Clarence sure is a positive guy. The titular star of Clarence: Mystery Pinata, a new DVD set including 12-episodes of said show’s first season from Cartoon Network in addition to the short that launched the series, the plump little cartoon boy is a happy, friendly fellow looking to make friends and live in a world where everyone likes each other. There are no action explosions or fist-fights. Superman and the Justice League don’t make an appearance; it’s just innocent, albeit occasionally infantile, silly fun. Call it a throwback to a better time when kids thought “streaming” meant going to the creek out back.
In the pilot, Clarence is looking to make new friends at his new school. Throwing a sleepover, he gets the house to himself while Mother is out at a Tupperware party. Friends Sumo and Jeff stop by, the latter unaware how to properly have fun and instead watching TV mindlessly. In a refreshing shake-up, Sumo and Clarence pull him away from the TV, on a TV show mind you, and show him the ropes. It’s practically subversive! After prank calling the police, they blindfold Jeff and get him hitting the mystery piñata, actually a bee hive. As the cops and firefighters burst in, the bees break loose and attack the authority figures. The kids, bee-stung, but happy, eat ice cream and friendships are born.
The show is an interesting mash up. It’s got a strange, earnest sweetness mimicking its lead. There are some humorous moments for the adults, with just the smallest amount of sexual innuendo to go over the heads of kids, while giving the grown ups a smirk. Take a page from Clarence’s book and have your kids play outside; it’s good for them. That said, if you’re going to sit down for a little tube, Clarence is a good buddy for the whole family.
As a sidenote, show creator Skyler Page was fired at the end of Season 1. Perhaps unrelated, there was a gay kiss (cartoons’ first) that was censored by Comedy Central, with an ensuing Twitter condemnation by Page, who also voiced Clarence. Season 2 will have a new captain and new voice. Maybe the world’s not as happy-go-lucky as Clarence thought.
DVD BONUS FEATURES
The pilot technically is the bonus feature; nothing else.
"Clarence: Mystery Pinata" is on sale February 10, 2015 and is not rated. Animation. Written by Skyler Page. Starring Skyler Page.