Mike's Delayed Reaction Review-#506 (5-59), "Lucky Strike"

Spoilers Space for #506 (If you donít want to know, then donít scroll!)

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Mike's Delayed Reaction Review-#506 (5-59), "Lucky Strike"

MDRR #506 (5-59)

Strike One - Ms. Li and the teachers of Lawndale weren't exactly close in their negotiations. Mr. DeMartino and the teachers wanted a ten-percent raise, while she was offering a coffee maker in the teachers' lounge. Who could blame them for striking? Now, maybe ten-percent is a little steep, but they do deserve something. I mean, they do have to try to teach kids like Kevin! That, in itself, justifies any raise they get!

Where Do They Find These People? Of course, by "these people," I mean the substitute teachers. And I know we only saw three of them (and one of them was Daria, who did a fine job), but Ms. Li might as well have shut down the whole school. First, there was Mrs. Stoller, who thought she was teaching first graders and then decided to change some of the students' names (like "QB" for Kevin and "Darlene" for Daria -- funny, she thought "Daria" was odd, but didn't have a problem with "QB". Then there was Quinn's class' sub, Mr. Edwards; he certainly had some issues. He wanted to "bloom Tiffany's flower" or something; obviously, he shouldn't have been teaching kids. Once Helen caught wind of this problem, he got the boot. And since Daria's mom caused the opening, Ms. Li drafted Daria to take over the class. I'm guessing this isn't customary, letting students teach in high school (unless it's part of some sort of project). I guess desperate times call for desperate measures.

Pros and Cons - One of the greatest cartoon cliches of all time has to be the good old "imaginary angel versus imaginary devil arguing on the shoulders of the main character in an attempt to make a crucial decision." Maybe I'm being over-descriptive, but it would be disappointing if an animated program went on for five years and didn't use that one at least once. Daria's devil was for Daria teaching Quinn's class, giving reasons like getting out of gym class, making Quinn miserable, and betraying her teachers. Her angel, on the other hand, told her not to be a scab, not to make the teachers week, and that she'd be betraying her teachers. Ah, they even used the one where they both gave the same reason and ended up deciding to bail on the hero. How refreshing! The point (and you though we'd never get to one) is that they took this classic gag that's been done a million times before, put their own spin on it, and then executed it to perfection (unless you weren't looking at the screen while it was going on -- that would make it tough to know who's talking).

Nooooooooooooooooo! Of course, Quinn wasn't too happy to learn that Daria would be teaching her class during the rest of the strike. However, she did benefit from it. Not only did she have 24-hour access to her teacher, she also seemed to work a lot harder for the class. She was taking notes much more vigorously than I've ever seen, and it ended up helping her in the end.

Strike Two - One of the odder combinations of characters we've ever seen has to be Trent's whole involvement in the writing of protest songs with Mr. O'Neill. As we've heard in the past, Trent hasn't exactly mastered the lyrical part of songwriting yet (not that he has mastered the musical part). Add that to the fact that O'Neill isn't the most creative person in the world, and you can't help but expect success. All in all, they never did quite get anything done before the strike was over, but it was funny to see the little bit of interaction between Trent and O'Neill that we did. O'Neill's attempt to finish one of Trent's lyrics, and how Trent dismissed it, was hilarious (not to mention the fact that Trent probably would've come up with something like that himself anyway).

Where to Begin - Daria's foray into teaching had a rocky start. She just about had to beat out of the class the fact that they were working on "Romeo and Juliet." Then she had to worry about making up a test about it (and then having to grade that test). During all of this, Quinn is hounding her to go easy on the class. Then again, Quinn didn't exactly get a free pass. Her sister, whom she has feuded with on many occasions, is suddenly her teacher. And just when she felt she could take advantage of that, she comes up empty.

Ball One - Again, as he did in "The Story of D," Jake came through for one of his girls. Again, it was sort of inadvertent, but he's got to cling to any success he has (if he even realized he helped here). Anyway, when Quinn goes to him to complain about Daria, he offers to help her with "Romeo and Juliet" and proceeds to get it completely confused with every other work of Shakespeare (he should get credit for knowing they're all related). That causes Quinn to rattle off the basic plot and make her realize that she knows it.

Fight to the Death - Mr. DeMartino took it upon himself to go and try to convince Ms. Li to sign his proposed contract. Anyway, he did get her to cave and sign it in some sort of delirious stupor. He was proud of himself and fired up to take on any challenge, until he tried to teach Kevin again.

Strike Three - But before the regular teachers could take back their posts, the grades for Daria's little test came back. The class seemed to do well (and for the most part appreciated Daria's effort to teach them), except for three-quarters of the Fashion Club (who only passed because they knew that the play and the movie were somehow related). Quinn ended up with a B+, seemingly a marked improvement over her usual performance. This caused Sandi to move in for the kill. She said that Quinn only did well because she had a "certain relationship with the teacher," and Quinn countered with a strong defense of Daria's instruction (while not so subtly adding that she had pictures of a 5th grade Sandi clad with braces). The kicker was that after getting through this little argument, Quinn went for broke and just said that Daria was her sister. The best part about that was when Sandi tried to use this little "admission": Tiffany and Stacy just shot her down by saying they already knew that and saying "we were just being polite." I couldn't have thought of a better way to end that gag.

Swing and a Long Drive - Speaking of Quinn's B+ and her subsequent "admission," it really showed a lot. She's realizing that she's not one of the dumb ones and that if she works hard, she'll earn high grades. Also, she learned that she shouldn't be ashamed of her family (not that she was).

Lucky Strike was a very strong episode and, quite frankly, had a lot of things that I wanted to see. Daria was thrust into a leadership role that she didn't particularly want, and it was good for her. She "made the best of a bad situation" quite nicely and showed how capable she is to deal with "crisis" predicaments (an ability that's very valuable in the real world). As for Quinn, she showed some more of the dedication to her studies that she did in "Is It Fall Yet?" And while between now and then she seemed to have had a minor relapse of her old ways, events like the ones that happened in Lucky Strike will continue to push her in the right direction. How can I not like that?

Grade: A

Daria as a Whole, Running Gag R.I.P. - The whole "she's not my sister" gag has been mercifully put out of its misery. Let's see: Quinn has called Daria her cousin, an exchange student, and a bunch of other stuff that I don't remember and don't feel like looking up. Anyway, I'm glad to see this one go.

 

Copyright © 2001 Mike Quinn [All Rights Reserved].

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