I don’t get modern cartoons, I’m afraid. I was sent a screener for Clarence — a new Cartoon Network animated series that launches tomorrow, April 12, at 7 PM ET / 6 PM CT — and the whole time watching it, I didn’t see much that would bring me back.
First, there are the designs. Clarence is a chubby kid whose cheeks are much bigger than the rest of his head, which makes his outline look weirdly obscene. His friend Jeff’s head is perfectly square, while most everyone else gets a circle head. Except for Sumo, the third kid in the banner there, who resembles a humanoid rat.
Clarence, his mom, Sumo, and Jeff eating fast food
Then there’s the lack of female characters. We get to see Clarence’s mom (Katie Crown) in the first 15-minute episode, “Fun Dungeon Face Off”, since she’s the one that takes the three boys to the fast food restaurant where Clarence torments Jeff (Sean Giambrone). The second segment, “Pretty Great Day with a Girl”, has Amy (Elizabeth Hope) biking Clarence around town, which was an improvement. She’s not listed in the main cast, though, so I don’t know if we expect to see her again. All the other kids in that episode are boys.
Clarence and Amy
(I’m sure that hanging out only with your own gender is typical for certain ages. My objection is that so many cartoons already exist with mostly-boy casts that I’m not very interested in watching yet another one. But that’s the demographic Cartoon Network is proud of attracting.)
The show is the first created by Skyler Page, a former storyboard artist for Adventure Time. He also voices Clarence, who’s described as
an optimistic, spirited, lovable boy who sees the best in all things and wants to try everything. Because everything is amazing! Celebrate the best of childhood: epic dirt fights, awkward crushes, trampoline combat, sleepover pranks, and secret tree forts all through the eyes of Clarence. Clarence’s novel perspective transforms nearly any situation, however mundane, into the best day ever. No matter what happens, good or bad, nothing brings Clarence down.
That’s a nice attitude, although it’s not necessarily one I would recognize in the first episode, which featured Clarence teasing Jeff for not being more like him. Perhaps that appears more later; there will be a total of 12 fifteen-minute segments. Regardless, the flat-looking animation, although a currently popular style, isn’t pleasant for me to watch. I suspect kids and parents who can relate to the kids’ behavior will like the show more.
You can watch the first episode, “Fun Dungeon Face Off”, here: