Clone High Explained

Clone High (occasionally referred to in the U.S. as Clone High U.S.A.) is an American animated series that aired for one season (November 2002April 2003) on MTV and Teletoon. It has officially been on hiatus since March 17, 2003.[1] It can currently be seen in Canada on Teletoon.

The series had run in its entirety in Canada on Teletoon before premiering in the United States on MTV. The last five episodes were never broadcast in the United States. The Clone High theme song is by alternative rock band Abandoned Pools who also provided much of the series' background music.

Synopsis

Clone High is set in a high school that is secretly being run as an elaborate military experiment orchestrated by a government office called the Secret Board of Shadowy Figures. The school is entirely populated by clones of famous historical figures that have been created and raised with the intent of having their various strengths and abilities harnessed by the United States military. The principal of the high school, Cinnamon J. Scudworth, has his own plans for the clones, and secretly tries to undermine the wishes of the Board (Scudworth wants to use the clones to create a clone-themed amusement park, dubbed "Cloney Island"). He is assisted by his robot/vice principal/dehumidifier Mr. Butlertron (a parody of Mr. Belvedere), who is programmed to call everyone "Wesley".

The main protagonists of Clone High are the clones of Abraham Lincoln, Joan of Arc, and Mahatma Gandhi. Much of the plot of the show revolves around the attempts of Abe to woo the vain and promiscuous clone of Cleopatra, while being oblivious to the fact that Joan of Arc is attracted to him. Meanwhile, John F. Kennedy's clone (referred to as "JFK"), a macho, narcissistic womanizer, is also attempting to win over Cleopatra and has a long-standing rivalry with Abe.

Many celebrities, including Tom Green, Andy Dick, Mandy Moore, John Stamos, Marilyn Manson, Michael J. Fox and Jack Black make guest appearances on the show (sometimes as themselves). In addition, there are many portrayals of clones of famous historical figures, such as Julius Caesar, Catherine the Great, Genghis Khan, Vincent van Gogh, George Washington Carver, Helen of Troy, Gautama Buddha, Juan Ponce de León (who appears as a cross between himself and Arthur Fonzarelli and is known as "Poncey"), Marie Curie (who is deformed, due to radiation damage to her DNA), and even Jesus Christ (who is portrayed as a latino named Jesús Cristo always shown in shop class doing carpentry).

Much of the humor in the show comes from the large contrast between the personality of the clones and the actual values and legacy of the historical figures they are descended from. For instance, Gandhi is portrayed as a hyperactive jerk-with-a-heart-of-gold whose biggest dream is to be accepted by those around him, in contrast to his historical legacy of calm nonviolence. Abe Lincoln is similarly portrayed as weak and indecisive, completely lacking the resolve of the President whose DNA he shares. All of the clones are also given mis-matched foster parents who have little in common with them. Gandhi's parents are a stereotypical Jewish-American couple, while JFK is raised by a gay interracial couple; Joan's "foster grandpa" is an elderly blind musician similar to Ray Charles named Toots, who fills the stereotypical wise old man role (and the magical negro role) found in most teen shows, and who begins many of his declarative sentences with the words, "Now, I may be blind, but I can see..." followed by a wise-sounding observation that has little-to-nothing to do with anything.

The show also includes humor based on the historical figures themselves. For example, the diner the clones frequent is called The Grassy Knoll, a nod to the JFK assassination conspiracy theory about a second shooter, dubbed "The Man on the Grassy Knoll". Other references seen are the flag at The Grassy Knoll being permanently at half mast and the car on the roof of the diner containing the original JFK's body leaning over the edge. There are pictures of assassinations hanging on the walls of the restaurant, such as the famous Currier and Ives print of the Lincoln assassination. The genetic ancestors of all of the main five clones died of similarly irregular causes: three assassinations, one execution, and one suicide. Other historical figure-based humor includes offhand coincidental remarks to other students, such as Abe mentioning that the clone of Napoleon is so annoying because of "some kind of complex", or Gandhi telling a rude Catherine the Great to "get off her high horse".

The show is also a parody of "issue" episodes of high-school themed comedies; in fact, every episode opens with a voice-over parodying the "very special episodes" of TV shows. Episodes center on various social issues, including Gandhi being shunned by his school for having ADD (because of misinformation about the disorder), parodying shows which tackle AIDS awareness (it even included a special guest celebrity who tries to educate the students). Other episodes tackle drugs (smoking raisins), the environment, and underage drinking in a similarly ridiculous fashion. In a clear sign that it is parodying the high school genre, it even ends at prom — a stereotypical "high school show" ending. Even the prom is a joke however, as we learn it is only the Winter Prom.

There was a running gag that creators Phil Lord and Christopher Miller wanted to include in the show “where Clone High – being an exaggeration of typical high schools in teen dramas – would have many proms throughout the year.” Planned proms included “an Early Winter Prom, a Late Winter/Early Spring Prom, a Mid-Semester Prom, a Post-Prom Clean Up Prom, etc.” The only surviving references to this joke are the Homecoming Prom in Episode 6, Homecoming: A Shot in D'Arc, and the winter prom in Episode 13, Changes: The Big Prom: The Sex Romp: The Season Finale.[2] Another reference to the gag was deleted from Episode 8, A Room of One's Clone: Pie of the Storm.[2]

During the process of writing an episode, the writers would all get together to pitch jokes. Often, a writer would pitch an extension onto a joke, then another writer would pitch another extension, and so on, until it became what the writers called a wacky stack, a joke so bloated and over-written it was no longer funny.[3] (see Episode 2, Election Blu-Galoo)

The season finale is a cliffhanger episode, ending with the entire cast, aside from Principal Scudworth and Mr.Butlertron, deep-frozen.

Characters

Episodes

TitleOriginal AirdateDescriptionNotable Guest Stars
1Escape to Beer Mountain: A Rope of SandNovember 2, 2002Abe, Gandhi, and Joan go back to school.Michael J. Fox as Gandhi's remaining kidney. Andy Dick as Van Gogh
2Episode Two: Election Blu-GalooNovember 3, 2002Abe runs for student body president against JFK.Marilyn Manson as himself.
3A.D.D.: The Last 'D' Is for DisorderNovember 10, 2002Gandhi becomes a social outcast when he is diagnosed with A.D.D.Tom Green as himself.
4Film Fest: Tears of a CloneNovember 17, 2002The clones each make their own student films.None
5Sleep of Faith: La Rue D'AwakeningNovember 24, 2002Abe deprives himself of sleep for Cleo.John C. McGinley as Doug Prepcourse.
6Homecoming: A Shot in D'ArcDecember 1, 2002Joan dons a clever disguise so that she can play on the basketball team.Chris Berman as himself; Dan Patrick as himself.
7Plane Crazy: Gate ExpectationsJanuary 12, 2003Abe chases after Cleo in the airport terminal.Ashley Angel as himself.
8A Room of One's Clone: Pie of the StormDecember 8, 2002When her house burns down, Joan is forced to move in with Cleo.None
9Raisin the Stakes: A Rock Opera in Three ActsDecember 15, 2002The clones are all getting high on raisins!Jack Black as the Pusher/Larry Hardcore.
10Litter Kills: LitterallyJanuary 19, 2003Tragedy strikes when one of the clones is horribly killed!Luke Perry as Ponce
11Snowflake Day: A Very Special Holiday EpisodeJanuary 26, 2003Joan loses her snowflake day spirit.Mandy Moore as Herself?
12Makeover, Makeover, Makeover: The Makeover EpisodeFebruary 3, 2003It is prom season and Abe must choose between Cleo and Joan.None
13Changes: The Big Prom: The Sex Romp: The Season FinaleFebruary 10, 2003Prom night is here, but the evil Board of Shadowy Figures draws nigh!John Stamos as himself; Tommy Walter as himself.

Controversy

Initially sparking an outrage was an ad in Maxim Magazine depicting Mahatma Gandhi in a negative manner. The imagery had led many people in India to research via the internet. In turn this led to the discovery of Clone High on MTV's website. The show's portrayal of Gandhi had then sparked a greater outrage in India, where he is very much revered.[5] On January 30, 2003, the 55th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi's assassination, approximately 150 protesters (including members of parliament) gathered in New Delhi and vowed to fast in response to Clone High.[6] MTV offered a quick apology, stating that "Clone High was created and intended for an American audience," and, "We recognize and respect that various cultures may view this programming differently, and we regret any offense taken by the content in the show."[7]

DVD release

DVD CoverTitleRelease dateEpisodes
"Season 1"September 20, 200513
The DVD was released in Canada by Nelvana with the help of Teletoon. The DVD contains the complete first season, including the 2 episodes which did not originally air in the United States. Warner Brothers Entertainment holds the rights to distributing the series on DVD if it is ever released in the US.

External links

Notes and References

  1. News: Clone High on hiatus! No school for Scudworth!. 2003-03-17. CloneHighUSA.com.
  2. Web site: Pava, Adam. Episode Six: 'Homecoming: A Shot in the D'Arc' Notes. HTML. CloneHighUSA.com.
  3. Web site: Pava, Adam. Episode Two: 'Episode Two: Election Blu-Galoo’ Notes. HTML. CloneHighUSA.com.
  4. News: Josh. Grossberg. MTV Apologizes for Gandhi Goofing. 2003-01-31. E! Online.
  5. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHlhFghZ1gM
  6. News: Ashok. Sharma. MTV's Gandhi 'insult' outrages Indian MPs. 2003-01-31. The Guardian.
  7. News: Josh. Grossberg. MTV Apologizes for Gandhi Goofing. 2003-01-31. E! Online.