Mike's Delayed Reaction Review-#302 (3-29), "The Old and the Beautiful"
MDRR #302 (3-29) - I was dreaming when I wrote this, forgive me if I go too fast.
You Didn't Tell Me You Had a Sister - Kevin and Brittany are portrayed to the heights (or is that depths) of stupidity in this episode. That whole dialogue at the beginning about Darwin and Curious George made Kevin look dumber than everything we've seen of him put together. Don't get me wrong, most of their scenes led to funny, laugh out loud moments but the way they are going, Kevin and Brittany run the risk of becoming parodies of themselves.
Irony of Ironies - Of all the things I thought I would ever see on Daria, people willingly choosing Brittany's voice over any other sound known to humanity (like fingernails on a blackboard) was not one of them. I can see some of the residents of the nursing home preferring her physical attributes, but the voice should be a definite turn off. This did lead one of the most well timed Eep's from Brittany, when one of the old ladies commented that she used to look like Brittany. Brittany's 'help' with Daria's voice was also interesting. It wasn't absolutely necessary since Brittany kind of forced her help on Daria. Daria went to her house anyway, if only to get a glimpse inside, at least trying to add some artificial perkiness (not to mention that awful squeak, which didn't even sound that bad).
Fashion Emergency! - The Fashion Club tried to help on their own terms- too bad they're very misguided. They (or maybe just Sandi) decided that the homeless shouldn't get any clothes that they wouldn't wear. They forgot to realize that any clothes that they would wear wouldn't be given away. It's appropriate that Quinn (who appears to be the smart one, despite anything she might say) was the most on target about how to go about collecting things for the needy (i.e. looking through their own old stuff first). She seems more un-shallow all of the time.
'Super' Ego - The school board is right - Miss Li is a highly motivated individual. However, her drive is for personal recognition, which in this case required 100% 'voluntary' participation from the students. Daria is again asked to do something that, initially anyway, holds no interest to her (at least Jane got to work with arts and crafts). She did try to do her best in her own way, which at first alienated her from the people she was trying to help but ultimately led her to find the person that want to hear her read (and wanted her help).
Missing the Point - Daria seems to have missed the point of volunteering her time. You don't have to be the best or even the most liked, as long as you put the time in and try to care. I doubt that Mrs. Blane (the deaf lady) was too concerned in what Daria was reading to her. She was just happy that someone was there to keep her company. It was good to see Daria come to her senses and finally get it at the end instead of going directly back to being completely self-absorbed.
There were a lot moments in this episode that caused me to bust a gut and there were a lot of memorable lines ("I'll cure what ales you" comes to mind). However, this episode felt like a cut and paste rehash of many themes that were extensively covered in other episodes (more on this below). The plot seemed a bit contrived (Why did Miss Li need the entire school to get her award? Why not only half or two-thirds of the students?) and the subplot with Quinn and her friends was only barely linked to the main plot (except for the very general moral of "do anything you can to help, even if you're not quite sure what to do or how to do it"). Overall, The Old and The Beautiful was not a bad episode, but not the strongest either.
The Bottom Line - Could've been better, but fortunately, could've been a lot worse.
Daria as a Whole, Recycling is Good for the Environment- As I stated above, I felt that this episode borrowed heavily from those that came in the past (Hey, if they're going to reuse ideas, better they do this than just redo one episode). I thought I would just go down the list of some of the things that made me think this way:
1) Daria (or anyone) is made by Miss Li to 'volunteer' to do something that she really doesn't want to do (Arts 'N Crass, Fair Enough), or to a lesser extent is forced by circumstances into a situation she doesn't want to be in (this one's more of a stretch- Pinch Sitter, Quinn The Brain, Monster).
2) Daria is overly insecure about one of her traits or abilities (The Misery Chick, Write Where It Hurts, Through A Lens Darkly).
3) The fat chocolate loving lady is seen, Daria writes/reads a story about her super spy, Melanie Powers; and Kevin and Brittany confound Mr. DeMartino with their "razor sharp observations" (Cafe Disaffecto).
Next Week - A fantasy show? And I thought "Pierce Me" was surreal!
Copyright © 1999 Mike Quinn [All Rights Reserved].
Daria and all related characters are © 1999 MTV Networks, Inc.