Mike's Delayed Reaction Review-#513 (5-66), "Boxing Daria"

"Whatever tomorrow brings, I'll be there..."
from "Drive" by Incubus (which was one of the closing credits songs)

Thinking of the Future: The movie opens with Daria and Jane at their favorite hangout discussing their college applications. Daria and Jane's first choices, Ivy League-like Bromwell and Boston Fine Arts College, respectively, are the topic of the conversation. Neither Daria nor Jane seemed too optimistic about their chances of getting in to their first choices, since they quickly switched gears to talk about their "safety" schools (I never thought about any of the schools I applied to as "safeties" either, but that might be because I got in to my first choice relatively quickly). Daria's worried that a place like Bromwell is elitist (probably meaning that she wouldn't fit in there) and that she might not be able to get in with just her superior academic achievement. Jane is worried that the portfolio on which she's working for her application won't be good enough. I guess their pessimism is understandable -- this type of decision, that will affect the rest of their lives, is hard to make at any age, let alone seventeen or eighteen. If that pressure doesn't get to them, how they're going to pay for college will.

Working Girl? The bills come into the Morgendorffer household and Jake and Helen notice a credit card charge for a $600 pair of shoes. Quinn's at it again! Helen calls her in for an explanation and once it's given (and revealed that the shoes couldn't be returned), Quinn is ordered to pay back the money. Once asking for the allowance advance didn't work (like it ever does), Quinn decided that the root of the problem should be attacked. Helen agreed -- Quinn should get a job to pay the money back. I'm sure Quinn didn't see that coming. What her new job would be was up in the air. Inspiration struck at Stacy's birthday dinner at Governor's Park Restaurant. Actually, Stacy made the suggestion herself. Sandi and Tiffany scoffed ("Us! Serving the masses! Please!") at first but Quinn thought it was a great idea and got a job there as a hostess. Why on earth a seemingly upscale restaurant would hire a high school kid on her first job as hostess is beyond me (minor nit: it's really Quinn's second job if you count the pet store). Though I have seen less qualified people than Quinn at that post, but that is usually at Denny's (not sure if that counts as a restaurant). Anyway, Quinn seemed to quickly build a relationship with fellow hostess (and college student) Lindy that ultimately set up Quinn's entire subplot in the movie.

Stacy, the Teenage Witch... Another, more subtle, set of events were "initiated" by Stacy's birthday dinner. As the birthday girl, Stacy gets to make a wish while she blows out the candle. While she is trying to do this, Sandi was belittling her in the usual fashion (pun intended), so she wished that Sandi would just "shut up." Little did Stacy know, her wish could <gasp> come true. Once Stacy realized that her "curse" was in effect, she seemed to try anything to get over the guilt and "make it up" to Sandi by trying to get rid of the curse she felt she inadvertently placed over Sandi (I especially liked her vocal imitation of Sandi at the one fashion club meeting). Of course, Stacy screwed it up awfully with her "healing" potion and admitted to putting the curse on Sandi. Sandi's voice eventually came back on its own (like, four months later) and Stacy seemed to grow back the backbone that was surgically removed when Sandi's voice was lost. It really wasn't much of a filler subplot.

Flame Wars, The Next Generation: More "proof" that they know about us! I know, it's a very generic joke at this point, but it did sort of prove something I've been saying all along -- us big fat guys (OK, I'm a formerly big fat guy, I'm down 35 pounds in the past nine months or so) are only big boned! Anyway, I guess we can all see whatever we want, no matter what the reality is.

The Bromwell Bunch: Daria and Tom's first discussion of their college plans center around Bromwell. Tom didn't have his Bromwell application done yet because he wanted to make sure he didn't leave out any of his alumni relatives. Anyway, he jokes that he'll get in on "bribery and nepotism," while Daria will be admitted on "high test scores and grades," when Daria voices her concerns about her chances. Later on, they go on their college tour (with Mrs. Sloane -- Helen still has that fear-of-them-having-sex thing), first stop, Bromwell. The first thing they do once they get there is interview with admissions. Tom charms the heck out of the interviewer with Bromwell lore gathered from all his alumni relatives (which probably made him even more of a lock to get in there). Daria, on the other hand, has trouble answering anything without over considering every word (I know how that feels). Those questions are difficult to answer because of their inherent vagueness, but it shouldn't have been that hard to come up with some semi-coherent answer, not to mention complete sentences. When Daria, Tom and Kay were at lunch later in the day discussing the interviews, Sloane family friend and Bromwell faculty member, Bill Woods, sees them. He invites them to breakfast the next day, which they accept; even though they're due to go to Boston to see Raft (Daria's second choice) that afternoon. Well, Bill was late for breakfast and the college tour got stuck in traffic on I95 (I've driven 95, it's no picnic, especially near rush hour) and missed seeing Raft, except for a cursory drive through. Despite the apologies of Tom and his mother, Daria probably couldn't help but feel blown off, a feeling that fed into some of her later feelings she showed about her Ivy League-like first choice.

Can't I Have It My Way? Daria, Jane and Tom aren't the only bright high school students on the verge of graduating worried about their college lives. Jodie and Mack are also considering their options. Personally, I see both of them as the hard working types that'll make the most out of wherever they go. They'll likely both excel no matter which college they choose. Mack's primary concern is financial. He wants to go to a place called Vance, but he can only go there if he gets a scholarship. Fortunately for him, he gets that scholarship. Jodie could have her pick of any college in America, but her father has narrowed her search down to one school, Crestmore. Jodie wants to go to her father and grandmother's alma mater, Turner (I guess Jake would've loved it if his daughter had the same attitude <chuckle>), which is a historically black college. Her reasoning is simple, at Crestmore she'll have to continue being the "perfect Jodie doll" that she's been at Lawndale. The social pressure and stress of being one of the only African Americans doesn't thrill her. At Turner, she can socially relax. When she finally confronts her father about this, at Mack's urging, and explains her concerns, Andrew changes the focus to the time after the four years of college. He tells her that Crestmore will "open doors" that Turner simply cannot. Jodie was sort of convinced, but Mack saw right through that; she was miserable. This bothered Mack enough to go see Andrew at his office to tell him that Jodie had applied to Turner behind his back. Andrew first thought that Mack was asking for Jodie's hand in marriage, but he was really there to stick up for Jodie. Eventually, Mack's talk led Andrew to let Jodie go to Turner, if that's what she wanted. He had to respect her feelings if she was willing to go behind his back for what she wanted. Jodie couldn't thank Mack enough for doing that for her. She'll do fine there; in fact, she'll probably do better because her chances of burning herself out have decreased immensely. Jodie will open up her own doors.

My Fair Quinn: Quinn easily made friends with the other hostesses and the wait staff. No surprise there, she is personable. They all seemed to be enthralled by her "tip theory." It was funny to them, but Quinn was serious. Well, she did enough that they started inviting her to their college parties, even though she is still in high school. Once she got to the first party, Quinn quickly learned about her lack of "college sophistication" and realized that Lindy's crowd isn't exactly from the same universe as the fashion club. She hid her uneasiness with the difference in social status quo and started to adapt to the new group. It got a little harder for Quinn with Lindy, especially after she complemented Quinn for seemingly being something that she generally isn't, going by her fashion club ways. Then again, I haven't thought as much lately (at least as the series has run down) that Quinn "seemed like the type that has to build herself up by knocking others down."

Brotherly "Love," Sisterly "Suffering": As Jane finds working on her application to BFAC difficult, Trent slowly (and I mean slowly) takes the opportunity to try to get her not to go to college at all. He convinced her, for a while, that going to art school would dull her own style. "Why learn it if it'll have to be unlearned later?" Being rejected by the less prestigious Lawndale State and State U (places she never wanted to go to anyway) didn't encourage her either. She decided not to even apply to BFAC. Of course, Trent liked that for reasons we'll get to in a second. Daria couldn't believe that Jane would just give up like that. She was genuinely mad at her friend for her attitude, and was especially upset that Jane never even tried to get into BFAC after making such a big deal about how great it would be. Daria tried to make her see that she does have things to learn. Jane did come to her senses (more on that later), much to Trent's chagrin. But he did admit why he tried to get Jane to skip higher education. He was worried about losing her and being alone. He eventually did come around and was able to understand why she wanted to go, not to mention that he practically salivated at the chance of getting some gigs in Beantown.

Bittersweet: Daria was having a real love/hate thing going with Bromwell. She really wanted to be accepted and go there but was also quick to rip into the whole place. The outward reason was that Bromwell was getting all the press in her college search. After returning from her college tour, Helen asked how she liked Bromwell. Daria felt that her mother didn't really care that she didn't get a chance to see any other schools. On one fateful day, the admission decisions of her first and second choices (Bromwell and Raft) came in the mail. The envelope from Raft was "big and thick" -- she got accepted. The verdict from Bromwell was not so good. Their envelope was "small and thin," and that meant she didn't make it. (As an aside, from my own experience, I always got an acceptance letter by itself and any registration materials came later on its own. So, I never felt that a "small and thin" envelope was bad in itself. Granted, my sample space is only a small fraction of all the schools out there.) Daria was upset that she didn't get into "the school she wanted and [Helen] wanted for [her]," but Helen got right to the real point about Daria's future -- she'll make the most whatever chances she gets, too. However, her chances at Bromwell weren't totally dead yet. Tom did try to suck up to her by offering to have his parents write a recommendation letter for her. She doesn't like it, and declines at first (even though she takes it as part of another deal, more on that next), because it made her feel that the Bromwell crowd thinks that she's "nice, but not one of us." That, and Tom didn't seem to care that she got into Raft, and even suggested that she got in there because she didn't have an interview with them. Ultimately, it was a fruitless endeavor, as the recommendation didn't change anything.

Let's Make a Deal: Daria's "Bromwell rejection" angst and Jane's "blow off college all together" attitude crossed paths and interacted some time after Jane told Daria about her decision. As I've already pointed out, Daria wasn't thrilled with what Jane was going to do and thought it was a bad choice. As any best friend would do, Daria looked for any opportunity to let Jane know that she was about to make a huge mistake and help her rectify it. She found one in the Sloane's recommendation letter offer. A deal was made with Jane; Daria would let Tom's parents write her the letter if Jane would just give BFAC a chance to reject her work (since they never saw any of it). Jane really had no choice but to accept, especially because of how Daria felt about the whole idea of the letter and what it represents. Jane probably felt that if Daria was willing to take that bullet to get her to apply to college, then she had no other option. The circumstances probably helped Jane's chances. She never applied to BFAC because she was frustrated at the quality of the work she was putting together for her portfolio. Once she decided not to try, the pressure was off and the creativity started to really flow.

<Shudders> On the anniversary of her divorce, Miss Barch goes to Mr. O'Neill to let him know just how angry she is about it. In his own sappy, pathetic, corny way, he tries to be sympathetic. Somehow, his attempt at sympathy became a marriage proposal (whether she just misinterpreted or was trying to get this to happen is another issue -- that I would not touch with a ten foot pole). Mr. DeMartino overhears and decides to become Skinny's impromptu guardian angel. His basic plan was to try to get Timmy to assert himself and avoid a living hell by telling Janet how he feels. Barch was moving things along way too fast, even to the point of considering living arrangements. However, O'Neill was almost able to assert himself (Anthony really did all the talking). Skinny appreciated the help, since he never really stood up for himself. DeMartino was happy to help get her talons out of O'Neill, even though all he got for his trouble was a black eye (in his good eye, no less). This meant no wedding and that the lovebirds were no longer an item (for a short while). Barch eventually realized that she couldn't live without Skinny and got back with him because of his "newly formed backbone" (remember, he never actually stood up for himself). Mr. D could only bang his head on the nearest blunt object after hearing that. We probably could've done without this subplot, but at least some of the loose ends were tied. Wait a minute...

Friends Don't Let Friends... Quinn seemed to really hit it off well with Lindy. However, with this new deeper-than-she's-ever-had friendship, a more complex issue (at least more complex than choice of wardrobe) rears its head. Lindy and Quinn are at the movies, when Lindy makes an "addition" to her movie soda. Obviously, this was some sort of alcoholic addition. Lindy offers Quinn a swig, which she politely, but firmly, declines (she's more responsible than the credit for which we all give her). This was the first time we saw Lindy irregularly imbibe, but it didn't seem like the first time Quinn saw it. After the movie, Quinn did not want to get in a car with Lindy at the wheel. I'm not sure if we're seeing Quinn's ability to tell right from wrong or her desire not to die before her eighteenth birthday, but we know that she was desperately serious if getting a ride from Upchuck suddenly became the more palatable choice. Either way, Quinn was showing mucho responsibility, not to mention genuine concern for her new friend (she did want to call a cab). Lindy's drinking started to affect her entire life. Her hostess skills went way downhill when she started drinking at work. It got so bad that when she got caught, she tried to deny it and then tried to pin the blame on Quinn. No one bought it. To Quinn's credit, she didn't let Lindy peg this on her nor would she make any excuses for her, despite the friendship they had developed up to that point. Lindy definitely has a problem and making excuses for her wouldn't help any.

The Break Up: Daria and Tom's romantic relationship ended in a thud. It just sort of ended. There was neither a fiery argument nor any heaving of large heavy objects -- no fanfare whatsoever. The only surprise here is that Daria initiated it. But is that really much of a surprise (to anyone but Jane and, I guess, Tom)? To be honest, the two or three "break up" scenes left me very uncomfortable. Not because it was poorly done or didn't make sense but because it felt, in a word, familiar. I had a situation in my own life that, while not exactly the same (some of the circumstances were vastly different), was eerily similar to Daria and Tom's, even down to the tone of some of the conversations. If I didn't know better, I might think someone from the Daria staff has been monitoring my every move (I wish I were that important). Having to write about it, and this isn't part of the movie I can just ignore, has reminded me of what happened to me a little bit. But enough about me, let's get back to my point and question. Is Daria's withdrawal from the love shack that much of a surprise to anyone? Of the two of them, Daria has always been the obviously cautious one in the relationship, taking baby steps to avoid getting hurt by overextending herself. She likes Tom, but doesn't necessarily like Tom, and is still trying to figure out how the whole thing works. One the other hand, Tom has seemed at times to be willing to do anything to keep any relationship going (and we saw that with him and Jane, as well) but by this time he's more just rolling with the punches than trying too hard. He appears to be the confident one, but probably doesn't have a clue exactly what he wants and is probably almost as unsure as Daria is. Anyway, Daria was right, their "romantic" thing had run its course, though I don't particularly buy her "we're bored" explanation to Tom. Tom's not exactly a lightning bolt of excitement but she's likely to be that way in any relationship (in her near future, anyway). That, and they seemed to me to be bored from the outset of their relationship. Despite the things they have in common, Daria and Tom are from two different universes; it's just painful to realize that (and I would know). However, this kind of pain is part of life. It isn't right or wrong, it just is.

Hard to Handle: Quinn was really conflicted about what to do to help Lindy. She got a partial answer, though inadvertently, through a despondent Daria. Daria told Quinn that she was honest with Tom, and now it hurts and she's afraid that she'll make it so she's always alone. After reassuring Daria that she'll have "lots of friends in college" (maybe I'm just a pessimist but I don't think Daria should get her hopes up unless she's willing to change herself a little), Quinn decided to be honest with Lindy without any regard for how painful it might be. Quinn goes and tells Lindy that she needs help with her problem and Lindy got defensive and accusatory. She rationalized it away with one of the oldest clich‚s in the book ("but everyone does it") and then went right for the beer when Quinn left, despite proclamations to the contrary. When Lindy calmed down (and, presumably sobered up), she went to drop off that mirror she made for Quinn. Again, Lindy claimed to not have a problem. Quinn wasn't convinced, but did decide to do the only thing she can -- be a good friend and hope Lindy gets help.

Happy Endings: Jane ultimately got into BFAC thanks to Daria's meddling. The excitement Daria showed at her friend's accomplishment was awesome. As was Jane's heartfelt "thank you" to Daria at that graduation party for believing in her. Now Jane will be at Boston Fine Arts College and Daria will also be in Boston at Raft. Also, Trent could possibly be in town to look for some gigs. Is it just me, or was the door to Daria: The College Years left a little bit too wide open? As long as they don't drive around town in a van solving mysteries...

Not-So-Happy Endings: Kevin will have to repeat senior year (no doubt, not the first instant replay of this kind he's gone through). This brings up a few questions in my mind. Assuming Miss Li "made sure" he'd be academically eligible to play football, how was that enough for him to play but not graduate? It doesn't make sense unless this was some sort of plan of Li's to keep him on Lawndale's field for one more year, but he's probably nearing the upper age limit at this point (most high school athletic leagues have some age limit, though I wouldn't put forging a few birth certificates past Miss Li). The second question is how did the Lions ever win a game with Kevin at the helm? Being a former high school football player myself, I know you need some basic metal abilities, that Kevin doesn't seem to have, to be an effective participant, especially on offense and especially at quarterback. I could almost buy it if he played defense (where he may have been able to get away with remembering only where to stand and to get the guy with the ball) but not QB.

What the F<bleep>? Upchuck finally got an outlet for some of his pent up sexual frustration. He approached Andrea, of all people, went through his spiel and she <gasp> went along with it. No one was more surprised than the Chuckster himself, but he finally got lucky. Now, I can finally get some sleep!

It's the End of the World As We Know It: So, they finally made it to graduation. What took so long? The gang's all there -- Daria, Jane, Jodie, Mack and countless other nameless background characters in their caps and gowns; Quinn subtly trying to be inconspicuous (and we thought she changed); Kevin and his half-assed disguise and Miss Li and her overdosing of school "spirit." The graduation scene, while being the natural conclusion to this story, wasn't very memorable. Though, I'm thankful that we were spared the "Daria and Jodie go head-to-head for valedictorian too-easy-to-do-clich‚" story line that I was so not looking forward to seeing. The ceremony wasn't without its surprise, as Daria did win what I've affectionately dubbed the "booby prize" for academic achievement in the face of near total social isolation. I'd say I could relate, but I was on the football team and in the National Honor Society in high school. Anyway, she got a chance for a short oration (hopefully every award winner didn't get that opportunity or they'd be there for a week). She got up there and basically tried one last ditch effort to get through to her classmates about all her memories and the virtues of telling the truth. I really doubt she got through their thick skulls (it barely registered with me and I was trying to pay attention).

The main theme of the movie, in my opinion, revolved around honesty. Daria was honest about her feelings about her relationship and Bromwell, Quinn was honest with Lindy about her drinking, Jodie was eventually honest with her father about her choice of school, and so on and so forth. In keeping with that motif, I'm going to be honest. I wasn't impressed with this outing. "Is It College Yet?" wasn't a total bomb, but didn't come close to meeting its potential. I can't decide whether it feels more like an obligated afterthought ("we have to do something about graduation") or a rushed together attempt to tie up all the "loose ends" that didn't tie up very many. There were just too many attempts to pound square pegs into round holes. I'd lean toward "rushed together" -- there wasn't the anticipation and fanfare that there was for "Is It Fall Yet?" I also get the distinct feeling that Glen and company expected to have a full sixth season to work out Daria's big picture more clearly. Some of the things shown to have a resolution weren't really much more than filler-type curiosities. Would any of us have cared if we didn't see what happened (or more accurately, what didn't happen) with Barch and O'Neill? I did like how Daria and Tom's relationship ended. We all knew they wouldn't ride off into the sunset together, but that by itself wasn't enough. All of that being said, "Is It College Yet?" wasn't without its moments (as I've already outlined). The only other thing I haven't mentioned is the horrendous timeline management. How long can someone have laryngitis without requiring surgery? Who waits until the last half of the last year of high school to start applying to colleges? OK, I did (and I still got that scholarship <grin>).

Report Card:

Grade for Is It College Yet?: B

Grade for Daria (The Whole Series): A+

Grade for Daria's Internet Fandom: A- (no one's perfect)

Grade for The End: C- (unpopular, but probably for the best)

Daria as a Whole:

Daria as a Whole #1, What Is This Garbage? Garbage was the halftime show for the movie with their new video for some song that I haven't heard since. I don't really have an opinion of them one way or the other. Some of their stuff is good, some bad, but they didn't really fit with the movie. Actually, I sort of feel bad for them. First, Daria was never exactly over-promoted by MTV. And who expects to see a music video on MTV these days, anyway?

Daria as a Whole #2, Who Are These People? Our halftime and post game host was a fellow named Kaduce (or something). Seemed nice enough, but he didn't seem to know jack about Daria. I guess that's OK, but at least he could've read the cue card a couple of times before taping the halftime segment (he was obviously reading something).

Daria as a Whole #3, Name That College: Eichler and company surely had real colleges, with fake names, in mind for this thing. How they correspond to real schools is anyone's guess. I don't really have the knowledge to speculate.

Daria as a Whole #4, No, Thank You: The final "thank you" from the staff after everything was done was a fine gesture. It was very touching. At least it wasn't a giant "f--- you." Then again, MTV has given us more than our fair share of those.

Daria as a Whole #5, Off the Cutting Room Floor: I know what you're thinking, he wrote stuff that isn't in there? As you can see, I've tried to be comprehensive and thorough, but some things fell through the cracks or weren't really that important to me anyway. Like of seemingly endless barrage of break ups (both "actual" and "sort of"). There was Daria and Tom, Timmy and Janet, the fashion club and even Kevin and Brittany. Speaking of Brittany, I think that's the first time I've mentioned her in this review. How about that for a snub?

Daria as a Whole #6, Is It The End Yet? This is the final Delayed Reaction Review for Daria. It's been a great ride. I've had fun, despite the hard work. I've met friends that I'll have outside this environment. I'm better for having seen this through. But this isn't the end just yet, there will be one more special from me. I don't know when, but some of you may be contacted to ask for your participation in the no-to-distant future. In the meantime, thanks to everyone for paying attention. You all made it worth the effort.

Daria as a Whole - To The Year 2000
Special Section

Let us take a look into the future.

The future, Mike?

Yes, the future, all the way to the year 2000.

The Year 2000?

Yes, will you stop doing that?

OK, Sorry.

Imagine, if you will, that Daria survives as a series indefinitely. Imagine the hours of entertainment that we'll enjoy. I wonder what other movies will end future seasons:

Is It Grad School Yet? Daria is weeks away from her bachelor's degree in her new found passion, molecular biology, and has a decision to make. Does she go look for a lucrative job in the biotech field? Or does she seek an even more advanced degree and make even more money in two or three years? Can she survive on Raman noodles for at least two more years? Reese Whitherspoon guest voices as a disgruntled (not to mention unappreciated) graduate assistant.

Is It Marriage Yet? Quinn gets an unexpected proposal from an unlikely source, her former beau, one Charles Ruttheimer III. At the same time, Daria and her longtime lover Tom? No, <pause> Trent? Nah, <longer pause> Ted? Yeah, Ted, that's the ticket! Anyway, they decide that there is no time like the present, especially when you're on vacation in Las Vegas. Mike Tyson has a cameo as a boxer (well, duh!).

Is It Time To Get Up Yet? It's Sunday morning at the Lane house. Trent, now in his late 40's, contemplates his existence and the meaning of life through a collection of snores, grunts and partial utterances. One of the Olson twins stars as his bitchy wife, who is mad at him for making her late for brunch.

Is It Retirement Yet? Officer Jane Lane is just a week away from hanging up her badge for good. We all know what that means; this'll be the most exciting week of her career. As she unwittingly tries to avoid car crashes, a giant fireball and random gunfights, she wonders if she'll even make it to her "last day before retirement" or her huge police pension. John Stamos stars as her jerk partner.


Copyright © 2001 Mike Quinn [All Rights Reserved].

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