Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Shows Time Forgot: Clone High

Where I live in Ontario, Clone High was a show that was talked about in High School all the time. The show seemed to be an endless supply of hilarious quotes and wacky ideas that could never fail; but it did. I often ask why shows that are so well written, uniquely animated and packed with uproarious comedy can get completely overlooked. I guess this is why I wanted to include this amazing cartoon in my series of The Shows Time Forgot.

Clone High was the story of a High School populated by teenage clones of famous historic figures; an experiment by the schools principal Dr. Cinnamon Scudworth (voiced by the shows co writer Phil Lord). The show focus' around a group of friends consisting of Abe Lincoln voiced by Will Forte (SNL, MacGruber), Mahatma Gandhi voiced by Micheal McDonald (MAD TV), Cleopatra voiced by Crista Miller (The Drew Carey Show, Scrubs), JFK voiced by co writer Chris miller an Joan of Ark voiced by the Nicole Sullivan (MAD TV, King of Queens, Family Guy). The show ran with a continuing story line through each episode but each episode still carried an independent plot making it a easy show to just jump into. Much of the comedy that came out of Clone High was through the juxtaposition between the clones and the historical figures they're based on. For example the real Abe Lincoln was a confident leader, while his Clone is an extremely insecure follower. There are a lot of historical jokes thrown in through out the show like their after school hang out being called the Grassy Knoll (part of a JFK assassination conspiracy) and how Joan believes shes hearing God's voice in her head (which turns out to be radio signals picked up by her retainer).

A big part of what makes this show so good is how its a parody of old after school specials and shows like Degrassi (the 80's series). Each episode was a melodrama based on a particular subject. In one episode they parody a common AIDs story line where in Gandhi is diagnosed with ADD and is ostracized by the school due to their lack of understanding. In the stereotypical drug episode a dealer shows up in town (voiced by Jack Black) who introduces the teens to the wonders of smoking raisins. In the very funny episode dealing with the death of a friend JFK's best friend (who is never seen in any other episode) Ponce De Leon is killed by litter in the school yard.

The style of the show was another interesting aspect of the show is the use of very minimal animation. The blocky animation style is extremely simple and was often times lacking in detail, detailed colour paterns and movements. This was all done intentionally though, and worked. The decision of the animation style was meant to draw the focus away from the look of the character, to the almost constantly running gags. Personally I really loved the style of the show, but I could see how someone used to more modern animation techniques could be turned off at first glace.

Clone High was created by the very funny Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who have gone on to gain a lot of notoriety from their work on How I Met Your Mother, the Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs films and the hit comedy 21 Jump Street. The show was also co created by Bill Lawrence whos worked on shows like Spin City, Cougar Town and the very popular Scrubs (many of the stars of Scrubs lend voices to Clone

When on, this show seemed like a perfect storm, but unfortunately never survived after a first season. I remember in the early 2000's there was a petition circulating the internet trying to bring the show back, but at the time something along those lines just didn't happen. Just remember this was probably a few years before the famous cancellation and resurrection of Family Guy which was a television landmark.

I really wish I could have seen more of these great characters, but I guess all good things must come to an end. Thankfully, the last episode could work as the final episode as is brings together many of the events of the show in one nicely wrapped package.      

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