson that he’ll be mayor some day. (this is true, in 1985, a campaign car w/speakers blaring “Re-elect Mayor Goldie Wilson” can be seen.
- The Twin Pines Mall being renamed Lone Pine Mall after Marty crashes into pine trees on the Peabody ranch in 1955.
- -The Hill Valley ravine changing names. Causing the ravine to not be called Clayton Ravine after helping Doc rescue teacher Clara Clayton in 1885. Causing Shonash Ravine to be named Eastwood Ravine. (Once he arrives in 1885 in Back to the Future Pt. III, he decides to go by the name Clint Eastwood because that’s the first name that pops into his head when he arrives there.) After he drives the train/DeLorean off the ravine, then you can see when he returns to 1985 that it is now named Eastwood Ravine.
10. The ending of the trilogy. I cannot imagine a more fitting or definitive end to the trilogy than the one that Spielberg and Co. cooked up. Doc Brown returning in a time machine he’s built out of a locomotive w/his wife Clara and their two kids, cutely named Jules and Verne. I always get a little teary when Doc tells Marty and Jennifer “…your future hasn’t been written yet. No one’s has. Your future is whatever you make it. So make it a good one, both of you.”