Time Travel Mater is the 11th episode of Cars Toons: Mater's Tall Tales, which aired on June 5th on Disney Channel. It was officially premiered ten days later, on June 15 at the Disneyland Resort in Blue Sky Cellar at Disney California Adventure park to celebrate the opening of Cars Land, and first aired on ABC the next day. It was included on the DVD and Blu-ray of Pixar Short Films Collection Volume 2.
The episode features Mater telling a story according to which he time traveled, back to the beginnings of Radiator Springs, thus reusing part of the abandoned concept of the unmade Tall Tale Backwards to the Forwards. Stanley, the founder of Radiator Springs, appears alive in this episode when Mater time travels.
Lightning McQueen and Mater were in front of the Courthouse when Lizzie drove by, saying good morning to them in a rude way, but said it nicely to the statue of Stanley. Lightning McQueen asks Mater how Lizzie and Stanley met. Mater replies by telling one of his stories, which "all started last week."
He ends up inside the Taillight Caverns. When he exits the caverns, wanting to tell everyone back in town, but he can't find the town, but he does see a car at a nearby spring. When Mater gets closer to the car, he discovers that it's Stanley! Stanley asks Mater if he needs a radiator cap. When Mater says no, Stanley leaves to go to California in search of customers. Mater realizes that if Stanley didn't stay, there wouldn't be a Radiator Springs in the future! So, he goes to the present, gets McQueen, and they both go back to the past.
In the past, Mater removes McQueen's radiator cap and calls out to Stanley, saying that there's a car that needs a radiator cap (McQueen). So, Stanley gives McQueen a new radiator cap. Two cars that also need radiator caps enter the scene, and Stanley leads them to the spring, where the cars get a "drink." Mater suggests that Stanley build a town right next to "this here radiator spring." Stanley likes the idea, and even comes up with a name for the town right then and there: Radiator Springs.
To speed things up a bit, Mater and McQueen travel to 1927, where Stanley takes note of a Model T (which turns out to be Lizzie) that arrives in town. Lizzie breaks down, so Mater helps her out. Lizzie sees McQueen and appears to be falling in love with him, and Mater realizes that if Lizzie falls in love with McQueen, then she won't fall in love with Stanley, and then Stanley will leave town, and there'd be no Radiator Springs! But then Lizzie asks McQueen to get out of the way, revealing that she had her eye on Stanley, not McQueen, as Mater thought. Stanley takes Lizzie to get a drink of water, then he gives her a new radiator cap. McQueen introduces Lizzie and Stanley, and then he and Mater leave.
They reappear in Radiator Springs at the time that Lizzie and Stanley get married. They see them exit the courthouse, get a picture, then they go into Comfy Caverns for their honeymoon. Mater was crying, because he cries at weddings. Then, Mater and McQueen leave, and Mater finishes his story.
- Larry the Cable Guy: Mater
- Keith Ferguson: Lightning McQueen
- John Michael Higgins: Stanley
- Katherine Helmond: Lizzie
- This episode was the first, and so far, only Cars Toons: Mater's Tall Tales episode with Lizzie in it, and actually the first time she played a role as a secondary tritagonist.
- It's the first, and so far, the only episode without any pitties and without Mia and Tia in it. This may be due to the fact that being modernized cars, they weren't even built (born) yet.
- This is the first Cars Toons: Mater's Tall Tales episode with Lightning McQueen in his World Grand Prix paint job. It's also the first time it's shown McQueen's hood opened showing his motor.
- Tail Light Caverns, Stanley's early settlement, and Comfy Caverns, all places which had never been seen before, are sets that come from Cars Land. Their appearance in the short enables to establish them as canon, and prehaps to promote the attraction.
- This is the first episode to not have Mater say something similar to his line, "Don't you remember? You was there too!"
- This is the 2nd Cars Toons: Mater's Tall Tales episode that has Mater's story in black and white. The first one is Mater Private Eye. However, in this episode, it's not Mater's whole story that's in black and white. After Mater drives out of the Tail Light Caverns, everything was in sepia tones. (A common color tone used in "Flashback" sequences). When he and McQueen time travel to when Stanley's early settlement was made, everything was in black and white. When Mater and McQueen time travel to when Lizzie and Stanley get married, everything had more color.
- The alternating colorschemes used in this story seem to be an homage to how photographs of each particular time period looked. This gave each era that Mater visits its own unique visual identity. It was likely implemented to avoid confusion.
- When Mater puts the sign with the clock up, it then leans towards him and falls on him. This is a reference to in the first film when he tries to put his sign upright, but it leans to the other side; and in the Cars 2 credits when he puts the Leaning Tower of Pisa upright, but it then leans to the other side.
- Also, the clock on Mater's "nose" is a reference to in Cars 2 when the lemons planted a bomb on his "nose."
- The story of Radiator Springs seen in Time Travel Mater was ideated before the movie Cars.
- Mater's "whoa" when he notices he's in the Tail Light Caverns is the same sound he makes when he sees the Moon in Moon Mater.
- The scream that Mater makes when he sees that there would be no town in the future if Stanley doesn't stay is the same scream he makes when he is fighting the I-Screamer in Monster Truck Mater.
- This episode shares a lot of similarities with the deleted Cars Toons episode, Backwards to the Forwards.
- Mater gets the ability to time travel, but in different ways.
- At one point in both shorts, Lightning tells Mater that there was no way he could time travel, but then a second Mater appears. Lightning freaks out by the 2nd Mater in both of them, but Mater got freaked out only in Backwards to the Forwards.
- Mater inspires Stanley to name the town "Radiator Springs" in both shorts. He does it purposely in Time Travel Mater, but by accident in Backwards to the Forwards.
- When Mater time travels to the time when he tells his story to Lightning McQueen, he takes McQueen to help him save Radiator Springs. However, when Mater finishes his story, McQueen is there listening to the story. It is never shown when Mater brought McQueen back. But it could be that it skipped the time-traveling Mater taking McQueen back to the present and going back to his own time.
- After Mater finishes his story, McQueen doesn't believe him, even though he went time traveling with Mater just now. However, it could be that McQueen thinks this was in his head.
- Lizzie, Stanley, or any of the cars in the past, never seem surprised or curious to see more modern cars from the future (Mater and Lightning).
- For some strange reason, Mater got the Lightning McQueen from a week after his own time instead of the one from his own time.
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