Escape to Beer Mountain: A Rope of Sand is the first episode of the popular (and sadly defunct) animated series Clone High. It sets the tone for the entire series, introducing the main characters and sets up the general plot.

The series' backstory is summed up in the theme song: a top secret government branch acquired the DNA of various historical figures in order to clone them. Their intention was to build a super army for their own purposes. In order to ensure that the clones aren't tainted by "normal life," they are kept in the small town of Exclamation, U.S.A. Once they become teenagers, they are all sent to high school together — hence Clone High.

Episode summary (spoilers)

Abe and Gandhi, genetic duplicates of Abraham Lincoln and Mahatma Gandhi, are heading back to school after their summer break. Gandhi is determined to become popular this year, while Abe is more interested in girls. The pair runs into Joan, a clone of Joan of Arc, on their way to school. It becomes apparent that Joan has a crush on Abe, but Abe is more interested in Cleo, a clone of Cleopatra. Cleo, meanwhile, is torn between Abe and JFK, a clone of John F. Kennedy.

As the students get back into the school groove, Cleo invites Abe to JFK's party. JFK does not want Abe at his party. You can see what kind of dilemma this poses. Joan, moved by something Abe says about Cleo's commitment to community service, starts a teen crisis hotline and recruits volunteers to work the night of the party. After a confrontation in the men's washroom, JFK agrees to let Abe attend the party — as long as he brings the beer.

Determined to get beer despite being underage, Abe brings the clone of Genghis Khan to a variety of liquor stores. Now, Genghis Khan is not a particularly intelligent individual and either openly tells the store clerk that he is not 21 or botches an attempt to buy beer while wearing a huge sign that reads "I am 21."

Principal Scudworth is in his office, discussing how he controls the clones with his robotic butler, Mr. Butlertron, when he is interrupted by members of the Secret Board of Shadowy Figures — the government branch that ordered the clones and oversees their development. The head Shadowy Figure informs Scudworth that there's concern among the board "that you may be... competely insane." Scudworth dismisses these claims, then removes the paper pirate head from his head. The board assigns Scudworth to write a report about what it's like to be a teenage clone. Scudworth refuses, but upon learning that he will be punished with death if he doesn't comply, chooses title it "What it's Like to be a Teenaged Student at Clone High: A Rope of Sand."

Joan thinks she's recruited Gandhi to work at the hotline rather than go to the party, but Gandhi has routed calls to his cell phone. Thinking he's drunk after consuming a great deal of the beer Abe bought, Gandhi unwittingly mocks other students who have called the hotline seeking help. When he puts the clone of Vincent Van Gogh on speakerphone, allowing other partygoers to hear his problems, Van Gogh tells Joan, who shows up at the party and stun-guns Gandhi.

Meanwhile, JFK comes across Cleo and Abe kissing, and tells her that she has to choose one guy or the other. She says she needs to think about it and runs off inside, where she calls the teen crisis hotline and asks Joan whether she should choose the jerk who's good for her image, or the caring, sensitive guy. Joan initially tells her to "go for the jerk — oh, and sleep with him right away. It's never too early for your first time. And don't floss your teeth." Cleopatra, not being terribly bright, is at first ready to take the advice but Joan feels guilty and tells her to "go with the nicer guy. And flossing removes plaque from hard-to-reach areas."

Just as Abe and Cleo are about to formally become a couple, the police arrive and the crowd scatters. A police officer arrests Gandhi, who appears to be drunk and Joan, who's holding a beer, for underaged drinking, but lets the rest of the party-goers go because they can only fit two people in the squad car. Abe demands that his friends be let go — it's non-alcoholic beer. He is declared a loser, and everyone laughs at him. Even the cop.

By the time school starts the next day, Cleo and JFK are together. Cleo passes Abe a note that says "Sorry. Luv, Cleo." Abe is heartened by her use (albeit mispelled) of the word "luv," and believes that there's hope. Meanwhile, Van Gogh has finished his mural advertising the teen crisis hotline depicting a naked Gandhi and the slogan "No problem too big or small." Gandhi is not amused.

Historical references

As is detailed in other writeups, each of the main characters is influenced heavily by the traits and characteristics (not to mention stereotypes) of the person from whom they were cloned. Abe is often confused, but is honourable, loyal and wants to do the right thing. Cleo is vain and self-centred. JFK is a womanizer. Joan is cynical and ridden with angst. And Gandhi... well, in this episode, Gandhi admits that he "buckled under the pressure of living up to the original Gandhi and became a non-stop party animal." In his own mind.

There are, of course, more clones at Clone High than the main characters, and each episode includes a number of historical inside jokes using other clones. Escape to Beer Mountain: A Rope of Sand is no exception. The first scene in which we see JFK involves him standing against his locker with some buddies as a clone of Marilyn Monroe strolls by, breathlessly saying "Hiya, Kennedy." JFK then informs those with him that "I invaded her Bay of Pigs, if you catch my meaning."

The episode was written by show creators Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, as well as by Bill Lawrence. Celebrity guests include Andy Dick, who voiced kindly history teacher/first mostly human clone Mr. Sheepman, Van Gogh and the police officer who breaks up the party. Dick's voicing of Mr. Sheepman would eventually become a regular part of the show.

Michael J. Fox also guest starred as Gandhi's remaining kidney. (His only line is "I miss him" in reference to the other kidney, which Gandhi donated to Cleo while they were living in the same house — before Cleo convinced their foster parents that he was bad for her image and had her transferred to another family. Despite all this, she doesn't remember him.)


Resources:
http://www.clone-high.com/episodes.htm
"Escape to Beer Mountain: A Rope of Sand." Clone High: The Complete First Season. DVD. Owned by me.

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