Part II Minute 66 – High Schooler Finances

Part 2 Minute-00066

Biff argues with the mechanic who fixed his car over cost as Marty climbs in the backseat and hides under a blanket.

GUEST: Norman Benford and Brad Gilmore from Back to the Future: The Podcast


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3 thoughts on “Part II Minute 66 – High Schooler Finances

  1. [03:02]
    It’s kind of refreshing that there’s some little thing that is introduced and immediately, oh hey, that’s why this was included. Now, Old Biff is going to give Biff a clue that he’s his older self, but Biff in 1955 wouldn’t have picked up on it because (A) he wouldn’t immediately jump to “I time-traveled to talk to me”, and (B) he’s seriously not smart enough to pick up on the similarities.

    Biff is such a strange character in BTTF in general because with all of Doc’s flailing that if an older and younger version of the same person meet, they’ll both either implode the universe or just faint upon meeting each other, Biff (and Doc) is the one person who seems to be immune to that effect. And it’s not even that Old Biff is from a timeline that no longer exists, because Old Biff still exists in that bubble, and he still has the potential to decide not to give the almanac to his younger self. It’s just weird that Biff, of all people, would be immune to that effect.

    I hadn’t thought of there being any transference, but now that I’m thinking about it for more than five seconds, there’s an interesting possibility. In this one scene, Terry is trying to get Biff to pay up for having to shovel all that manure out of Biff’s car, as well as any repairs that it needed after physically bumping into the back of the truck itself. Biff, of course, being the entitled white boy pissbaby he is, bitches about the fact that he has to pay so much, and his general attitude is that he shouldn’t have to deal with this inconvenience. And yet when Revised-Biff owns his own business, it’s an auto-detailing business, which might do more in terms of sprucing up cars, rather than outright repairs? I could be wrong about that. Maybe Revised-Biff has been brought low enough to where he feels that he could not only work with his hands and get money for it, but he could also demand that people pay hundreds of dollars for him to make their cars look even better than before?

    He’d have to get the money from his grandmother, right? I mean, if Kid Tannen is his dad, what if the police were never able to find the money from his bootlegging business, but Gertrude has access to it, and that’s why they can stay in a suburban neighborhood rather than living in a shack in the Very Wrong Side of Town (if such a thing actually exists in Hill Valley)?

    Not only that, but if you look at the inflation rate, $300 in 1955 would’ve been $1,204.48 in 1985, and $2,698.19 in 2016 (yay CPI calculator from the government!) That is some serious dough to be demanding and throwing around.

    Though, if you think about it, people dump thousands of dollars of repairs into their cars all the time? A few hundred here to fix a few dents, a thousand or so to fix a radiator there, and it adds up. It’s kind of astounding that Terry’s demanding that much for manure removal, but (A) that’s some serious hauling, and um, ew, and (B) there could’ve been some under-the-hood damage when the side of Biff’s car smacked into the back of the manure truck itself. I know that a friend of mine got rear-ended one time, and then it turned out that there was a lot more damage to the tire alignment, even though the car would still start and run just fine.

    Omg, I don’t know if that’s foreshadowing to Part III, or what, but that is the most amazing thing ever. :O

    Not only that, but Mad Dog’s beef was that his horse threw a shoe, and Biff’s beef is that there was horse shit all over the inside of his car. And if you think of a car like a mode of conveyance like a horse, both instances are of a vehicle being ruined by Tannen’s own idiocy, him blaming someone else for the incident, and him having to pay $80.

    If you think about 2015-Biff, this is the Revised-Biff, the one who cringed and served George McFly. Now, in 1955, we see Biff walking tall and not being afraid to use his size in order to intimidate the field. In Revised-1985, we see him sort of physically diminished — George has shown his superiority by laying Biff out with one punch, and Biff sort of unconsciously holds himself in such a way as to avoid a second hit. If he’s been hunching his shoulders in defeat for thirty years, he would’ve gotten a bit of a hunchback, and if he’s still working in his auto-detailing business at 77, that means that he doesn’t make enough to be able to retire. He has to wake up every morning with the same aches and pains and push through in order to make money, and it’s very likely that he’s not the kind of guy who’d know how to save his money, so he can’t make a big down payment in order to get himself rejuvenated like Doc did. So, we see him like he is.

    I always got the impression that the garage was behind the storefront? I mean, I’m so used to seeing garages having the cars that people are working on front and center, but in the ’50s, if they’re trying to present a Leave It To Beaver kind of storefront so as to get more customers to come in and put faith in their business that they’ll get the job done right, they’d probably hide the actual grunt work. I mean, like, maybe in the ’50s, people thought that a clean storefront meant that you were more trustworthy than some rundown place?

    Downtown might be a bad idea, but if you think about Hill Valley in the ’50s, Twin/Lone Pine Mall is considered fairly far — “This was all farmland, as far as the eye could see!”, and Lyon Estates is far enough outside of town that Marty’s got a two-mile trek ahead of him just to get back to civilization (Hill Valley proper). The town itself hasn’t grown enough to the point where the garage could be anywhere other than downtown. Whoever owns the garage could’ve tried to take a risk and deliberately build outside of town, but if they guess wrong about which direction Hill Valley is going to develop, they’ll be the shmucks who built a garage in the middle of nowhere, and who the hell is going to see those guys?

    Not only that, but if you’re in a location that’s easy to find, that means that (A) the tow trucks will know where to take cars, and (B) you’re more likely to get business, either because of foot-traffic or because people can remember, “Main Street, next to the motel” a lot easier than “When you see the gnarled oak about two miles out of town, turn off the paved road.”

    Biff is one of those people who will deliberately misunderstand things in order to get what they want. When I have to deal with it in real life, I want to slap their faces off so hard that they’d be feeling it for the next year. When I see Biff doing it, I just smile because I know he’s going to be screwed over. <3

    That poor kid. You just know that his favorite TV shows were something like Gunsmoke and the Lone Ranger or whatever. His mother is secretly plotting how to arrange a horrible accident so that hat dies once and for all.

    And still the hat remains.

    "Ecosystem of Horror" sounds like it should either be a band name, or a haunted house. (Best phrase ever!)

    Biff is one of those guys who throws shoes behind him, and when someone catches them, Biff frowns because there's supposed to be a thud. And then when the person remembers, oh, he's expecting a thud, and drops them, then Biff just shrugs and goes back to what he was doing. 😀

    "trying to get my divorced parents back together level of espionage" is so true. I keep cracking up because of these wonderful turns of phrase. 😀

    "The Canadian kid is not our fault.”

    Biff not looking under the blanket is astounding because it gives the impression that Biff is too trusting, which is especially weird since he’s trying to get everything under the sun from Terry because he’s having to pay $300 for the work on his car. I would think that Biff, of all people, wouldn’t trust Terry, and would look under every single nook and cranny in order to say, “Well, lookit that! I know that wasn’t in my car when I handed it off to you! You better gimme a discount, or I’ll rearrange your face.” I’m betting that in the original timeline, Biff took the car home and popped the hood in order to make sure everything was in working order.

    • To your point that Biff running into his future self doesn’t pose a risk to the space-time continuum: whoa! I never paid attention to that before. It’s like Doc is suddenly unconcerned with a paradox after seeing Jennifer run into herself with little consequence. He goes from shouting about how Jennifer could cause a rip in time and destroy the (our) universe, to telling Marty he has to let old Biff interact with young Biff before the almanac can be stolen. Maybe Doc presumed Biff would be so stupid about meeting his future self, nothing adverse would happen. Or maybe because he and Marty had already seen Hell Valley 1985, he knew it was going to be okay (in a universe safety kind of way, obviously not in a “Hill Valley makes a great Tannenville” kind of way). Like, it’s already happened in the future so they know it’s going to be okay. But I don’t think I agree with that line of thinking.

  2. We do already know how much Biff’s auto repairs cost him, because in the first movie he grabs Marty in the parking lot at the dance and says, “You cost three-hundred bucks damage to my car, you son of a bitch.” It a very simple callback, but I think it’s the first one we’ve gotten since we’ve returned to ’55 in this film. I can imagine 1989 audiences reacting like, “Ohhh yeahhh!” And now we have more substance to back up Biff’s anger toward Marty at the dance. God, I love all the background stuff this movie shows us when it revisits 1955. I’d pay to see a movie in which Doc and Marty just continually go back to the night of the dance and watch what every resident of Hill Valley was doing that day. A portrait of a small town on the day of its historic lightning strike. And its historic invention of rock n’ roll.

    There is another quick setup/payoff similar to the “I’m the only one who can start this car” one we see here. At the very start of the first movie, a news reporter on TV mentions missing plutonium, and a minute later, the film reveals the plutonium trunk under Doc’s bed. Admittedly, it’s a pretty small example working mostly as exposition, and the plutonium has many payoffs later in the Twin Pines parking lot, but it’s still similar.

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