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Joseph Green
Joseph Green

Clone High

Clone High (occasionally referred to in the United States as Clone High USA) is a Canadian-American adult animated science fiction sitcom created by Phil Lord, Christopher Miller and Bill Lawrence. Set at a high school populated by the clones of well-known historical figures, the series follows its central cast includes adolescent depictions of Abe Lincoln, Joan of Arc, Gandhi, Cleopatra, and JFK. The series also serves as a parody of teen dramas such as Dawson's Creek and Beverly Hills, 90210; every episode is introduced as a "very special episode".[2]

Clone High

Clone High is set in a high school in the fictional town of Exclamation, USA, 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 the clones of famous historical figures that were created in the 1980s 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", a decidedly less evil intention than that of the Board). He is assisted by his robot butler/vice principal/dehumidifier, Mr. Butlertron (a parody of Mr. Belvedere), who is programmed to call everyone "Wesley" and speak in three distinct intonations.

The main protagonists of Clone High are the clones of Abe Lincoln, Joan of Arc, and 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 his friend Joan of Arc is attracted to him. Meanwhile, JFK's clone, a macho, narcissistic womanizer, is also attempting to win over Cleopatra and has a long-standing rivalry with Abe. Gandhi acts in many of the episodes as the comic relief. Also on a few occasions, the characters that we see learn most of "Life's Lessons" the hard way.

Miller initially developed the show's premise while in college, initially imagining the clones would be at a university rather than high school.[7] The series was originally developed in 2000 under the title Clone High School, USA!.[8] The production was overseen by Touchstone Television. It was originally pitched to the Fox Broadcasting Company, who purchased the show immediately but ultimately decided not to order it to series. Miller deemed it the "easiest pitch ever," considering the show's use of famous figures.[7] Following Fox's rejection, MTV purchased the program in May 2001.[9][10] All the original character designs were much different from what they would become even though the characters kept the same physical attributes and appearance. Each episode was budgeted at approximately $750,000.[11]

While the clones derive many character qualities from their ancestors,[6] 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 homosexual, interracial couple; Joan's "foster grandpa" is an elderly blind musician similar to Ray Charles named Toots.

The series also includes humor based on the historical figures themselves. For example, the diner the clones frequent is called The Grassy Knoll, a reference 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 (though this version is in color and considerably more graphic than the original print). The genetic ancestors of all of the five main 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 Catherine the Great to "get off her high horse".

The series is also a parody of "issue" episodes of high-school themed comedies. Each episode is introduced as a "very special episode."[6] 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 manner. 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, because it ends up only being the Winter Prom.

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".[30] Miller would later recall that executives at MTV enjoyed the show, and asked for the duo to pitch a second season without Gandhi. Lord and Miller's two potential versions of a second season included one that made no mention of Gandhi's absence, and another that revealed that the character was, in fact, a clone of actor Gary Coleman all along, and the show continued as normal. "We pitched that, and it went up to the top at Viacom again and it got a big no," he remembered.[7] This idea has since been scrapped as Gandhi will not return in the revival.[31]

A one-season wonder, the animated Clone High followed a group of adolescent clones of famous historical figures as they navigated the halls of high school. There was Abe Lincoln (Will Forte), Joan of Arc (Nicole Sullivan), Gandhi (Michael McDonald), Cleopatra (Christa Miller), and JFK (Miller). At the top rung of the administrative ladder was the principal and mad scientist Dr. Cinnamon J. Scudworth (Lord), and his second-in-command assistant, Mr. Butlertron (Miller).

A Myth Arc is implied, wherein the Secret Board of Shadowy Figures that created the clones check up on the progress toward conditioning them into a super-strong and super-intelligent army. However, little progress is ever made in that, or in Principal Scudworth's plan of creating a clone-based amusement park called "Cloney Island", as the series was canceled in the US after less than a season. The rest of the season aired in Canada on Teletoon's Detour block (where the show debuted), and the out-of-print DVD was only released in the Canadian market. However, most of the series is available in the US on the MTV app/, Paramount+ and through digital stores.

A lot of the humor comes from off-hand or irreverent historical references (like the scene where the clone of Buddy Holly invites Abe to ride on a broken-down plane along with Ritchie Valens, The Big Bopper, Jim Croce, Stevie Ray Vaughan and half of Lynyrd Skynyrd... all of whom had their real life counterparts die in plane crashes).

For the uninitiated, Clone High is an animated comedy about a high school populated by teenage clones of significant historical figures. The original series, which aired Stateside on MTV in 2003, was canceled after a single 13-episode season, ending with all of its characters being flash frozen in the high school meat locker during a particularly eventful prom night.

A secret government plan to dig up historical figures and clone them has worked. It is 16 years later, and the clones are now in high school. The five main characters are Abe Lincoln, an all around nice but naive guy who lusts after the school sexpot Cleopatra, who is dating the macho JFK. Also, Abe's two best friends are Joan of Arc, an angst ridden goth girl who is in love with him, and Gandhi, a non-stop party animal. Clone High bravely tackles challenging teen issues, such as sleep deprivation, catching ADD from toilet seats, the evils of litter, and having the guy you like not like you back the same way you like him. Will Abe get together with Cleo, or be thwarted by the handsome JFK? Will Joan finally get Abe to notice her? Who's to say?

This clone of Gandhi was a party animal, a ladies man and an all-around loser with a jerk's personality. People in India heard about the depiction of Gandhi and were so angered that they wanted the show canceled. 150 politicians, including Gandhi's grandson, held a hunger strike in front of the MTV India offices while the head of Viacom was visiting, trapping him in the building. The protestors threatened to revoke MTV India's television broadcast license unless the show was taken off the air.

Following those events, Miller tried to provide a possible way to retcon the character that would make everyone happy. Miller stated that MTV asked them to come up with a season two concept without Gandhi which led to them coming up with two possible options; the first being to completely remove the character and not mention him at all, and the second option revealing that the clone of Gandhi is actually a clone of Gary Coleman which would only change the name of the character and nothing else. Once this was sent to MTV's head office in Viacom, it was rejected and the show was canceled. 041b061a72


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