Tuesday, October 9, 2012



Daria's sarcastic comment about a field trip to the mall is misconstrued as a request for one, leading to Daria and Jane's attempts to get out of the outing.

The review for "Café Disaffecto" can be read here.

Resigned to her misery, Daria (Tracy Grandstaff) spends the bulk of the episode wallowing in her motion sickness and following Jane's (Wendy Hoopes) lead. Though she enacts a mild revenge against sister Quinn's (Hoopes) insulting of her, it might have made for a more captivating plot had more focus been put on Daria's meddling into Quinn's day out.

Quinn continues to conceal a devious genius behind her visage of vanity, manipulating her father (Julian Rebolledo) into seeing things her way by critiquing his fashion in regards to his success. What makes her plot successful is her baiting Jake into asking a fashion question by talking about her involvement in the Fashion Club, thereby making the trip to the mall seem like it was his idea while only the family's matriarch (Hoopes) saw through the deception.

Jane's cynical attitude was the highlight of the episode, remaining unphased by every negative encounter she had. Jane's enjoyment of life comes out of her observations on the world, commenting frequently on Daria's car-sickness, attempting to make the hair stylist uncomfortable, and taking advantage of the focus group's attempts to silence Jodie's (Jessica Cydnee Jackson) questioning. Jane's greatest moment comes in her response to what she looks for in a store, where she claims to look for security personnel escorting thieves off the premises, as shoplifters are good judges of merchandise.

Jodie is drawn as an educated, idealistic and empowered young woman, jokingly questioning if her sitting in the back of the bus to avoid Kevin's (Marc Thompson) shenanigans would "dishonor Dr. King's memory." While her identity shouldn't be portrayed as absolutely saintly, it was still somewhat jarring for her to accept a $20 gift certificate in exchange for an end to her questions, in effect selling out her ideals. Much like Daria, Jodie's out-spoken opinions of the world shape her entire being, and while Daria's resignation to the worst of humanity suits her character, it doesn't sit right on Jodie's shoulders.

Mrs. Bennett (Amy Bennett) is prone to exaggeration, like much of the rest of Lawndale High's staff, but the gag regarding her collecting stuffed animals seems too easy a joke for this series. The joke first occurs immediately after she berates Kevin for wasting time on the frivolous, and while the moment is meant to be comical in contrast, the joke instead only serves to undercut her status as a strong and professional woman. It would likely have been put to better use had a male teacher been in her position, or if it had been Kevin who was collecting the animals, but on Mrs. Bennett it just seems cheap.

The Fashion Club (as voiced by Janie Mertz, Sarah Drew and Ashley Albert, respectively) don't seem to have captured who their characters are here, voicing them as though aiming for a certain stereotype, but unsure of which they should be conveying. The actors voicing the more established characters offer a great deal more confidence in their performances, balancing out those that are still struggling to find their voices.

Directors Ken Kimmelman and Paul Sparagano muddy their timeline a little as they make mention of Quinn being on her best behavior for a number of weeks, with Daria implying she was only halfway through her punishment, while Helen states that only a few days had passed since she had denied Quinn her right to go to the mall. Either two weeks had passed, as Quinn and Daria imply, or three days had passed, as Helen points out, but that wasn't the only pacing issue of the episode. The plot slows to a crawl as each pair of kids has their own mission in the mall, but none of them are able to complete much on-screen due to lack of time, and the result is a vignette of jokes with no punchlines. The simplicity of the animation here causes a lack of facial reactions in the characters' expressions, greatly detracting from their interactions and making them appear to be as disinterested in the plot as the audience is.

Neena Beber sacrifices much in the way of plot in favor of jokes that quickly wear out their welcome, as Upchuck (Thompson) repeats the same gag throughout the episode and Kevin's antics annoy even Brittany (Mertz.) The characters lack purpose in this narrative when the fashion club's attempted makeover of Daria should have been used to cause more trouble for Quinn. Running story lines, such as Quinn's feigned ignorance to Daria's identity as her sister, and her desire to keep the truth from her friends, was glossed over when it could have made for a much richer experience. The episode ends with a confusing scene wherein Daria's parents assume she would enjoy the mall, despite having to have known that she had just gone during a field trip, and Quinn has no desire to return, somehow having grown resentful of the mall due to doing Daria's chores.

Daria's parents seem to grow less capable in every passing episode, Jake quickly becoming an imbecile as Helen develops a colder personality. Quinn, however, seems to be poised to take over the fashion club at this point, though that's likely to change should her relation to Daria be made more apparent to her circle of friends.

The review for "This Year's Model" can be read here.


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