Clarence (2014 TV series)
|Created by||Skyler Page|
|Creative director(s)||Nelson Boles|
|Theme music composer||Simon Panrucker|
|Ending theme||"Good Habits" by Saba Lou|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||17 (List of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Skyler Page (season 1)|
|Running time||11 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Cartoon Network Studios|
|Distributor||Warner Bros. Television|
|Original channel||Cartoon Network|
|Picture format||1080i HDTV|
|First shown in||February 17, 2014 (pilot)|
|Original run||April 14, 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 (voiced by Page), who is optimistic about everything, and his friends Jeff and Sumo (Sean Giambrone and Tom Kenny, respectively). Page, a former storyboard artist for Adventure Time and revisionist for Secret Mountain Fort Awesome, developed the series at Cartoon Network Studios in 2012 as part of their animated short development initiative.
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 children's programming in its time slot by double and triple digit percentages. Critical reception was positive, and its pilot has been nominated for a Creative Arts Emmy Award.
Plot and characters
The series revolves around a young boy named Clarence (originally voiced by Skyler Page), who is optimistic about everything, as well as his friends, Jeff and Sumo (Sean Giambrone and Tom Kenny, respectively). Jeff, who sports a cube-shaped head, is organized and calculated in his mannerisms while being rich in knowledge of mostly trivial facts. Cautious and mysophobic, Jeff longs to be a social butterfly. According to the network, Clarence's enthusiasm "offsets Jeff's fears and hang-ups; he can't help but have a good time when Clarence is around." Contrary to Jeff's personality, Sumo is street-smart, using unorthodox tactics to get out of situations that often entail the trio getting dirty, much to the chagrin of Jeff. Page elaborated that "Sumo and Jeff probably wouldn't hang out if it wasn't for Clarence, but he kind of brings them together." * Percy, is another one of Clarence's friends. He is short, wimpy and speaks in a very squeaky voice. He is the breakout character of the show. (voiced by Roger Craig Smith);
Along with Clarence's friends are his mother, Mary (voiced by Katie Crown), her sketchy live-in boyfriend, Chad (voiced by Eric Edelstein), his teacher, Mrs. Baker (also voiced by Crown) and his various schoolmates:
- Belson, a rich bully of Clarence's school, but is more likely to sarcastically quip at him than to throw a punch. He secretly thinks Clarence is "cool", although he would never admit it (voiced by Roger Craig Smith);
- Amy Gillis, a girlfriend of Clarence who enjoys Clarence's company. She usually exhibits tomboyish behavior, and often rides her bike around town. In her first appearance, she says she is going to be in the fifth grade in her next year in school and might be moving soon, and is uncertain if she will be living with her mom or dad, hinting that her parents are divorcing and in a custody battle (voiced by Ava Acres);
- Nathan, the dim-witted friend of Belson and Clarence (voiced by Skyler Page);
- Dustin, one of Belson's friends, who enjoys karate and martial arts in general (voiced by Kyle Arem);
- Ashley, one of former Clarence's girlfriends. She is heavily into arts and crafts, conveyed through her papercraft snowflake. She easily succumbs to peer pressure (voiced by Anastasia James);
- Hector, a nerdy and intelligent boy who is one of Clarence's friends (voiced by Sean Giambrone);
- Kimby, a girl who is obsessed with ducks and stuffed toys (voiced by Isabella Niems);
- Chelsea, one of the girls in Clarence's class. Her teasing scares Clarence and Jeff, but is attractive for Sumo (voiced by Grace Kaufman);
- Allison, one of the girls in Clarence's class. She is shown to be good friends with Chelsea, although they often scuffle;
- Guyler, one of Clarence's classmates. He has a large nose, has a long neck, and his mouth is covered by his shirt.
- Breen, one of Clarence's classmates. He has blue eyes, ginger hair, a body very similar to Sumo's and is very careful at what he does or he will get in trouble by his parents (voiced by Joshua Rush):
Clarence was created by Skyler Page, a former storyboard artist and revisionist for the network's series Adventure Time and Secret Mountain Fort Awesome, respectively. The series marks the fifth consecutive graduate of the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) to receive a show on the network. In addition, at age 24, Page is the youngest creator to be given his own show. Page developed the series at Cartoon Network Studios as part of their animated short development initiative in 2012; two other shows, Steven Universe and Over the Garden Wall, also rose from this initiative.
The idea for the series was conceived by Page, along with creative director Nelson Boles, while they were still students at CalArts. The concept was put into further consideration upon Page landing a job at the studio; the pilot episode was polished by a crew of two or three people. After being picked up by the network, the series is written by a crew of 30 to 35 writers, storyboard artists, storyboard revisionists, colorists and designers. Animation is outsourced to South Korea through Saerom; Page and Boles estimated that production of the first season was 60 percent finished as of April 2014[update], though they were too "harried by the production schedule" to give accurate estimates. Page explained the hardest part of production is keeping pace: "Once you do an episode, and it's really good and you're proud of it, you have to start over. Every time. It's exciting, but it's very challenging."
According to series writer Spencer Rothbell, Page wanted to create a show evoking a naturalistic tone, he feels, that are similar to cartoons of the '90s, combined with a "more modern sensibility". He ultimately summarized that "it's all about empowering kids and having fun", and, given its intended realism, the writers can insert references to popular culture that have either inspired them or fit a particular genre of an episode. Page had earlier explained that his inspiration for the series derived from programs he watched while growing up, which he felt invoked more poignancy and identifiable situations. Rothbell avoids "pigeonhol[ing] into one type of story", and that some plots "are very character-driven," while others are "sort of based on one idea that we think is really funny."
Page noted that, despite trying to be realistic, fantastical elements are allowed; he expressed that the ability to do convey both as incongruous is one technique he particularly enjoyed. Writing for Animation, Mercedes Milligan noticed the blend of realistic and imaginary elements to be reflected in the show's scenic and character design, favoring "ordinary (or even downright unappealing) locations made inviting with cartoony flair." Boles explained that art direction is used to connect the series' inconsistent character design. In doing so, they also avoid having to fit model sheet with the universe perfectly – a result of what he dubs "the Simpsons effect". Boles and Page also added that attention is paid to background characters in particular, in order to expand variety in plot as well as its universe.
In July 2014, Page was fired from the series and Cartoon Network Studios, according to a confirmation to BuzzFeed from a Cartoon Network spokesperson. Page was fired due to sexual assault/harassment to a co-worker, named Emily Paige. Despite his absence, the same spokesperson also confirmed that the series will continue.
|Season premiere||Season finale|
|Pilot||1||February 17, 2014|
|1||25||April 14, 2014||TBA|
Release and reception
The series, along with Uncle Grandpa and Steven Universe, were announced to the public during the network's 2013 upfront. The series was also previewed at the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con International, along with the latter two series. The network has commissioned twelve 15-minute episodes, and aired the pilot following the 2014 Hall of Game Awards show on February 17, 2014.
The series has received positive critical reception. Milligan called the series' premise "a breath of fresh suburban air." She found it to celebrate "the joys of childhood" despite lacking talking animals and "magical embellishment". Nivea Serrao of TV Guide expressed similar sentiments, contrasting it with animated series skewing towards fantasy. Writing for USA Today, Whitney Matheson found herself interested in the series upon watching its trailer. She assessed it to blend "just the right amount of humor, weirdness and optimism", and concluded her review informing parents not to miss its premiere.
Brian Lowry of Variety summed it as "a nifty little gem" when compared to live-action comedies with boys for protagonists; "so quirky and idiosyncratic as to feel fresh, even if it treads in well-worn territory." He regarded the characters as unattractive, but noted its first episode as "certainly a lot of fun." He closed his review applauding Page for conjuring "something with a genuine creative spark and relative lack of cynicism."
Emily Ashby of Common Sense Media scored the series three stars out of five, alerting parents that much of the series features "a similar brand of absurdity and crudeness" as Adventure Time while noting it to be "less edgy". While she praised the cast for being "oddly likable," she called the final result "a little uneven", raising "questionable issues" for children, namely the character of Chad and a subtle mocking of "a number of unusual physical characteristics". Nancy Basile of About.com praised the script for providing "lengthy conversations, rather than quick one-liners, that let us get to know the characters and their various personalities." She considered the relationships between characters as "dynamic" and "genuine, with a comedic twist thrown in." She was ultimately reminded of a "thoughtful comedy, like Steven Universe, or even the early episodes of The Simpsons."
Upon its premiere, the series was met with an estimated 2.3 million viewers. It outperformed children's programming in its time slot by double and triple digit percentages, and preliminary data from Nielsen Media Research identified it as the network's most watched series premiere across all targeted demographics for 2014. Its second episode marked an increase in viewership, garnering roughly 2.4 million viewers.
|2013||65th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Award||Outstanding Short-format Animated Program||Skyler Page, Peter Browngardt, Robert Alvarez, Brian A. Miller, Jennifer Pelphrey, Curtis Lelash, and Rob Sorcher (for the pilot)||Nominated|||
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