A meditation on outsider friendship that beat “Freaks and Geeks” to TV by a couple of years, “Daria” was easily one of MTV’s finest scripted series, a spin-off of Mike Judge’s “Beavis and Butt-head” that Judge had nothing to do with. (Beavis and Butt-head themselves never appeared in the series and are only fleetingly referenced -- as “those two” -- in the first episode.)
It was co-created by “Butt-head” writer Susie Lewis Lynn and Glenn Eichler, a National Lampoon writer who worked on “Butt-head” and is these days writing for “The Colbert Report.”
Centered on a self-consciously nonconformist, brainy, sardonic, Garofalo-esque high school girl, it ran five seasons comprising 65 episodes and two TV-movies, all of which ran from 1997 to 2002. Everything is included in the new set, albeit with almost entirely different incidental music due to licensing costs. (Music issues are apparently what kept this series off DVD for so long. I can’t say my memory is good enough to be bothered by the substitutions.)
In “Daria” we quickly learned things about the title character never hinted at during her appearances on “Butt-head,” including the fact that she had a pair of distracted parents and a shallow kid sister named Quinn.
In the first episode of her own series Daria arrived in suburban Lawndale, far from Beavis’ digs in presumably less-affluent Highland. Daria quickly found a like-minded artist pal named Jane Lane, and developed a reluctant secret crush on Jane’s guitarist brother Trent. Jane and Daria enjoyed the television show “Sick, Sad World” (a title that never fails to amuse me).
* “IS IT FALL YET?” (72:18) A 2000 TV-movie, set between seasons four and five, follows Daria and Jane as they go their separate ways over summer vacation.
* “IS IT COLLEGE YET?” (65:58) The 2002 TV-movie, focusing on Daria and Jane on the eve of graduation mulling their post high-school plans. It serves as Daria’s final adventure.
* CHARACTER PROFILES include concept art for Daria, Jane, Quinn, Mr. DeMartino and others. Most of sketches from 1995 make the characters much uglier than they eventually became; I would not be shocked if they were drawn by whoever created the looks for Judge’s “King of the Hill” characters.
* PILOT: “SEALED WITH A KICK” (5:24) A crude storyboard-ish animatic sequence tracking Daria’s mock-pursuit of footballer Kevin. Daria and Jane sound like themselves, but different actors may be playing supporting characters.
* MUSIC VIDEO: “FREAKIN FRIENDS” (2:38) An animated music video for a tune by Trent Lane’s band, Mystik Spiral, demonstrates why the group never really got anywhere.
* DARIA AND JANE TOP TEN COUNTDOWN (5:52) The girls introduce animated videos produced for Alice In Chains, A-Ha, Tool, Michael Jackson, Radiohead, Dire Straits, The Red Hot Chili Peppers and others. We don’t actually see the videos.
* PILOT SCRIPT FOR SPINOFF “MYSTIK SPIRAL.” Penned by Eichler shortly before MTV got out of the scripted programming business entirely, the never-made pilot would have relocated Trent’s band to a town presumably possessed of a better live-music scene than Lawndale. You’ll need a computer with a DVD-ROM drive and Adobe Acrobat Reader to read it.
* CAST INTERVIEWS (6:21) Cast members Tracy Grandstaff (hot!), Wendy Hoopes (hot!), Alvaro Gonzalez (bald!), Ashley Albert and Marc Thompson, creators Glenn Eichler, and Susie Lewis, writer Anne D. Bernstein, and supervising director Karen Disher discuss the creation of the show. Learn “Daria” was actually part of a wave of shows focusing on teen girls that included “My So-Called Life.” Learn Hoopes provided the voices of Jane, Quinn and Helen. Learn Thompson voiced Kevin, Mr. DeMartino and Mr. O’Neill.
The third season of “thirtysomething,” broadcast 1989 and 1990, was my favorite, with enigmatic ad titan Miles Drentell looming larger than ever in the lives of Michael and Elliot. (Interesting how takeover efforts are so central to both “thirtysomething” and the current advertising-agency “Mad Men”). Hope’s magazine, Synergy, became the object of a takeover and Hope herself contemplated infidelity. Nancy battled cancer and reconciled with Elliot. Gary became a father and quit teaching. Melissa got involved with a younger man. Ellyn got involved with a married man. Brad Pitt turns up in 3.2 as a babysitter’s boyfriend.
The set comes with all 24 episodes, a 12-page booklet, and …
3.2 “Love & Sex.” Episode director Marshall Herskovitz and episode writer Liberty Godshall
3.6 “Strangers.” Episode writer Richard Kramer.
3.13 “Post Op.” Actor Patricia Wettig and actor and episode director Peter Horton.
3.18 “The Other Shoe.” Episode writer Joseph Dougherty.
3.21 “Arizona.” Episode director Edward Zwick.
3.22 “Going Limp.” Actor and episode director Melanie Mayron.
3.24 “Samurai Adman.” Episode writer-director Joseph Dougherty.
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