Clueless (ABC, 1996-1997, UPN, 1997-1999)
I want to go back again to the time when I decided to set the video for some children’s TV shows in the late-90s. During GMTV’s Wake Up In The Wild Room, there were often trails for Sabrina The Teenage Witch and Clueless, which were shown as a double for a short while early on Saturday evenings on ITV in 1997, around the same time that The Simpsons was on BBC1. They still managed to do well in the ratings, and this might have been a factor in Homer and co. quickly being moved to BBC2.
It seems that Clueless if I dare say it was more aimed at teenage girls, but because I was in my early-teens at the time and in the target audience, and having seen the trails constantly, I thought that I might as well give this a go. Clueless started out as a comedy film released in 1995 that was loosely based on the 19th century novel Emma, with the lead role being played by Alicia Silverstone.
This did well, and in 1996 it was turned into a TV sitcom (made by the same production team). The lead role was recast and now played by Rachel Blanchard. The main character in Clueless is Cher, a rich Beverly Hills teen really into fashion who was living with her dad, and when she wasn’t at school, often confusing her teachers with her rather vacuous observations, she was often talking to hunky guys on the phone.
Cher would set up the story at the start of episodes, and we’d also hear her thoughts on the situation as the episode went along. Also among her circle of friends were Amber and Dionne. Episodes centred around such exciting things as having a new hairstyle, going to a party, or deciding which guy to go out with. It seems that compared to the film, Clueless began to lose its edge, and by the end it seemed to be a little too simple and fluffy for most viewers, it had turned into the thing that it had originally aimed to spoof.
Another link to Sabrina The Teenage Witch is that Melissa Joan Hart appeared in an episode in character. There were 62 episodes of Clueless in three series, and the later episodes were shown as part of SMTV Live. There were also some books released, but as far as I know the show hasn’t had a DVD release in this country, although it went on to be repeated on various channels including Paramount Comedy and Trouble.
After Clueless ended, some of the cast went on to further success. Donald Faison who played Murray, another classmate of Cher’s, was Dr Turk in the long-running sitcom Scrubs. And Rachel Blanchard was in two series of the British Channel 4 sitcom Peep Show, it was a surprise to see her turn up in a rather different comedy show. I’ll also review Sabrina The Teenage Witch soon.