Archived Ramblings



I'm finally reaching the final stretch here. All the episode summaries and base annotations are up, and after I finish my first-brush Rambling on episodes and some character updates I can focus on some other things, like fixing up my links and credits sections.
I've received a grand total of one annotation so far. Now that I've to the whole season up, there's no reason not to start sending those in, people.
I've got most of the third season alter-egos (thanks to Martin of Outpost Daria), but not all of them, and none of fourth yet. If anyone out there has video captures, let me know.

"I Loathe a Parade" is one of the episodes that started to catch my attention with this show again. Unfortunately, it doesn't work nearly as well in series as it does stand-alone.
It starts off excellent, with Daria's dosage of cynicism and sarcasm coming off well, as does Helen and Quinn's distraction and Jake's emergency. It unfortunately doesn't stay excellent, but I'll be getting to that.
How could Daria not know about Homecoming? She still goes to school, and Jane had a date specifically for it. These things are uber-hyped by schools, there's really no way Daria could have missed hearing about it, especially with a semi-friend like Jodie. The only real possibility here is that she's repressing out of self-defense...
Kevin, Brittany, and the Fashion Club were all overused, but probably unavoidable considering. Unfortunately, this brings up one of the regular problems of this season, trying to do too much in too little time. There's only twenty minutes per show, there's just plain not enough time to focus on three different groups of minor characters in addition to the main plot. The old one main and one subplot structure had some good reasoning behind it. If there are going to be episodes about minor (not Daria or Jane, really) characters, they need to have just one group per show, like how "Lane Miserables" did it.
There are some more problems with the minor character presentations. Upchuck didn't have much point this episode except being beat up by the cops (note the theme that's been through the entire series relating to cops; taking bribes, doughnut jokes, back-country hicks, brutality), although I do wonder how he managed to get girls to ride with him in the parade, especially considering his treatment in "Jake of Hearts." The Fashion Club scene was a partial remake of the "Malled" scene which I think handled it better. The only real good point there (including the excuse for getting Daria up there, which was rather thin) was Tad's fight with Sandi.
This leads into the note that Tad and Tricia have been reprogrammed... Understandable, I suppose, but it would have been refreshing to see some hint of their night with Daria and Jane remaining.
Jodie and Mack are harder to justly comment on. We don't see enough of them to know if this sensitivity about their race is justified or not, but there's really no evidence to support it. Jodie is the single most active student at the school, knows basically everyone, is good looking and popular, and is probably going to be valedictorian. She seems a natural choice for Homecoming Queen. She's also got Michele for a mother... Mack is captain of the football team and Jodie's boyfriend, so that seems another obvious choice. Not knowing their race, if presented with those descriptions, I'd be assuming they'd win.
How can I not mention Ted's short appearance? (Spoiler following) Knowing the end of the season, this is a little time-bomb that's been planted. Expect an episode early to mid fifth season, just after Daria and Jane have finally reconciled, wherein yearbooks come out. This is going to be especially troublesome considering Jane's comments to Tom about going out with her just to get to Daria. If they skip it, it's going to leave a huge hole in the continuity, and if they address it they'll almost certainly fall into soap opera or grand guignol territory. (End spoiler)

Of course, the meat of the episode is Tom and Daria. There are some interesting small touches going on, like Tom crouching down to talk to Tad (something very few adults would bother with, indicating that Tom is either very good with children or is very bad with children but thinks he's very good with them). Considering the hostility Daria has shown to Tom up to this point, it's hard to understand why he'd invite himself along with her, much less try to draw her out like that. At best he's just a slightly less obnoxious person of the type Daria got fed up with in "The Misery Chick", assuming that her lack of ostentatious presentations of happiness means she isn't. Tom, whatever his strengths, has still been deeply conditioned by our Professional Smile culture, and doesn't seem to see that it's artificial, not inherent. Most of his "share the moment" related lines are based on this misunderstanding, and it's slightly puzzling not to see him set straight.
Daria's behavior at the beginning of the episode is great; sarcastic, drives off obnoxious family members, gets a bribe. Her reaction to most of the parade is pretty good, but it does start to change at the end. Between her staring wide-eyed at a fire and looking utterly dejected after being splashed with paint, I think we see more non-anger emotion on her face in this episode than we have in the entire series up till now. The Daria at the end of the episode is far closer to the Daria of "Speedtrapped" than the fist season Daria at the beginning. The transition over the course of the episode just doesn't work well, and is probably supposed to indicate how Tom can "draw her out of her shell" which is a really bad thing to use on this show.

This is going to tie in with the writer a bit. Dan Vebber's other Daria episode was decent, but not spectacular. He's a relative latecomer to the series, so his lack of grasp on the early characterizations is somewhat explainable. Unfortunately, he's also done some writing for Buffy, The Vampire Slayer, and it shows. Between the standard TV convention of any vehicle that tips over catching fire and the earlier ("Jake of Hearts") return-to-start his TV background is obvious. I haven't watched many episodes of Buffy (I didn't like it, which is probably not going to sit well with many fans, as I've seen a fairly large crossover audience), but this episode certainly seems to carry a lot of the flavor of that series into it. And if I wanted Buffy, I'd watch Buffy.

On to "Of Human Bonding." This was an Anne Bernstein episode, but definitely not her best. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't as good as her normal work. The Fashion Club plot was far too much of the episode for the everything-stays-the-same outcome, and Daria had one major drop of character.
I'll start with the Fashion Club scenes. The were pretty much just time filler, but there were a couple interesting points to touch on. The "you can each invite one friend over" bit highlighted that Daria actually has a friend, whereas Quinn's friends can better be described as slightly more than acquaintances. If any of the girls is a real friend to Quinn it's Stacy, but Quinn doesn't seem to like Stacy that much.
You'd think someone would have complained about that overdone paint job Sandi did on Helen, but oh well. And Helen's marriage problems are still going strong. It even sounds like Eric is flirting with her, at least on occasion (and remember that brief song attempt in "Daria!"?) so this might be an interesting plot for next season.
Aside from the question of what Sandi's condition is, that's pretty much it for the Fashion Club time. The only other interesting bit was Stacy beating the bejeezus out of her pillow. There may be a lot of suppressed rage in that poor girl.

Jake and Daria were, for the most part, in character and done well this episode. Jake's brief period of backbone regarding the clubs was amusing, but his constant complaining about his father gets tired quick (especially when accompanied by flashbacks). His talk with Daria that first night was excellent Jake, however.

Daria's been showing some new interests this season. Although she's had bones and such in her room since the beginning, we've seen her interest in "medical oddities" more this season. A medical career in her future, perhaps?
The other season trend with Daria is an increase in the number of suicide jokes she's been making. They've popped up from time to time all series, but they seem to be rather more common this season than any other. This does make sense of a sort, since she's still in a semi-war state with Tom, but could be overdone really easily.
Most of Daria's behavior this episode was great, especially her "unmanageable bag of hot air" comment. The big exception here was the thought voice-over on the plane, where she called her father a hero. If she was being sarcastic that'd be one thing, but it didn't sound like it, and he hasn't really done anything heroic except to stay married to Helen for twenty some years (recall Amy's comment to him in "I Don't"). Considering Daria's respect for intelligence and Jake's marked lack of display of it, this line just sticks out as not fitting.

Not the worst episode this season, but that's not saying much.


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