Behind Batman, Back to the Future is one of my favorite, er, stuff. I’ve watched the trilogy countless times, and for the record, they’re all good. A year after the final movie released, a series debuted on Saturday mornings, continuing the adventures of Marty and the Brown family. Though there were plenty of quirks that defined what audience they were shooting for (8-12), it wasn’t half bad — only mostly — and even included nearly all of the original cast.
I’m going to assume you’ve seen Back to the Future. If you haven’t, what are you doing with your life? This picks up after the third part, where for no explained reason, the DeLorean wasn’t destroyed. The Browns (Doc, wife Clara, and children Jules and Verne) live in present day (1991) Hill Valley. Also, Marty lives with them, too, I think. Aside from the goofy, lowbrow antics, the show is mostly educational, as the group visit various time periods and learn about stuff.
Doc’s scientific acumen had apparently improved since marrying Clara. The DeLorean came with some new improvements, like a voice activated time circuit, and the ability to collapse into a brief case. In addition were the myriad inventions lying around, like a holographic tutor or helicopter helmet.
Normally, something like this could be written off, reproducing the same characters from a property and having them repeat the same actions that made them famous ad nauseam. For instance, Doc is always inventing things while rarely an episode goes by where Marty isn’t playing a guitar. Just makes them one-dimensional. Again, no major loss if it weren’t for the production value. First, the show was bookended by live action segments from Doc Brown himself, Christopher Lloyd. The crazed, wild haired scientist would be in his lab talking about science. Better still, the end of the episode would feature reproducible experiment for kids featuring none other than Bill Nye. At least it wasn’t a PSA.
Adding to that was the voice work. While Michael J. Fox didn’t return, the rest of the cast did. Thomas F. Wilson voiced Biff, James Tolkan was Principal Strickland, and Mary Steenburgen reprised her role as Clara. What’s odd is Lloyd didn’t voice Brown in the cartoon. Instead, Dan Castellaneta (Homer Simpson) provided vocals. He did a decent job mimicking Lloyd, but mostly sounded like Richard Nixon. David Kaufman played Marty. He’s done stuff. Also increasing the quality was the opening credits, which featured “Back in Time” by Huey Lewis and the News. While the song will forever be associated with the film, the fact that they licensed it for a cartoon shows some level of commitment.
Ultimately, the show was mediocre. Not bad, but nothing to write home about. It’s like $500 curtains for a broken window. The dressing and production are great, but the quality is poor. It seems like they set out to firmly half-ass their output. It’s worth checking out maybe an episode, if you can find one out there. Otherwise, you’re not missing much.
Know Back to the Future had a cartoon? Dreading when they eventually reboot the movies? Comment below!
And Einstein can drive the train.