Okay, we've got our new season, and it's off to a slow start.
Before I get to the episode, I need to comment on something else
that's been coming up. There is a fanfic out there that addresses
broadly the same issue that "Fizz Ed" did, namely LHS signing an exclusive
vendor contract on soda. It's titled "The Choice of a Skewed Generation"
and it's by Rey Fox. I've seen a lot of people saying that this proves
the writers read fanfic. It doesn't. They don't. The legal issues
here are huge. If there was any proof that they read fanfic (like
e-mail to the authors about it) and something like this happened,
they'd be wide open to lawsuits. Now, I'm sure MTV keeps lawyers on
staff anyway, but lawyers are expensive, and they are not going to
be willing to waste their time on something avoidable. They do not
read fanfic. The basic ideas are the same, but this is hardly an unusual
So, on to the episode. Although the basic premise had promise, it wasn't executed very well. The only characters that got a lot of face time were Daria and Ms. Li, so I'll save them for last on the character commentary.
Brittany and Mack were actually two high-points of the episode. Brittany's comment about rolling cheerleaders was great, as was Mack's line about being the only one on the team who can count by halves. Jodie's appearance was brief, but matched her appearance in "Partner's Complaint." I'm liking her a lot less than I did before that episode, but at least she is being used a bit more.
The teachers were handled well, but briefly. The way Ms. Barch and Mr. DeMartino reacted to the new material was great, and in character. Ms. Barch ran into a problem, with me, for the whole "independent study" bit. This is over the top, even for her, and if she really is locking male students in a closet she should have been fired long before now. Ms. Defoe made a brief and fairly pointless appearance, as did Mr. O'Neill. Mrs. Bennett may be an interesting character if developed more, as she seems to be some sort of friend or confidant to Ms. Li. This isn't the first time it's been just the two of them talking about the school's problems. Then again, maybe Mrs. Bennett is just the local Teacher's Union rep.
Jake and Helen have a brief, but good, appearance and Quinn seems to be her usual self. Not much to say here. Helen should have done more about this, though. They gave her a busy excuse for not going to the meeting, but this episode covers more than four weeks of time, so she should have stepped in at some point. ("Are you familiar with the phrase violation of civil liberties? How about the phrase big fat lawsuit?")
That really leaves Jane and Tom. Jane didn't really seem to have a place in this episode. She had the same line a couple times over, but that was about it. She could have been left out of the episode with no real difference. Tom didn't get much, either, but his line shows that he and Daria have settled into a comfortable relationship (something I'll address some again later). Having him be the one to finally convince Daria to take action is a pointer to the rest of their relationship, but that's not much to go on.
Now we've got Ms. Li. This was really her episode. Satellite jammers, no action until football is endangered, greedy grasping that backfired... nothing unexpected here. Her caffeine and sugar rush was amusing, but all in all having her fall to hubris could have been done better. That ending was far more suitable to The Simpsons than to Daria.
Daria didn't come off very well this episode. At first I thought
this ep was going to bring back some of her first and second season
fun, but it didn't. Instead of doing something to sabotage things
she just complains a bit to Ms. Li's boss. She didn't really have
anything to do with getting the ads toned down, as I can't see the
Superintendent doing anything else after hearing about what happened,
even if he hadn't seen it first hand. Daria does complain a lot, but
when she does take action it's usually far more intellectual and effective
than this. The ending was also pretty pointless. Unless Lawndale High
is on one of the major flight-paths for a nearby airport those roof
signs won't be worth their paint. Considering the NIMBY effect, it's
not likely that there's a big airport near Lawndale High.
Now we get to some other issues. One big one, for me, was this sudden
skipping over of several months. We went from school just starting
up again to a couple months after Christmas (by the end of this episode).
After the way last season ended, this doesn't work well. By this time
the Daria/Jane/Tom thing will have settled down (how, we'll never
know), and Quinn will have either become accustomed to her newly realized
possibilities or fallen back into the fashion rut (which way she went
we'll find out later, but we won't find out why). They've skipped
over way too much here to make the continuity feel right this season.
And I can't forget to complain about running a music video clip instead of a song and alter-egos during the end credits. Hopefully that was just a one-time thing, but we'll see.
The pacing of this entire episode also just seemed wrong. It felt way too slow, like it had originally been meant as a two-part episode, but they had to cut it down to one. Things never really get moving, and the ending is a little awkward.