What is Clerks: the pilot?

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Shortly after Kevin Smith redefined indie hits with Clerks and redefined cinema bombs with Mallrats some television executive decided to bring the “pop culture and expletive laden series” to prime time television. Clerks has been one of those pilots known as one of the worst in existence and also one of the hardest to find. So now that we’ve solved number two lets take a look at number one.

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From the off there are a few difference between this and the movie, the first being that it’s in colour which I think is a complete betrayal of the indie origins of the series. How am I supposed to by into the apathetic nature of these gen x slackers if I can see the colour in Randall’s check shirts and wrangler jeans. Anyway there are a few more changes, some of which make a bit more sense considering that they’re turning it into a series.

First is that the shop has moved to what I take to either be a mall or at least strip of similar twenty four hour stores. Yes this means they’re won’t be any opening montage but on the other hand they can now always nip next door for an ice cream at two in the morning. Or as the case may be go for parties with other hip teenage/twenty some things at the video store.

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Because why on Earth would they want to go get an ice cream at gone midnight, well to see their best friend in the whole world of course, no not Lando, Todd. He’s the other visible change the series has gone through hanging around Dante and Randall like an awkward third wheel. These are the only real changes to the shows surface but they tell us all about what’s going on under the surface.

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Take Todd for instance, please take him. Flown in fresh from a tour on the eastern front facing the Jerries, George Luz seems to be suffering from shellshock or at least has used up all his wit and charm on the Nazis which considering the rest of the cast does seem like the right thing to do. Anyway the idea of expanding the area and giving the characters another friend to bounce off make sense, unfortunately he doesn’t make a great first impression on us. While Dante and Randel can ride the good will from the series and thus we won’t hate them until the end of the episode, Todd has no such grace period and is eye rolling after his first scene. It’s like they wanted a witty hip guy but the only one they could find to base him on is Jim Breuer’s Randal and believe me one is more than enough.

You know how people advice you not to go back to the movie because you’ll see how bad the am-dram actors are. Well they are Globe theatre level compared to these guys and yes I know that half these guys can act, but saying that and holding up other movies as proof is here like holding up a plaster cast of a foot proof and saying “look I told you Big Foot was real!”

While in the movie the characters are directionless slackers they are now more akin to the comedy classic of a character putting in more time and effort into avoiding work than it would take to do the job. In fact it’s kind of hard to like any of them especially without the pop culture laden wit and sarcasm of Kevin Smith’s dialogue. The best they can do is a few idioms on sex and their stand in for Jay who isn’t allowed to cuss, smoke, take drugs and so is reduced to trying to steal ice from the store so he is allowed to stand outside the “cool” party and watch. Due to this even the show doesn’t seem confident in it’s own script (or the actors handling it) and so jump from scene to scene faster than you can blink hopping over after each foul ball in hopes that you will forget their cock up.

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Anyway onto the plot, such at is. The clerks are working behind the till when an old school “friend” comes in to stock up on the essentials in life before carrying on with their high flying career. They notice Dante and Randal slaving away in their dead end job and things get a little heated with Dante especially questioning his direction and motivation in life and thinking that maybe he should have done more, waaaaait a minute haven’t I seen this some place before. And better too.

Ironically like most of what Kevin Smith has put out lately this lacks any of the heart, soul or charm of his older resume and considering some the stuff Kevin Smith has dumped out and then got angry at critics for criticizing, that’s saying something.

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Anyway turns out Dante is worried that Cliff is going to make him look bad, something he was doing well enough by himself and thus Dante has to rope his two friends into showing Caitlin Bree what a waste of space Cliff truly is.

So is this episode as bad as they say? Well if you’re a Clerks fan then yes if you’re not then it’s just another mediocre nineties sitcom. Heck you could argue that it isn’t the worst nineties movie adapted sitcom. The fact that it has been so hard to track down for so long it has built this up into something far worse than it is. As I said before, most of the choices make sense without seeing this but once you do everything falls apart. It’s flat and unfunny, badly acted and even worse in the writing department. However you don’t have to take my word for it, see for yourself.

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