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Traffic jam - Nit-pick

Dear Johnny Fanboy,

Having recently re-watched Back to the Future - Part II, I have a couple of questions about it. There are probably loads of other holes I could poke in the plot, if I really looked into all the time-paradoxy stuff, but I’ll just ask these two nit-picks for now.

1. At the start of the movie, the Doc turns up, picks up Marty and Jennifer, heads off into the sky in his flying DeLorean and goes BACK TO THE FUTURE! My complaint is this... As the Doc has already been to 2015 (he’s pin-pointed this as being a pivotal problem year for Marty’s family) and would at least have scouted around that area and time period, why then does he stupidly dematerialise the DeLorean so that it reappears in a stream of traffic on a busy highway? Isn’t that a bit dangerous? Indeed, he almost hits a flying taxi. Why not materialise slightly off the road and then drive into Hill Valley when he’s got his bearings?

2. Also, why is the Doc in such a hurry to get BACK TO THE FUTURE? He’s got all the time in the world. He, Marty and Jennifer could grab a meal or even stay a day or two in 1985 and still travel forward in time to the exact point that Doc left.

Maria French


Johnny Fanboy replies:

1. The reason why Doc Brown doesn’t drive out of Hill Valley before accelerating up to 88 MILES PER HOUR is because he is in such a hurry, for reasons that are explained in the second part of my answer.

As for road - or rather sky - safety, looking at the movie again on DVD, I think the Doc positions the vehicle so that it rematerialises slightly above the traffic flow and he drives down into it after the car has materialised. It might be even more dangerous to materialise farther off the proper lane, because there could be heavy air traffic (i.e. aeroplanes) at other levels. There might also be some kind of police tracking system designed to spot cars that do not stay in their designated lanes, and the Doc wouldn’t want to fall foul of the law during his delicate mission.

The gag about Marty and Jennifer screaming and the taxi driver beeping his horn are simply the shocked reactions of the young passengers who are new to 2015.

2. The Doc is probably worried that the longer he and the DeLorean stay in 1985, the more people will be up and about and the more likely it will be that someone will witness his strange antics or - even worse - see his time vehicle taking off and disappearing. Indeed, the fact that Biff notices the flying DeLorean and changes history as a result is proof that the Doc should have made his getaway even faster.

And why doesn’t he drive out of Hill Valley before accelerating to 88 MILES PER HOUR? Well, he is sent into a panic by the unexpected presence of Jennifer. (Maybe he’s also concerned by the fact that the actress has changed since the first movie, and is worried that he may have inadvertently changed history!)