At long last I have an excuse to make a blog post about my OTHER true love, “Back to the Future”! It’s genuinely tragic to me that there is no true link between Disney and BTTF, because I have so many feels for BTTF. I could go on about it for hours. (I do, actually.) But I try to adhere to my own blog rules which means this blog is for Disney content. Even if there’s only a peripheral Disney connection… But BTTF has none!
UNTIL NOW. Mwahaha. Last week I was home from work, and my son and I watched an episode of “Phineas and Ferb” that I hadn’t seen before that’s entitled “Phineas and Ferb’s Quantum Boogaloo”. If you’ve never seen or heard of “Phineas and Ferb”, which is kind of unlikely but still vaguely possible, it’s a Disney Channel cartoon series about two brothers who do incredibly unlikely things on a daily basis throughout summer vacation, to the generally obsessive annoyance of their teenaged older sister who is intent on getting them caught by their mother.
…Admit it, that song is totally in your head now.
OK, stepping aside from the Disney content for a moment, here’s the story of me and Back to the Future. I’ll try to give the shortest version possible. I saw the movie opening night in 1985, at age 7, in an old-fashioned theatre with a balcony. I remember very little of the experience except standing in line around the block to get in, and that there was a vicious thunderstorm that evening which took on a new meaning after seeing the film. I’ve not always been an obsessively dedicated superfan of BTTF, but I have always been kind of in love with it, and in recent years I realized it left a noticeable mark on me in terms of my tastes in movies and storytelling in general; if a movie uses time travel for its plot I’m probably going to like it. If it uses it in a way that is reminiscent of Back to the Future or either of the sequels, but without actually copying/parodying or directly referencing those movies, I am probably going to love it. Case in point: “Men In Black 3” (I may be among the only 5 people in the US who loved that film), “X-Men: Days of Future Past”, and “Star Trek: First Contact”, not to even mention my total thrill over Doctor Who episodes that really use the time travel plot device well.
So. Back to the Future marked me for life. We’ve established that. Now: how does this tie into Phineas and Ferb’s Quantum Boogaloo? Well, short version of the episode is that Phineas and Ferb make a quick trip 20 years into the future and wackiness happens. This short version doesn’t tell you that the episode basically mirrors the plot of “Back to the Future Part II”. 😀 😀 😀
P&F is a very, very clever show. They make numerous pop culture references without actually making them obvious, which is a skill that takes some practice. A show that makes a lot of pop culture references and leaves them obvious can often date itself, and if they do it heavily, it bogs the show down. P&F weaves them into the framework of the episode so that you may not even notice them as being references and that’s what they did here. For the first half of the episode I didn’t even realize how close it was to BTTF2; I just decided I was watching the perfect episode. Here are the reasons why:
- Great musical number.
- It’s about time travel (so, duh).
- Candace grown up is great. Good to know she really mellows out. 😉
- The timing of the episode weaves back and forth over itself, getting increasingly complex as it references an earlier episode, then the first episode, then earlier in the same episode, then another point in the first episode.
- The return to the first episode is done without any context given, assuming that you have seen the episode and know why the brief scenes you’re shown are significant.
- Dystopian future!
- Candace from the present and her mother from the future, and Candace’s inability to stop saying the word “old” along with her mother’s prolonged effort to stop her from saying it. Bwahaha.
OK. Anyway by the time the ep was over I realized that I liked it because they basically said “Hey, let’s take the plot of BTTF2 and use our characters!” And they did it so beautifully and perfectly that I almost didn’t notice, and THAT, my friends, THAT means it was done very well. Because I see Back to the Future everywhere. ;D (I believe I mentioned MIB3 and Days of Future Past, right? Did anyone see Days of Future Past? Wasn’t that ending TOTALLY the ending of Back to the Future?! COME ON, you know it was!) Anyway.
The most obvious reasons why “Quantum Boogaloo” = BTTF2 are relayed in points 4, 5, and 6 above. But there are more, and those are what sent me from “oh this reminds me of” into “nope, this is intentional” headspace:
- The heroes attempt to bring an item from the future back to their present, to their own advantage – Marty with Grey’s Sports Almanac and Phineas and Ferb with a futuristic tool slightly beyond the current-day technology. Noteworthy is that it’s fine for P&F to get the tool, probably because they won’t be using it to cheat and be aware of their own future the way Marty planned to do.
- The nemesis/sister in the future finds out about the time machine and uses it to change the past to his/her own advantage – Old Biff travels back to give himself the Almanac in the ’50s; adult Candace goes back to the first ep to bust her brothers.
- Return from the altered past to an altered present reveals that it’s changed very much for the worse – Marty finds 1985 Hill Valley is a slum run by Biff; Candace’s role shifts from Old Biff into Marty, returning to Danville to find it’s a grey dictatorship ruled by Doofenschmirtz. BONUS: Marty and Candace both find out the “new” history via a video recap.
- Going back once more to fix the past and get it back to the way it should be involves at least two versions of the same person (at the same age) running around behind the scenes.
- Topping it all off, this is the second time travel episode; in the first one, they travelled to the past. 😀
The differences, of course, all come out of the fact that P&F is a show where no rules really apply, so stuff like “you can’t encounter your future self or it could rip a hole in the space-time continuum!” is completely out the window. Everyone meets everyone and it’s all cool. LOL!
Anyway… that episode made me say to myself “Self, I know what we’re gonna do today!” 😀 And that was, write this blog post. Also, this ep was the one that finally tipped my scales from “Yeah, Phineas and Ferb is a cute show, I don’t mind the kids watching it” into “Okay, Phineas and Ferb is one of the most clever kids shows on TV today and possibly in the top 25 or so of all time.”