Dante and Randal, played by Brian O'Halloran and Jeff Anderson, were all set to face off against each other in Kevin Smith's highly anticipated sequel, Clerks III. Do they remember when these kind of poor-living workers first started writing their own scripts, or when they were forced to record their own songs, or who wants to be a millionaire?
'Clerks: The Animated Series' Is Born
Kevin Smith and his lifelong collaborator Scott Mosier submitted a script to many studios in 1994, but the project was never approved by Disney. After a meeting with Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith), Disney thought that Clerks was the right choice for television.
Touchstone Television, a subsidiary of Disney, produced a sitcom pilot that, to put it mildly, stunk. The program felt more like Saved by the Bell meets Friends; instead, Smith offered his assistance and even offered to modify the pilot script, which he had just purchased. History tends to repeat itself.
Though the Clerks sitcom was a flop, it gave Kevin Smith and his crew confidence that it would work. They also worked with legendary television writers David Mandel, who wrote for Seinfeld and Saturday Night Live and eventually Curb Your Enthusiasm and Veep, to rewrite the script and go around to different studios and networks to pitch the new Clerks cartoon. United Paramount Network is better known as UPN for Star Trek Voyager, WWE SmackDown, and the '90s
Dean Valentine, the show's president at the time, was enthralled by Kevin Smith and his creative team's agreement, and everything they had to do was create a cartoon. One reason was to praise the new Clerks cartoon and how big it would be, considering that Miramax owned Clerks and Disney owned Miramax.
A Network Move
He told Smith that he could not broadcast the show on other networks because Disney owned the film rights to Clerks. The television rights were still up in the air, but ABC was not contractually bound to broadcast any of them at the time. Though Smith initially hesitant to sign the deal, having the chance of his program being on one of the major three networks, which were at the time ABC, NBC, and CBS, finally convinced him to join the House of Mouse.
The Animated Series Is a Go
Why did ABC want a program they had rejected when Smith and Mosier were initially pitching it out? ABC was struggling at the time, and even the newer network Fox was outperforming ABC repeatedly in terms of ratings, and they all wondered why ABC would buy the program in the first place if they were going to make changes to it. For example, Jay and Silent Bob are well-known drug dealers, but ABC made the team change their mind about them having a very real and not at all created job as firework dealers.
Clerks: The Animated Series had to be different from its fouled-mouth film counterpart, but it decided to do something different, something that sitcoms can never accomplish: be funny. The Clerks cartoon wanted to be exactly that: a cartoon. It included a number of running jokes, parodying pop culture movies, and a lot of meta and fourth wall breaking humor.
Brian O'Halloran and Jeff Anderson return as Dante and Randal, and Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith return to reprise their roles as Jay and Silent Bob. Gilbert Gottfried, Bryan Cranston, James Woods, and Gwyneth Paltrow all played the recurring evil billionaire antagonist Leonardo Leonardo.
Although Kevin Smith and his crew worked hard on a cartoon, ABC out of nowhere rose to number one in the ratings. It was not because of their edgy approach to adult animation, but because of the fact that they preferred game shows and reality programming. Eventually, the network decided not to promote Clerks: The Animated Series.
Although two episodes were out of order, Clerks: The Animated Series premiered on May 24, 2000, and then ABC canceled the show after the first week. The second episode is a clip show where the main gag is that they only had one episode prior, and because the first episode never airs, the joke was lost on viewers.
A New Life for the Animated Series
Smith released the entire series on DVD in 2001, including the four episodes that never got to air, and viewers were finally able to see the amazingness of Clerks: The Animated Series in its entirety. The series also premiered on Comedy Central in 2002, and Adult Swim in 2008 in its entirety.
Kevin Smith has always stated that he would like to continue the Clerks: The Animated Series. However, due to copyright issues, this most likely will never happen. This is the plot of the new Clerks III, which involves Dante, Randal, Jay, and Silent Bob as their old tricks selling drugs and playing hockey on the roof.