Clerks: The Animated Series
Review by Kelly Grosskreutz
Rating: Imperial Star Destroyer / Victory Star Destroyer
This isn't actually a movie, but was a very short-lived television show that aired on ABC. Based on the movie Clerks, The Animated Series (TAS) was also set in the Quick Stop. Dante, of course, still works there, and Randal still spends all his time there instead of at the video store. Jay and Silent Bob still hang out in front of the Quick Stop, although they are no longer peddling drugs.
The video and the DVD compile all six completed episodes, although only two of them actually aired. It is rather unfortunate that this show was never given a chance, having effectively been canceled before it even aired. To put it simply, the show was a cross between the Simpsons and South Park. It had the subtle humor of the Simpsons with a little bit of the low-brow humor better known to South Park, minus the cursing.
Since this was made for network television, TAS had to clean up its act. Therefore, they couldn't curse, and this is why Jay and Silent Bob are no longer selling drugs. Jay and Silent Bob, who introduce each episode on the video, explain this, and Jay more than makes up for those missing things in his intros.
The first couple of episodes on the tape are perhaps the weakest. These feature the town founder returning to town with a nefarious plot to rule the world, and Dante and Randal getting locked in a freezer and continuously flashing back to previous episodes (a total of one). These two feel like Smith and company are ironing out the bugs in transitioning a movie idea into a made-for-TV animated series.
The last few episodes, however, do a much better job of showcasing what this series was capable of. I won't give summaries of these episodes, since that would not do them justice. The dialogue is fast-paced and witty, the four main characters, although watered down somewhat for TV, still resemble themselves, and they are able to come up with short, entertaining stories that don't completely rely on the success of the Clerks movie.
One thing that shines in this series is the references to pop culture and just the TV business itself. Besides the inevitable plethora of Star Wars references, there are references to Austin Powers, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, the Matrix, the O.J. Simpson trial, and Pokémon, just to start with. The show also does something that few other shows on TV are able to do: poke fun of itself. They pick on themselves for not having any females or minorities in the main cast, just to name one thing. Nothing and nobody was safe from this show.
All is not perfect, however. Besides the inevitable stumbling period evident in the first few shows, the animation is not superb. It's not cookie-cutter quality like South Park, but everything is drawn in a really basic and generic way. Yeah, they resemble Dante and Jay, but if you're looking for a perfect likeness of either, you won't find it. For those who have read the Clerks comic books, the artwork is about the same quality.
There are a few jokes that are used a little too much. The most prominent one is a certain flashback. Anyone who watches the video or DVD will know what I'm talking about. That sort of thing could be annoying, but there were so many good things going on at the same time that this can only annoy you briefly.
The thing that bugged me most, however, was these little Jay and Silent Bob segments at the end of the first few episodes. Not to be confused with the host segments I mentioned earlier, which featured the live actors, this was an animated segment that featured Jay and Silent Bob doing various things like public service announcements and teaching kids how to do magic tricks. I understand they were trying to poke fun of kids' shows where they throw in a funky little science segment or public service announcement in the show somewhere, but these just didn't come off like they were supposed to, and I was happy to see they were absent from the latter three episodes. Jay and Silent Bob did them in a pretty serious manner (except for telling off Charles Barkley), and Silent Bob spoke. Unlike the movies when it's cool for him to speak when he does, saying what he does, these speaking segments seemed rather contrived, like the writers felt they had to make him speak somewhere in the episode whether it was appropriate or not.
What are you waiting for? Go out and rent/buy this video/DVD now, and see what ABC wouldn't let you see!
Reviewed February 25, 2001 by Kelly M. Grosskreutz.