Clerks is an animated series created by independent filmmaker Kevin Smith based off his award winning low-budget comedy from 1992 of the same name. The series follows two shiftless convenience store workers, Dante and Randal, and their adventures in and out of their respective stores. The series was broadcast on ABC for two episode before cancellation.
An animated version of Clerks was envisioned as early as 1995 by writer/director Kevin Smith and producer Scott Mosier. The two approached Fox with a pitch for the show, but were shot down. Executives claimed that, according to Smith's recollections, "TV animation only really pans out for The Simpsons, [it's] the only primetime cartoon that will happen."
In the late 1990s, primetime animation was a resurgent trend on network television, spearheaded by shows like South Park on Comedy Central and King of the Hill on Fox. Smith and Mosier, now partnered with former Seinfeld writer David Mandel, were able to use the popularity of these shows as leverage to resurrect their old Clerks idea. The show was shopped to a variety of networks including HBO (who preferred a more profane version closer to the film), FX, UPN (who offered 13 episodes on the air) and twice to ABC.
ABC, who would eventually pick up the series, initially passed until the producers sat down with high-ups at the network after UPN offered a full season. One particular executive, whose identity is not known but suggested to be then president Robert Iger, convinced them that UPN would be "off the air within a year" and agreed to pick the series up for a midseason premiere in March.
Initial buzz for Clerks was positive and ABC supported it enough to secure two commercials during the Super Bowl for its premiere. However, the winds began to shift when test audiences, reportedly gathered for an entirely different demographic, hated the show. The program fell victim to several delays, to some degree influenced by the network's cold feet, which pushed its premiere back to June. By then, ABC had moved from third place to first with Who Wants to be a Millionaire? and was even less inclined to air the show.
The first six episodes were barely finished before production was shut down for budgetary reasons and, likely, due to poor reactions from older test groups. The first episode, a clip show parody which exclusively flashed back to what was supposed to be the first episode, was aired against the premiere of Survivor and was buried under the new television trend—reality television.
A second episode was aired and a third advertised, but the series was quickly pulled from air despite critical acclaim from online and underground critics. Mainstream critics were less kind to the series and it was cancelled after two episodes.
The unaired four episodes were included on the Clerks: Uncensored DVD, which was released a year after the series' cancellation, and were eventually broadcast on Comedy Central when it was picked up in December 2002. In November 2008, Adult Swim broadcast all six episodes as well.
After a disappointing stint on television, Smith planned to follow up with a straight-to-DVD movie called Clerks: Sell Out. The basic blot of the series involved Dante and Randal making a movie about working at the Quick Stop, a reference to the production of the original film. Aside from a few Flash animation tests released online, little has been said about the project. As of November 2008, it is still unknown as to whether or not the movie will be made.
In an interview with MTV, Smith explained the delays and possible back-burnering of the project, saying "The Clerks cartoon movie we're talking about doing is kinda held up by the fact that Disney owned the Clerks cartoon. And I don't think they get along with the Weinstein team very much anymore. So we would have to do it without them, and that’s really not an option. So I kinda don't foresee that happening." Harvey and Bob Weinstein left Miramax, a subsidiary studio of Disney, to found The Weinstein Company.
The only new animated content since the series' cancellation to materialize was a scene on the Clerks X anniversary DVD. The animation style was used to animate the "lost" scene from the original film, in which Dante and Randal do something at a funeral to be chased out of the funeral parlor.
|Jeff Anderson||Randal Graves|
|Brian O'Halloran||Dante Hicks|
|Kevin Smith||Silent Bob|
|Alec Baldwin||Leonardo Leonardo|
|Charles Barkley||Charles Barkley|
|Tara Charendoff||Giggling Girl|
|Diana Devlin||Additional voices|
|Dan Etheridge||Mr. Plug|
|Kevin Michael Richardson||Narrator|
|April Winchell||Additional voices|
|Season One||May 31, 2000||June 7, 2000||6|
- At a Glance: Additional information about the series
|Clerks: Uncensored||February 20, 2001||2|