[Jane finishing up the legend of the House of Bad Grades in Lawndale]
Scoff if you will, but every person who lived in that house ended up working at the local burger place. What do you say to that?
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Daria is one of the most important television programs of all time. Quality-wise, the first season was absolutely impeccable. Unfortunately, several episodes in the 2nd season began getting too loose with the hard-edged verbal satire and the subsequent 3rd and 4th seasons were mostly populated with instantly forgettable episodes that were still smart but often lacked the inspired, sharp sense of 1st season bite (the 5th season started off with a real bang but immediately slipped into the same old 3rd and 4th season routine by about 4 episodes in). However, there was one significant area of improvement - the novelty episodes. Of which, there were several. A couple featured spoofs on The X-Files and Murder She Wrote, another was called Daria: The Musical where everyone sang, and another had mascots of overly commercialized holidays manipulating the fabric of the show's usually realistic storyline without slipping into a "that was all a dream" ending.
But the crown jewel of the Daria novelty episodes was this little darling, a basic spoof on The Twilight Zone / Tales From the Crypt where characters from the cast would tell spooky stories of fright, without getting graphic like The Simpsons usually did. The episode's basic plot features Quinn and The Fashion Club (Sandy, Tiffany, Stacy) getting stranded by their ride after a day's shopping and they resort to calling Jake, Quinn's father, to come and pick them up, but his car has broke down so Daria volunteers Jane's brother Trent to drive. On their way, we are told three tales of horror from decades long since passed.
Stacy tells the first tale, which she titles, "The Rattling Girl of Lawndale." Taking place in the late 1960's / early 1970's, we see some beatnik / hippie types in high school preparing for the big dance. The 1960's equivalent of Sandy is the most popular girl at the school, but the boys say she's "almost perfect." Almost? That's not good enough for Sandy, so figuring her eyelids are too fat, she starves herself until, when she shows up for the dance, she looks absolutely perfect. Just one problem - now, when she dances, her bones rattle because she's too thin. She is humiliated off the dance floor and is keen to take revenge on all the school's popular girls by stalking them whenever they close their eyes. As a result, all the popular girls of the school begin to get bloodshot eyes and no boy or unpopular girl will recognize them as popular anymore.
Trent tells the second tale, which he titles, "Metal Mouth." Taking place in the early to mid 1980's, we see the 80's equivalent of Mr. DiMartino, Lawndale High's psychotic History teacher, being forever annoyed by his idiotic metal shop students. So much so, that he begins to habitually grind his teeth. All the time. Grinding them down to nothing, which means now he is ridiculed by his students for having no teeth. Being the metal shop teacher, he just fashions himself a set of razor-sharp teeth out of steel, giving his students something to be intimidated by. But his teeth are made from metal that can pick up radio stations. Hearing the catchy pop tunes of the 1980's in his head, he can't help but sing along, and since his students only hear his awful singing- he runs away, never to be seen from again. But every now and then, an unsuspecting boy and girl park their car by the side of the road to make out and hear a song on the radio when it's not even on.
Jane tells the third tale, which she titles, "The House of Bad Grades." Taking place somewhere in the 1950's, fear of the Cold War is everywhere and the equivalent of the Morgendorfer family has built a bomb shelter in case of Commie attack. 1950's Daria can't stand her crazy family or the 50's version of Lawndale and strives to get out, one way or another. Time passes and The Cold War paranoia proves to have been hogwash all along, so Daria decides to write a cracking college essay as her way of getting out. On the night before it's due, she can't find a quiet place, so she decides to write in the family bomb shelter. The next day, 1950's Jake has a brainstorm to replace his bomb shelter with a barbecue pit and entombs the unseen, sleeping Daria in the hole in the ground. At least she's got the shelter's supply of canned food to feast on... But wait, no can opener. So not only does she starve to death, but she never gets out of Lawndale. However, future generations who find themselves living at the 50's Morgendorfer house are also mysteriously unable to make any good grades. Many believe it was the ghost of 50's Daria getting her blind revenge.
Finally we see a real creative streak in the writing. All of these stories are very amusing and entertaining. And the tying-together plot has a great final twist. Most significantly, Daria and Jane make interesting observations about the illogical nature of these sorts of tales. It's all mainly about coincidence, which is where they take hold of our imagination.
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