Well, here it is… Back to the future – THE SERIES; The Hill Valley Chronicles; The epic time-peregrination of Marty McFly; The Scott-tastic, nonsensical, illogical fantasy-science of Doc Brown, serialised into an ironically epic format; the - well, you get the point. Here are my thoughts:
Quality was good. My preference was to watch the black and white/sepia(ish) versions, which for me really added a whole new dimension, and these looked good. Occasionally there's the odd scene that's a little too dark, but nothing major. The "sepia" isn't really sepia, but more of a grainy, desaturated look akin to what you'd expect from an older Western - so this was apt and worked well. Only complaint here (once again, very minor) was that the old-film style "tracking" was a little predictable and annoying at times, but you learn to look past it. If I could change anything, I'd lose the "old film" filter and just use film grain and colour correction.
Audio wise I had only one issue - I hadn't noticed this with previous incarnations of the edit - but during a couple of scenes at the undersea dance in episode six, the audio bit rate sounded noticeably low at times (sort of phasery). I suppose this could have been a byproduct of either changing the key or stretching the audio, which may have been something the editor needed to do – I don't know. Either way, considering the scope of the edit, it's pretty minor and I didn't notice anything similar on any of the other episodes.
Editing is very good and the opening titles are beautifully done, setting the scene well for what's to come - I never felt the need to skip it (It's like Stranger Things all over again). During episodes. there is the odd cut here and there which is a little sudden, most of which occur at the end of the BTTF3 episodes. Given what there is to work with though, I imagine it's very difficult to get these looking natural. Narrative wise, I think the editor had made the right choice as to where to cut at the end of episodes and, although most of the endings felt quite abrupt, this was made up for with the episode openings which were well chosen and really felt like the start of a new episode.
Narrative was good, although flawed. Having Marty wake up as if from a dream instead of showing us the 1955 events was a genius way of letting us see all of the 1955 scenes eventually play together. It does create some initial confusion, but flashbacks have been inserted to imply that even though WE aren't aware of what's happened, Marty is - and when we finally hit "Temporal junction point of the entire time/space continuum day", you forgive and forget. It's just SO MUCH FUN.
Enjoyment is high, because (read previous sentence). It's odd really, but there's something about the episodic format that makes you want to binge something that you probably wouldn't be as keen to binge in its original cinematic form. On the other end of the spectrum, it's also just really nice to have the option of sticking on a 30 minute episode of BTTF and not needing to commit to watching the entire film. This is also the most I've ever enjoyed Back To The Future 3, which I've never really rated. Hill Valley Chronicles is a homage, and in no way intended as a fan fix – however, although the original BTTF is a sacred cow, this edit is definitely my preferred viewing method for parts two and three of the franchise.
My final qualm, which is preferential, is that I preferred the non-extended version of episode six (which is how it existed in an earlier form). I really enjoyed the bite -sized format so, even though it works as a sort of "special", it just felt a bit too long for me and I missed the cliffhanger that the original, shorter version had.
Well, I've now seen this many, many times over via several different versions (mostly due to giving feedback to the editor prior to release)... one would think I'd be tired of it, wouldn't one?
So would I.
On the contrary...
I love it.
Back To The Future, unlike for many others, is not one of my favourite films. I grew up watching it, and I have fond memories of it. I own it (obvs) and on the odd occasion I've sat down to watch it for a bit of fun with either friends or family, but it's never been more than that. But for whatever reason, watching the same material again and again and again reworked and re-edited in a different way just seems to have heightened my respect for the source material. It's also so rare to watch something again and again and yet still have the same scenes make you laugh and the same lines make you smile...
Thank you, Sinbad, for involving me in the editing process and thank you also, for taking my vague sense of nostalgia and rekindling it into a passionate love for the BTTF franchise. (Wow... *wipes tear from eye* ...this is heavy.)
I watched this over the course of two weeks and wrote a short review for each episode in the forum thread. To summarize:
This was pretty darn great. There were some flaws here and there, but no deal-breakers. The structure of the plot and the episode breaks were handled quite well. The only big issue I had with this were Episodes 5 & 6, which I felt were too long and didn't flow well for me. Also, the various "Previously On" and "Next Time On" segments were too long. Other than that this was a great way to rewatch the Back to the Future saga.
This edit is a lot of fun. It provides a great, creative way to rewatch a trilogy that many have seen several times over already. The custom title cards, opening sequence and "previously on" are exceptionally well done and work well to sell it as a TV show. It's not perfect though. I felt that the first three episodes had some narrative inconsistencies that weren't explained and the editing could've been a bit tighter to make it seem like a real TV show. But it's a small complaint.
Where this edit really shines is in the middle episodes. The B&W treatment of the 1955 segment is stunning and fits perfectly. I almost wish the editor hadn't given the option of watching these episodes in colour, because B&W is far better. Episode 6 is worth the price of admission alone. The way the editor ramped up the action to the climax of this episode was brilliant. The narrative through 1955 can seem a bit confusing, but if you could keep up with Westworld, you shouldn't have an issue with this.
After that, it's basically BTTF3 edited into 3 episodes. It's less inspired than the 1955 segment, but there's only so much you can do with the source. It does its job. But, I think the editor missed a huge opportunity here. We start off in colour when we're in 1985 and 2015. We go back to 1955 and we're in B&W. Wonderful! We go even further back to 1885 and... we're back in colour? This would've been an excellent opportunity to go into a scratchy B&W, silent era look or even a sepia tone. The switch back to colour doesn't fit with the aesthetic (unless you watch it all in colour, I guess).
In the end, this is an impressive edit and well worth your time. Highly recommended.