TV Review: Cartoon Network’s ‘Clarence,’ ‘The Tom and Jerry Show’

Clarence The Tom and Jerry Show

Amid a spate of live-action comedies featuring boys as the protagonist, Cartoon Network’s animated “Clarence” arrives as a nifty little gem, so quirky and idiosyncratic as to feel fresh, even if it treads in well-worn territory. The characters aren’t much to look at — indeed, they’re generally grotesque — but its two mini-stories in the premiere are certainly a lot of fun. If only some of that creativity rubbed off on the channel’s new and wholly unnecessary “The Tom and Jerry Show” reboot, which, to the target audience, will probably just feel like a watered-down “Itchy & Scratchy.”

Created by wunderkind producer Skyler Page (who also provides the voice of the title character) through the network’s digital-short initiative, “Clarence” focuses on a young boy who, for once, actually acts like one. That is to say, he’s cheerfully oblivious to almost everything except eating and trying to enjoy himself, while his mother (Katie Crown) sounds OK with him doing just about anything as long as it doesn’t end with him getting hurt.

The premiere focuses on an outing to a burger joint/play space with a group of Clarence’s friends, who are equally odd, including one who is positively phobic about anybody touching his French fries. A second yarn involves Clarence spending the afternoon hanging out with a girl, which sends his buddies into a tizzy, unleashing a strange mix of jealousy and outrage. One frets that the two might be making out, even though he’s unsure what exactly that means.

By contrast, “Tom and Jerry” relies on the same old cat-and-mouse sight gags and slapstick, without adding the kind of wrinkles to the chase that would justify digging up the 74-year-old concept. Nor should it be overlooked that the shorts baby boomers were weaned on actually originated in movie theaters, where adults watched them every bit as much as kids.

The animation is fluid, certainly, and the voice cast includes Jason Alexander. Beyond that, these mostly silent shorts feel like a throwback and, with apologies to the cat half of the equation, they simply didn’t scream out for additional lives.

As for “Clarence,” the TV market has become so glutted with cheeky animation — Comedy Central seems to premiere a new show every week, whether or not anybody’s asking for it — that it’s nice to see someone conjure something with a genuine creative spark and relative lack of cynicism.

By that measure, “Clarence’s” eponymous star might be a pretty dim bulb, but he casts an unexpectedly warming light.

TV Review: Cartoon Network's 'Clarence,' 'The Tom and Jerry Show'

(Series; Cartoon Network, Mon. April 14, 7 p.m.) //   (Series; Cartoon Network, Wed. April 9, 5:30 p.m.)

Production

Produced by Cartoon Network Studios.   //   Produced by Warner Bros. Animation and Renegade Animation.

Crew

Executive producers, Skyler Page, Brian A. Miller, Rob Sorcher, Jennifer Pelphrey, Curtis Lelash; supervising producers, Bob Boyle, Yvette Kaplan; producer, Keith Mack; supervising director, Raymie Muzquiz; supervising animation director, Andrew Overtoom; voice director, Kristi Reed writers, Page, Patrick Harpin; storyboards, Nelson Boles, Page. 30 MIN.   // Executive producer, Sam Register; producers, Darrell Van Citters, Ashley Postlewaite. 30 MIN.

Cast

Voices: Skyler Page, Sean Giambrone, Tom Kenny, Katie Crown.   //   Jason Alexander, Grey DeLisle Griffin, Rachael MacFarlane

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  1. Kevin says:

    Clarence is by far the DUMBEST cartoon I’ve ever seen in my life. I can feel my brain cells depleting when watching it. There are absolutely no morals instilled in this show, if anything, it teaches kids a lack of responsibility. This show should be cancelled asap. It has absolutely no plot or reason whatsoever. I know cartoons are supposed to be fun, but this show is just too farfetched. I literally wanted to punch my television. I WILL NOT let my kids watch this show. Tom & Jerry on the other hand is one of the classics. Love this show, always will.

    • Kevin is an idiot says:

      Kevin you are so mixed up . you are opposite Kevin. Wrong about a decent t.v. show. Clarence always does he right thing. Tom and Jerry? What happened to you as a child ? E.C.T of frontal lobotomy? You couldn’t be more wrong about Lawrence if you tried. Moron.

  2. Murk says:

    “The animation is fluid, certainly….”

    Really? It looks super-cheaply made, like a crappy 2000’s flash cartoon. When you compare them to the originals, which were meticulously done by some of the original masters of animation, this frankly comes off as insulting to both the original creators and the audience.

  3. Hi Sir/madam I had watched ur Tom and Jerry 2014 videos its very funny i liked it very much.Thanks for uploading funny videos.

  4. Sanmy says:

    I wish CN Would bring back the old Cartoons that were awsome back in the day. :(

    • Tommy Caesar says:

      I absolutely loved Clarence! It hits childhood on the head, and I was awash with nostalgia throughout both episodes. It really struck me how small details such as the waitress at the burger place looking towards the mum for confirmation on Clarence’s order, she shows blatant disapproval but lets the waitress know it’s OK using just a facial expression and the language that only adults understand. There was also the hint of deeper themes when Amy says “I might be moving…I’m not sure if I’m going to be living with my mum or my dad.” Thus, highlighting childhood fears are still present among all the play. The show does maintain childhood innocence throughout and Clarence reminds of that friend that everyone had, who is just happy to be himself. I was also heavily impressed with the shot of the town alluding to a show that will be set in a town the audience can engage with and get to know, I also expect a wide array of themes and locations. Adventure Time was the only cartoon I had a major interest in or could stand to be honest but Clarence is alongside it for me. I give Adventure Time a 9/10 and Clarence for me rests just beneath it with a 8/10.

  5. Winston Patrick says:

    Clarence was a Great Launch for Skylar Page..The Cartoon was light hearted but very funny and it does feel Fresh & New, cant wait to see more Episodes….

  6. Norma Blackburn says:

    My greatgrand daughter loves Tom & Jerry & we enjoy watching it with her.

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