Mike's Delayed Reaction Review-#507 (5-60), "Art Burn"

Spoilers Space for #507 (If you donít want to know, then donít scroll!)

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Mike's Delayed Reaction Review-#507 (5-60), "Art Burn"

MDRR #507 (5-60)

Gazebo Troubles - The episode starts out with Mystik Spiral shooting a music video while sitting on the dilapidated Lane family gazebo. They weren't exactly doing anything; I'd expect them to at least be pretending to play their instruments. Anyway, they did have a fog machine set up so they could mystically disappear. But, since the gazebo was old and about to fall apart and the fog machine didn't really work, the structure came crashing down. Other than the band being "traumatized for a few weeks," it was no big deal. Until, out of nowhere, Wind shows up and declares the downed gazebo the "naming gazebo" (which we found out later was a crock) and convinces Jane and Trent to rebuild it (if it was so important, why didn't he rebuild it?). They fell for it and had to come up with a plan. Since Trent has no money and plenty of time, Jane decided to try to sell some of her paintings to pay for it -- only if Trent did all of the other work. He valiantly tried to get out of it (forgetting about the "trauma") but reluctantly started his search for some "gazebo numbers."

Artsy Artsy - Naturally, Jane had to find an outlet to display her paintings, and the "Art in the Park" event was a perfect place to try. Unfortunately, her original works weren't garnering too much interest, and it wasn't like she was overcharging (twenty-five bucks isn't that much). However, one of her works was attracting a lot of attention: her upside-down Van Gogh (even though the "upside-down" part was the attention grabber). Jane was able to parlay this attention into a job re-creating famous artwork for Gary's Gallery. At first, this was a good idea; Jane was able to raise the money she needed through her art. But after a while, the gig had her questioning her abilities.

Defaced - Meanwhile, as the Fashion Club was taking in all the splendor that is "Art in the Park," they came upon a caricature artist and decided it would be a good idea if they posed for a quick portrait. Of course, when they viewed the finished product, they (or, more accurately, seventy-five percent of them) reacted very badly. So badly, they decided that they needed to take some sort of legal action to regain their "losses." I guess they didn't really get the whole point of caricatures (i.e. they're supposed to be exaggerations of the subject, even if they are embarrassing). And while they all agreed, Stacy only agreed halfheartedly (one of the many clues to the happy ending, that I admittedly missed the first time through).

Trent Versus the Gazebo Men, Round One - Trent, doing all the legwork for the rebuild the gazebo project, was competent enough to hire some workmen to rebuild the thing. The problem was that they weren't exactly model workers; showing up days late, sitting around, and drinking. Trent's slacker tendencies made it hard for him to do anything to get them working. It's almost as if he were unable or unwilling to force his will on them to do what they were being paid to do.

What's in It for Me? After some success on the re-creation circuit, which was more than enough to pay for the gazebo, and some doubts that she was becoming a two-bit hack by continuing, Jane went to Gary to quit. But Gary convinced her to stay on to help "build a nest egg" (in reality, he knew that she was good and her "works" were selling). When she sort of stuck to her guns, he offered a higher pay rate and more flexibility in the work, and she caved, temporarily.

Legal Brief - The Fashion Club, one at a time, tried to convince Helen that they had some sort of case against the caricature artist. She politely told Quinn that their characters weren't defamed by the drawing because it doesn't really harm their reputations. She was frustrated trying to explain to Sandi that only lawyers can be disbarred. Finally, she declined Tiffany's request to have the guy's thumbs broken. Anyway, this little subplot breathed some much needed humor into an episode that was otherwise sort of angst-ridden.

Trent Versus the Gazebo Men, Round Two - Trent wakes up early in the afternoon, expecting something on the gazebo work to be done by two o'clock, as he was told. He gets up and the workmen are still sitting around. At Jane's urging, he tries to order them to get to work and eventually backs off when they call him "The Man." He had a hard time yelling at them. Ultimately, Jane had to play a trump card to get the gazebo built -- do it in four hours, or you don't get paid... and Trent had to help.

If You Say So - Jane's line of rationalization for continuing to work on copying famous paintings was that she was only doing it to support herself in her own original work. But she was never getting to her own work, so what good is it to support something that's not happening? I don't even think that was the only thing bothering her, though. The "copying burnout" also was consuming her. The money was more important than the art, and working on the paintings for Gary just wasn't as fun for her (I mean, her body was even telling her that through her sore wrist). By the way, we finally learned why Mystik Spiral never does any covers. I always thought it was because they just weren't that good at playing their instruments.

Don't Blame Yourself, Until You Have To - While wrestling with her little puzzle about whether what she was doing was wrong, Jane was inspired by a Sick, Sad World promo about a counterfeiting operation to conjure up a "paranoid delusion" that Gary was a kingpin of a huge art counterfeiting ring. So, she (with Daria's help) attempted to try to "solve" this mystery by finding out who has been buying her paintings. They find out that Steve Taylor is a frequent customer at the gallery. They then go to his house and, after dealing with Brittany for a while, they find him and one of Jane's knock-offs. He proceeds to confirm Jane's worst fears when asked if it's an original work of art. He considers the re-creation artists to be a "bunch of hacks" that do a fairly good job for the money they make. After this endeavor, she finally realizes that her employment at the gallery has been stifling her own creativity and bringing her down (and that she was channeling it into those delusions) and she decided to quit.

Good Things Come... When seventy-five percent of the Fashion Club finally conceded that they had no legal recourse against that radical caricaturist, they decided to just destroy the "offensive picture." Of course, they couldn't find it; Stacy took it, because she was the only one that looked happy in the drawings. This is exactly the kind of thing she needs to grow into her own person (maybe she's going to get a spin-off).

As usual, there isn't much else to mention that I haven't already gone over. Well, Vincent and Amanda Lane showed up to declare Wind's "naming gazebo" story an elaborate ploy to keep him from changing his name. Generally, I liked what I saw in Art Burn. We see Jane conflicted by working at something that was borderline plagiarism and eventually realizing that it probably wasn't a good idea. That was contrasted by the more humorous subplot with the Fashion Club and Stacy's probably improved confidence. Overall, a fairly strong episode with a one point penalty for having the lamest episode title pun ever (though I had to say it out lout a couple of times before I figured it out -- kind of like "Erin the Head").

Grade: B+

Daria as a Whole, 7-6 or 6-7 - After going through the last couple of episodes that have aired, and remembering the episodes that led up to the midseason break in season four, I think I have some circumstantial evidence that the Daria staff was expecting to have the past two seasons split differently that they actually were. They were probably thinking that I Loathe a Parade and Lucky Strike were meant to take us into the drought, as opposed to Of Human Bonding and Art Burn. The effect of this is that the episodes that actually did get shown at the end of the first half of each season (the "#x07" episodes) were overshadowed by the episodes in the number six slot, which were far superior (though #407 and #507 didn't stink).

Copyright © 2001 Mike Quinn [All Rights Reserved].

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