Debuting in 2000, Clerks: The Animated Series was based on Kevin Smith’s 1994 movie of the same name. It was developed for television by Smith, Scott Mosier and David Mandel with character designs by Stephen Silver. It is the first television show to be set in Smith’s View Askewniverse. Unfortunately only two episodes were screened before it was cancelled (although all six episodes were later released on DVD and have been shown on TV since). Numerous factors contributed to the shows cancellation including low ratings, the show’s not fitting in with ABC’s other programming, unsuccessful test-screening to older audiences, and ABC’s decision to air the shows out of order.
By airing the fourth episode (“A Dissertation on the American Justice System by People Who Have Never Been Inside a Courtroom, Let Alone Know Anything About the Law, but Have Seen Way Too Many Legal Thrillers”) first, numerous running gags and references failed to deliver as the set ups in previous episodes were unseen and thus made no sense to viewers. The second episode broadcast was actually the second episode – “The Clipshow Wherein Dante and Randal are Locked in the Freezer and Remember Some of the Great Moments in Their Lives” – but the problem was the running gag of the episode was that it was a flashback episode to episode 1 “Leonardo Leonardo Returns and Dante Has an Important Decision to Make” which was never aired. Also the second episode aired without the scene from “Flintstone’s List”, the fictional RST Video rental that spoofed Schindler’s List.
In Episode 1, billionaire Leonardo Leonardo (Alec Baldwin) returns to Leonardo, New Jersey and opens the Quicker Stop right across from the Quick Stop, which takes away all of Dante (Brian O’Halloran) and Randal’s (Jeff Anderson) customers, and nearly puts the Quick Stop out of business. The duo set out to stop Leonardo by uncovering his plot to enslave all of humanity, but are scoffed at during an appearance at Town Hall. Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith), who had been selling illegal fireworks to children, inadvertently blow up the Quicker Stop, thwarting Leonardo’s plans.
The second episode begins with Dante and Randal getting locked in the freezer of the Quick Stop. There, they look back on their lives, primarily in clips from the same and previous episode, including foiling Leonardo’s evil plans, working at convenience stores in the United Kingdom and India, how Randal got them kicked off The Real World, and their first meeting as children. Jay and Silent Bob also manage to get themselves locked in; Silent Bob eventually uses a crowbar to get them all out, only for Dante and Randal to become locked in the video store. In a parody of Stand by Me, an elderly Jay narrates what became of his friends following the events of the episode.
Episode 3, Leonardo Is Caught in the Grip of an Outbreak of Randal’s Imagination and Patrick Swayze Either Does or Doesn’t Work in the New Pet Store, finds the Quick Stop under government control after Leonardo is said to have been infected with a deadly virus by a monkey at the new pet store next to RST Video (at which they find Patrick Swayze working). Unfortunately, Jay and Silent Bob steal the monkey so they can teach it to smoke. The town of Leonardo is to be destroyed unless Dante and Randal manage to stop the helicopter pilot from dropping a bomb. After Randal tells the pilot that Dante is gay, Dante is forced to state that he is gay on live television to save the town.
In Episode 4, Randal is left in charge of the Quick Stop as part of a bet between him and Dante. Jay sues the Quick Stop for $10,000,000 after slipping on Randal’s spilled soda. Randal is Dante’s lawyer for the case, while Judge Reinhold presides, and several NBA all-stars are members of the jury. Before the verdict of the case can be announced, a disclaimer informs the audience that the script for the conclusion of the episode was lost, and the remainder of the episode will be told through Korean animation:
Episode 5, 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, finds Dante and Randal attending their high school reunion, where Randal discovers he has the ability to turn women into lesbians, and Dante is accosted by his old baseball team because they don’t remember him (although Dante was the coach that won them the championship game). Leonardo decides to let Dante manage his Little League team. The team is on a losing streak until the inclusion of Jay and Silent Bob (as Jay is still in the fourth grade for being held back so many times and is technically eligible to play). Meanwhile, Randal is put into slave labor after beating the high score on an old video game. Dante and the baseball team discover Randal while searching for the baseball team they have been scheduled to play (which turn out to be some of the children enslaved to work in the mines.
In Episode 6, The Last Episode Ever, Dante and Randal work inside the Quick Stop discussing various things after being told that they need to make the show more similar to the original Clerks. Meanwhile, outside, Dante’s supposed to have a date with Caitlin Bree, Jay and Silent Bob go to a fair where havoc ensues, Walt and Steve-Dave need stuff, Leonardo Leonardo finds a soccer team on his roof, and Dante keeps getting called by a guy who wants to show him “the truth about The Matrix”. Eventually, due to a phone call unknowingly made to the President, the Army surrounds the Quick Stop, the President is attacked by hookers and vampires who are enraged to find RST closed, and Dante and Randal finally go outside, where the animators put them in various awkward situations until it is revealed that Jay is the one behind it all.