Friends, before Back to the Future Part II was released on November 22nd of 1989, there was a behind the scenes special aired on NBC on the evening of November 17th. One that happened to be hosted by the late and great Leslie Nielsen, who was experiencing a rise in popularity thanks to 1988’s The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!. Although Nielsen obviously had nothing to do with either Back to the Future or it’s 1989 sequel, he was a fantastic choice to act as host for the television event. During the airing of the 1985 film as I understand it, Nielsen would narrate and host the behind the scenes segments from both films – keeping in mind at the time it was a complete secret that Back to the Future Part II ended in a cliffhanger!
I am not sure what I was doing the night the Back to the Future Part II special was shown, but until I stumbled across that video, I have never had the pleasure of seeing it before. Which is curious as I was and still am a huge fan of the trilogy of films, in fact I am that odd duck that really loves Back to the Future Part III more than the other two movies.
While I might have missed that NBC special on TV I was most definitely at the first Saturday matinee showing of the highly anticipated sequel to Back to the Future. And while even in my youth I did my best to avoid spoilers for films, I broke the rule and picked up the novelization for Back to the Future Part II the day before seeing the movie. Judging by the reaction of that packed auditorium when the ‘To Be Continued’ title popped up on the screen, I was the only one who knew that Marty and Doc’s adventures weren’t quite over. The massive groan that came from the crowd turned to grumblings as the majority of them rose from their seats and started to head for the door… just seconds before they rushed back to their seats as the teaser for Back to the Future Part III began.
Now before I end this article on that 1989 Back to the Future Part II special, I would be criminally remiss if I didn’t point out that if you are a fan of the films, you need to check out this interview with the esteemed Rob Klein – pop culture historian and archivist extraordinaire!