Archived Ramblings



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 idea.
For those of you who missed it, you can find the intros to the Sarcastathon episodes, along with images, online.

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.
Daria's stated reason for opposing this wasn't really done well, either. Because it offends her morals, I could see that. Because it's a total eyesore? Sure. Because it ruins what little educative value may be left in the classes? Yup. Because she's concerned about the other students? Um... remember the paper Mr. O'Neill wanted her to read in "Cafe Disaffecto"? "I'm not sure that's a good idea. That's the one where I compare the entire sophomore (note: now senior) class to barnyard animals. It names names." She hasn't changed her attitudes towards her classmates that much.
Their running "Do you like soda?" line also left a major opportunity that was wasted. This is Daria we're talking about, not a major activist. Something interesting could have been done with her and the principle of wu-wei (more her usual style) or at least some comments about how even if the squeaky wheel gets the grease, do you really want to be dizzy and greasy? She did try to register as a conscientious objector to the coffee house project...
If she's going to bring the project down, complaining to the boss isn't the way I'd expect her to go about it. This is the same girl that called in the mercenaries when Ms. Li was selling out to a fashion company. And when a situation is set to collapse on its own, like in "I Don't", she just sits back and watches.

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.
The next episode is supposed to be "Sappy Anniversary" and have Daria get angry at Tom for forgetting some six-month anniversary. Before last night I didn't see how that could work, as Daria wasn't even willing to call Tom her boyfriend in IIFY ("And now you're _my_... um... guy I'm dating"). Now, of course, they'll have had months to get used to the relationship and Daria's probably actually saying boyfriend by now, so "Sappy Anniversary" is going to have a chance. I'm still worried, and if it was written by anyone but Anne Bernstien I'd be sure it'd flop. She can pull it off, but the missing history is going to make things tough to get right in the 20 or so minutes she'll have.
(Just a note, but the third episode this season is supposedly titled "Fat Like Me" and will involve the Fashion Club dealing with moderate chubbiness.)

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.


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