Plot: What’s it about?
Chances are that you’ve heard of two characters by the name of Jay and Silent Bob. Chances are that you either love or hate them. I love ’em. Not in any sort of romantic way, mind you, but the humor that they’re so good at is right down my alley. Some seven years ago (yes, it’s been that long) we were first introduced to a movie called “Clerks”. The plot was simple, it focused on two convenient store clerks in a New Jersey town. Dante (Brian O’ Halloran) who kept muttering the phrase “I’m not even supposed to be here today…” was called into work and together with his friend, Randal (Jeff Anderson) we saw what was in stock in a typical day in the life of a clerk. The movie was well-received, and turned it’s Director into somewhat of a sensation. Clerks was praised as one of the better independent movies to come around and it wasn’t too long after that, that more movies were made. However, the main characters of Dante and Randall were only limited to the one movie, whereas Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) have made appearances in every movie that has been made (I would too…so I can’t blame them).
Watching the movies, we gather that Smith was and still is an avid comic book reader, so the natural progression from Director to animator seemed to make sense. Smith is still directing feature-length movies too. So it was last year at the Super Bowl that the teaser for Clerks: The Animated series was premiered to a LOT of people. But the same “pizazz” that made Clerks the movie, wasn’t present in the animated series. You have to argue, however, that the series wasn’t really given a chance, being cancelled after only a few episodes. I watched the episodes I could, but when a network is in control, it’s hard to win. Smith is an avid fan of DVD (despite what you may have heard on the commentary track for Chasing Amy), and all of his movies have been (or will be) released in this format in some sort of special edition type. Ok…now to Clerks: Uncensored! There were only six episodes total, and ABC only aired two of them, but now with a two disc set at our fingertips, we can not only watch the “missing” four episodes, but hear the commentary along with it, see some rough sketches (called Animatics) with the audio and learn all we want to know about the series that seemed doomed even before it began. Odds are that if you’re at this point in the review, then you’re a fan of the series and/or Smith’s movies. You won’t be disappointed with what you get here. The price is reasonable and I found Clerks: Uncensored to be a very clever series. Too bad it didn’t get more of a chance. On a final note, I guess all I can say is that the main difference between Clerks the movie and Clerks the cartoon is that the cartoon is much cleaner. Part of what made Clerks the movie was the vulgar language (37…) and so on. But when you’re on prime time TV, you can’t refer to things like that. Still, it’s a nice set and wonderful to have on DVD, so read on…
Video: How does it look?
Since most of these episodes never saw the light of day, it’s safe to assume that they do look as good as new, since most are. Presented in a full-frame format, the picture is clean, clear and sharp all the way through. Compare this with episodes of “The Simpson’s” and you’ll see a dramatic improvement. Of course, the added resolution of DVD provides the picture with it’s best possible clarity, but the way that the series is drawn is also very unique. Looking more cartoonish than most, the characters have bold, black outlines as does everything. I like this effect and I think that all the episodes look great. ‘Nuff said.
Audio: How does it sound?
Developed for TV, the sound is a modest Dolby Surround mix that more than suits it’s purpose on DVD. Dialogue is clear and most of the sound emits from the center channel only. On a few episodes, the surrounds come into play, but lest we forget, this is a cartoon and the action is supposed to be focused on the screen and not on the speakers. Not really much else can be said, I have no major complaints here, the sound is appropriate and I can’t see much room for improvement.
Supplements: What are the extras?
As mentioned before, Kevin Smith is a very big proponent of supplements when it comes to DVD. Clerks, Mallrats and Chasing Amy have all been released in some Special Edition form and as of this writing, we’re still waiting for Dogma, though a SE of that is imminent. So why should Clerks: Uncensored be any different? It’s not. Sporting not one, but two discs, each episode contains a commentary by Kevin Smith, Scott Mosher, Dave Mendel, Chris Bailey, Jeff Anderson, Brian O’Halloran and Jason “Snooch to the Nooch” Mewes. Much like their Mallrats commentary, the whole group is involved and it’s clear to see (hear) that they really liked doing the project. Smith, obviously, has the most to say, but everything you wanted to know about every episode is contained in the commentary track. Also, at the beginning of every episode features Jay and Silent Bob in some exclusive Beverly Hills mansion. They give a brief synopsis of the episode and appear everywhere from a swimming pool to Silent Bob giving Jay a backrub! Anyway…also included are some animatics, which are rough cuts of the episodes, sketches mainly, synched with the audio. There are some rough choices of words, but you don’t get a title like Clerks: Uncensored without a bit of harshness. Some TV spots, including the Super Bowl spot, are shown as are some brief featurettes. A good deal of DVD-ROM material is also found with links to the website, a script/storyboard Synchronized viewer (cool feature) and some cast bios. Clocking in at just over two hours, you’ll find much more than that on these discs. For fans of Smith’s other work, I can’t really see how this should be left out of your collection. If noting else, give it look to hear Randal (my favorite View Askew character), as all the original actors are back reprising their roles in the cartoon.