January 26, 2002
Well, the show's finally over. Knowing MTV, we'll be lucky to get even one episode rerun after this month. We may see Daria in syndication or on DVD, but it's not something worth holding your breath for. Neither process is a particularly big expense, especially not for an outfit like MTV, but it would take effort, and it's been a long time since MTV's known what to do with animation.
My overall impression of the movie is that it was good, but not great by the show's standards. It certainly didn't come up to the level of great season enders like "The Misery Chick" or "Write Where it Hurts". It was, oddly, both too long and not long enough, something I'll talk about more later on. I'll be talking about this one most by pairs of characters, since the movie was as much about the changing relationships as anything.
Let me start off with a quickie (no pun intended), Charles and Andrea. The first time Charles appears he's used as we're used to; the annoying guy who just happens to show up when the plot calls for it. Nothing in particular to note about this. Then he hits on Andrea. This is what anime fans know as "fan service", namely something added to the show for the sole purpose of pleasing the fans. There was really no lead-in to this, and it served no plot purpose. Other than giving Andrea a couple lines and showing Charles get some good luck for a change, this was nothing more than a quick joke. They aren't even tied in loosely to the going-to-college plots, as we never even get a mention of where either is going.
Let's move on to Kevin and Brittany. This also served little purpose
for the story. The whole "Kevin ducks the question" trick was played
too often, and these two aren't really that interesting to begin with.
Brittany and the cheerleaders all go to the same school, no surprise.
Kevin flunks, now that was surprising. It takes a _lot_ for a student
to fail a grade in a public school these days, especially their senior
year, which is rarely anything other than a fluff year in the first
place. Even Kevin shouldn't have been held back (especially if the
teachers want to get rid of him as much as they seem to). The only
reason I can really think of for him being held back is if Ms. Li
thinks they've got a chance at State with him as QB next year. Only
problem here is that we haven't really seen any evidence of Kevin's
skill, so who can say.
Then there's Mr. O'Neill and Ms. Barch. This plot was nothing but filler, really. It didn't show us anything new about any of the characters, and didn't really even have any good lines. For the most part it was also fairly inoffensive aside from the irritation factor of the characters involved, but the resolution of this plot was decidedly out of place. Cutting to these two (plus Mr. DeMartino) during the graduation ceremony did not work well, interrupting the flow of a major Daria scene. Although it does serve to demonstrate that the status quo will continue at Lawndale High, the disruption of the graduation sequence more than compensates for any good points.
The plot concerning Mack and Jodie is decidedly the best plot covering the supporting characters. In my opinion, it's really the best plot of the movie. We haven't seen a whole lot of their relationship before, and it was great to see the dynamic between the two. This is one of two relationships that did and will survive the transition to college.
Helen and Jake are almost irrelevant to this story. Other than their
use as a plot device to get Quinn into a job, they're almost totally
absent from the story, especially Jake. Other than Helen reassuring
Daria about the choice of school, there's just not much there, and
this is one of the areas that could really have used some of the time
that was devoted elsewhere. We get to see Jake go ballistic over a
pair of shoes... but when Daria gets into an exclusive, small private
liberal arts college, there's no mention of the money involved. Given
Jake's past history on finances, this doesn't fit him at all. Daria
certainly got some money in scholarships, but how much? Places like
Raft was depicted tend to have a lot of competition getting in, she
probably didn't get a large amount of money from them. Whatever amount
she got from Lawndale High certainly isn't going to be significant
compared to the tuition we're talking about. And not only was a prime
chance for grade-A Jake ranting missed, they just had to toss in the
potency questionnaire. Unfortunate.
The entire Quinn and Lindsy plot seemed out of place. This could
have been a good story, except for the number of unlikely events along
the way, starting with the long history of Quinn's credit card habit.
The $600 on a single pair of shoes is probably high, even for her,
but her weekend sprees almost certainly topped this in the past. The
non-resolution of the story was a good touch, as was Quinn's social
chameleon abilities, but those are about all it has to recommend it.
I can't really say anything about the three Js this time. They got almost no screen time, and certainly nothing of substance, but that's hardly new.
Then we've got the rest of the Fashion Club. Stacy shows a bit of backbone again, Tiffany gets her usual lines, and Sandi is as nasty as ever. They finally break up the official club, but stay friends. It would be interesting to see how this changes their group. Without her official president status, can Sandi stay leader of the group? Tiffany probably won't change much, but Stacy finally has a chance for decent growth. If they're lucky, Sandi will have some of her edges smoothed down as well.
Might as well cover Daria and Tom next, although Daria will be getting
more comments later. I can't say their breaking up surprises me, they
haven't exactly had a close or intense relationship. I'm not really
pleased with the way it ended, however. The line about being bored
with each other didn't get a whole lot of buildup, and it's not really
like Daria to offer transparent excuses. Their differences and the
geographic distances would have been enough to justify the breakup.
I'm not sure why Daria said they had nothing in common, since the
things they have in common are why Tom started to get interested in
Daria while he was still dating Jane. This could have been handled
much better, and this is another area that could have used more time.
Now on over to Jane and Trent. There's no real surprise that the rest of the family isn't involved in the movie, since they've never really shown any closeness there. This was the first real fight we've seen between Trent and Jane. It was done well, however, with actual character-based reasons behind it. Other than the band and his on-again/off-again thing with Monique, Trent hasn't really had much in his life that we know of other than Jane. She's the only family that seems to have had an impact on him recently, so it's easy to understand why he'd be so reluctant to see her go.
That pretty much leaves the main relationship of the series, Daria and Jane. For her part, Jane seemed to get a lesser role in this movie than was typical for most of the series. This may have been meant as a reflection of her soon-to-be-diminished role in Daria's life, but it may just have been how the time left over came out. Her main purpose seems to have been to get pushed into something by Daria for once, instead of the other way around. It is interesting to note that Daria pushes Jane academically, while Jane is still dragging (and promising to drag) Daria to parties. Their relationship is the other one that will certainly survive the college experience, and possibly beyond that.
Overall, a decent end to a good series.