ReView Askew: Clerks – The Animated Series (2000)

 It’s really strange to me how a Clerks cartoon even came into being. After the initial success of the film, a pilot for a Clerks sitcom was produced by Disney/Touchstone, a woefully uninspired work you can pretty much picture in your head: just take the character names and setting of Clerks and mutate it into a putrid TV-PG 90s sitcom. Kevin Smith and his fellow cast and crew had no idea of its existence until it was already in production, and by the look of the finished product, they were probably pretty thankful of that fact. Perhaps inspired by this aborted pilot, Smith and Scott Mosier went on to pitch an animated Clerks project to any network that would speak with them, eventually getting series offers from UPN and ABC. They were convinced to choose ABC (considering Miramax, owned by Disney at the time, was producing the show), thinking the bigger network was the better choice, but sadly, that proved not to be the case. Clerks: The Animated Series (or Clerks: TAS, to be brief) is such a weird anomaly of a show; I can’t even say it was cut down in its prime, because it didn’t even get a chance to fully get there.

Animation on primetime network television outside of FOX basically came (and quickly went) in two waves. The first was in the early 90s following the massive success of The Simpsons, prompting other networks to swiftly green light their own animated shows to compete, but the likes of ABC’s Capital Critters and CBS’s Family Dog barely lasted a season. The second wave happened in the late 90s/early 2000s on the heels of South Park and King of the Hill, where we got brief glimpses of shows like Mission Hill and The Oblongs for the three weeks they were on the air before they were shot out back behind the studio. Around this time, before the days of Grey’s Anatomy and LOST, ABC didn’t really have many heavy-hitters on its hands, and when that’s the case as a network, you’re more likely to take a chance on more unconventional shows, like a cartoon based on that vulgar, indie black and white movie that barely anybody saw. But between the production of Clerks: TAS and it making it to air, a little show called Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? premiered on ABC, and became a gargantuan hit. I remember when that show took off, it was literally airing it five nights a week, and they’d still get enormous ratings each night. People just couldn’t get enough of it. That being said, ABC was less inclined to give Clerks: TAS the time of day, dumping it not even during mid-season, but in the summer, premiering May 31, 2000. Despite there being six episodes produced, only two aired before the show was unceremoniously canceled; a mere blip in the history of network television. Continue reading “ReView Askew: Clerks – The Animated Series (2000)”