Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Celebrity Toons: Back to the Future (1991)

In the late 80's & early 90's, producer Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment was cranking out animated series with a little more frequency than the studio's live-action feature film output. Amblin partnered with WB for a trilogy of hit series: Tiny Toon Adventures, Animaniacs, & Pinky & the Brain. 1996's Freakazoid!, another Amblin/WB collaboration, would make this a tetralogy, given the minimal usage of Pinky & the Brain on that series. Amblin also worked with Universal to adapt two feature film franchises into animated series. 1987's "An American Tail", for example, begat Fievel's American Tales. When that series was cancelled by CBS, Amblin & Universal replaced it with an animated version of the "Back to the Future" movie series, set following the 3rd film. Here's the open to the cartoon:

Interestingly, the only cast members from the movies to fully transition to the cartoon were Thomas Wilson (Biff) & Mary Steenbergen. Christopher Lloyd (Doc Brown) served as the "host", introducing each episode, but in the episode proper, Doc's voice was done by Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons). Former soap star Josh Keaton (ex-General Hospital) landed one of his first toon jobs on this show, and would later have the honor of working on another icon---The Spectacular Spider-Man.

As you could tell from the clip above, the animation wasn't that great. In fact, Universal wouldn't have much luck with toons until a couple of years later. Michael J. Fox, who played Marty McFly in the movies, probably wasn't interested in the cartoon, hence Amblin hiring David Kaufman to play Marty, but Fox would give toons a go with a Disney movie a few years later. I for the life of me can't ID the artist covering Huey Lewis & the News' "Back in Time", which I think comes from the first film. Scientist Bill Nye made his debut here as well, with some short segments that would lead to him landing his own live-action series.

Rating: C.

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