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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Comedy > Satire > TV > Daria – The Complete Animated Series (1997 – 2001 + Telefilms/MTV/Paramount DVD Set)

Daria – The Complete Animated Series (1997 – 2001 + Telefilms/MTV/Paramount DVD Set)

 

Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: C+     Episodes: A-

 

 

La La La La Laaaa! You know the opening music and you know the series and it is finally available on DVD.  First things first, there have been some huge music changes; but the fact of the matter is that the series would have (most likely) never been released otherwise.  Over a decade ago when the series was produced not many studios had the foresight to obtain full music rights for future home video release.  All in all it was considered an outlandish idea that (outside of the Star Trek community) the general public would ever want to own entire television seasons/series.  In turn we have been left with gutted series or even in some cases no DVD/Blu-ray release at all; The Wonder Years comes to mind.  Whereas some series have been completely disgraced by poor editing that is not the case here with Daria.  Whereas most of the music is absent it does not effect the many other offerings the series has.  From solid characters too great animation, Daria had it all and though stripping out the music hurts it does not mean endgame for the series.

 

The series ran from 1997 to 2001 for a total of five seasons (13 episodes each) and two TV movies.  Daria Morgendorffer originally appeared on the popular Beavis and Butthead series as an intelligent foil to their idiotic antics.  When Beavis and Butthead ended in 1997 MTV decided to make a spin-off featuring the sardonic and quick witted Daria.  Daria started with Daria and her family moving from Highland (home town of Beavis and Butthead) to Lawndale, kicking off a series that would satirically take swing after swing at high school life and pop culture.

 

The show was ahead of its time as it disambiguated the convolutions of the teenage hierarchy; brilliantly showing that even with the existence of cliques everyone wasn’t so different.  The woes of a teenager were explained in only a way that Daria could; overwhelmingly sarcastic with a brand of tongue in cheek humor like no other.

 

After almost a decade off the air the series remains fresh and hilarious.  In viewing this 65 episode (plus 2 movies) set I was shocked to find there were many episodes I had never seen.  Daria had seemingly fallen into that category of while reruns were aired many times they were just the same episodes again and again.  The series’ intelligence and ability to represent teenage angst, emotion and sense of alienation with a sincere realism not like many other animated series have.

 

The series is fun, hilarious and roasts the high school experience on an open pit of flames.  Daria is a must see series and it is nice to finally have our appetites satisfied.

 

The technical features of this set are not perfect, but nice nevertheless.  We will excuse the fact that much of the music has been changed and instead focus on what is available.  This is an 8 disc set whose cover and disc artwork are beautifully simplistic; with bold colors and solid lines the artwork depicts many of the series key characters spread throughout each disc front.  Whereas there is no slip cover, the thick casing does house the discs nicely.  The set includes a personal letter from show creator Glenn Eichler, which describes (apologizes) for the changes to the set, but describes the inevitability of the missing music for the greater good of having the set released.  Daria’s picture is presented in its original full screen image with vivid colors and deep, inky blacks.  Each image is wonderfully framed and the crisp, clean image is admirable as audiences are not forced to suffer through episode after episode of grain.  Whereas it is not perfect, this may be the best audiences can ever view Daria.  There is an obvious progression in quality from season to season, Season 6 actually being quite nice.  The sound quality is basic at best but projects clean and clear in its Dolby 2.0 Stereo Track.  As a long time fan I can easily pick out the instances where music has been changed, but the experience and great story writing is still there.  It would have been nice to have the series completely intact, but I can’t say I observe too much distortion in the viewing experience without the original music.

 

The extras are nice, though I would have liked more.  Extras include The Pilot Episode “Sealed with a Kick,” Mystik Spiral (Trent’s band) Music Video “Freakin Friends,” Daria Day Intros, Top Ten Video Countdown Hosted by Daria and Jane, Never-Before-Seen Mystik Spiral Spin-Off Script and Cast and Crew Interviews.  All of these extras are included on the 8th (final) disc as are the 2 Daria films (Is it Fall Yet? and Is it College Yet?).  There are several problems with the extras however.  The Daria Day Intros can only be viewed in correspondence with the episode, if the episode is selected individually and NOT if the “Play All” option is chosen.  Also putting Is it Fall Yet on the last disc disrupts the continuity of the series as it appears in the middle and not at the end like Is it College Yet.  The rest of the extras are nice although not too impressive.  The cast and crew interview segment is quite short, running at about 6 minutes, and offers only mild insight into the series.  The Daria and Jane Top Ten Video segment does not even include the videos (of course) and the Mystik Spiral spin-off script can only be viewed on a DVD-ROM drive.  Seeing as this may be the only release of Daria we ever see I was expecting more.

 

I will make this simple, if you are a fan of Daria or great television or great animation; this is a must own.  Daria was great then and just as great now.  The stories are engaging and animation is simple, yet solid like an iconic statue.  I was extremely happy to see this release and was pleased with what was delivered.

 

 

-   Michael P. Dougherty II


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