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Clerks: The Animated Series

Review Written by: Will Penley
Film: A+
Video/Audio/Extras: A/A/B+

Directed by: Steve Loter, Nick Filippi and Chris Bailey
Written by: Steve Lookner, David Mandel, Kevin Smith and Brian Kelley
Based on the characters by: Kevin Smith
Produced by: John Bush
Starring: Brian O'Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Alec Baldwin
Buy it!, Buy it, rent it or skip it: Buy it!

"The weed of crime bears bitter fruit, you old hag!"
"Mr. Hicks, you are out of order! Just like Spicoli in Mr. Hand's history class."
"Look, there is no virus. You're all just victims of the overactive imagination of a pop-culture junkie loudmouth!"
"Quentin Tarantino?"

Kevin Smith's independent film Clerks was a breakout hit, sweeping the film festivals and awards ceremonies upon its release. In 2000, the network channel ABC gave Smith and his company View Askew a multi-episode deal for an animated series based on the film. It was doomed from the start. Since ABC has always been known for being a family-friendly network, they couldn't have the amount of cursing that the film had or even the amount that shows like Family Guy or South Park have. They were also always interfering with work on the series and creative control was practically nonexistent for Smith and his team.

They made six episodes, only two of which aired. After that, the show was cancelled and, as the opening of the pilot states, was lost under a pile of Wonderland and Wasteland episodes. I'm sure that's not the case, but it might as well have been. Then, about a year later, the good folks over at Miramax and View Askew decided to put together a two-disc DVD package containing all six episodes of the Clerks cartoon, including the fabled lost pilot. I bought this DVD set without having seen any episodes and was a bit weary about doing so since I had heard about its failure. My opinion? I don't see why this series was even cancelled! This is an excellent show and is way better than Family Guy, The Simpsons or any other adult cartoon on TV right now. The stories are great, the characters are hilarious and it's a real treat for fans of the film.

Like I said before, only two episodes, the second and fourth to be exact, aired on ABC. One thing can be said: these are the best episodes. One involves Dante and Randal getting locked in the Quick Stop freezer and flashing back to their old episodes (which must have been strange for audiences because it flashed back to the unaired pilot) and the other covers the trial that occurs after Jay sues Dante for making him slip and fall in the store. The trial's judge is Judge Reinhold (voiced by the actor himself), a gimmick later used in the series finale of Arrested Development. The other four episodes are fantastic as well. They feature a host of crazy characters, spoofs of films like The Last Starfighter and The Bad News Bears, plus a circus across the street from the Quick Stop! This is the best cartoon series I've ever seen and I plead for ABC to make more episodes!

View Askew is known for producing quality extras for their films' DVDs and even though there is some great stuff here, it seems to be lacking what other DVDs from the company have had. The main extras are audio commentaries for each episode featuring Kevin Smith and other people involved with the show. Like always, these are very funny and informative tracks that make for a great listen. Each episode can be viewed regularly or as their original black-and-white animatics via the "angle" button on your remote control. Also, characters Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith) provide hilarious introductions to each episode. Two featurettes, "The Clerks Style" and "Character Development," give us a look at how the look of the show and the character designs came about. Rounding out the discs are a hilarious film festival trailer for the series, a TV spot that aired during the 2000 Super Bowl and sneak peeks for Clerks, Chasing Amy, Princess Mononoke and A Hard Day's Night.

Do I really need to persuade you any more? If you're a fan of the series or animated programs in general, you won't regret buying the two-disc DVD set of Clerks: The Animated Series.

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