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The years of 1999 to 2001 were an odd and beautiful time for television. Like there was an entire wacky sitcom about George W. Bush for a minute there, y'all remember that? But specifically, primetime network TV got really into animated comedy for a very brief time, looking to capture the relatable, every-man magic of The Simpsons and King of the Hill. We got short-lived comic strip adaptions like Baby Blues and Dilbert, short-lived cult faves like Mission Hill, and one very short-lived CGI show about Siegfried and Roy's lions (I'll give you one guess why that show got canceled and it wasn't ratings but also it was ratings). Admittedly we also got Futurama and Family Guy. But mostly we got very quickly canceled creations, some of which were so miraculous and strange it's amazing they ever got made at all.
The most majestic of all of them was Clerks: The Animated Series, a collaboration between Kevin Smith, Scott Mosier, and Dave Mandel who would go on to be the showrunner for Veep. And its most beloved hour (well, 22 minutes) was Episode 4, "A Dissertation on the American Justice System by People Who Have Never Been Inside a Courtroom, Let Alone Know Anything About the Law, but Have Seen Way Too Many Legal Thrillers." Yes, all their titles were like that, it was great.
This episode was then and remains the most oft-referenced of the series thanks to its very strange ending in which the original script was lost and instead finished by the Korean animation studio. You might know it best for this one line:
But we've spent the last nearly 20 years celebrating bear. I want to celebrate judge. Or, rather, Judge. The Honorable Judge Reinhold.
In a full-episode joke that pre-dates Arrested Development's "Mock Trial with J. Reinhold" by six years, Judge Reinhold (as himself) presides over the trial of Jay vs. Dante (featuring a jury of NBA all-stars). We also learn he still dreams about stuffing bananas into tailpipes with Axel Foley and, girl, we've all been there.
I wish we had more Clerks: The Animated Series to watch and enjoy, and for me to really examine my crush on animated Randal Graves. But today I am just happy to look back and celebrate a glorious show that was truly and utterly bananas.