Clerks: The Animated Series is a loose adaptation of the film Clerks by Kevin Smith, running from May to June, 2000. Dante Hicks is the much put-upon clerk of a Quick Stop convenience store in Leonardo, New Jersey. He is tormented by his friend, video clerk Randal Graves, as well as stoner hangers-out Jay and Silent Bob.Included more wackiness and fantasy than the film. This was lampshaded. Contained little swearing or sexual references. This was lampshaded, also. Added such things as an arch-nemesis, Corrupt Corporate Executive Mr. Leonardo Leonardo and his Odd Job like assistant. Had a Token Minority, Lando, who showed up just to be black, saying a few words every now and then. All of that lampshaded as well. It also had a Clip Show, in the second episode. Lampshaded, at least the first part.Marked the first time the character designs of Stephen Silver were added to the animation direction of Steve Loter and Chris Bailey. This team, with a distinct visual style, would come up again in a much different place. Also had an impressive voice cast, most notably the four main actors in the original film (Brian O'Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith) reprising their roles.It was very funny, but it only had six episodes made. Episodes four and two made it to air, in that order. Fortunately, a DVD is available.Kevin Smith had planned a DVD movie called "Clerks: Sell Out" about Dante and Randal making a film in the Quick Stop, but when Harvey and Bob Weinstein left Miramax in the hands of Disney, Smith refused to work with the Mouse House without the support of the Weinsteins. Though, since Miramax's current non-Disney owners have partnered with the Weinsteins, there is now a greater likelihood for the series to return in some form or another, preferably as early as 2013, but so far nothing has happened yet.Interestingly, Smith has always referred to the show as "Clerks: The Cartoon" (which it was also called in a trailer shown at film festivals) or "The Clerks Cartoon", but never "Clerks: The Animated Series". Go figure.
Body Sushi: Randall recounts being married to a Japanese business man, who had him do this.
Bowdlerisation: Jay and Silent Bob are never shown or mentioned as drug dealers in this series (though on the 4th episode, when he slips at the Quick Stop, he tells Silent Bob that the "stuff" may have kicked in), though in the first episode they are shown selling illegal fireworks and dynamite to children. Both this, and the fact that the show contains very little (if any) cursing were heavily lampshaded during the series.
Jason Mewes (in the DVD): Because it was TV, we couldn't curse. So, on behalf of that... *cue Cluster F-Bomb*
Leonardo: Or perhaps you'd rather visit our international coffee bar complete with its own little book department which has its own super teeny tiny coffee bar inside. And a selection of tiny adult magazines.
The trial is presided over by the honorable Judge Reinhold, and he lets Randal get away with his nonsense through open bias.
Randal calls a series of "surprise witnesses" during Dante's trial. All of the witnesses are directors of movies Randal didn't like, and he demands refunds from each of them. After he's finished, the witnesses leave, without ever saying a single word that has to do with the trial's actual proceedings. He also calls a girl to the witness stand just to get her phone number.
The prosecuting lawyer has Dante questioned by a pair of giggling girls, and plays the tapes of a completely unrelated prank call made by Jay and Randal.
Leonardo: I vow that my vengence won't be swift or entertaining! I will draw it out over a decade in such a subtle fashion, that you will have to wonder if the misery in your life was either manifest or the machinations of Leonardo Leonardo! Or... a third thing.
Dissimile: Caitlin's charity kissing booth which costs nothing, and isn't for charity. And has no booth. And it's not just kissing. And you don't have to be a guy. Dude, she's cheating on you.
Distant Finale: Played in the second episode, as a spoof of the film "Stand by Me".
Flanderization: Randal is portrayed as more of an idiot than he really is. On the commentaries, Kevin Smith acknowledges that Randal was also a lot more willing to "punch holes in Dante's boat" and essentially sell him out at the first opportunity. He and the other writers, though, feel this worked.
Gainax Ending: More or less played straight in the final episode. Justified in episode 4, when the announcer said that the original ending was lost during its trip overseas to be animated by Koreans and the Korean animators created a new ending.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: During one of the parody PSA segments, a pair of children are bored on a rainy day. The little girl suggests making a movie, and commands the little boy twice to take off his shirt.
Hey, It's That Voice!: The show features the voices of Alec Baldwin, Charles Barkley, Sen. Al Franken, James Woods, and Gilbert Gottfried playing the parts of both Jerry Seinfeld and Patrick Swayze (though, for legal reasons, the character could neither look nor sound like Swayze himself).
Frequent Disney VO April Winchell shows up a few times, as either one-offs or the recurring TV news reporter, Tovah Hernandez-Carlson.
"How Did You Know?" "I Didn't.": When Dante and Randal realize they forgot to blow up the Quicker Stop, suddenly it blows up and Jay and Silent Bob emerge from the wreckage.
Dante: How did you know about the plan?
Jay: What plan?
Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Except for "The Last Episode Ever," each episode features progressively longer titles that are more suitable as plot descriptions than episode titles. This is episode 5's title, for example (which is also the longest one):
I Warned You: In Episode 6, Randal left the video store closed because vampires will be coming. He warned his and Dante's boss about it, but "he never listens". He was right, but Randal doesn't even bother saying it.
Leonardo Leonardo: This rabble of mid-level managers, teachers, doctors, lawyers, and Nobel laureates will bow before the might of Leonardo Leonardo Leonardo!... Sorry, Leonardo Leonardo.
Lemony Narrator: The narrator (Kevin Michael Richardson, who also voiced Lando) reading the disclaimer before each episode falls into this trope. During the last episode, after reading the disclaimer, he remarks, "I don't care for this show, either."
Lighter and Softer: Even when this wasn't exactly a show for children, it contains much less sex-related humor and profanity than the two live-action movies.
Made of Explodium: In the first episode a man crashes his car, which catches on fire. After he gets out of the car, he spontaneously combusts while running down the street. Not to mention the fire hydrant he crashes into BURSTS INTO FLAMES.
Race Fetish: Randall is only interested in Asian chicks. Though, when through some wacky circumstance, he has several Geishas eager to do his bidding, he sends them out for porn magazines featuring Asian women.
Recap Episode: The cartoon parodied this in the very second episode made. What compounded this even further was that, due to Executive Meddling, this was actually the very first episode ever aired.
But, on the plus side, all six of the episodes have been released on DVD and Cartoon Network does air all six episodes on occasion. They even aired the second episode with the scene where Randall and Dante watch a Schindler's List parody called Flintstone's List. In the ABC version, they only showed Randall and Dante watching the TV with the sounds from the movie playing. On Cartoon Network and the DVD, there's an actual clip from the movie.
Other networks (most notably Adult Swim and Comedy Central) were interested in picking up the show for new episodes after ABC canceled it, but ABC refused to sell the rights and has simply sat on them. We're lucky we at least got reruns on those networks and a DVD.
Combine this with the fact that when they were pitching the show another network (often thought to be UPN) wanted to basically let them do what they wanted and make them their flagship show (similar to Fox and The Simpsons). Smith compares it to someone outright asking you to be the big fish in a little pond, but since ABC was a bigger network they signed with them. Smith and Mosier admit in the commentary that this wasn't their finest hour.
The reason ABC greenlit the show then abruptly canceled it was due to the fact that there was a rush by many networks in the late '90s/early 2000s to have adult-themed animated primetime shows following the success of South Park. However, between the time episodes began production and when they aired, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? became a breakout hit and ABC sought to bury Clerks so it could give an extra half-hour to the game show. The moral: it doesn't matter how much time and effort you put into a TV show, networks are fickle with desires that change on a whim. Though Kevin Smith has admitted that he loved hearing Regis say, "Up next: Clerks." All of two times.
Self-Deprecation: In the fourth episode, the bailiff said, "All rise for the honorable Judge Reinhold.", which caused the courtroom to laugh. She angrily replied, "Show some respect for Judge Reinhold!" When Judge Reinheld (played by himself) sat down, he remarked, "That's okay, it's more laughs than I got in Head Office."
Shout-Out: The usual View Askew collection of pop culture references.
Silent Bob: Guess who? (Very subverted: he talks during every "Science Says" segment except the last one.)
Special Guest: Lampshaded every episode with Charles Barkley trying to horn in on Jay and Silent Bob's PSA segment. And then, once those ran their course, Kevin Smith still found ways to shoehorn Barkley into every episode except for the last one.
Spoof Aesop: The "educational" segments at the end tend to provide these.
Randall: Look at [that monkey], he's shaking in fear. Dante: No, he's masturbating. Randall: But it's out of fear.
Leonardo Leonardo: Oh, dear...something scared that monkey.
And later in episode 5, both Randall and Leonardo go to their High School Reunions with a story of each one suing the government over bad meat.
Stupid Question Bait: When the chief of police is holding a press conference about a suspected outbreak while wearing an Officer Big Mac costume, the reporters are more interested in asking him questions related to McDonalds.
Steve-Dave: Will this administration ever bring the Hamburglar to justice?
Big Mac: No... Yes. Look, does anybody have any questions about the virus that could kill us all?
Reporter: Can the virus kill the Grimace?
Take Our Word for It: The last episode is chock-full of this trope. Randal and Dante are deliberately trying to evoke the original film - since fans of the movie are complaining the series has strayed so far from it - by confining themselves to the Quik Stop, despite ludicrously interesting things happening just outside.
Randal exploits Jay by making "snoogans" a Catch Phrase, leading to Jay becoming a recording artist.
Randal buys KITT at a used car lot. The car becomes jealous of Randal's relationship with Dante and attempts to kill Dante and impersonate him at the store (a reference to Single White Female). He manages to trick everyone except Dante (and most likely Silent Bob) with his thin disguise.
Jay joins a boy band. Silent Bob is sad that Jay is gone, so Randal and Dante bring Bob in to work at the Quick Stop. He turns the store around and it becomes a great success. Silent Bob is given a piece of gum and says, "Mmm, Juicy Fruit," which shocks Dante and Randal (a reference to the Chief in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest).
Allegedly in the 7th or 8th episode, Dante and Randal would have added to their cast of friends a boy ward, named Robin, in a direct reference/parody of Batman's own "Boy Wonder", though like Lando, would probably not have been featured prominently. This plot element was mostly likely not intended to actually be part of the series as it was described by Kevin Smith after mentioning that Paul Dini, best known for his work on Batman: The Animated Series, had also worked on the Clerks cartoon.
The DVD commentary briefly mentioned an episode idea where Ben Affleck would play the King of Canada. The episode premise was also described as "the Aladdin parody."
Notice how much Leonardo Leonardo looks like Hans Gruber? That's because they originally wanted Alan Rickman to voice him.
The show was very nearly picked up by HBO. If it had, all swearing, sex, and drug-related references would've been allowed to air without censorship.
Originally, the series was considered for UPN. Production instead went with ABC (rather than being "the big fish in a little pool"), which they conceded was a mistake.
Over the years, there has been talk of a DTV movie Sell Out, which basically would've had the cartoon characters making a movie based on the actual movie. Assorted behind-the-scene developments (such as the Weinstein Brothers leaving the studio) haven't helped move it forward.
Write What You Know: The scene in episode 4 where Dante and Randal are bad-mouthed by the basketball players in the elevator ("Were they talking about us?") is based on a real life event that occurred to the writers while working on this show.
Yamato Nadeshiko: Spoofed in episode 2 when Randal recalls an incident in which he wedded a Japanese businessman who forced him to become one. He's even seen at one point wearing a kimono and chopsticks in a hairbun. The businessman is pleased with his housework, to which Randal replies in a graceful manner.