Daria: The Complete Animated Series (1997)

Genre(s): Animation / Comedy
Paramount, MTV || NR - 1606 minutes - $72.99 || May 11, 2010
Reviewer: Tyler Thomas || Posted On: 2010-05-20


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: NA
Writer(s): Glenn Eichler (creator)
Cast: Tracy Grandstaff


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • 2 Animated Movies
  • 5 Featurettes
  • Interviews
  • Music Video
  • Character Profiles


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 8
  • Full Frame (1.33)
  • English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: None

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.::THE FILM::.

Sarcasm is somewhat hard to fit into television shows these days. There are a ton of shows on television right now that employ either too much of it or not enough, and thus the shows end up being quite horrible. Then again, every now and then a show comes along that has just the right mix of humor and sarcasm that makes me glad to be a viewer of such great television. The show that Iím talking about is "Daria", a show that lasted five seasons on MTV and had two direct-to-TV films. The show in my opinion was way before its time in the comedy world yet still many years later I still find the show just as funny as I did when I watched it as a teen.

Daria Morgendorffer (Tracy Grandstaff) is your average high school girl living in a normal world with no problems what so ever. Nah, just kidding, that would make an incredibly boring show. She hates the world and mostly everyone who lives in it, and thus, thinks that the world is cruel for sticking her in the situation sheís currently in. Her parents, Jane (Wendy Hoopes) and Jake (Julian Rebolledo), are living in a world that clearly isnít earth. They are completely out of this world with their views on life and lack of parenting skills which makes Daria feel even more alienated. Plus, she also has a sister named Quinn who is the complete opposite of her. Quinn is a complete preppy girl with good looks, skinny, and ditzy as can be. Needless to say, Daria doesnít get along with her family yet her family loves her just the same.

Daria goes to school along with her sister Quinn and on the first day she is forced to take a psychological exam to see where she fits into the school. The problem is Quinn manages to somehow pass the test and Daria fails it, and is sent to remedial class until she learns to ďlove herself.Ē The remedial class isnít like the special education course, instead the class is just merely a vessel for people who lack self-esteem to build it and then venture out into the real world.

On her first day there, Daria meets Jane, a girl who is only in the class to avoid going to real class. She knows all the answers to the tests but after the two talk they decide itís better to be in this crappy class than to be with the other losers of the school. They immediately become best friends and decide to go through the school year together. Meanwhile, Quinn is forced to deny any existence at all to Daria, as though she knows being popular and attractive is one thing but relating to her sister would demolish any hopes she has of being voted prom queen. This of course backfires on Quinn one night a few episodes later at a party when Daria completely embarrasses the crap out of her, but eventually the two manage to bond and forget about the ordeal.

Throughout the first few seasons, this is basically the same premise in every episode. Daria and Jane encounter some problem, manage to deal with it, her parents are loony and refuse to do anything about their lack of control over their children, and Quinn dates hot guys and is a complete bimbo the entire show. This of course all changes when Tom (Russell Hankin) enters the picture and thatís really when the show for me goes downhill. I loved the first few seasons but once Tom entered the picture all hell broke loose for me.

Tom at first is Janeís love interest, and then Daria manages to steal his heart away (I wonít describe how, since it really ruins one of the seasons and then the forthcoming movies in the extras). Now, mind you, up until this point Daris is a mild-mannered girl who is sarcastic, witty, and hates boys with a passion due to how stupid everyone at her school acts. Then miraculously she connects with a guy and gets all lubby-dubby with him? I thought that prior to this point in the show, and pretty much every episode afterwards, the character of Tom blew the show out of the water for me and made me ultimately loathe the show from that point on.

It wasnít only the addition of Tom that made me hate the later shows, more of the fact that the show seemed to repeat itself after so many episodes. I understand that there are only so many writers and such tied to the show, but honestly the episodes blended together so much I thought I hit repeat. How many times can the dumb cheerleader, dumb jock, smart athlete, Quinn, and everyone else do something stupid until the show gets so repetitive? The jokes are always there, which was the best part for me, but everything else just didnít click for me after so long.

I loved Daria, well, most of her. The first three seasons were great, half of four was awesome, and then most of fifth was rather ďblah.Ē The actors who portray their characters are great, although I couldnít find much on them after the show concluded. The show is fantastic for those who like the old school type of sarcasm that doesnít push the jokes right out at you and instead makes you think about whatís going on. For fans of that comedy, this show is made just for you.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Is It Fall Yet? Movie (72 minutes): The first of the two films that were released on DVD many years ago can be seen in full-feature here. This is the better of the two flicks provided but each has their moments. This one deals with the Daria and Tom relationship and the castís plans for the summer.

Is It College Yet? Movie (66 minutes): The second of the two films that was previously released on DVD after a viewing on MTV many years ago. The second isnít as funny as the first, although in terms of video quality this one is a major step-up. This one follows Daria, Tom, Quinn, and the rest of the cast as they progress into the eventual world known as college.

Pilot Ė Sealed with a Kick (5 minutes): The pilot for the series is shown in black and white on the drawing board. This is a cool segment for those who like to see how the show looked before it came to life, and all others can avoid it.

Music Video ďFreaking FriendsĒ (3 minutes): Trentís band performs the song ďFreaking Friends,Ē that isnít really that good or interesting.

Daria and Jane Top Ten Countdown (6 minutes): The two animated hostess roll through the top ten animated music videos of all time, sans the videos. The humor is great between the two, although most people will probably have to YouTube the videos.

Cast Interviews (6 minutes): The cast and crew of the show discuss how the series came to fruition and also how the characters came together. I enjoyed the segment although I knew most of what was said in this segment from previous knowledge.

Finally, there are some Character Profiles for most of the main cast from the show that you can browse through to find out stuff you probably already knew.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

This is one animated show that was never made for its looks, which is evident from the first few season. The color palette is completely bland of any descriptive colors and in almost every scene the colors are drowned out and pale. Greens meld with the blacks to create an off-set color appearance in almost every scene and that topped with massive amounts of noise and grain doesnít help the quality much. That being said though, the show does make some improvements in the final two seasons (and the movies in the extras donít look half bad either) just not enough for me to give this a better rating. I understand that the show is in fact quite old but some more restoration into the video quality would have gone a lot longer way with me.

Ouch, Iím not quite sure where this Dolby Digital 2.0 track goes wrong, although I could speculate it went wrong at the 2.0 part. The show has little if any action sequences in it so judging on those merits would leave this place relatively blank. The dialogue for the episodes is incredibly low and at times I struggled to hear the jokes and the cast saying their lines up to the point where I had to crank up the volume much more than Iíve ever had to for a series on DVD. There is little to no surround usage, even in the theme itself, which is also quite odd to note. Iím not sure if this track would have been bolstered much by a 5.1 track though and since the show is so old thereís really no telling if it would have improved anything. It just would be nice that in 2010 studios would make 5.1 Dolby Digital tracks mandatory.



.::OVERALL::.

ďDariaĒ is a fantastic series that never really got the credit it deserved back in the day for being a monumentally funny and entertaining series rolled into one. The show does wane a little bit though after season three and the characters change a little bit too much for my liking but mostly the cast excels in their respective roles. The technical package is disappointing though but the extras more than make up for it. Iíd say this is easily worth a purchase for fans and newcomers to the series alike. Plus, you just might find out Daria is similar to someone you know in your sick, sad world.