STUDIO: Paramount / MTV
MSRP: $72.99
RATED: Not Rated
RUNNING TIME: 1586 minutes
• Interviews

• Bonus Footage

• Bonus Episode

• Unreleased Script

• Character Profiles

The Pitch

Daria moves from Highland to Lawndale. The locals are still stupid, but she is able to make a difference.

The Humans

Tracy Grandstaff, Wendy Hoopes, Julián Rebolledo, Russell Hankin, Nora Laudani

The Nutshell

Daria Morgendorffer is the girl you wanted as an angry 15 year old while listening to excessive amounts of Black Flag. She debuted on Beavis and Butthead, as a background character who gradually rose to getting some face-time with America’s new dynamic duo. When Glenn Eichler approached MTV with the idea to create a spin-off for her, it was a rough sell. The original five-minute pilot is available on this release for your viewing pleasure. The effort was a success and the rough-edged darling for a new generation of cynical bastards was born.

The Lowdown

I wanted to meet a girl like Daria in the worst way. When I finally met a girl like that, she introduced me to her girlfriend. Cartoons are so full of shit. Girls like Daria don’t exist in the real world, we just get their real world counterparts. In a way, the sentiment says a lot about what the show was always driving home. No ideal, no goal and no dream should ever miss the scrutiny of a Leftist chick in Doc Marten shitkickers. It’s a lesson that I wish the current generation of teenagers would live by in their Nuevo Depression Disco world of desperately desired material excess.

No one ever spoke about Highland since the Corn Holio incident. Jake thought it was just some Illegal, little did he know it was a white kid playing the sugar-fueled race card. There will be many dinners like this in the Morgendorffer household. Many dinners until someone final brings T.P. for that poor bastard’s soul.

Daria is one of the greatest animated television series of the last quarter century. I hate to play the boastful card, but how many animated series have debuted since with a strong female lead? A female lead whose strength doesn’t come from shooting, maiming, killing or whatever vicious bloodsports are called for that day. Ms. Morgendorffer was a strong female voice in an era where all degrees of feminism were becoming stale and ripe for parody. But, Daria broke out of that mold and became something else.

Our glum heroine was more than a role model for young women, she was a spokesperson for her generation. A gathering of Post Generation X folk that were banded together in their disgust with everything and everyone that wasn’t them. The adults of Lawndale are parodies to a point, but nowhere nears as one-dimensional as they were on Beavis and Butthead. Helen and Jake Morgendorffer were caring parents, but they were real people. They often pushed both of their daughters aside when work or psychological issues stole focus. Then, there are the school figures at Lawndale High. They care about the kids, but really it tends to be more about themselves. The average teenager should be able to relate to that than yet another Mr. Belding figure.

I used to think Trent was the coolest guy ever. Now, he just looks like Jakob Dylan Brundleflied together with Chris Cornell.

It wasn’t until the second season that Daria found its voice as a show. So much of the first episodes were dedicated to setting up Daria as an independent character. She met Jane, she discovered her way through her new High School and she learned that she hated everything. The start of the sophomore show let the audience know that the series intent was to make this young woman grow up and change. That doesn’t mean she had to stop being critical and focusing on improving in the face of mediocrity. Ms. Morgendorffer needed to learn that not everyone can live up to insanely high standards, not even herself.

Jane and Daria’s relationship as friends first and foremost is what helped to ground the series’ direction. Building on interpersonal relationships eventually allowed the showrunners to delve back into the Morgendorffer family and examine why such a screwed-up family works. While Daria enjoyed the fact that she had a friend with similar views and personality, Jane helped to ground our heroine. More aloof than the spectacle wearing titular character, Jane gave Daria a look at how a rebel can be relaxed while still sticking it to the mainstream. Jane’s brother Trent also helped Daria to realize that she can’t escape those warm girly feelings that she seemed to fight.

Underdeveloped secondary characters.

When you consider the era at MTV where Daria began, it’s pretty amazing that it lasted a full five years. The death of music-driven pop culture television by Top 40 clips and reality show pablum only reinforces the oddball programming of the show. Critics have praised the show for daring to say that American teens weren’t Adderall driven morons desperately hoping for after-school coitus. I feel that Daria’s importance moves beyond that, as the show has remained firmly entrenched in the hearts of its target audience. Whenever the maddening crowd pushes against you to change, you have the right to resist. It’s just important to realize that you have friends and family to support you, no matter what you end up becoming. 

The Hollow Man would fucking wreck that if Eddie Valiant hadn’t chased him out of Toon Town.

If I took one thing away from my revisiting of Daria is the fact that the show has probably aged better than anything MTV has/will ever air. Sure, you’re going to notice that some of the music has changed. The changes aren’t terrible, as you probably weren’t too attached to a 98 Degrees song playing in an outro. This show was the last time that MTV was willing to tell teenagers that you’re just fine being the half-adults of a world that won’t treat you like anything but a kid. The teenage years aren’t glamorous and there is nothing special about a High School archetype. Just keep your head low and make a few friends. These are the people with whom you’ll form memories to replace those that weren’t so great. Cool is a currency that no one can afford, but everyone wants. Don’t be afraid to put on your glasses, your Doc Martens and turn on Sick, Sad World. Nothing will change on your long way to the middle.

Joel Osteen’s Animated Constipation Hour.

The Package

contains a ton of cast interviews, featurettes and a music video. Hell, there’s even notes from the series creator discussing what he had to do for Daria to finally reach DVD. The original pilot is included for your viewing pleasure, but there’s even more. The script for a planned Mystik Spiral spin-off was discovered while developing this massive release and it has been included in the supplemental section. The final two bonus movies have been included on the final disc, as they run at feature length.

The A/V Quality is pretty sharp, as the standalone films sports better transfers than their original 2002 DVD bows. The series looks pretty good on DVD, but there’s something quite off. It’s been noted that the episode cuts are rather uncut. But, the timing cues from commercial bumpers are off and you have intro/outro music leading into the feature itself. The problem isn’t consistent across the board, but it’s noticeable for any serious fans. If you can put all of that aside, you’ll find one of the best TV on DVD packages of 2010.

9.0 out of 10