Episode 381: Marty McFly Day

The Overthinking It Podcast commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Nintendo Entertainment System and the Back to the Future milestone date of October 21, 2015.

otip-logo-podcastoneMatthew Belinkie, Pete Fenzel, and Mark Lee commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Nintendo Entertainment System and the Back to the Future milestone date of October 21, 2015.


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16 Comments on “Episode 381: Marty McFly Day”

  1. Adrian #

    Another important data point for Robert Zemeckis around that time is Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which is – depending on how you look at it – either a light and goofy take on 40s film noir (especially Chinatown, which is pretty brutal), or else it’s a dark and gritty reimagining of classic children’s cartoons (and civil engineering).


  2. Liz #

    Loved this one. Thank you. While visiting a college roommate in 2006 in DC, I saw an original Nintendo set up to play at a bar. My roommate had seen me beat the game in under 30 minutes several times and strongly encouraged me to do it again right then. I reluctantly started playing. In about 20 minutes there was a crowd of about 30 people standing around and cheering me on. I only had one life left going into world 8 – 4 after the hammer throwers in 8 – 3, one of the most difficult parts. With one life left and everyone watching, I got to the very end of the game quickly. Then I choked. I jumped right into bowser’s flames instead of running underneath him like I had done so many times in the quiet of my dorm room. It was still sort of a cool experience and the people watching were still excited. Thank you again very much.


  3. Emil #

    Huh, so I bought Overview episodes as they where posted (or even pre-ordered one!) and now I’m getting penalized for it! Nice going! ;-)

    Matt, you googled the ending text to avoid “well, actually” but then you said that Wizard’s protagonist is suffering due his mother’s death.

    Well, actually! It was his sister.

    Despite hatred for The Wizard it’s still one of my favorite movies from the past. Would you believe this where the first time I even saw NES? 80s where a 8-bit computer time in Europe. The only gaming console we had was Atari 2700.


    • sheely OTI Staff #

      Definitely not our intention to penalize the early adopters like you, Emil!

      E-mail us at [email protected]. We’ve got you covered!

      (Same goes for anyone else who purchased these early).


  4. clayschuldt #

    In Back to the Future 3 it is stated that Doc. Brown’s family did not come to Hill Valley until after 1885 and the family name was NOT Brown, it was Von Braun. It was changed during the first World War. This implies that Doc is related to Wernher Von Braun the created of the V2 Rockets. Their could be some weird historic guilt going on with Doc. but at the same time some inspiration.


  5. Lea #

    Loved the episode as always, though I didn’t even know it was out since it never updated on Sticher. Did you guys remove your show from there?

    Also, I enjoyed the short bit about the experience of watching video games and the concept of competitive gaming. Right now, all of my friends and I are following Worlds, and several of my friends always have Twitch open to their favourite streamer. It’s interesting to see how much traction such a passive act has even over playing the game itself.


    • Lea #

      Nevermind the Sticher point. For some reason the episodes are there, but it simply isn’t putting the newest episode first.


  6. DeanMoriarty #

    Bit late to the party, but I really enjoyed this one, and I have some overthinking (overthoughts?) that I want to share.

    As far as the first movie’s relationship to the past (1955), I think it does try to critique it, but does so somewhat ineffectually. It tries to present it as this supposedly innocent time, but where ‘bad’ things are right beneath the surface. It mostly does this through Marty’s parents. His mom tells him how she used to be a saint back in high school. But we learn she used to smoke, drink and ‘park.’ His dad’s story of being an avid birdwatcher who, after a chance encounter, gallantly sweeps this girl off her feet at a romantic dance gets destroyed. He’s a pervert who ‘gets’ the girl because her other option was going along with a bully who constantly assaulted and harassed her (I think there’s an interesting feminist critique of this move to be explored there).
    The problem is that in order to show this bad picture of his parents lurking underneath the surface, the surface of 1955 has to be shown to be something close to paradise.

    I would argue, however, that the none of the movies are that concerned with commenting on the differences between the actual past, present or future. I’d argue that the movies’ main worry, and their main moral, is people’ relationship with their own past, present and future.
    If you look at Marty’s parents at the beginning of the first one, they are miserable, but they are also stuck in the past. The kids make fun of them for constantly rehashing the story of how they met, for example. George is still working with the guy who bullied him in high school. George watches re-runs.
    When Marty goes back to 1955 (in movie 1), his parents are very much in the present. They don’t seem to give much thought to the future (or the past, really). George is not willing to try to have a relationship w/ Lorraine and is instead just a perv. His stories are just something he does to amuse himself, he sees no future for them. Lorraine seems to be ready and eager to ‘park’ with whichever guy her dad hits with a car. Even biff is obsessed with little more than maintaining his car.
    When Marty shows up, all he’s trying to do is go back to the status quo, to his present. Yet, in trying to get his parents together, he makes them think about the future. Lorraine’s attempts at instant gratification turn out horribly (mostly cause of time travel incest, gross). George goes after Lorraine, and begins to see a future and purpose as a writer.
    Going futher on this point, part of the ‘shine’ of 1955 in those movies is that it’s presented as time when people had hope. When Marty tells Goldie Wilson he’s going to be mayor, the future Mayor doesn’t reject this idea. He is open to hoping for the future.
    The 1985 of BTTF is a place without hope for the future. Like you guys mentioned, all they can think of doing with the clock tower is tear it down or keep it as is. No one’s even thinking of fixing it. Reagan’s message of Morning In America resonates with this image of 1985. People wanted to believe in the future again. It’s also why nostalgia for a time like 1955, where everyone seemed to be brimming with hope, was rampant.
    In BTTF 2, Old Marty’s problems stem partly from dwelling on the past. He dwells on being a young musician instead of moving forward with his current career. He insists on living in his old neighborhood (right?). ‘Something must be done about his kids’ because they are basically repeating his mistakes because their father is clearly not giving them any reason to be optimistic.
    Even Evil Rich Biff (in BTTF’s version of the mirror universe) is so obsessed with his own past that he basically extorts his old high school crush (who hates/fears him) into marriage. This is his downfall, since it’s why Marty can get to him. If he’d just taken the money, skipped town, and found another woman to be awful to, Marty could never have destroyed the mirror universe timeline at its inception.

    Fenzel talked about how the whole trilogy is concerned with predetermination and cyclical behaviors of family and personality. I think what the movie is trying to say when Doc says “the future’s not written” is that the way to break out of those cycles, to destroy any predetermination is to believe that the future is not written. If you are stuck with the idea that the past, or even the present, will determine the future, then it will. If you realize that you can still change it, with or without time travel, then it won’t be.
    All that to say, do the movies think that 1955 is better than 1985? yes, but only insofar as 1955 seemed to have more hope for the future than 1985 seemed to have.
    Yet, clearly by 88-89, some sense of hope had come back into the outlook of the creators. In the future they created, the Cubs win the World Series, there’s cool technology, the clock’s fixed up, etc.
    Who knows, maybe what got the world out of it’s fatalistic 1985 funk was the inspirational sci-fi oeuvre of George McFly? Maybe the reason our 2015 doesn’t have flying cars and hoverboards is because George McFly never inspired anyone to invent them.


    • ThreeActDestructure #

      I’d agree with all of that, especially contemplating a feminist critique of BTTF (so Marty actually has a girlfriend and yet the damsel in distress is… his own mother? And the version of events that leads to the most miserable present day is the one in which she’s the more sexually aggressive parent? Hoo boy.).

      One minor nitpick though: Marty does NOT live in his childhood neighborhood in 2015. I was surprised too but rewatching it this year I realized that he, in fact, lives in another almost-identical suburb called Hilldale.

      Also, in confirming this, I’ve stumbled upon a disturbingly well-documented listing of the geography of Hill Valley: http://backtothefuture.wikia.com/wiki/List_of_Hill_Valley_streets

      So that’s fun.


  7. Matthew Belinkie OTI Staff #

    Couple more questions:

    1. The Tannen family never changes. They are carbon copies of each other. However, the McFly family DOES change – Seamus, George, Marty, Marty Jr. – there’s a ton of personality fluctuation there. Why the difference?

    2. There’s a mysterious missing generation of Tannens – Biff’s son, and Griff’s father (or maybe mother, could be a girl there). Where is this person? That’s basically Needles. Maybe they decided that having Thomas F. Wilson play yet another bully would just be too much.

    3. I do wonder how Doc and Marty met. In timeline 1, it happened organically. In timeline 2, Doc KNEW he was supposed to be friends with Marty and maybe sought him out on purpose?


  8. Andrew #

    Just watched BttF 2 with the overview, which was awesome! You guys mentioned that it takes repeat viewings to really gain an appreciation of the movie (like how Doc Brown’s shirt has a train robbery on it), and, having seen it many times before, I definitely saw that play out anew in a couple of details.

    One that really jumped out was the flame(?) trails left by the Delorean when it gets struck by lightning at the end, sending Doc Brown back in time. I was never sure why it looked like a pair of backwards 9’s (according to the filmmakers, it was supposed to signify that the car flipped on its axis). But then I noticed in the very last shot of the movie after 1955 Doc Brown faints that there is a sign with neon lights in the shape of a backwards 9. What does the sign say? “Western Auto”. When is the Delorean (the auto in question) sent to once it’s struck by lightning? The old west! Brilliant!

    Also, this is somewhat unrelated, but I realized that when old Biff and young Biff have the conversation in his car, at that moment not only are there 2 Martys, Biffs, and Doc Browns, but there are 3 Deloreans scattered around Hill Valley, none of which have technically been invented at that point: the one from the first movie, the one that old Biff stole, and the one that Marty and Doc took back to stop old Biff. I immediately thought of this episode of Star Trek: http://tinyurl.com/nv8r89v


    • clayschuldt #

      4 Deloreans if you count the one buried in the boot hill cemetery that they uncover in Back to the Future 3.


      • Andrew #

        That’s right! I forgot about the beginning of BttF 3!


    • fenzel OTI Staff #

      I’ve mentioned it a few times on the podcast and overviews, but this is my favorite take on the subject, “Lost in Time” from Sealab 2021:



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