Jules and Verne want to compete in the "Father-Son Big Mouth Bass-Off", but the boys learn that their father was afraid of fishing. Using a wacky invention, the boys go into his memory and find out that while staying with his "Oddball" Uncle Oliver in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, one summer, four-year-old Emmett fell into the river while fishing.
The boys, with Marty tagging along, head back in time to August 5, 1926, to prevent the accident, thereby eliminating Emmett's fear of fishing. The boys prevent the accident but a new accident is created, when Marty falls into the river instead. When little Emmett Brown casts his line, it gets caught on a low flying stunt biplane (flown as part of the "Roris Von Hinkelhuffins Flying Circus") and the stunt is captured on film. Soon, Emmett is featured in a silent film, and a movie producer signs a contract with Uncle Oliver (who is now managing his young nephew's career) for a series of film shorts about Daredevil Brown. Little Emmett moves to Hollywood and then becomes very famous doing crazy stunts on film, while Oliver, Marty, Jules and Verne enjoy the good life.
Eventually, movie producer D.W. Tannen proposes a very dangerous stunt, going over a waterfall -- not the Niagara Falls, but the 2,425 foot high "Upper Yosemite Falls" -- in a barrel. The plan is for a dummy will take Emmett's place, but Tannen plans on keeping Emmett in the barrel because "This has got to look like the Real McDonald!". Learning of the scheme, Marty stalls for time with a tightrope walk, while Jules places a "spare flux capacitor" in the barrel. Verne, who is not much taller than little Emmett, and somewhat resembles him, takes his father's place in the barrel. Shortly after the stunt begins, Uncle Oliver sees the dummy, realizes what Tannen had planned, and dives into the river. Marty saves Oliver, the barrel goes over the falls, and when it reaches eighty-eight miles per hour, it vanishes. Emmett is alive and well, and Uncle Oliver gives up the movie business. After the Brown family goes fishing at a stream near the falls, the time-traveling barrel materializes on schedule, as Jules had planned. When Marty and the boys return to the future, Doc, who now has no fear of fishing, is ready to go to the Bass-Off.
Behind the scenes
- Doc's actual age is not mentioned in the film trilogy. The non-canon sources (novelizations, animated TV series and video game) offer different dates. In the storyline of the animated series, this episode mentions that Emmett Brown was four years old during the summer of 1926, placing his year of birth at late 1921 or early 1922. The novelization of the first film describes Doc Brown as having been 65 years old in 1985, which would mean a birth year of 1920 (or late 1919). Episode 1 of Back to the Future: The Game shows Emmett Brown as a 17 year old in June 1931, which would mean a birth year of 1913 or 1914. The film trilogy itself does not mention Doc's age or his year of birth, although 1955 Doc does look at a videotape from 30 years into his own future and says "Look at me! I'm an old man!"; and in Part III, when Doc mentions that the family had been "the Von Brauns", he tells Marty "My father changed our name in World War One" (emphasis added), which might suggest that Doc had already been born by 1917, when the U.S. entered that war. Born in 1938, actor Christopher Lloyd was actually 47 during the filming of Back to the Future, when he portrayed 1955 Doc Brown without aging makeup, rather than 42, 36 or 34.
- In the introduction, Doc (as portrayed by Christopher Lloyd) is seen meeting Thomas Edison in the 1920s, and getting an autographed light bulb that says "To Doc- All the best!-- Thomas". Charles Lindbergh is not mentioned in the episode.
- Based on the amount of time for Emmett to attain fame and then retire, Marty, Jules and Verne apparently spent a few months in 1926 before returning to 1991.
- Jules and Verne have altered the timeline dramatically, in effect rewriting their father's life, but without endangering their existence. Jules warns Verne and Marty in advance that this is "not so cool".
- The episode appears to have several parallels to the film Back to the Future. In one scene, little Emmett is in a film where he is in danger of falling from a clock tower. Jules and Verne alter the past, and return to a present where their father Emmett is fearless. Marty did the same thing for his father, George, in 1985.
- Although Doc is shown as having a lifelong phobia of even looking at a fish, this is inconsistent with the film, where a large marlin is on the wall of Doc's home.
- "Oddball Uncle Oliver" has a heavy German accent and calls Emmett his "liebchen", suggesting that he was one of the Von Brauns. However, he signs the contract as with his alias of "Oddball Uncle Oliver", so it's not certain.
- As often noted, "the canonicity of the animated series as an extension of the films' storyline is unclear". Nowhere is it more true than in this episode, which essentially used 30 minutes of a Saturday morning cartoon to create an alternate timeline where Emmett Brown had been a famous child actor. Although this episode could probably also occur in the year 1917 (if we modify it to make it The Game compliant), the episode was definitely set in 1926, and it isn't ours to modify.
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