Clerks (retronym: Clerks: The Animated Series) is an American animated television series based on Kevin Smith's film of the same name. It was developed for television by Smith, Smith's producer Scott Mosier and former Seinfeld writer David Mandel with character designs by Steven Silver.
- Brian O'Halloran as Dante Hicks
- Jeff Anderson as Randal Graves
- Jason Mewes as Jay
- Kevin Smith as Silent Bob
- Alec Baldwin as Leonardo Leonardo
- Dan Etheridge as Mr.Plug
The main characters, Dante Hicks, Randal Graves, Jay and Silent Bob, as well as the setting and basic premise, are taken directly from the movie. The show differs from the movie in many ways, however, due to the additional freedom animation provides, as well as the language and content restrictions that broadcast TV demands. For example, the characters of Jay and Silent Bob were changed from drug dealers to mischief makers (selling firecrackers instead of marijuana), and the explicit sexual dialogue in the film (which was enough to initially achieve an NC-17 rating in the US) is almost completely toned down. The series also introduced a new villain, Leonardo Leonardo, whose name was inspired by Leonardo, New Jersey, the town in which the series, and the film, takes place. Leonardo was voiced by Alec Baldwin.
The show has a pace quite different from the film (more in line, perhaps, with the frenetic pace of Smith films like Mallrats and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back), and the creators regularly play around with the medium, parodying different stereotypical plot devices. For example, the first episode opens with a voiceover narrating "Previously on Clerks" which then features a TV color bar test pattern, since there was no prior episode. The second episode is a lip show, a common format for long running sitcoms where the characters reflect on previous events from the show and the majority of the show is archive footage commonly shown as flashbacks. In the Clerks clip show, there is a long sequence of scenes — several of which are nested multiple levels into each other — that look back on "previous" episodes (and the current episode itself), even though only a single episode had been produced before that one, and so most of the "clips" were actually original material created solely for the joke of the clips themselves.
As with the film, most of the characters are either cynically irresponsible or completely crazy, with Dante being the only really sympathetic "normal guy" around. As a result, Dante is usually the straight man to the hijinks of the other characters. Indeed, Dante seems to be the more intelligent one of the duo most of the time, in contrast to the film - the humor is essentially the same, but Randal's sarcasm, irony and witticisms are played as idiocy.
Besides the original voices of the film characters and Baldwin, the show sported an impressive list of guest performers. Gwyneth Paltrow, Charles Barkley (who appeared in five out of six episodes of the series, making him an unofficial cast member on the show), Grant Hill, Reggie Miller, Kenny Mayne and Dan Patrick playing themselves as well as Gilbert Gottfried playing Patrick Swayze and Jerry Seinfeld, Michael McKean playing Professor Ram and The Creepy Guy, Kevin McDonald playing Batman Fan in Episode 6, Julia Sweeney playing the mom in Episode 6, Al Franken playing the Mayor of Leonardo, Michael McShane playing the police chief of Leonardo, James Woods playing Major Baklava and Judge Reinhold playing a judge version of himself. Walt Flanagan and Bryan Johnson voice Walt Grover the Fanboy and Steve-Dave Pulasti respectively, two characters they have repeatedly portrayed in Kevin Smith's films, in a number of episodes.
Clerks: The Animated Series on DVDEdit
The show did make it to DVD, and has proven to be much more popular than when it aired on TV. It is sold in a 2 Disc collectors set called "Clerks Uncensored." The episodes themselves are not as vulgar as an "uncensored" DVD is expected to be, other than the episode introductions that were edited into the beginning of each episode, starring Jay and Silent Bob and a scene that was originally deleted from the episode 2 broadcast where we see the actual clip of Flintstone's List.
Only two episodes were aired on ABC in 1999 before the series was cancelled in 2002.  Several factors contributed to the cancellation, including low ratings, the show's not fitting in with ABC's other programming, unsuccessful test-screening to older audiences, and ABC's decision to air the shows out of order. ABC aired the fourth episode first, as opposed to the intended first episode, and then aired the second episode despite the fact that the second episode is the 'flashback' episode, and derives much of its humor from the fact that it flashes back almost exclusively to the first episode. Additionally, the second episode aired without the scene from "Flintstone's List", the fictional RST Video rental that spoofed Schindler's List.
All six episodes were released on DVD (as well as VHS) in 2001, marking one of the first occasions in which a short-lived TV series found success in this format. The DVD commentary features cast and crew who frequently cite their disagreements with the network over the show's development. The entire series was eventually aired on Comedy Central in May 2004. In 2006 ITV4, a digital 'freeview' channel in the UK, began broadcasting episodes late on Monday nights.
Several scenes filmed for, but cut from, the film Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (but included on the film's DVD release) contain metafictional moments when Randal makes references to the animated series, as well as its cancellation. On his DVD commentary for the film, Smith said the intent was to make the quick cancellation of the series a running gag.
|Episode Title||Original Air Date||Summary|
|Leonardo Leonardo Returns and Dante Has an Important Decision to Make||March 7, 1999||Billionaire Leonardo Leonardo returns to Leonardo, New Jersey and opens the Quicker Stop right across from the Quick Stop, nearly costing Randal and Dante their jobs. Guest stars: Alec Baldwin as Leonardo Leonardo, Dan Ethridge as Mr. Plug and Charles Barkley as himself|
|The Clipshow Wherein Dante and Randal are Locked in the Freezer and Remember Some of the Great Moments in Their Lives||November 7, 1999||Dante and Randal get locked in the freezer. There, they look back on their lives. Guest stars: Alec Baldwin as Leonardo Leonardo, Charles Barkley as himself, Gwyneth Paltrow as herself and Gilbert Gottfried as Jerry Seinfeld|
|Leonardo Is Caught in the Grip of an Outbreak of Randal's Imagination and Patrick Swayze Either Does or Doesn't Work in the New Pet Store||May 9, 1999||Quick Stop is put under government control after Leonardo is said to have been infected with a deadly virus by a monkey at the new pet store next to RST Video. Guest stars: Alec Baldwin as Leonardo Leonardo, James Woods as Major Baklava, Charles Barkley as himself and Gilbert Gottfried as Patrick Swayze|
|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||January 9, 2000||Jay sues the Quick Stop for 10 million dollars after slipping on Randal's soda. Guest stars: Judge Reinhold as himself, Kenny Mayne as himself, Dan Patrick as himself, Charles Barkley as himself, Grant Hill as himself, Reggie Miller as himself and Michael Buffer as himself|
|Dante and Randal and Jay and Silent Bob and a Bunch of New Characters and Lando, Take Part in a Whole Bunch of Movie Parodies Including But Not Exclusive To, The Bad News Bears, The Last Starfighter, Indiana Jones and the Temple Of Doom, Plus a High School Reunion||December 9, 2001||Leonardo Leonardo decides to let Dante manage his Little League team, which includes Jay and Silent Bob. Meanwhile, Randal is put into slave labor after beating the high score on an old video game. Guest stars: Alec Baldwin as Leonardo Leonardo, Michael McKean as Professor Ram and The Creepy Old Guy and Charles Barkley as himself|
|The Last Episode Ever||May 22, 2002||Dante and Randal work inside the Quick Stop while extraordinary events happen outside that are never seen. Guest stars: Alec Baldwin as Leonardo Leonardo and Kevin McDonald and Mark McKinney as The Pinheads|
According to the DVD commentary, these were some ideas that were being considered for episodes of the show if it were to continue:
- Randal exploits Jay by making "snoogans" a catch phrase, leading to Jay becoming a recording artist.
- Randal buys KITT from Knight Rider 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 Christine). He manages to trick everyone except Dante (and 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 asking him, "You can talk!?" (a reference to the Chief in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest).
- Allegedly in seventh or eighth 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 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 Clerks: The Animated Series.
- 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."
Clerks: Sell OutEdit
For several years following the series' cancellation, Smith has announced plans to make a straight-to-DVD film. The basic plot involved Dante and Randal making a movie about their lives at the Quick Stop, a reference to the production of the original film. As of September 2007, the status on the project is unknown. In a recent interview Kevin Smith expanded on the delays surrounding the film. Apparently, when Harvey and Bob Weinstein left Miramax, owned by Disney, the split was not completely amicable. The rights to the Clerks television show are still owned by the Disney Corporation, who as a result are reluctant to work with The Weinstein Company, throwing the future of Clerks: Sell Out into question. At the 2007 Cornell Q/A Kevin said due to the Miramax/Weinstein argument "you will see a Jay and Silent Bob cartoon before Clerks: Sell Out."