Hello, Spongey here.
You may have noticed both of my top episode lists this year have been of shows that recently ended. That trend will continue, sorry. But they are all ones I’ve been wanting to do, since it will still all be fun.
We looked at a slice of life show from Nick so today we’ve got one from Cartoon Network: Clarence. I’ve talked about this show a couple of times and gave you a solid taste of what it’s like but it’s time to dive deeper.
We’ve been getting a fair few fun slice of shows lately and I think this show helped kicked off that trend. CN especially wasn’t doing too many at the time but after this show, they, and the others, embraced them a bit more.
They all tend to be good for the same reasons but Clarence always stood out to me as hitting even higher highs than some of the others. It was a bit more mixed at the start, as it did struggle to balance the slice of stuff stories with some goofy jokes.
But Season 2 improved hugely, with a lot of really nice episodes along with really fun ones. Like any good of slice of life show, it captures childhood well and has a big cast of memorable characters.
It of course got the ax unfairly, but it was allowed to have a solid enough ending. That’s been happening a lot lately, but ah well.
So today I will give you a few episodes that stood out as me as especially enjoyable. This one will be a bit more scattered, as I didn’t re-watch the whole series and just picked out 10I thought highly of.
I do have a solid group though, and the last one is my big number one. With that said, let’s look at all the great episodes this kid has given us, be it funny or dramatic.
These, are my Favorite Episodes of Clarnece
Writer: Spencer Rothbell
We start with an example of how the first season was a bit wackier and more experimental, but it’s also the best example of that.
The plot is that Clarence buys a goldfish and tries to get it home without trouble. Oh and it’s all done in the style of a cartoon from the 1930’s or so. Yeah, that’s the aspect that really makes this one stand out.
They do a great job of capturing that style, with wonderful energetic rubberhose animation and great music and sound effects that really help sell the whole thing.
They pack in a few more direct homages, like one to Fleshier’s Superman. There’s tons of good gags and it’s extremely entertaining all the way through. Even the theme song is done in this style and it’s great.
We do get …sort of an explanation for why the story was being told this way, and it’s a pretty funny punchline.
If I had one complaint (besides maybe it could have been a short rather than a full 11 minute episode) is that sometimes it has spoke dialogue, while other times they do that silent movie card thing. It’s funny but a bit inconsistent. Otherwise, this episode is really funny.
I don’t wanna describe any exact jokes but I think the fun of it is seeing what they do with this style. I will say the gag of who gave the shop keeper the idea of giving out free fish was pretty great.
So yeah, Goldfish Follies is a spot on homage to classic cartoons that captures the style perfectly and serves as one of the funniest episodes of the show for me.
Just like those cartoons, the plot is simple to allow for a lot of great jokes and the homage is just very spot on. Even if you haven’t seen this show, fans of classic cartoon should give this one a look.
Oh and insert Cuphead joke here.
Writer: Tony Infante
This episode has some minor sweet stuff but it’s on here simply because I find it to be really funny.
The gang is seeing Paul Blart, I mean Tom Blarps, in order to see the trailer for Robofrog 2. Yeah, this premise doesn’t totally work in the modern era but we’ll humor them.
They sneak in after the film is sold out and end up taking the trailer (it’s on film, yeah) only to ruin it, forcing them to make their own.
Clarence isn’t the one to do jokes about nerd culture (that’s more Gumball’s thing) but this episode managed to do it without going overboard. Of course, all my favorite jokes in this one do relate back to it.
There’s this one guy who is overly nitpick-y, and keeps saying Robofrog 2 is gonna be trash, even after calling the trailer “A real Auter piece of cinema”. He’s both funny and sadly quite accurate.
Another great bit is when Jeff is going over how he has all these theories for what the trailer will show and Sumo is like “Do you actually watch the movie?”. Also, they talk about how Robofrog is going to back to their roots with practical effects, ha ha.
Bonus points fort the movie being a sequel to a movie mentioned in an earlier episode.
All that aside, all the stuff with them making the trailer is really fun. It’s cute to see them make this low rent trailer and it ends up being as innocent and fun as you’d expect.
There’s also a nice element with Jeff thinking he’s a bad Robofrog fan because he got one detail wrong in a trivia question. He eventually sucks it up realizes it’s no big deal. It’s not a huge thing but it adds a small something to the episode.
It’s a fairly simple with a lot of good jokes and some nice moments, along with a funny ending. Oh and the Paul Blart parody is so spot on it hurts. It’s a nice mix of childhood innocent, with a more modern sense of humor.
Even if the premise requires this to take place in 1999 to make sense.
So yeah, very funny and cute episode.
Writer: Sam Kremers-Nedell
Sumo is one of the more interesting characters and this episode shows that off nicely. We’ll talk more about some of the things brought up in this episode in another entry but there’s still some stuff to say here.
He and his brother Tanner do not get along so when the freezer breaks, Dad has them go Pete’s in order to get some parts. This episode is of course about them learning to understand each other a little more.
We show off more of Sumo’s home life as we see that they put nails into a stump to settle disputes. It makes sense in context. It’s another where there isn’t a ton to the plot but there’s plenty of substance.
They do a good job of fleshing out their relationship, as we do find out why Tanner is mean to him a lot of time. You can argue his reasoning causes bad implications, but the way it’s done makes it passable enough for me.
Plus, it makes for a great dramatic moment. Speaking of which, those moments are done well. There’s a bit in the truck that not only works story wise, but has some really nice lighting.
It’s light on jokes, but Clarence does have some amusing moments. The ending joke is a good, and it also gives us another nice moment!
This episode mostly exists to build on what we saw in Dream Boat but it works on its own to focus just on Sumo and Tanner. It’s a good little slice of life episode that has some solid drama in there.
It’s not as amazing of a Sumo showcase as another one we’ll talk about, but Stump Brothers is still great for what it does do. It’s pretty solid at what it does as a whole.
Tree of Life
Writer: Joe Tracz
These more dramatic episodes will be most of the rest of the list, but don’t worry, they have some fun stuff too.
Clarence’s Dad tells him about a tree that he and his friends used to climb, which reminds him about his old friends are mostly doing other things now. This gets Clarence thinking about his own friendship with Jeff and Sumo won’t last forever, so they plan to climb the tree to carve their names into it.
From the set up, you can guess why this one is as good as it is. From the start, it sets up the themes pretty well and quickly gets into the good stuff.
There’s some good jokes though, like how Dad says one of his friends is likely watching him…because he works in surveillance. Or the running gag of what happens when one of them falls from the tree that I won’t spoil.
here is some fun cute stuff as they climb the tree but as they go on troubles arise but Clarence cares more about getting to the top to write their names. This leads to a fairly obvious still well executed moral.
At the start they establish that you don’t know what you have until it’s gone, and at the end they learn that just trying hold onto your memories or whatnot is a better way then going out of our way to carve your name into a tree or something like that.
This message is a good one and it’s told well with plenty of nice moments. Also, the tree has a voice and it’s Fred Stoeller, because he’s clearly not in enough things I watch.
This episode shows the more dramatic side of the “capturing childhood” thing and I relate to this one a bit more than some of the others. The whole idea that your friendships may not stay the same forever is an interesting one and it reminds me that I’m way better at keeping in touch with my old online friends then my old real life ones.
…Okay, this just got too real for my tastes. Anyway, this episode has some good themes and manage to be a very good story with great dramatic moments.
It’s an episode I appreciate and find to be a great one to come back. Insert Terrance Malik joke here.
(Someday I’ll actually insert a joke instead of asking you to do so)
Capture the Flag
Writer: Tony Infante
I have even less to say about this one then some of these others, which is surprising given that this was the show’s first 22 minute episode.
The set up is that the kids are playing a very elaborate game of Capture the Flag. By that I mean they are split into teams that try like kingdoms in a way. The whole thing is treated very seriously, with some kids being put in jail,and Clarence has to put an end to all this madness.
I’ve mentioned the “Capturing childhood” thing a lot and this episode really has it with this silly game that they treat like a big deal. That’s the main thing I like about this one, they take it so seriously and that makes it really fun.
They take it so seriously that it’s easy to get wrapped into it along with them. They do remind you it just a game with jokes like Chad’s reaction to all this.
Clarence is treated as this god-like figure with how he needs to save everyone, and all that. It’s weird but I quite like. Usually this would be a problem but it feels like part of the big joke so it works for the episode.
The whole episode is just fun with how this game gets treated so seriously and it becomes this big out of control war. Everyone has a solid role, and the ending joke with Belson is pretty great.
I’m not sure it needed to be 22 minutes, but the extra time allows them to do more with the concept so I don’t mind it too much.
So yeah, that’s about all there is to it. A simple idea done really well that ends up being a ton of fun. I love stories that take silly things seriously and this is a great example of that done very well.
It’s a pretty fun and crazy episode all around. (I promise the next section will be longer…by a fair bit)
Clarence’s Stormy Sleepover
Writers: Tony Infante, Kelsy Abbott, Stephen P. Neary, Spencer Rothbell, and Sam Kremers-Nedell
This entry is quite unique, as it’s not a single episode but a whole miniseries. Yep, Clarence jumped on the trend which may seem odd for a show like this but it turned out very well.
We’ll be talking about each part, then we’ll talk about how they work together.
The Phantom Clarence:
Clarence wants to have the biggest sleepover ever, but no one will come due to having other things to do. (Well, Jeff shows once no one else can come) This does a pretty good job of setting things up.
They introduce the side stories well, like how Belson is in detention and Sumo’s Dad is forcing him to do Doomsday stuff, and put in some funny moments.
It’s all set up but it’s good set up and ends on a solid note with Jeff’s kite accidentally hitting the power lines, thus taking out the power all across Aberdale.
And this is after Clarence has vanish. So yeah, very solid set up for this mini series.
Jeff feels guilty about knocking the power out and doesn’t want Clarence’s parents to know, so he distracts them by cleaning all over the place.
This one shows the advantage of a Mini Series with how it focuses on just one element and fleshes it out nicely. We see how Jeff can be as he’s guilty and how he gets a bit unhinged as a result.
Clarence’s parents are good too as treat Jeff well and like having someone who is clean around. There’s some good interactions and amusing moments, along with some slightly freaky imagery at the end.
It’s pretty nice.
Badgers and Bunkers:
This one focuses on Sumo’s side, as we jump around in time for the first time in the mini series. We see a bit from earlier and day and more context to what Sumo was talking about on the phone.
I love how Sumo is just having none of his Dad’s doomsday antics here. He’s totally right so he’s not unlikable either. The friction between him and Dad causes us solid drama and a few funny moments.’
“That boy just doesn’t listen”
“I wonder where he gets that from”
Sumo also finds a badger that Dad does not want around and that leads into the ending of this part. This parts mixes comedy and drama quite well and is just great overall.
Dingus & McNoBrain:
Back at school during detention, Miss Baker seems to be missing so Belson and Mr. Reese have to do a buddy cop team to find out. It’s just as amazing as it sounds.
This might be my favorite part of the mini series. It’s just a great set up that leads to a lot of funny moments. Their interactions are good, with Reese being dimwitted and Belson being a jerk.
There’s some nice moments as well like when they find out what happened to Miss Baker. And also some pretty decent plot twists that add to the buddy cop homage in a fun way.
Add in a solid tie to the overall story (Clarence’s parents and Jeff show up to get away from the storm) and you get a well-rounded and fun part.
Bye Bye Baker:
This one focuses on Miss Baker as she gets trapped in the store with Clarence and one of Jeff’s Moms. It’s a bottle episode and a really fun one.
Seeing them all eventually bond is pretty nice and they end up taking advantage of the one setting they have. Meg, one of the workers, doesn’t want them to leave so that adds some tension near the end as well.
Baker is planning to leave for California which Clarence doesn’t like, and that adds more to the plot in a good way.
There’s one thing Clarence does I don’t like but otherwise this is another great part that stands on it’s own as a fun bottle episode and adds to the overall story, especially with Dungus and McNoBrain saving the day at the end.
It’s nice, slightly intense and fun overall.
The Mini series concludes as everyone is now trapped at school, waiting out the storm.
This part nicely wraps things up as various things from earlier come back in some way and spoilers, Baker decides to stay. It all wraps up in a nice way and is just as fun and sweet as the rest of the series.
There actually isn’t much to say. It wraps up in the way it should with plenty of nice moments. Some aspects get a better wrap up than others but the ending overall is quite good.
As a whole, this uses the mini series format quite well. It has a simple concept and explores all these side stories that explore how each character is dealing with this.
Most are wrapped up pretty well, even if it not all get huge fanfare. Baker’s deal ends a bit abruptly but it ends up being nice nonetheless.
When I first saw this I had a problem with Clarence being a bit reckless but it’s only an issue in Bye Bye Baker. For the rest of it, he’s pretty good even if I think he could have been called out a bit more.
Otherwise, this mini series is great. I feel making it just one episode wouldn’t have given it enough time to flesh out certain things, so it’s good that a show like this used the format well.
They manage to pack in plenty of funny and nice moments with good character interactions. Also, I love Clarence’s recaps which add some more humor.
Overall, Clarence’s Stormy Sleepover is a great mini series with a solid concept done well, and it uses the format effectively. Good stuff.
Writer: Tony Infante
I don’t have a clever way to introduce this one, so let’s just talk about.
Jeff invites Breehn over to their game night, but has problems when Breehn doesn’t do things the exact same way he would.
This episode is just a really solid and fun one. It’s another one where Jeff has to deal with being a bit too uptight and this is one of the better takes on that plot.
Jeff doesn’t cross the line into unlikable, as I do see where he’s coming from. At first he’s just making a big deal out of little things, then when Breehn starts getting it, he gets jealous since he Clarence and Sumo are getting more into Breehn’s way of doing this.
It’s done in a way that keeps everyone likable, and it’s a pretty engaging story. It mostly keeps things fun, since they are playing a pirate game after all. Eventually it becomes a real adventure as Breehn leaves while it’s storming outside.
Two entries in a row with them facing a storm, weird.
…And the rest got lost somehow, as for some reason when I responded it , the post was in this state. I even used the backup thing which usually saves everything. It got most of the section but ah well.
But yeah overall, Breenhn Ho is a great little adventure with plenty to fun to be had. That’s all you need to anyway.
Pretty Great Day with a Girl/Mystery Girl
Writers: Skyler Page and Patrick Harpin/Tony Infante
I put these two together because they both about Clarence hanging out with a girl, and both show the strengths of the show at each point in the run they wall in.
Pretty Great Day with a Girl was the 2nd episode and it serves as a nice introduction, arguably more so than the actual first episode.
It’s a simple set up with Clarence simply deciding to go have some fun with a girl named Amy which Belson does not approve of. This episode really showed how well the show could capture a slice of life.
It really is just these two hanging out, with Belson coming in to give us a sort of climax. There’s a lot of small moments, like Clarence needing to go pee at one point. It’s just as a small dumb joke but it adds a bit of realism.
These two are really cute together, and it’s done in a very innocent way rather than a shippy way. There’s a funny bit where the other kids claim to find girls gross but admit they find them nice.
Belson also proves to be a funny antagonist. There’s not much to the story which really gives it its charm. It’s all just very quaint and fun. My only issue is that I don’t care for Clarence’s voice in these early episode.
I don’t know, Spencer Rothbell’s Clarence just sounds a bit less annoying to my ears.
Then we have Mystery Girl, which is the main one I wanted to put here, as Pretty Great Day is just here for contrast ad also because it’s an example of how the show started off right.
While making pranks calls, Clarence ends up befriending a girl. This one is also really cute, but with the added element of him only talking to her via phone for most of it.
It’s just them talking but the things they talk about it make it really fun to watch. Bella and Clarence work well off each other Their interactions are just simply very cute, and her being on the phones adds extra comedy and conflict.
I’ll say right now that there’s a sort of subplot where Jeff and Sumo feel a bit left out due to him spending so much time with her, but it doesn’t really go anywhere. It’s not really resolved which is a bit odd.
But thankfully it’s short lived enough to not be a big problem for me.
They eventually do meet up for real and it’s just as sweet as you’d expect it to be. It ends up being a nice cap to a nice episode.
Both these episodes are just the epitome of cute. The interactions in both are strong and are simply and charming. I honestly these episodes would be good ones to use to introduce someone to the series.
Sure, some are deeper but this is what the mostly is: Simple stories with childhood innocence. And they are very sweet ones. I like Mystery Girl a tad more despite the one flaw, but Pretty great day with a girl is also really sweet and a lot of fun.
Two cute episodes for the price of one.
Chad and the Marathon
Writer: Stephen P. Neary
This post was mostly an excuse to talk about a few episodes in particular, and this is one of them.
Clarence has to do a report on someone who inspires him and he picks Chad, but Chad soon realizes he hasn’t done much with him. He decides to do that by doing the Aberdale marathon, which means some intense training.
Chad is a fairly typical dumbass Dad but he usually works fine, especially since we get episodes like this one. This episode is another really sweet one, only this has more of a story to it.
There’s some funny moments that come from the training (which indeed comes with a great montage), and it even ends on a pretty funny moment. But it’s Chad who brings this one up.
It’s great to see him try hard to do something like this, and we see just how difficult this is for him to do. Normally I don’t do spoilers but for this episode I have to kind of spoil it to further explain why it’s so great, so here we go.
The ending is the main reason this gets on here. You probably expected all this training to result in him wining, or at least getting close. Nope, he passes out on Mile 2.
It shows a bit of realism, as you can’t exactly win a marathon via a montage. He tried his best and didn’t quite win, but he did try, and that’s all that matters. Of course, Clarence is just proud of him for trying and Chad didn’t really need to do all this to impress him.
It’s Chad who thought there was a problem after all. Some of this is a bit cliche but the way it’s done makes it a really sweet, and it’s a great moment for Chad.
Chad and the Marathon has a really solid story with good development for Chad and it has a solid moral about how you don’t always win even if you try your best. I’m glad we’re getting more stories about that, as it’s pretty important.
This episode is really great and certainly was worth spoiling.
Bird Boy Man (Tony Infante): Sumo finds a bird whom he names Hot Sauce and nurses it back to health. It’s just as nice as it sounds.
The Tails of Mardrynia (Tony Infante): A solid Percy spotlight that has a Don Bluth homage…along with a random parody of The Mob Song from Beauty and the Beast.
Average Jeff (Spender Rothbell): Slightly spot-y ending aside, this is a really solid Jeff episode and was another great early-ish episode.
Lil Buddy (Spencer Rothbell): Clarence’s social life spirals out of control when he gets in trouble for playing with his “Li’l Buddy” doll. This is an odd one, but odd in a very good way.
Ren Faire (Tony Infante): Not really a big fave, but I put this here just to point out that Josh FINALLY gets some sort of happy ending. After Nature Clarence, that was amazing to see.
Sumo Goes West/Anywhere but Sumo (Tony Infante): I put these together because they bookend Season 3. Sumo has to go to a new school which nicely changes up the status qou. The latter has Clarence dealing with Sumo having friends at that school. I know it’s odd for me to not put the finale on the last but as great as it is, it is hurt by being 11 minute, as it doesn’t feel as grand as it could have. Still, these episodes are great.
And my favorite episode of Clarence is…
Writer: Mark Banker
This episode has been my number 1 ever since it first aired. I of course was open to something else topping it but even after two more seasons, that never happened. So let’s get into it.
During detention, this thing Sumo is supposed to fill on asks if he has any goals and how he hopes to achieve them. That night during dinner, dad mentions a friend or something is building a boat, and Sumo decides to build a boat to impress him.
This episode shows us Sumo’s home life and really develops him quite a bit. He has a big family full of rowdy brothers, so it’s hard for him to get a word in.
His dad is in this episode is a bit condescending which gives Sumo extra motivation to want to build this boat and prove his worthy. I wouldn’t say his a full on jerk here since he does clearly care about Sumo, he just has his not so great moments.
Sumo naturally gets a bit too into making the boat and lashes out at Clarence for goofing off. Besides being a great moment in general, I like that he does apologize not too long after, instead of making this big thing.
They get why he lashed out and it helps add to the story. There’s not as much comedy as most of the episodes on here but they are some fun moments with them making the boat later on at least.
It all builds to an ending speech from Sumo that does a great job of summing everything up and is really nice. This whole episode is a really engaging one with a lot of emotion.
It actually has a fair bit in common with Chad and the Marathon, the main difference is that the focus on Sumo makes it a tad more relatable for the target audience.
It’s a great story for Sumo as he tries to make his dream boat (Yes, they do amusingly drop the title) and it leads to a very emotionally satisfying ending.
This episode really showcases all the best aspects of the show. It has some fun childhood moments, is a great character showcase and is a really well told story with a nice moral and some emotional moments.
The way the story is told got to me in a way that made it stand tall above all these other gems. It’s fun, sweet and really compelling. I think Sumo had some of the more compelling stories and this one shows that off the best.
Overall, Dream Boat is just a great story with plenty that I loved. It has everything that made this show solid and not much really topped it. All that makes it easily my favorite episode of Clarence.
And those were my favorite Clarence episodes. This wasn’t my best work I admit, but I at least got to talk about certain episodes. In the least I hope I was able to explain why these episodes as good as I think they are.
Especially with the top few, those were especially great. I wouldn’t call Clarence a flat-out great show like some others but it was a good one and was rather refreshing for the time.
It was a solid slice of life series with plenty of great moments, as this little list thing shows. If sucks that CN didn’t give it the best treatment as it went on, but ah well.
I had fun with this series and I had going over it’s highlights, especially my number one. And yeah, I think I said all I need to say. Thank you Clarence crew for making such a good show, and especially Showrunner Spencer Rothbell for following me on Twitter.
Not even kidding. ..His Twitter seems to be gone though. Huh.
Anyway. the next top list type thing will be in November and it’s one I said I would do last year, so don’t say I don’t keep my promises .