Clarence (2014 TV series)
|Created by||Skyler Page|
|Creative director(s)||Nelson Boles|
|Theme music composer||Simon Panrucker|
|Ending theme||"Good Habits", performed by Saba Lou|
|Composer(s)||James L. Venable|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||30 (List of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Skyler Page (season 1)|
|Running time||11 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Cartoon Network Studios|
|Original channel||Cartoon Network|
|Picture format||1080i HDTV|
|Original run||February 17, 2014– present|
Clarence is an American animated television series created by Skyler Page for Cartoon Network. The series revolves around a young boy named Clarence, who is optimistic about everything, and his two best friends Jeff and Sumo. Page, a former storyboard artist for Adventure Time and revisionist for Secret Mountain Fort Awesome, developed the series at Cartoon Network Studios as part of their shorts development program in 2012.
The network has commissioned twelve 15-minute episodes, with the pilot airing after the 2014 Hall of Game Awards show on February 17, 2014. The series premiere was seen by approximately 2.3 million viewers, outperforming shows in its same demographic in the time slot. Critical reception has been positive, and its pilot was nominated for a Creative Arts Emmy Award.
Clarence revolves around the titular protagonist, Clarence Wendell (voiced by Skyler Page in the pilot and first season; Spencer Rothbell in the second). He's not exactly a pizza-loving, prank-pulling, skateboarding, adventurous fourth grade boy. He sees good in everything & everyone and wants to try it all (run for class president, make cookies, travel through time, etc.). Clarence values his friends, Jeff Randell and Ryan "Sumo" Sumozski, more than material possessions, and out of the three, acts the most emotional. In contrast, Jeff (Sean Giambrone) is the more intellectual type, and has a cube-shaped head representing his "square" personality. His mannerisms are calculated while his brain is teeming in knowledge (of mostly trivial facts). Sumo (Tom Kenny), on the other hand, is the most instinctual of their group, and often takes drastic and crude measures when trying to solve problems. Though he is unpredictable, Sumo is loyal to Jeff and Clarence and available when they need support. While the latter two would not normally get along, Clarence mends the gap between them.
Along with Clarence is his mother, Mary Wendell (Katie Crown), who is always there to support her son no matter the difficulty, and her live-in boyfriend, Chad (Eric Edelstein) who works at various odd-jobs and acts as a father figure for Clarence. Belson Noles (Roger Craig Smith) is Clarence's wealthy, self-centered bully — though he is more likely to throw a quip his way than throw a punch. Ms. Melanie Baker (Katie Crown) is the children's fourth grade teacher.
- Percy (voiced by Smith) is a short round boy who speaks in a weak voice and is friends with Clarence.
- Amy Gillis (voiced by Ava Acres) is a tomboy who enjoys Clarence's company.
- Nathan (voiced by Page in the first season) is the dim-witted friend of both Belson and Clarence.
- Malessica (voiced by Ivy Bishop) is one of Kimby's friends who had a crush on Jeff.
- Dustin (Kyle Arem) is another one of Belson's friends, and enjoys karate and martial arts.
- Kimby (Isabella Niems) is another one of Clarence's classmates, and is the girly girl of the kids who often gets nervous.
- Chelsea (Grace Kaufman) is Sumo's crush & a very fearless girl.
- Joshua "Josh" Maverick (voiced by Brent Popolizio) is an overwhelmed & short-tempered man who doesn't like Clarence's company.
At their 2011 upfront, Clarence was announced along with various other series. The show was created by Page, a former storyboard artist for Adventure Time and revisionist for Secret Mountain Fort Awesome. He is the fourth creator on the network who graduated from the California Institute of the Arts, and at age 24, he is also the youngest. As part of their shorts development program in 2012, the show was developed at Cartoon Network Studios; two others, Steven Universe and Over the Garden Wall, also came from this initiative.
Page, together with creative director Nelson Boles, conceived the show at CalArts. It was further considered when Page became hired at Cartoon Network Studios. A crew of two or three polished the pilot episode; after it had been picked up, a crew of 30 to 35 writers, storyboard artists, revisionists, colorists and designers were employed. Meanwhile, animation is outsourced to South Korea through the Saerom company.:20 Page explained that the hardest part of production was keeping pace, especially where once an episode is completed, one must start over. He called this "exciting", but "very challenging".:21
According to writer Spencer Rothbell, the show was created with a naturalistic tone, similar to cartoons of the 1990s, combined with a more modern feeling. Given this naturalism, writers can reference works that have inspired for them or fit the genre of an episode. He ultimately felt that it was about "empowering kids and having fun". Rothbell also avoids "pigeonholing" into one type of story, and that while some plots are mostly character-driven, others are "based on one idea that we think is really funny". Inspiration also came from the shows Page watched as a child, which invoked more poignant and relatable situations. Despite this, elements of fantasy are allowed, and that conveying both incongruous to one another was one technique he particularly enjoyed. Boles noted that the art direction called for inconsistent character design to avoid having to fit model sheet with the universe perfectly—a result of what he dubs the Simpsons effect.:20 Attention is also paid to background characters in order to expand variety in its plot and universe.:20–21
In July 2014, Page was fired from the show and Cartoon Network Studios, according to BuzzFeed through a Cartoon Network spokesperson. Despite his absence, the same spokesperson also confirmed that the series will continue. Rothbell later became head of story and the voice of Clarence.
Broadcast and reception
Clarence was originally previewed at the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con International. Cartoon Network had commissioned twelve quarter-hour episodes, with the pilot episode airing after the Hall of Game Awards show on February 17, 2014. The pilot was nominated for an "Outstanding Short-format Animated Program" at the 65th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards in 2013.[a] The first episode, broadcast April 14, 2014, was met with an estimated 2.3 million viewers, outperforming shows in its same demographic in the time slot by double and triple digit percentages. Meanwhile, preliminary data identified it as the most watched series premiere for the network that year.
In Canada, the series premiered on Cartoon Network alongside the original broadcast and on Teletoon on September 4, 2014. In the United Kingdom and Ireland, it premiered on November 3, 2014 on Cartoon Network.
Critical reception has been positive. In a three-star review, Emily Ashby of Common Sense Media alerted parents of "a similar brand of absurdity and crudeness" as Adventure Time—though less severe—but praised the cast as "oddly likable". Nancy Basile of About.com applauded the dialogue for its lengthiness, and considered the relationships between the characters to be dynamic and genuine, with some comedy thrown in. Whitney Matheson of USA Today found Clarence to blend optimism and surreal humor in "just the right amount", and encouraged children and parents alike to watch its premiere. In Animation Magazine, Mercedes Milligan described it as "a breath of fresh suburban air" and a celebration of childhood.:20 Nivea Serrao of TV Guide contrasted the show with most fantasy animated series. Brian Lowry of Variety called it "so quirky and idiosyncratic as to feel fresh", although it sometimes tread in "well-worn territory", but found the character designs unattractive.
The show gained considerable press after featuring a gay couple in the episode "Neighborhood Grill", with coverage in various tabloid and entertainment news sites,[b] and in LGBT-oriented sites as well.[c] The scene involves two male characters greeting each other with kisses on the cheek while at a restaurant. Rothbell originally had the couple kiss on the lips after receiving flowers from the other, but this went unapproved by the network. He added that the scene was a "minor throwaway moment", albeit "better than nothing", and anticipated that "one day the main character can be gay and it won't be a big deal". Joe Morgan of Gay Star News called the buildup to the scene "an old joke", a notion shared by Dan Tracer of Queerty, although he praised their portrayal "just as normal people".
- Page, Peter Browngardt, Robert Alvarez, Brian A. Miller, Jennifer Pelphrey, Curtis Lelash and Rob Sorcher were the recipients.
- Coverage in these sites include the Daily Mail, E! Online, El Universal, the Huffington Post (both in their UK and US editions), MTV News and Refinery29.
- Coverage in these sites include Pink News, Gay Star News and Queerty.
- Milligan, Mercedes (September 22, 2014). "Cartoon Network Plans Surprise-Packed NYCC Panel". Animation Magazine. ISSN 1041-617X. Archived from the original on October 13, 2014.
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- Milligan, Mercedes (December 13, 2012). "Cartoon Network Greenlights Clarence". Animation Magazine. ISSN 1041-617X. Archived from the original on June 14, 2014. Retrieved June 14, 2014.
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- Aurthur, Kate (July 3, 2014). "Exclusive: The Creator of Clarence on Cartoon Network Has Been Fired After Allegations of Sexual Assault". BuzzFeed. Archived from the original on July 5, 2014. Retrieved July 3, 2014.
- Wolfe, Jennifer (July 22, 2013). "CN Sneak Peeks Rebecca Sugar's Steven Universe". Animation World Network. Archived from the original on June 14, 2014. Retrieved June 14, 2014.
- "Clarence". Television Academy. Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. September 15, 2013. Archived from the original on June 14, 2014. Retrieved February 16, 2014.
- Bibel, Sara (April 16, 2014). "Clarence Is Cartoon Network’s Most-Watched Series Premiere to Date in 2014". TV by the Numbers. Tribune Digital Ventures. Archived from the original on June 14, 2014. Retrieved June 14, 2014.
- "Gotta Gotta See It: TELETOON Launches 2014 Fall Slate". Corus Entertainment. August 27, 2014. Retrieved November 17, 2014.
- Ashby, Emily. "Clarence". Common Sense Media. Archived from the original on June 14, 2014. Retrieved June 14, 2014.
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- Lowry, Brian (April 8, 2014). "TV Review: Cartoon Network's Clarence, The Tom and Jerry Show". Variety. Penske Media Corporation. Archived from the original on June 14, 2014. Retrieved June 14, 2014.
- McCormack, David (October 28, 2014). "Cartoon Network backs down from showing its first ever gay kiss". Daily Mail. DMG Media. Archived from the original on October 29, 2014. Retrieved October 29, 2014.
- Harrison, Lily (October 28, 2014). "Cartoon Network Censors Its First Gay Kiss on New Show Clarence". E! Online. NBCUniversal. Archived from the original on October 28, 2014. Retrieved October 29, 2014.
- "Cartoon Network censuró un beso de la serie animada Clarence" [Cartoon Network censors a kiss from the animated series Clarence]. El Universal. Epalisticia S.L. October 28, 2014. Archived from the original on October 29, 2014. Retrieved October 29, 2014.
- Bagwell, Matt (October 28, 2014). "Cartoon Network Feature First Ever Gay Characters In Clarence, but Kiss Is Censored". Huffington Post (United Kingdom ed.). AOL Inc. Archived from the original on October 29, 2014. Retrieved October 29, 2014.
- Nichols, James (October 28, 2014). "Cartoon Network Allegedly Censors First On-Screen Gay Kiss". United Kingdom. AOL Inc. Archived from the original on October 28, 2014. Retrieved October 29, 2014.
- Bobb, Maurice (October 29, 2014). "Clarence Almost Featured Cartoon Network's First Gay Kiss". MTV News. Viacom International. Archived from the original on October 29, 2014. Retrieved October 29, 2014.
- Barna, Daniel (October 28, 2014). "The Cartoon Network's First-Ever Gay Kiss Was Censored". Refinery29. Archived from the original on October 29, 2014. Retrieved October 29, 2014.
- Day, Aaron (October 28, 2014). "Cartoon Network debuts first ever gay characters—but censors the kiss". Pink News. Archived from the original on October 28, 2014. Retrieved October 29, 2014.
- Morgan, Joe (October 28, 2014). "Cartoon Network feature first gay characters in new show, but they were banned from kissing on the mouth". Gay Star News. Archived from the original on October 29, 2014. Retrieved October 29, 2014.
- Tracer, Dan (October 27, 2014). "Cartoon Network Airs First Gay Characters Only After Making Sure They Aren't Too Gay". Queerty. Archived from the original on October 28, 2014. Retrieved October 29, 2014.