Saturday, June 11, 2011

Clone High

You up for a bizarre animated series?  This is CLONE HIGH.  It was originally made in Canada and ran on MTV only from November 2002 to April 2003.   Here's the premise.  As a military experiment, historical figures are all cloned.  They're now teen aged and going to high school together.    So you have Abe Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, JFK, Joan of Arc, Cleopatra, Marilyn Monroe, etc.   There was outrage in India over the depiction of Gandhi and eventually MTV bowed to pressure (good taste?) and took the series off, not airing the final episodes.  It was created by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller. 

I'm always looking to present different styles of humor.  This week's brand is rather sick and twisted. 

What do you think?  This is the pilot.





27 comments:

Liam said...

I loved Clone High! Such a great idea. For even more fun with historical figures, check out "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" it's unbelievable!

Dan J said...

Meh. Not that the idea was so great to begin with, but this show (or at least this ep) didn't even seem to really cash in on its premise(except in some very minor gags... JFK's Bay of Pigs joke, etc). Otherwise, the plot could really be from any traditional teen sitcom and you could have given these characters any names at all. A couple of the jokes felt awkwardly shoehorned in a la Family Guy (that missing kidney visual was right out of FG). And the idea of using important historical figures as characters in an ordinary sitcom was tried on Matt & Trey's "That's My Bush" (it was awful). 6/10 for the idea. 2/10 on execution.

Anonymous said...

"...eventually MTV bowed to pressure (good taste?) and too the series off"

Since WHEN has MTV cared about good taste?

Kerri said...

One of the writers (and depending on his mood, his will admit it) was Bill Lawrence of Scrubs/Cougar Town and Cleopatra was voiced by his wife. A good chunk of the Scrubs cast assisted with the voiceovers.

Sebastian said...

Special Guest Star: Michael J. Fox as Ghandi's remaining Kidney

"I miss him"

There are a couple of real zingers in there and all the voice actors are comedians I know from Lawrence's other shows. It's fun to listen for their typical ways of saying stuff. Adds an extra level to the show. I think it's funny, especially for a Pilot.

Greg Morrow said...

You had me at "Bill Lawrence".

Adam said...

Considering we live in an era of Two and a Half Men (let alone its coming zombie years), Rules of Attraction and The Office season 7, I'd say this is pretty damned brilliant.

I think it's also worth noting that Miller and Lord were the youngest show runners in TV history with that show, and it started their careers, which are doing just fine at the moment.

I'd hate to see what the rest of us would have put on the air at 24 year old.

Mac said...

I really liked it - very strong pilot. It's a great idea and has quite a few solid gags. Shame it got pulled but I'm not surprised that the creators went on to do well.

jbryant said...

I had heard this was good, but this is the first time I've seen it. I thought it was quite funny, especially the first half or so.

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ziggypiggy said...

I agree with Dan J. You could have replaced any of these characters with, say, Swim characters, and it would all have probably worked out. Better writing would have mde this actually funny to me. I'd say 0/10. Yuck.

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure did historicalf igures brought into the real world, and I found those scenes funny - and interesting. The gathering of figures, the mall scenes, the final presentation ... and Napoleon bowling. (Though I still wonder how Nap managed to understand how to conjugate the verb "pay" when he didn't speak any English otherwise) But setting aside that small quibble, c'mon. Those were funny bits.

ZIGGY PIGGY! ZIGGY PIGGY!

sartorias said...

Great premise, but it's like harnessing five rockets to a kiddie cart. There are a couple jolts of speed, a spurt or two of fireworks, and the rest is a great example of an idea working against itself at hypervelocity.

duze said...

Ken,
I did co-create this, wtf? I really just took credit for Chris and Phil's hard work, but whatever. The thing I'm proud of: thanks to them, the show got better as it went on ("finding itself" as all promising shows do). It could've been a contender... Great blog. Oh, and I don't care if people don't like Clone High, but ziggy-piggy can suck it. I will not be comedically judged by someone who answers to "ziggy-piggy".

jbryant said...

Dan J, ziggypiggy: Re the plot and character types being typical of other teen shows, you're right. And way to miss the point of the premise.

Jeff Waugh said...

One of my favourites, and it just got better and better... and then ended at one season. :-(

Amusing trivia: This is the show on which Bill Lawrence revealed the name of the Scrubs janitor (voiced by and drawn with clear inspiration from Neil Flynn). :-)

Anonymous said...

Marilyn Manson's appearance on this show performing an instructional song about the food guide pyramid is a classic. By the way, remember to limit your servings of fats and sweets—or you'll...

Infauxtainer said...

Just a great conceit. Incredibly creative. Wonderfully satirical and silly. Right up my alley. Thanks for posting this!

James said...

Never seen it before.

I love the premise. Think it's awesome. Huge fan of over-the-top animation.

I couldn't finish watching the pilot. I really wanted to.

Thought the one-liners were sharp and funny. Not as edgy as animation can get away with though -- see ARCHER.

I just found all the historical figures to be inter-changable with any other historical figure. It's like the "joke" is hey, it's Gandhi, Abe Lincoln's kid sidekick -- but I never really felt like these characters WERE Abe Lincoln or Gandhi in anything other than name.

Where Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter works (and Pride and Predjudice and Zombies for that matter) is that the story feels like they found a way to embed vampires and zombies into the characters lives rather than simply saying, wouldn't it be funny if Abe Lincoln was that generic school kid star of every other sitcom we see on TV.

I liked Vincent Van Gogh a lot. Probably because that feels like what Vincent Van Gogh would be like at school.

Kennedy was also somewhat specific. The overcompensating for two gay dads was a neat setup. Just felt very one-note.

I also found the animation to be off-putting. Not a big fan of that style.

I'm a fan of Bill Lawrence too. Can hear his voice and timing in a lot of this.

I really want more of the historical figures personalities. More of the premise. Less generic high school sitcom stuff.

Michael said...

I teach a seminar for UNLV's Honors College on Abraham Lincoln, and a student told me about this. So, when we were examining Lincoln's image in American and world culture (everything from the movie with Raymond Massey to Aaron Copland's beautiful "Lincoln Portrait," a student put on an episode of "Clone High." I thought it was ok, nothing special, but a funny premise. I confess, I thought how they played Gandhi was hilarious.

Johnny Walker said...

Can't help but feel sorry for the creators. The President of Viacom happened to be visiting India when the 150 people made their protest outside the MTV building... talk about bad timing.

The thing is, of course, that it wasn't Ghandi that was featured in the show, but Ghandi's CLONE. And, of course, nobody in India had actually seen the show. Ah well.

Great idea, but I have to agree with others that it didn't do as much with the premise as it could have done (at least judging from that episode). Who knows, though, maybe it was a grower (like Arrested Development).

Cody said...

Meh.

Jayne L. said...

Mr Levine, I'd've expected someone who worked in TV to know better than to try introducing people to a high-concept show like this wacky little gem with its PILOT. That never works! Characters on a show like this are never really themselves until at least four episodes in!

My suggestion would be for people to track down the student film festival episode. All the commenters complaining about the premise being wasted by non-specific characters who failed to live up to their satirical promise would be silenced right quick by that one.

Fred said...

I think this show, like Spy Groove and Daria, was taken off the air on MTV to make room for more The Real World type shows, because those were much cheaper to produce than the animated shows. I doubt that it really had much to do with a protest about Ghandi's clone.

Oneda said...

Yeah, I agree pilot was the weakest episode of the series.

I thought this was one of the cleverest, multi-layered shows on television and miss it dearly.

The show had a ton of gags and mocked a number of aspects of sitcom convention: They would always call every episode a very special episode and if I remembered correctly, they had a prom-like dance every 2 or 3 episodes. Also, in one episode where a special character died off, it was someone who previously was never on the show before.

Also, every single extra in the background was based on a historical figure so you'd have to look extra closely.

Anonymous said...

yeah I saw this like 10 years ago

Iain said...

I found this after seeing "Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs" which I really enjoyed.

Obviously I now have to hunt down more of Bill Lawrence's work. I assume Cougertown is not as awful as the premise would have me believe.

Chris Curran said...

I quite liked this show. It was funny. I especially found JFK to be amusing. To be honest though I don't think it fully deserves the positive hype that has surrounded it in the time since its cancellation. In my opinion the show would have benefited hugely from more references to the character's original copies. We see small examples of it (EG Joan's hear ing of voices, the bay of pigs joke, and JFK's reaction to Gandhi's finger pointing). I always found those parts the best. However Clone High seemed to go down a different line. It made me wonder why they bothered introducing this concept of cloning in the first place. In the end I thought this was a show with a great concept and decent writing. However I don't think the show was good enough to stand alone in the avenue it chose. it's a shame. An idea like that has a tonne of potential. At least we're left with 13 decent episodes.

PS: If given the choice I would definitely want this show to be brought back!!!