Rank and File
AN EXHAUSTIVE, COMPREHENSIVE STUDY OF POP-CULTURE ICONS AND ARTIFACTS

Ranking: Every Clerks Animated Episode from Worst to Best

on June 01, 2020, 1:06pm
view all

06. “Dante and Randal and Jay and Silent Bob…”

Disney's Clerks The Animated Series

Disney’s Clerks: The Animated Series


Full Title: “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”

Episode: Season 1, Episode 5

Original Air Date: Dec. 14th, 2002

I Assure You, We’re Open (Plot): Um, read the title. Dante and Randal make an appearance at their high school reunion, where Randal finds the arcade game he used to play in the high school cafeteria and held the top score for. That discovery and a drunken night on the town with Dante that Leonardo Leonardo would rather forget lead our two favorite register jockeys through a series of plots you’ll swear were stolen straight from the movies.

Best Gag: For all the pop-culture hijinks involved in spoofing famous movies, the best joke comes when an exuberant Coach Dante gets pushed aside and cropped out of his little league team’s championship picture, leaving Randal front and center in the image next to the trophy. It wouldn’t be Dante Hicks and Clerks without a crash back to reality. This stinks.

Disney's Clerks The Animated Series

Disney’s Clerks: The Animated Series

The Quotable Quick Stop: “So Dante is naked in the adult section, bag of licorice in one hand and cooking oil in the other. That’s a true story … alright, see you guys in 10 years.” –Randal Graves telling stories about Dante’s high school days

Pardon the Allusion (Pop-Culture References): Again, see the title. And then toss in some more-subtle gags from Wolf and Jaws and Return of the Jedi among others.

Hey, the ’90s Called (That Didn’t Age Well): Randal concludes that he’s the “ultimate male” after he learns that all his old girlfriends turned into extremely “butch” lesbians after dating him. It’s a joke that wouldn’t fly today, but, as Smith has often cited in defense of his gay jokes, notice it’s the stupidest character in the show who promotes the idea. Really, it’s far more a joke on how no girl in her right mind would ever date Randal Graves. Still, we cringe a little whenever the ultimate put-down out of Randal’s mouth is calling someone gay. The running gag about Leonardo Leonardo hiding his sexuality also feels incredibly juvenile (not that it wasn’t back then, too).

View Askewniverse: We learn that Dante and Randal are not-so-proud alums of Leonardo High School and that Jay is still in the fourth grade (“He got left back a lot”).

All Sales Final (Verdict): Credit the writers for a script that seems like it came out of a bet about combining plots from three disparate Hollywood movies. There are some fun references there, and Jay as Kelly Leak — one of the few curveballs in the eppy — even feels inspired. But, at the end of the day, the episode really does feel like an exercise in merely mashing plots rather than a clever collection of parodies. Less gimmick and more nuanced gags about the films (e.g., Randal fleeing the slave drivers in a Temple of Doom mine car that leads to where the slavers take their coffee break) would’ve given the episode some meat — even if it was bad meat that Randal was suing the government over. Believe it or not, we actually like Dante and Randal more when they’re sitting around the Quick Stop talking about all the things they’d do if they weren’t humping such a lousy job. Go figure.

–Matt Melis


05. “The Last Episode Ever”

Disney's Clerks The Animated Series

Disney’s Clerks: The Animated Series

Episode: Season 1, Episode 6

Original Air Date: Dec. 14th, 2002

I Assure You, We’re Open: After being called sell-outs and “gay” by a near-empty audience of fanboys while on a panel at a comic-con, Dante and Randal pledge to make Clerks the cartoon more like the movie. That means title screens, hanging inside the Quick Stop (no matter what happens outside), and, oh, yeah, pining for Caitlin Bree.

Best Gag: The escalating chaos at the fair across the street is entertaining, especially Caitlin’s sexual escapades sans Dante as he and Randal wax Clerks-like about Star Wars and hockey. Luckily, Jay is there to push Dante over the edge by telling him someone keyed his car (by far the most normal thing that has happened all episode).

The Quotable Quick Stop: “Me and Silent Bob have an appointment at the gorilla cage. We’ve come to the conclusion that we need more gorillas in our lives.” –Jay on why he needs to get back across the street to the fair

Pardon the Allusion: As Jay (as it turns out) and the writers pace Dante and Randal through the episode, there’s plenty of time to allude to movies like Freaks (“One of us, one of us!”) and Alive, not to mention a running phone gag about The Matrix. Once they’re out of the store, the floodgates open to include, among others, Looney Tunes, Gilligan’s Island, and Josie and the Pussycats. Of course, the best references in the whole episode are back to the original Clerks.

Hey, the ’90s Called: It’s a well-behaved show until it ends with a barrage of gay jokes. At least Dante has the good taste to ask, “What is this guy’s fascination with gay jokes?” The Caddyshack III: Caddies in da Hood joke doesn’t land either.

Disney's Clerks The Animated Series

Disney’s Clerks: The Animated Series

View Askewniverse: A pop-culture-referencing series constantly referencing the movie it’s based on takes us back to ye olde Askewniverse for familiar gags, characters, and pop-culture minutia.

All Sales Final: The self-aware premise that there could be some blowback from fans over the sanitized Clerks cartoon has potential, and the escalating gag about what’s happening on the other side of those steel shutters across the street at the fair (which, of course, Dante and Randal can’t leave to see and must get the play-by-play from Jay) gets grins. But like the clip show before (read on), it’s the type of clever concept that doesn’t quite have legs for 20 minutes. Luckily, the writers have plenty of other “bad ideas” once the clerks finally leave the store. Yeah, that Jay’s a real stinka.

–Matt Melis


04. “The Clip Show…”

Disney's Clerks The Animated Series

Disney’s Clerks: The Animated Series

Full Title: “The Clip Show Wherein Dante and Randal are Locked in the Freezer and Remember Some of the Great Moments in Their Lives”

Episode: Season 1, Episode 2

Original Air Date: June 7th, 2000

I Assure You, We’re Open: When Dante and Randal get locked in a Quick Stop freezer, they flash back to different points in their lives. They spend a good amount of time revisiting Episode 1 (despite the fact that that episode hadn’t actually aired before this one did). They also touch on their first meeting, losing their virginity, and the last time they got stuck in a freezer. Once Silent Bob frees them with his crowbar, they end up locked in the video store, and the reminiscing recommences with memories of celebrity shoppers, working abroad, and Happy Days. When they finally get out, they tell the story to all their hockey pals — only to get locked in the rink. Jay and Silent Bob also teach a couple kids a magic trick — with no help from Charles Barkley.

Best Gag: Frankly, the whole episode is a gag. The idea of making Episode 2 of your brand-new series a clip show is brilliant in its stupid simplicity, especially when you’re a show that thrives on ridiculous moments. With no need for a real setup, it’s just a rapid-fire series of jokes.

Disney's Clerks The Animated Series

Disney’s Clerks: The Animated Series

The Quotable Quick Stop: While recalling their time in London, Dante reminds Randal about learning what “fag” meant, to which he retorts: “You’re a fag!”

Dante: “No, a fag’s a cigarette, remember?”

Randal: “You’re a cigarette!”

Pardon the Allusion: Of course, Jay has to make a Star Wars reference about using Silent Bob as a tauntaun to stay warm in the freezer. When Randal and Dante find themselves trapped once more in the video store, they consider watching Steven Spielberg’s Flintstone’s List, a joke that we learned was essentially the basis for the entirety of Clerks: The Animated Series. After revisiting the film, the Clerks recall all the celebrities who’ve stopped in over the years: Jerry Seinfeld (voiced by Gilbert Godfrey), Gwenyth Paltrow (Paltrow herself), Samuel L. Jackson, Martin Scorsese, Audrey Hepburn, Matt Damon, and Ted Danson. Other flashbacks include Dante and Randal’s time on The Real World and their favorite Fonzi moments from Happy Days. The whole thing wraps up with an homage to Stand by Me, with Jay writing a book of their adventures and ending it, “Snooch to the nooch.”

Hey, the ’90s Called: Twice things get racially insensitive. The segment revisiting the time Randal got a mail-order husband is loaded with belittling Japanese stereotypes, right down to the music choices. And that’s not even mentioning Jay’s response of “Ew, you were married to a dude?” Then we learn of Dante and Randal’s time in India, where the latter says they were “amongst the living dead.” The subtitles on the Hindi signage read, “Bloobity blah blah blah,” and the big joke is that Indians are afraid of milk. Even with a quip that tries to flip the script on the Apu Nahasapeemapetilons of the world, that’s still pretty oof.

View Askewniverse: Weirdly, there’s a minor origin story here of Randal and Dante meeting for the first time. It’s not when they started working at Quick Stop and RST Video in 1985, as Randal thinks, but way back when they were kids in 1978. Randal probably doesn’t remember because it was the same moment he discovered porn, so you know, priorities. We also get to see Dante and Caitlin Bree’s relationship in far more detail than we ever did in Clerks the movie, especially all the cheating around with painters.

All Sales Final: The premise of a clip show episode without much series to flash back on is fun at first, but it wears a bit thin over 20 minutes of hyperkinetic comedy. Even some of the jokes set up within the trope drag, repeating inside repetition to Inception-ized ad nauseam. Still, there are some solid moments to be had in all the memories, and Randal’s indifference to paying close attention truly gets to shine in all the recollection.

–Ben Kaye

Click ahead for more fun from the cartoon Quick Stop…


view all