The Greg Brady Project

Welcome to the official Barry Williams' blog

My friends call me Barry. From time to time I also hear the name Greg. Yeah, as in Greg Brady. The Brady Bunch represents a fun time in my life. But it’s only part of the story. There’s more to say and that’s what The Greg Brady Project is all about – a place to say it. So, I’ve invited some friends to join me and share their perspectives on the Brady’s, the 70′s and just about everything else. Now, I’m inviting you…

04 Jun
Eric Greenberg

Save the Clock Tower

written by Eric Greenberg in Blog | 3 comments


No, for real. Someone get the Hill Valley Preservation Society on the horn! Lightning may not strike twice, but apparently fire does. As you may have already read, one of the big casualties in this weekend’s Universal Studios blaze was Courthouse Square, a key location in the “Back to the Future” trilogy. First things first. Nobody was seriously injured, so I’m not being completely insensitive whining about losing a set from a movie. That being said, I would argue something like this could be considered, let’s say, a “pop culture tragedy.” Nowhere near as bad as a real tragedy, but still troublesome to anyone who’s a fan of the series or a supporter of time travel in general. The thing is though, if you dig a little deeper, you’ll actually find that within this ”tragedy,” is a “pop culture miracle.”

What a lot of the news articles don’t tell you is that the Courthouse Square destroyed over the weekend wasn’t really the set seen in the films. Most of the original was destroyed in another fire back in 1990. One of the few things that survived back then was the famous clock tower itself. So Universal rebuilt the square from the original plans only to have it burned down again 18 years later. Yet once again, amid massive destruction, the clock tower has apparently managed to beat the odds. Reports are it’s a little banged up, but if there’s anything at that studio worth saving, it’s this.

Someday maybe I’ll write a post on the merits of “Back to the Future.” Something about how unbelievably intricate the script is. How hard it must have been to weave together all the events and references over three films and the time space continuum. But it’s late and thinking about it makes my head hurt. Just do me a favor and don’t throw these films into the generic “80s movie” category. They may be more entertainment than serious message, but it’s entertainment on a high level.  Plus, I have to think that somewhere in these films lies the solution to the current oil crisis (Um, hello renewable energy experts. Lightning?). Am I biased because I own a flux capacitor t-shirt? No, that just makes me a little weird. The reason I bought it is that the series still holds up and is ridiculously fun to reference.

Now instead of being completely cheesy and trying to weave all the other classic references in throughout the blog, let me just get a few of them out of my system: 1.21 gigawatts, Enchantment Under the Sea Dance, Great Scott!, 88 miles per hour, Libyans, “don’t need no credit card to ride this train.” Thank you.

As for the clock tower, I can’t think of too many cooler buildings in all of film. Certainly none that weren’t already landmarks in their own right. And none that were so essential to the plot of a movie. So if all is good in Hill Valley, life will imitate art and the clock tower will be restored to the way it was prior to June 1, 2008/November 12, 1955. Yes, fans will still like seeing the square when it’s rebuilt once again, and most probably won’t even know the difference. It would just be nice to know that the tourists passing by on those Universal trams will still actually get to see one original piece of movie history.

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    on Jun. 4th, 2008

    I also read that the set from “Back To The Future” is also the set that “Ghost Whisperer” is filmed on. I THOUGHT that town looked familiar!!!

    Eric Greenberg
    on Jun. 4th, 2008

    Good eye Renee. Here’s a list of other things that were filmed there:

    Nora Salisbury
    on Jun. 4th, 2008

    I love the BTTF trilogy, and living right down the street from Universal Studios, have been on the tour countless times. I agree it must be preserved and the square rebuilt.

    A bit of related trivia: the panthers that adorn either side of the clock in the BTTF series were seen earlier in the decade, atop brick walls in the zoo used in the remake of Cat People, the one with Malcolm McDowell (who is both an imp and an angel in person, btw). A couple of the times I went on the tour there were some of them stored in the area where they park the movie cars. I’d like to have one or two of them on my front lawn. Further confound the neighbors.

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