Clone High has finally been re-cloned! The Canadian-American animated original from 20 years ago returns with 10 new episodes starting tonight, Tuesday, May 23, on the streamer Max (formerly HBO Max) and in Canada on Crave.
The premise sells the series: After a high school that was secretly being run as an elaborate military experiment to clone the greatest minds in history was put on ice, the clones – including Abe Lincoln, Cleopatra, Joan of Arc, and JFK – have been thawed out 20 years later to resume the experiment with new clone classmates, all while navigating a new set of cultural norms, and overly dramatic teen relationships.
The unfortunate part: one of the original characters, Gandhi, is not part of the new reboot. That is because, as executive producer Bill Lawrence explained to me way back in the day, the folks back in India were not very pleased to see their spiritual leader depicted as JFK’s horny little party pal.
The good news is that JFK, Cleopatra, Abraham Lincoln and Joan of Arc are back and so are most of the Mad-TV and Scrubs stars who provided the voices in the original, including Will Forte, Phil Lord, Nicole Sullivan, Donald Faison, and Christa Miller.
Among the new voice cast are Ayo Edebiri, Mo Gaffney, Danny Pudi, Mandy Moore, Michael Bolton and Ian Ziering — the last two playing themselves.
Gandhi’s depiction was a problem right from the beginning. Many Indian members of parliament took part in a hunger strike until the series was withdrawn worldwide. “MTV has a huge international presence and they started making us pull all his scenes and that’s when it all fell apart,” Lawrence explained to me.
Too bad. JFK and Gandhi were a hell of a team, right up there with the Skipper and Gilligan.
I watched this series with my son Dan, ten at the time, when it was broadcast in Canada on Teletoon. I told Lawrence he helped forge this father-son programming bond. The executive producer – doing all right of late with shows such as Ted Lasso and Shrinking – sent Dan a Gandhi T-shirt and an autographed DVD of the series.
Autographed, of course, by Lawrence, not by Gandhi. Just as cool in our house.
The new episodes feature the same angular character designs and quirky animation as the first two seasons, even though the animation house is no longer Toronto’s Nelvana, but MTV Entertainment Studios.
The series was created by filmmaking duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse), who are such big shots now even Lawrence has trouble getting either one of them on the phone.