DVD Review: DARIA: The Complete Animated Series

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Release date: May 11th, 2010
MSRP: $72.99

Do you ever wonder what high school must have been like for Jeanne Garafalo? Well, Daria has to be pretty close to the mark.

A spin-off of Beavis and Butthead, Daria is a sardonic high schooler with little time for those dumber, and shallower, than herself…at or least those that she perceives as being dumber and shallower. When not with her family, Daria spends time with Jane, an artistic sort shares her general view of the world (Jane is a little cheerier) and her love for the tabloid tv show Sick, Sad World. While many teens feel alone, Daria went to great lengths to avoid the companionship of her fellow classmates. Jane and Daria spend their time poking fun at the goofier, brainless aspects of the world around them. One thing I can’t help but notice, Daria aired on MTV, yet the channel itself is now everything she hated and disdained.

That alone made it entertaining, but what makes this a cut above many shows is that these characters did develop as time went on. More than once, Daria finds herself knocked off her high horse and, as the series goes on, we see her open up more and more. Of course this does not change her general mood or lessen her verbal assualt on the vain and vapid but the character becomes more nuanced.

And for me, the another appealing aspect was the passage of time. As the series went on, they all got older with the series ending with high school graduation. There are two movies as well, Is It Fall Yet? and Is It College Yet? These are on the final disc. Is It Fall Yet? takes place between the fourth and fifth seasons, so you will want to watch it at that time. IICY takes place after the series and does a nice job of sending us off.

The transfer is good. The early seasons don’t look quite as good, but there are very little flaws. some grit here and there, but overall this is very nice.

Dolby Digital 2.0…what were you expecting? This is an MTV cartoon from the 90s!

There are short bios for the main folk here. These include some cool drawings of them over the course of the series. Also included is the original five-minute pilot, which looks like it was made for $20. I guess the powers that be at MTV were able to look past the roughness and see the potential of the characters. There are several minutes worth of cast and crew interviews. It is kind of cool seeing the people behind the characters.
We also get the music video for Mystik Spiral’s Freaking Friends. MS was the band that included Jane’s brother Trent. There is also a Countdown of the 10 best animated videos that is hosted by Jane and Daria. The videos are not here, but the intros are. The shows musical side makes up the final two DVD extras, with a music video for Trent’s band Mystik Spiral’s “Freaking Friends” and a Top 10 Countdown of animated videos, hosted by Daria and Jane. Naturally, the videos aren’t included.
And finally, you can read the script for the pilot of a proposed Mystik Spiral spin-off.

Many films/shows that poke fun at the popular culture/mainstream tend to get a little self-righteous and do so from atop a pedestal. Daria has no problems turning the spotlight back on our heroes and taking them down a peg or two. That , along with the growth the characters show, helps Daria stand up to the passage of time and makes it a show that can be watched again and again. There certainly are some jokes that are dated, but the bulk of it still reaches the funny bone. It is worth pointing out that most of the songs are gone, licensing all of them would have made this set too expensive. And while I miss them, it does not detract too much from the overall viewing pleasure.

Jeremy Lynch