When TV star Mr. Wisdom, films an episode in Hill Valley, Verne goes to meet him in person — only to find out that his hero has a poor history with his father and some nasty skeletons hidden in his closet.
This episode includes examples of the following tropes:
- Broken Pedestal: Verne originally loves Mr. Wisdom's show to the point that he wants to meet the man personally. After the events of the episode, he changes his mind.
- Chekhov's Gun: Wisdom steals a number of Doc's inventions from his lab to sell as his own. Doc uses hidden features to demonstrate that he actually did invent them during their climactic showdown
- Depraved Kids' Show Host: Mr. Wisdom, who seems happy-go-lucky on the surface, but has no trouble fleecing people out of their money, dropping kids through trapdoors, and stealing Doc Brown's inventions to sell as his own.
- Evil Former Friend: Wisdom and Doc Brown were frat brothers and roommates in college in the late fifties, and were close enough friends that Doc even told Walter about the concept for the flux capacitor. It wasn't until Walter stole and profited from Doc's perpetual motion hula hoop that he became evil and greedy.
- Floating Time Line: The episode flashes back to Doc's college days in the late 1950's (when hula hoops were popular). Walter Wisdom, who knew Doc back then, even recognizes the flux capacitor as Doc's "old college dream." If you assume that maybe Doc went back to school for another doctorate sometime after 1955, he still seems younger than he should have been.note
- Formula-Breaking Episode: Unlike most episodes, this one doesn't involve the Tannens at all.
- Mistaken for Cheating: Doc calls his memory machine "M.A.R.I.E." so he doesn't have to continually go through all the words in the acronym. When he says it while dazed, Clara slaps him. She later finds out from the televised showdown that "M.A.R.I.E." is an invention, not another woman, and says she should have known.
- A Molten Date with Death: Wisdom tries to lose the pursuing time train by driving over Krakatoa right before the explosion. To his surprise, Doc, Marty, and the boys turn up unharmed while he's trying to sell the DeLorean.
- Mysterious Middle Initial: The episode finally reveals to the viewers and Marty what Doc's middle initial L means when Wisdom refers to him as "Emmett Lathrop Brown."Marty: Lathrop? So that's what the "L" stands for!
- Replacement Pedestal: Verne starts out hero-worshipping Mr. Wisdom, who has a science show that...isn't actually that scientific. He even drags Marty to meet him when the show films an episode in Hill Valley. However, he finds out that Mr. Wisdom is a fraud, who actually stole from Doc. After Doc wins a "science contest" by demonstrating the hidden features of items Wisdom stole, Verne declares his dad is the coolest scientist of all time.