Saturday, April 28, 2007


Daria Is Back on TV ...

... on ABC2 in Australia, according to Daria fan Deref. It’s time to go outside and turn your satellite dish in the proper direction.

Martin Pollard was laid out in the hospital with a case of cellulitis. When he returned home and checked his e-mail, many of his e-mail messages were accidentally deleted, so if you have something you’ve sent to Outpost Daria, you’d better send it again.

New Fan Fiction at PPMB

Angelboy: Hip to be Square ... Dancers, The Melody Lingers On

The Angst Guy: After the End, Every Hour Saved from That Eternal Silence, Stacy in Hell

DJW: Open Windows 5: A Stab in the Dark, Part 2

Doggieboy: Apocalyptic Daria

Jtranser: Stacy Rowe, Seeker

NightGoblyn: More Apocalyptic Daria

NotoriousDUG: Depression

RLobinske: Falling Into College 55: Emerald Season, John Lane 27: Sloane Tom B

This time, I used the WYSIWYG editor. Boy, was that hard.

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Saturday, April 14, 2007


“The Lab Brat”: A Formula for Humor

Today is April 14, 2007, and we mark the 10th anniversary of the initial airing of “The Lab Brat,” a Season One episode of Daria. It is probably one of the funnier episodes of the series, and has no greater goal than to be a funny episode. We don’t learn much that is new about the characters in Daria, but their strengths and weaknesses are played to their best effect in a very funny script.

Peggy Nicoll would go on to write several Daria episodes. Her previous television experience was writing an episode for Sweet Valley High and several episodes of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.

She would write 10 episodes in all, co-write both Daria movies, and write The Daria Database, the companion book to Anne Bernstein’s The Daria Diaries. Unfortunately, aside from the “movie” Bratz: Rock Angelz, Ms. Nicoll seems not to have worked since then.

As it would also turn out, “The Lab Brat” would be the last new Daria episode until June 1997. Daria fans would have to wait almost two months to see the final part of Season One.

The story starts with the introduction of the science teacher at Lawndale High, Mrs. Barch, whose husband left the household after 22 years and left her with a lot of anger to express — most of it against the male students at Lawndale.

Mrs. Barch asks for the definition of the psychological concept of reinforcement. Daria goes on one of her funnier extended riffs with a hilarious example. It appears that Daria has become very comfortable now, when asked a question, to fill the empty space of those moments when the rest of the class won’t come up with an answer.

Something impresses Mrs. Barch — either Daria’s willingness to answer or the twisted nature of that answer. As a result, Barch pairs Daria with Kevin for a lab project to illustrate the nature of reinforcement. Brittany protests, as Kevin and Brittany have been lab partners for a long time. The singleton Brittany is therefore paired with Upchuck, who looks forward to having the attention of Lawndale’s chesty cheerleader.

At the local pizza place, Daria complains to Jane about having to work with Kevin. Jane thinks having Kevin as a partner is great — “Next best thing to working alone” — but Kevin likes mazes. Daria undoubtedly fears that Kevin will add unwanted input. But after Kevin asks for the project to be done at the Morgendorffers’, as his cable is out, Daria has an idea that should keep Kevin at arm’s length.

In the Morgendorffer household, Helen feigns interest in the school projects of Daria and Quinn. Daria quickly dopes out that Helen doesn’t care, but Helen’s interest is piqued when she finds out that Daria and Kevin have been paired. Helen hopes that Kevin will come to invite Daria into his circle of popularity — and now Quinn’s interest is piqued!

Just at that moment, Kevin arrives. Daria distracts Kevin — perhaps permanently — by showing Kevin that “The Pigskin Channel” is available. As Kevin settles down to watch his gridiron heroes — leaving Daria alone to get some work done — Quinn tries to attract Kevin by paying him lots of attention. But when Quinn tries to get Kevin to reciprocate — when she tries to manipulate him the same way she manipulates her other dates — Kevin is clueless.
Quinn: Kevin, if you want a soda or anything, there’s some
in the fridge. I know I’m kind of thirsty.
Kevin: Thanks, babe. Could you, like, put some ice in it?
Meanwhile, at Casa Ruttheimer, Brittany arrives in her finest “Spy vs. Spy” wear, lest anyone recognize her. Upchuck enjoys being partnered with Brittany — and then hands her woodworking tools, telling her that she’ll be doing her share of the work. If she doesn’t, he’ll tell all of LHS that they’re dating.

When Brittany scoffs at such blackmail, Upchuck pulls out bigger guns — a picture of Brittany and a bare-chested young man sitting in the back of a convertible. He’s Sam Stack, the quarterback of Oakwood, Lawndale’s rival school. (Brittany had broken up with Kevin the week that she went out with Sam.) In order to keep Upchuck from showing Kevin the photo, Brittany will have to be Upchuck’s “slave” and serve as his go-fer and maid-of-all-service (well, not all service).

Quinn keeps plying her charms, but Kevin has the Pigskin Channel and doesn’t even notice her. When Brittany comes by for a visit — drenched, as Upchuck had her cleaning his fish tank — Quinn tells Brittany that Kevin is deep at work with Daria and cuts the conversation short, closing the door on Brittany. Clearly, with Brittany around, Quinn has no chance of making Kevin a “K” to match her other Three Js.

Kevin visits Daria’s progress in the garage. Daria hates the interruption, Quinn comes by with a cake to tempt Kevin, and then Brittany arrives! Kevin claims that he’s been hard at work, but Brittany doesn’t buy it, and when Kevin can’t explain this project at which he’s been so hard at work to Brittany, Brittany comes to the conclusion that both Daria and Quinn are conspiring to take Kevin away from her!

At the pizza place, Brittany confronts Daria, telling her she’s ready to fight for Kevin. When Kevin is more interested in his science project than in Brittany — he looks forward to his Pigskin Channel viewings — Brittany is supremely frustrated. Her frustration increases as the Three Js come on to first Daria (because maybe Kevin knows something they don’t), then Quinn (because Quinn is Quinn) while Brittany can’t get their attention.

Brittany is convinced that she is competing against two girls for Kevin’s love. When Jodie jokingly suggests that Brittany’s little brother would have to wear a skirt for Brittany to compete, Brittany comes up with a devious solution to her plan.

Telling Quinn the lie that Kevin wanted Brittany to bring something to the garage, Brittany gains access to Daria’s maze-navigating mouse. Stealing the mouse, she puts it in the “care” of her evil little brother.

Daria tells Kevin that the two of them are in danger of failing the lab project, now that the mouse is gone. Daria has found evidence of what might have happened — a bear-shaped jar of honey that Brittany swapped for the mouse. (Upchuck will only eat honey from bear-shaped jars, as Brittany learned to her chagrin.) Brittany then arrives at the garage, and Daria comes to the obvious conclusion about the mouse’s fate.

She tells Brittany that without the mouse, Kevin and Daria will have to do a make-up project ... a very long make-up project that will be sure to keep Kevin at Daria’s house for a long time. Brittany is then forced to admit to Daria and Kevin that she was the one that stole the mouse. Daria offers Brittany a deal — the mouse in exchange for Kevin. (Each believes they got the better of the deal.)

Brittany returns the mouse, but it’s obvious that the mouse has been traumatized by Brittany’s brother. It refuses to run the maze, curling up in a fetal position. To Quinn’s chagrin, Brittany manages to get Kevin away from the Morgendorffers. As the Taylor residence now has the Pigskin Channel, Kevin is just as happy to be with Brittany as anyone else with cable.

In Mrs. Barch’s class, Charles and Brittany present their maze. However, Upchuck forgot to teach Brittany anything about the project, and when Barch’s queries to Brittany yield unsatisfactory answers, both Upchuck and Brittany get a failing grade.

Daria changes the focus of her project from the tale of a mouse taught to run a maze to what happens when a mouse receives fear as his only reinforcement. Drawing an example that parallels Barch’s hatred of all men, Daria gets an “A” — and Kevin gets a “D.”

To Kevin, the project has been a success! He tells Daria that he’s having a big party with a lot of cool people. As Daria’s face presents hopeful optimism, he asks Daria ... if Quinn can make it to the party.

Part of the reason this episode works so well is that Daria is at her creative and sarcastic best. It’s one of the first episodes of the Daria of “Daria Triumphant,” the Daria for which no obstacle remains an obstacle for long.

Daria is not only comfortable answering questions in class, but can quickly come with answers that serve her overall goals — usually the goal of leaving others uncomfortable. Daria manages to build her maze without (much) interference from Kevin, manages to figure out what happened to her missing mouse, and even with the project seemingly ruined, Daria saves it with a presentation that subtly appeals to Mrs. Barch’s misandry.

Daria is at the top of her game here, and even though she’s still an outcast at Lawndale, she’s much more in control of events than vice versa.

The episode also marks the first appearance of Janet Barch. It’s a pity that they matched up Barch with Mr. O’Neill, a character who never has been funny and probably never will be. Before the “I-hate-all-men-everywhere” shtick became tiresome, Barch is actually very funny in this episode, not so over the top as she is in future episodes.

(Question: Is this the only funny episode in which Barch has added to the humor instead of subtracted from it?)

Oddly enough, Jane is not just a second banana, but a third banana in this episode. Aside from some framing scenes, Jane is little used in “The Lab Brat,” basically to react to whatever Daria says and to occasionally add a provocative comment of her own.

As Jane was later developed into an intriguing character of her own — I think Jane could have supported a series — it is very difficult to see her in the role of Daria’s coat-holder. I don’t know if this is a failure, as Daria and Jane don’t need to be linked together in every episode — indeed, Jane isn’t even in Mrs. Barch’s class, and therefore couldn’t be Daria’s lab partner. It is very odd to see, however, given the closeness of Daria and Jane’s relationship as explored in later episodes.

But this episode wasn’t going to be used to explore the deepest hidden desires of characters, or the strength of relationships, or to make a point. Its only point was to be funny, and Peggy Nicoll hit the ball out of the park with her first attempt. The next episode — “Pinch Sitter” — would be a similar fan favorite ... but Daria fans would have to learn that patience was a virtue.

Random thoughts:

• It looks like Quinn has a talent we’ve forgotten to recognize — skill as a cook! Somehow, Quinn is able to whip up a steak for Kevin. The cake that Kevin was presented might have been store-bought, but there’s no way to fake a steak. And if Quinn can make a steak, is a cake really out of her range? (Then again, she might have learned from careful observation of her father.)

• My wife asked a question: Is Kevin onto Quinn? She suggested that Kevin’s cluelessness might be a psychological mechanism. He knows what Quinn’s asking of him, but he doesn’t want to turned into one of Quinn’s gift-bearing admirers, so he plays clueless. Then again, I think that’s giving Kevin too much credit.

• Where did this rumor come from that Kevin was dating Daria and Quinn? Brittany confronts Kevin with the news that the rumor exists during a scene near the lockers. It could have come from any number of sources, most likely from Brittany sharing a confidence with a friend, who then told ten friends, etc. Or Daria could have shared the rumor to set up getting rid of Brittany. Or Quinn could have told Sandi about Brittany’s wrong conclusion, and Sandi spread it all over the school. It just goes to show — rumor travels fast in any high school.

• Daria looks seriously hopeful that Kevin will invite her to his party at the end of the episode. Her eyes become wide, her head tilts, and a hint of anticipation comes into her voice, only for her to be cruelly shot down. I suspect that Daria would have turned down the invite, politely, but would have been secretly thrilled. At least it would have shown that Kevin would have appreciated the hard work Daria did. A pity that didn’t happen.

• Favorite quotes:
Helen: Daria, please tell me about the project.
Daria: It’s about how behavior is affected by positive or negative
Helen: Sounds super.
Daria: Like ... say, you have a friend who responds to everything
you say with, “That’s great!” This insincere reply is the same
whether you saved a life or killed a bug, and thus becomes
“negative reinforcement,” causing you to withdraw from that
person or persons.
Helen: Wow. That’s fantastic!

Brittany: So, like, what have you been doing all night?
Kevin: Um ... working.
Brittany: Wow, this really looks complicated. Kevin ... you’re so smart. Explain it to me.
Kevin: Uh ... well, see, there’s this path. Wait ... hey. Oh,
there’s two paths. Cool!

Brittany: Ooh! Can you believe Daria’s trying to take Kevin
away from me?
Jodie: I can’t believe anyone would try to take Kevin away
from you.

Kevin: Babe!
Daria: This is all very touching. Brittany, a deal. The mouse
for Kevin.
Brittany: Deal.
(Both shake hands and think: “Sucker.”)
Kevin: Daria, I can still come over and watch the Pigskin
Channel, right?
(Both girls think: “Jerk!”)

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Fanworks Update

These fanworks have been posted or linked to since 17 March 2007 at an active fansite or message board. Fiction is complete unless noted.

A note on Iron Chef threads: We’re listing longer contributions that go beyond a few hundred words, especially if they have their own titles. If such a piece gets posted elsewhere, we’ll use that listing.

Fan Fiction

AgathaMalady: A Lot Unsaid (Chapter 3)

Angelboy: Diary Entries (Chapter 4, continued), Embers (Part 17)

The Angst Guy: Daria’s Addition, Every Hour Saved from That Eternal Silence (Part 1), Till Death Do Us Part

Brother Grimace: Daria Dragnet

Cap: By the Memorial, Daria Morgendorffer and the Goblet of Wassail

CDM: Demon Princess Quinn 1: Quinn Anwnn (Chapter 8)

DJW: Open Windows 5: A Stab in the Dark (Part 1)

Doggieboy: Apocalyptic Daria (Part 7)

Eccles: Drinking It In

Fezenclop: Daria’s Web (Chapter 8, done)

Lawndale Stalker: Naked Came the Cynic (continued)

Mandelore: Daria Wars, Episode One: The Lawndale Menace (Chapter 4)

NightGoblyn: The Heather/Damsel Chronicles (Story 1, Chapter 5) (links), More Apocalyptic Daria (Part 3)

Ranger Thorne: It Came, It Saw, It Forced Me to Write It

RLobinske: Falling Into College 54: Another Day in Paradise, Falling Into College 55: Emerald Season (Part 1), John Lane 26: Neptune et Fortuna

Roentgen: Legion of Lawndale Heroes (Chapter 8.6), Whoops! Apocalypse!

Fan Art

Bar1scorpio: Undescribed Anime (link)

Christ-Off: Mystik Spiral

Christ Oliver: Daria and Jane Kissing (scenes from a video)

DJ: VQuinn

Eccles: Daria-Themed Flash Video (link)

Hershey-chan: Brittany, Tiffany, Upchuck

Ioxmo: Daria in Cargo Pants (link, for upcoming fic)

JennaUsername: Moi, Daria Style

Kangamoo: Excuse Me

Mahna Mahna: Tanandaria Sketch

Minkychanz: Jane as Snow White, You’re Pretty Cool, Daria

Noémie: Fashion Club as Playboy Bunnies (repost from defunct site)

Ranger Thorne: Jane in Justice League Unlimited Style

Reese Kaine: Lawndale: Daria and Jane

S.C.: Animated Avatars from dPod Commercial (set of 12), Daria’s Boytoy, Gangsta Daria, Grr, Feisty!

Wouter: Baggy Trousers (anime music video), Through a Webcam Lens Darkly (page 2)

Zackmolis: Quinn Swimsuit


(Available in the hidden members-only section of SFMB)

Angelboy: Repression and Repercussions (fiction, Chapter 12)

Bololo: Four Daria Videos (links to Flash videos — read the virus warnings)

Dervish: Jane Lane, or Snow White, and the 7 Pervie Dwarves (fiction)

Ioxmo: We’ll Be Eating Out Tonight (art)

Minkychanz: Monique in Marker (art), Quinn in a Thong (art), Sandi in Lingerie (art), Tiffany in a Blue Shirt (art, revised)

NomadX: Daria in Deep with Brittany (art, from December 2006)


Sunday, April 08, 2007


Daria Wiki

There is a Daria wiki. The Angst Guy has demanded that the world know there is a Daria wiki.

It is located at, appropriately enough.

I’ve added posts about Lawndale After Dark and about “Night of the Storm” there. Other fans have added posts about other things.

Go over there, and make The Angst Guy a happy little penguin.

Additional notes in the comments. ~ Greybird

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Saturday, April 07, 2007


Daria Makes It to Russia!

Russian TV, that is. This PPMB post explains it all. You can take a look at Daria translated into Russian at the Website for the 2 x 2 TV channel.

It appears that, odd as it might sound, they have decided to allow the English-language translation to play and to dub the Russian translation right on top, as if a Russian speaker was translating the action on screen to a nearby friend.

Daria and Quinn seem to sound alike, and Brittany doesn't sound like I’d expect. Listen for yourself.

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Barbizon and Banality:
A Look at “This Year’s Model”

Looking back on “This Year’s Model” — or even finding anything relevant to say about it, regarding the plot or its characters — is difficult because this episode leaves so little impact on the viewer. After I finished watching it again in honor of its 10th anniversary, I wondered if the running time was somehow shorter compared to the rest of the Season One episodes.

“This Year’s Model” was written by Laura Kightlinger and Glenn Eichler. Even though Kightlinger would move on to write six episodes of Will and Grace, she is known more for being a comedy performer than a writer. At the time of the episode, her only writing experience was sketch comedy writing for Saturday Night Live.

She had never written a beginning-to-end television script or a screenplay, and Eichler’s co-writing credit most likely exists for one of two reasons. Either she needed Eichler’s guidance in completing her first full script, or more likely, the script needed extensive revision, to the point that Eichler deserved a writing credit. This would be the only Daria episode that Kightlinger would write.

To recall the plot: The show begins with a pointless scene in Daria’s room where Daria and Jane watch a commercial for an encyclopedia — one whose articles are written by a supermodel. (This scene could have been abandoned, as the title of the episode alone makes the subject matter clear.)

Two visitors arrive at Mr. O’Neill’s class, led in by the principal, Ms. Li. The male is Claude, and the female is Romonica DeGregory, two representatives from an agency that seems to take various names throughout the episode, all variations on “Amazon Modeling Agency.”

Brittany is very happy, figuring they must be there because of the letter she sent to them. Claude and Romonica make it clear that they are searching for modeling talent, with the winner to receive a national contract.

Daria and Jane each make the point to Ms. Li that the aims of modeling aren’t exactly aligned with the aims of education. Daria states that modeling is entirely about being judged by one’s appearance, and that a model’s popularity depends on the whims of popular fashion.

Daria and Jane finally learn that Ms. Li is more motivated by financial renumeration — the swimming pool needs bullet-proof skylights — than any educational benefits from Amazon’s arrival.

At the cafeteria, Daria and Jane find that Jodie has skipped lunch and they accuse her of being caught up in the dream of becoming a model. Jodie complains that Daria is “against everything” and that the class is voluntary. Daria retorts that by Jodie’s argument, strippers should be allowed to come to recruit at the school as well, provided attendance at stripping lessons is also voluntary.

Both Claude and Romonica show up unexpectedly at Mrs. Bennett’s class. By now, Brittany is wearing a shoulder-to-knees trenchcoat, and when Claude and Romonica take notice of Brittany, they ask her to model for them.

Brittany is wearing an haute couture dress underneath the coat and walks for the two, who silently indicate to each other that Brittany doesn’t measure up, being too busty. However, Claude and Romonica effusively compliment Brittany (“Wonderful!” “Astonishing!”) and search the room for new talent.

They center on two potential targets. Jane holds off Claude’s and Romonica’s interest by drawing them on notebook paper as two vultures circling a potential meal. When Claude focuses on Daria’s “waif-like figure” and asks her to take off her glasses, she declines, stating that she needs them to identify scam artists.

Daria shares her concerns with Helen and Jake, who know Daria feels strongly about the matter. They know because Daria has violated her “unwritten rule” (see the essay on “The Invitation”) and upset the balance of power by the mere act of telling her parents. Quinn, however, enters the room with what she thinks is good news — she’s been invited to attend Claude’s and Romonica’s modeling class!

The phone rings. Romonica is on the phone to talk with Helen. She tells Helen that Quinn has that “special something” that most other girls don’t have, and emphasizes that the classes are free.

Quinn, still thinking that she isn’t going to the class after the poor initial reception to the idea from Helen, leaps in after Helen and Romonica stop talking. She claims that Helen has always said that Quinn can be whatever she wants to be, and clearly, this is something very big for Quinn.

Helen reluctantly gives in, if only for the one class. She then swings a deal with Daria to observe the class and monitor Quinn. (The deal: Helen cannot bring up redecorating Daria’s room — the padded room of the schizophrenic relative of the previous owners — for an entire year.) As it turns out, Daria had planned on attending anyway, as there is great “potential for the total humiliation of Quinn.”

As Daria and Jane sit in the school auditorium and watch Quinn on stage, Trent shows up. Daria and Jane ask why he’s there, and Trent states — not very convincingly — that as he plans on being a rock star, he needs to get used to being around models.

As Brittany bemoans her fate of having to sit with the “losers” in the auditorium, Quinn, Sandi, Stacy, Tiffany, and a large red-haired girl (chosen as “a decoy” by Claude and Romonica) strut their stuff.

Quinn is very good at interpreting the directions. However, Claude and Romonica create an exercise where the girls must rub the chests of “virile” young men in a romantic way. The Three Js are called to help, and Kevin is noticed in the auditorium and asked to help as well, immediately abandoning a sobbing Brittany. The boys take off their shirts and get to work, but Ms. Li shows up and the class comes to a crashing halt.

Quinn is convinced that she’ll win the contest, but Helen is not so sure. As the school is assembled in the auditorium to hear who will win the modeling contract, a group of men dressed in army fatigues and military wear interrupt the assembly. It is General Buck Conroy from Brutal Mercenary magazine, ready to tell the assembled the joys of being a killer for hire.

When Ms. Li protests their intrusion, Conroy shows Ms. Li not only the letter she supposedly sent him, but the accompanying fee. And then the press show up. (Ba-rump-bum.)

Ms. Li can provide little defense to the press — after all, if she allowed Amazon to recruit, then why wouldn’t she allow Brutal Mercenary? Claude and Romonica are banned from school grounds.

At home, Quinn believes that she would have won the contract if all this hadn’t happened. Daria then happily points out an article in the local paper where it is announced that Amazon has signed a Lawndale student to a national contract — Kevin Thompson.

As Daria, safely in her room, destroys her copy of Brutal Mercenary magazine — indicating that she was the force behind the arrival of General Conroy and his mercenaries — Kevin is being verbally abused by Claude and Romonica during an underwear shoot. Clearly, he’s not doing very well as a model.

Part of the problem with “This Year’s Model” is that Daria and Jane — the stars of the show — are shoved off the stage, moved from a proactive role to an observing role. At the beginning of the episode they are watching television, and they will remain in this passive role almost to the very end.

Daria at least remains true to her standoffish self. Daria doesn’t like the arrival of Claude and Romonica, and has probably judged them accurately as “scam artists,” but doesn’t go out of her way to lead a massive protest. As long as she’s not involved, she’s happy, and she only observes the modeling because there’s the faint chance that her hated sister Quinn might do something foolish.

But with Daria out of the way, the episode must be carried on the back of lesser — far lesser — characters. Claude and Romonica take the stage, and they are both the stereotypes of what people in the modeling industry were thought to be like in 1997.

Both are flamboyant, both are dressed in visually arresting (or assaulting) fashions, everything is tres chic to them, they are catty, they are dishonest, and they enjoy making grand spectacles of themselves. We can only be glad that America’s Next Top Model was not on the air until 2003, or we would have been given bad imitations of Tyra Banks and Janice Dickinson.

The problem is that neither of them is very funny, either separately or together. They are a bad Saturday Night Live sketch. Daria and Jane quickly fend off these two annoyances, but we are stuck with them for the length of the episode.

With Daria’s principle of non-involvement running at full power, other, lesser characters have to fill the spaces. For example, Quinn, who by this time was still not much more than Daria’s sisterly nemesis. And of course, Kevin and Brittany, of whom the less is said the better.

A general rule of Daria episodes is: Don’t bother watching episodes, like “A Tree Grows in Lawndale,” which try to develop stereotypical characters — they never work. “This Year’s Model” not only proves the rule, it doesn’t even do much with the characters it’s given, for comedic purposes or otherwise.

Furthermore, Helen is very angry with Jake and it’s the first time we truly experience Helen’s wrath in any episode. Helen is virtually screaming at Jake — “Do you hear anything that goes on here?!?” — and Jake frankly doesn’t know how to defend himself, wanting nothing more than to be left alone.

Helen’s irritation with Jake stops being funny after a while, and when it does, you begin speculating who’s to blame for the sorry state of communication in the Morgendorffer household ... Helen or Jake?

This episode is the first sign that this shtick, taken too far, can be troublesome. It’s a good thing that the Helen/Jake dynamic is further explored in later episodes. In “This Year’s Model,” however, it’s more verbal abuse than it is humor.

As a side note, Trent’s arrival at Lawndale High is a bit unsettling. Why is he there? The natural conclusion is that he’s there to look at the cute high school girls — although Quinn and her Fashion Club peers are freshmen, and Trent is in his early twenties.

Not that it’s a sin to look at pretty girls, but you wonder if Trent’s interest in Daria is due to the fact that he can’t pick up girls his own age. If Trent is to be the boy that Daria develops a crush on, wouldn’t someone as smart as Daria be asking herself some questions?

Even Trent seems embarrassed to be there. Maybe he read the script.

The ending is unsatisfying. Really, if Daria detests Quinn so much, it should be a win-win situation — either Quinn loses the competition and is crushed, or wins it and is out of Daria’s hair. But Daria somehow acts as the deus ex machina, finally bringing an end to Claude’s and Romonica’s reign of ... uh ... inconvenience.

Why does Daria have all this concern now? One could argue that she was really worried about Quinn falling under the influence of these two dimwits, but nothing in the episode conveys that.

It also leaves a bunch of unanswered questions, as Hermes Conrad might say ...

• Did Daria spend her own money? That fee looked like a check. It must be a money order, because where would Daria get an anonymous check?

• Did Daria need to steal official LHS stationery?

• Is copying Ms. Li’s name a crime?

• Didn’t General Conroy have any suspicions? Why would he show up unannounced without at least doing some basic reconnaissance? Did Daria call him up pretending to be Ms. Li? Did ...

Oh, forget it. None of these unanswered questions are worth asking, or answering. “This Year’s Model” was one of the first real bumps on the road, right next to “College Bored.”

It was just a episode with broadly sketched characters, none of whom can draw a laugh, while Daria sits in the background, somewhere, reading. Clearly, this episode needed more Daria. Thankfully, the next two episodes of Daria would be among the funniest.

Random thoughts:

• When I talked my essay over with my wife, she gave me a different perspective. As to whether or not Amazon was on the up and up, she said, “Of course Amazon is a scam!”

She compared Amazon to the Barbizon Modeling School. There are still Barbizon agencies at various places in the United States. Their old slogan was “Be a model, or just look like one!” One used to find their advertisements in Seventeen, Glamour, or Mademoiselle.

If you could somehow afford their classes, that was where they got you hooked. The classes were expensive, and then you could pay for a special class in how to apply makeup, and then pay for portfolio pictures, etc., etc.

However, Barbizon was not a modeling agency. They couldn’t place you on a runway, either in Milan, or for that matter, in Macon. Young deluded kids pay thousands of dollars and have nothing to show for it. This is why my wife concluded that Daria went out of her way, not only to reveal Ms. Li’s own “mercenary” behavior, but also to strike back at a place like Amazon/Barbizon.

My argument is that I doubt a lot of the young people watching in the late 1990s, or even in the 2000s on The N, would even know who or what Barbizon is. This is the problem when twenty- and thirty-somethings are trying to write a show for high school teens.

• Even though being a model was just one of many of Brittany’s most important dreams ever, at least she put enough thought in it to come up with a model name, “Blue.” Last Wednesday, the models of America’s Next Top Model were asked to come up with a new name for themselves as a challenge. (See: Twiggy.) Unfortunately, none of them picked “Blue.”

• A pattern is evident in Daria’s and Jane’s confrontations with authority. Daria will devastatingly point out the flaws in the opposition's argument, while Jane will bring up other related points that might paint a shocking picture. Daria likes unsettling authority, but Jane likes watching it squirm.

• When the Fashion Club is holding hands in this episode, waiting in anticipation of learning who will get the contract, Tiffany is missing. Did she fall short?

• Stacy finally gets a name, as Romonica calls her by name in the auditorium. Sandi was first named as a character in the previous episode, “Malled.” Tiffany still doesn’t have a name, but will have one by the end of the first season.

• The only good lines of the episode:
Quinn: You don’t get it. I’m writing a poem about what a great model I’d be. I’m going to recite it for Claude and Romonica. (clears throat) “A model’s what I’d like to be / Looking good comes naturally / Da da da da, da da, me.”

(Jane refers to Brittany’s characterization of the observers as losers, and Kevin is called to the auditorium floor by Claude and Romonica, abandoning a distraught Brittany)
Jane: Don’t be sad. He’s with the winners now.

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Sunday, April 01, 2007


Look OUT!

(At the flea market, Jane and Jesse are walking
back to their LP booth, sodas in hand)

Jane: You see, my theory is that our primitive hunting instinct has no outlet in modern society.
Jesse: Cool. (slurps soda)
Jane: So, rather than stalking animals, we substitute it with the shopping experience, and hunt for objects.
Jesse: Cool. (slurps soda)
Jane: (a bit exasperated) And then, Jesse, while we’re asleep, those objects come to life and plot their secret takeover of our civilization. April first, 2007. That’s the day they make their move!
Jesse: Cool. (slurps soda)

(From “That Was Then, This Is Dumb,” 1998)
Dunno ’bout ’chew, but I’m gonna be extra careful today. Especially when, in honor of the renovated Yeagers, I fix bacon and (store-bought) garlic toast for breakfast! Don’t want the stove turning on me when I turn it on.

I don’t have one LP any more of “Boston,” let alone three, but since I’ve been too close to voluntary simplicity {g} these days (it’s those gas prices), I’m gonna go download “More Than a Feeling” from the Internets ...

Two-week fanworks update coming soon, if this computer is willing to keep worki


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