Monday, July 17, 2006

Remembering Clerks: the Animated Series

In light of the upcoming release of Clerks II, I thought I would look back fondly on the little bit of madness that came in-between these two projects.

Back in the summer of 2000, after 5 years of development, Kevin Smith's animated spinoff of his first film, Clerks, premiered on ABC.... and lasted two out-of-sequence episodes. And yet I loved it even then. Of course, for most tv series, that would have been the end.... they would have been merely a speck of roadkill on the side of the network superhighway, but for Kevin Smith... after so much investment... it couldn't be the end.

So, in late 2001, he released the 6 existing episodes of the show on video, and those of us who watched it on ABC got to really see the genius of the show. It was cheeky(like having their second episode in part be a clip show of their first episode), culturally literate and intertextual(so many great little references through the series) and extremely funny even with the network limitations put on it. Smith was also able to get more than his fair share of guest stars to appear on the show too, people like Alec Baldwin, James Woods, Gwyneth Paltrow and quite a basketball players. Let's just say it totally changed the way I look at Charles Barkley.

The strange thing is.... the six episodes sort of stand on their own as a unit. There is a development to the final episode, prophetically titled in production, "Last Episode Ever", throughout the series, so there doesn't seem to be loose ends, so it ends up being an enjoyable viewing experience. However, the best episode and keystone to the series is the fourth episode titled: A Dissertation On The American Justice System By People Who Have Never Been Inside A Courtroom, Let Alone Know Anything About The Law, But Have Seen Way Too Many Legal Thrillers. If you have to see one episode of the show... this is the one to see. Trust me. You will laugh, and if you watch it with friends, you will be bringing it up for weeks. It's that bizarrely funny.

Even if you didn't like the original movie, Clerks: the Animated series has much to recommend it. Smith and company were willing to be silly and weird in ways only cartoons could be, and if you do like Clerks the movie, it continues and fills in a lot of the details in that part of the Viewaskew universe, so I cannot recommend it more highly. It was unfortunate that Disney still had power over Miramax at that time, because I think that this series would have worked great on Fox, and perhaps would have been given a much better chance at viability... or of a return to the airwaves.

At least its available for home-viewing now, and because it takes place somewhere between the first movie and sequel coming out this week, it might make a good rental or purchase. No pressure of course.


arthbard said...

"I'm sorry. We're all out of bananas."

Great stuff. The Last Starfighter/Bad News Bears/Temple of Doom episode is also worth mentioning. "You don't need magazine. We are here to serve you." "Then do as I say."

Supposedly, Kevin Smith was working on a full-length animated Clerks film at some point, but I haven't heard anything about it for a while, so it might have fallen through the cracks. We can always hope, though.

MC said...

I think it probably has... and now with the new premise in the sequel, it makes the old locations sort of moot now.

Anomie-Atlanta said...

If you haven't already, make sure to catch Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes in Degrassi: The Next Generation. In a two part episode Kevin manages to film a movie, help rescue a bi-polar teen from the streets, and kiss Kaitlin. Jay hits on underage girls. It's good stuff!

MC said...

Degrassi... now that is a series of shows that has had legs.

And why am I not surprised Jay is hitting on underaged girls?

shells said...

"Who is driving? Bear is driving? How can that be?"
Love the animated series. It's a family favorite. I could let my kids watch it much younger than they could see any of the movies.

MC said...

And that is probably a good thing too... just as long as they don't sell their friends' souls to devil to perform rainy day magic tricks. ;)

Jeremy Barker said...

I'm assuming you are looking forward to the sequel? Is he not returning to a dry well? I loved the original, but I'm not so sure I want to see this one, even though the ads have been more amusing than I expected.

MC said...

Personally, I think the Cartoon is probably better than the sequel is.

I do remember before Jersey Girls he said he was done with this set of characters... but flopping does change one's mind.