Mike's Delayed Reaction Review-#501 (5-54), "Fizz Ed"

MDRR #501 (5-54) - Hmmm, "Ultra Cola" Quinn? I donít think so.

Budget Problems - Iím sure that a lot of public schools have budget problems (OK, most probably do), but the extent to which it was shown with Lawndale was kind of hard to stomach, especially that this was the first time that there was any ever clue to the school running out of money. If they donít have a certain book in a class or need red paint for one class, they could probably scrounge up a few bucks for it from so-called "activity" fees that most, if not all schools have (or if theyíre really desperate, they could even ask the students to get their own supplies). Of course one we know of the money problems (and presumably Miss Li does as well), the whole thing doesnít become a "crisis" until the football team is running out of equipment.

Insane Leading the Innocent - One has to wonder how Miss Li has kept her job, or at least flew under the radar long enough to survive without too much trouble. Sheís obviously paranoid about pretty much everything. She didnít want anyone at that review meeting for fear of causing a big stink. Sheís not too good with finances, or doesnít really care too much about them. Then she probably went outside her authority as principal to make that deal with Leonard Lamm and then Ultra Cola. Then, once that sleazy deal was in place, she tried to bribe students top make sure her end of the deal was held up. Mack, the smart guy that he is, even got her to admit how unethical it was. To top it all off, that sugar/caffeine induce rampage couldnít help her stature as "fourth runner-up for Principal of the Year from the Asian women in education caucus." Hopefully the superintendent will keep a closer eye on her in the future.

On the Lamm - Mr. Lamm isnít the kind of guy you want to have anything to do with the running of a school. He didnít even represent any one particular soda company, he was more like an agent for the school. All he did was convince Li that he was looking out for her, er, the schoolís best interests. That charmed her into agreeing to pretty much anything he put in front of her, including the soda machines, "discrete" advertising, etc. When the whole thing went "sour" when the school wasnít meeting its quota, he made Li "take it up a notch" which amounted to a full-scale bombardment of Ultra Cola. This guy was a mercenary, only out for himself (Iím sure he got a cut).

Funny Word of the Week - Quinnís "Dip-saster" had he laughing.

If Anyone Has a Reason That This Deal Should Not Be Made, Speak Now... A school review meeting on Super Bowl Sunday, at the same time as the game? Now thereís a guaranteed full house. I wonder why Lamm and Li bothered to even make those grandiose speeches just for Daria and Jane, they were going to do what they wanted anyway. And the oddest thing was that no one else could have cared less, most especially Helen who, Super Bowl or no, usually has something more to say about this kind of stuff (like in Arts ĎN Crass).

Endorsement? - I think we can all agree that the way Ultra Cola was placed into Lawndale high was wrong. Forcing teachers to mention the product while using specially designed "study aides" in their lessons isn't right and the principal of the school shouldn't be trying to compel students to use any product. But, does the fact that a school has drinks made by only one company necessarily mean that they are endorsing it, as Daria suggested? If we're talking about what ultimately happened at Lawndale with Ultra Cola, then yes. However, in some schools if you go to their cafeteria, they only have one line of drinks because it's just easier for them to deal with one supply as opposed to two or more. Sure the soda company would probably hope that a few of the student develop some brand loyalty and drink their pop in the future, but if they really tried the marketing blitz that happened in this episode, all the bad publicity it would probably generate wouldn't be worth their while. Though, I completely understand why Daria would be apprehensive of the deal (especially because Miss Li was in on it) and why most people would be uncomfortable with big corporations having "exclusive" deals with schools.

It makes me uncomfortable and should be carefully considered before even entertaining the idea.

Daria's Complaint - Despite what you just read, Daria was right to be upset about her school's apparent sell out. No one else was; they all got something out of it. But that was her problem, she's not really a "doer" anymore, but she had to be one in this case. As Tom told her in his one scene (which was one of the bright spots of the episode), you can bitch and complain all you want as long as you try to do something about it. Also, it's worth noting that Daria's motive to complain was out of some sort of care for her fellow students, which is surely a change for her. Even though she can't stand most of them, she sort of fought on their behalf. Finally, did Daria's complaining to the superintendent really accomplish anything? It seems that way, but he was going to visit Lawndale eventually for something.

Fast Forward of the Week - It seems that we have lost about six month of Lawndale time (which makes the chance of a sixth season seem even slimmer). The last thing we saw in Is It Fall Yet? was the start of school and then we jump to Super Bowl weekend (which is in January). Then we skip ahead another four weeks later to see the effects of Ultra Cola's proliferation. And while we're one the subject of timing...

Temporal Anomaly of the Week - Does Lawndale High have an XFL team now? (I realize that anyone reading this in a few weeks might not remember what the XFL is.) Since when do high schools play football in February? Unless, in Lawndale's parallel universe, they play all year round (why else would Kevin almost always wear his pads).

Super! - Lawndale's superintendent didn't seem to want to do anything about the Ultra Cola situation when Daria went to see him. He saw her presence as a way for her to get extracurricular activity. Anyway, he didn't seem too concerned with it; Lawndale was running a surplus (a for-profit public school?) and everyone seemed happy. When he finally saw first hand what was going on, he acted to make it right.

Fizz Ed never felt right. It had the feel of a let down after all of the emotionally charged material at the end of season four. There was a message in there, that corporations shouldn't be interfering too much with education, but it was drowned out by the fact that the whole soda deal was taken to an extreme so far removed from reality that it was too obvious what was wrong. I understand Daria's problem with it, but for her to come to that conclusion so quickly, especially before it all got out of hand, didn't feel right to me. The message was muted because it was oversimplified. Other than that it was like a "shout out" to the fans of season one Daria, except that now she cares about the other students and doesn't do anything (everyone remember Too Cute), as opposed to the other way around. The ads were going away anyway. Fizz Ed probably would've fit better in the middle of the season.

 

Grade: B-

Daria as a Whole #1, Alter-Ego of the Week - Actually there isnít one. Send you complaints to MTV. The Alter-Ego of the Week category has officially been retired (though I was going to do that anyway).

Daria as a Whole #2, Product Placement - Itíll be interesting to see how much reference to Ultra Cola there will be in future episodes. Iíd guess hardly any signs that it was ever there will remain.

Daria as a Whole #3, Stolen Do I think the plot of this episode was stolen from Rey Foxí fanfic? Again, I donít think you. There are so many fics out there, that every episodes probably has fanfic elements to them, this on just has a lot more.

 

Copyright © 2001 Mike Quinn [All Rights Reserved].

"Daria" and all related characters are © 1997-2001 MTV Networks, Inc.