Clone High Ep 1.02 ‘Episode Two: Electric Blu-Galoo’ takes on the tropes of high school elections

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Clone High Episode 2 ‘Episode Two: Electric Blu-Galoo’
Written by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller
Aired 11/3/02

When you were in high school, how far were you willing to go to get the person you liked to notice you? Like I said last week in the review of its pilot, one of the many levels of brilliance within Clone High is the show’s ability to make heart-warming parodies of teenage angst, and the extremes we’re willing to go to be popular and loved.

Of course, for Abe, this is truly taking things to the extreme (or X-Stream). When Cleo finds out she can’t run for re-election of the class thanks to some lame term limits, and plans to manipulate either JFK or Abe into winning to supplement the amount of popularity she stands to lose without being the head of the student body. Most of ‘Episode Two’ revolves around the class presidential race between JFK and Abe, and what they’re both willing to do to win it.

For JFK, it’s simply reminding everyone how hot he is – his campaign speeches tend to consist of little more than loud posturing and in-depth analysis of his weekly gym routine (“no calves…. as you recall, I do those with my lats… on Wednesdays!!!!”). It’s pretty clear that Abe really doesn’t have much of a shot, reduced to inane chatter about ‘tough’ issues – which of course, nobody in high school cares about except the nerds and Albinos who want tinted windows. Not only does it set up the typical ‘thinking man vs. popular man’ high school trope, but it uses it to service the overarching story of the show: the love triangle of Abe, Cleo and Joan. Joan of course can’t let Abe win and see him fall to Cleo, so she become’s JFK’s campaign manager to sabatoge Abe’s chances of winning.

All very typical high school drama, but Clone High always manages to one-up the story lines its making fun of, giving some real emotional levity to the election, and what it means for the characters on the show. Being clones of great presidents, JFK and Abe aren’t only trying to win the same girl, they’re trying to prove that they can be great leaders like their clone-fathers were. Of course, in JFK’s mind, this means conquering the moon, but his conversation with his gay foster parents remind him that JFK was more than just a womanizing stud.

Of course, Principal Scudworth isn’t going to be left out of the episode; him and Mr. Butlertron are trying to figure out a way to fund Scudworth’s plans to use the clones to rule the world, but the Puma-sponspored Board of Shadowy Figures refuse to put forth $2 million dollars to a man teetering on the edge of insanity. So Scudworth looks elsewhere, and finds corporate sponsor X-Stream Blu, who are more than willing to give him the money if he allows them to promote their product around the school.

Their new extreme drink is of course, toxic as shit (consisting of house paint and raw cake batter), and Scudworth’s newfound wealth nearly kills Blu-addicted Ghandi and Abe, who sold out his campaign to try and win the election and the heart of Cleo. Again, the writers of Clone High are carefully hiding a very real political debate within itself: how far is someone willing to sell out to fulfill their dream? For Abe, it’s selling out his values and the historical tradition that comes with his name; for Scudworth, he’s killing his dream of full control, standing by and letting the very clones he wants to control die right in front of his eyes.

In the end, Scudworth and Mr. Butlertron lose their bling , and Abe and JFK look on while a puppy wins the election (decided by Mr. Butlertron’s Applause Meter) – and by proxy, Cleo’s attention. The only real winner is Joan, who still can’t confess her love to Abe when he’s looking at her, but successfully delays a repeat face-sucking of Abe and Cleo. But valuable lessons are learned: JFK realizes there’s more to being a leader than getting laid, and Abe finally understands why his clone-father was so revered (his honesty and values).

This is what high school is about: taking risks, being overly passionate, and taking every single emotion to the X-Stream. And that’s where ‘Episode 2’ (and every episode in general) really nails home the genius of the show, managing to create slapstick animated characters, and use the typical high school cliches we’ve all seen a million times and lived through to provide a subtle, but poignant emotional backbone, qualities most modern high school shows (comedy or drama, animated or not) tend to flail wildly at. It’s one of the things that makes the show special, and it’s front and center in ‘Episode 2’.

 

Other thoughts/observations:

– The X-Stream Blu members are voiced by Scrubs cast members: Zach Braff, Donald Faison, and the lovely Sarah Chalke.

– best lines in ‘Episode 2’ from JFK: “Ask not what I can do for you, ask what you can do to your student body president’s body!” Close second is “How about *whisper* dental dam…. *whisper*… ok, no dental dam,” or “Hark! I hear the knock of a vulnerable teenage girl!” … I can never decide, his dialogue is just too great.

– the make out sounds on Clone High are an all-time classic feature.

– the weekly dolphin appearance: along with being heard a few times, the dolphin appears in the shark tank on the X-Stream skateboard ramp.

– metaphorical nails always hurt the second most (by the way, the twin thinking dock scene is my favorite of the episode).

– grenade t-shirts are awesome. “That TOTALLY answers my question!!!”

– the Marilyn Manson cameo isn’t the funniest, and the Food Pyramid song does fall a bit flat (it feels a little bit too long) – but it does establish the trend of singing songs in different episodes.

– The Grassy Knoll restaurant might be the show’s best joke. The super-gory Lincoln assassination art framed on the wall (modeled after the real art piece) only makes it better.

– “Numbers don’t lie.” “I’m a number five!!!”

– someone needs to tell Principal Scudworth that the last third of Behind the Music specials are the most important.

 

— Randy

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