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5 out of 5
At first glance Clarence might seem like another generic run of the mill cartoon about kids in elementary school. But, if you look closer you begin to see a lot of little hidden gems that the writers have thrown in to satisfy even the most jaded of critics.
One of my favorite things about this series is that the writers are very careful not to pigeonhole themselves into a story. Each episode is unrelated to the previous one and while that’s kind of a standard writing trick for kid’s shows Clarence pushes it to the next level. Some episodes work as a spoof and often times pay homage to classic films like “Midnight Cowboy” or “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” while other episodes are written and animated in the style of Fleischer Studios, Peanuts and one episode even goes completely Yellow Submarine on us! If that’s not a bold move for a kid’s cartoon in this day and age, then I don’t know what is!
The first episode of Clarence debuted on April 14th, 2014. The show revolves around the titular character of Clarence Wendell who lives in the fictional town of Aberdale, Arizona. Clarence is your everyday kid who just wants to have fun with his friends Jeff (a neurotic germaphobe brainiac) and Sumo (a wild child with some pretty crazy animal-like tendencies) Each episode revolves around a different story that takes these three and often times other neighborhood children on wild adventures! Whether bowling, playing in a restaurant play place, getting lost in the supermarket or being terrorized by a goose in the park, Clarence finds a way to constantly pull me in. The reason? Clarence is the every-child. So many things that he does, I remember doing when I was a child. There’s something warm and nostalgic about Clarence. Something that helps me forgive the occasional weak episode. That said, I can only think of about three weak episodes in a 52 episode season. That in and of itself is a pretty strong recommendation. The show is a total blast and it is written by people who grew up in the 80’s and 90’s so the jokes, gags, and "easter eggs" work on so many levels! Each episode has replay value as well because you can always find something hidden in a scene that will give you an explosive of nostalgia. Be it a cassette tape, a poster on someone’s wall, a Rubik’s like cube, or any number of hidden gems!
Strangely, I find that children are the ones who have less interest in the show. Sure, they love Clarence because he’s the cute roly-poly kid that’s inside of all of us but they don’t understand all of the jokes. I can only assume that the Fleischer episode would make absolutely no sense to the average child. Kudos to the writers for still going for it though. Every time they do something weird, I always think “this is it.. this is what’s going to kill the show” but then miraculously.. it doesn’t.
I honestly think this show is the best thing on Cartoon Network right now. There are a couple of DVD releases available currently and hopefully they will be releasing physical versions of the rest of season one.
I’m not sure when season two starts but it should be in early 2016. Here’s to hoping that they keep the charm of the first season and take us on many more wild adventures that kids will love but only adults will truly understand! Five favorite episodes:
Fun Dungeon Face Off Rise ‘n’ Shine The Forgotten Nature Clarence Chalmers Santiago
DVD releases available: 25 of the first seasons 52 episodes are available on DVD in two separate releases.
Mystery Piñata (http://www.amazon.com/Cartoon-Network-Clarence-Mystery-Pi%C3%B1ata/dp/B00OQRUAJ4/ref=sr_1_3?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1451499787&sr=1-3&keywords=clarence)
Dust Buddies (http://www.amazon.com/Cartoon-Network-Clarence-Dust-Buddies/dp/B00WUI3KAM/ref=sr_1_2?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1451499856&sr=1-2&keywords=clarence)
Full season available for digital purchase on Amazon.com.