Daria: Is It Fall Yet?, on MTV
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This TV movie is set between seasons 4 and 5 of Daria. It begins with a scene on the beach, with all the characters dancing or doing various things while a song plays ("Turn the Sun Down," by Splendora, the same group that does the series' opening theme). It's not really important, it's just a parody of the old beach movies of Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, but it was fun. But then the actual plot begins, at the end of the school year at Lawndale High, just before Summer break. Daria and Jane's relationship is still a bit strained because of "the Tom thing." (You'll know what that's about if you've read my review of the series; though I'm sure it'd be best if you just watch seasons 1-4 for yourself, before watching this. Which, btw, I should mention the final disc- disc 8- of the series box set has this and the next movie, as well as the last couple episodes of the series. And disc 6 has the last few episodes of season four and the first couple episodes of season five. I'm telling you now, after you watch the episode "Dye! Dye! My Darling," take out disc 6, put in disc 8. The movies are under "extras." After watching the first movie, go back to disc 6, start season five. Finish that, and disc 7, and the last couple eps on disc 8. Then you can watch the second movie.)
Ahem, where was I? Oh yes. Jane goes off to an art colony for the summer. The people there are mostly pretentious and lacking in talent, but she meets one person, a woman named Alison, with whom she gets along. At least at first, but I won't spoil the surprise that's in store for Jane. Meanwhile... Daria isn't making much of an effort in her new relationship with Tom, and she uses his family's money (and what she perceives as their elitism, even though they're fairly nice to her) as an excuse to break up with him. (I feel I should mention that we meet not only Tom's parents, but also his little sister Elsie, whose personality kinda reminds me of Daria's. So it's kinda weird that she and Tom don't get along, but then again it's probably best not to think about it. Still, I do wish we could have gotten to know the character better.) And Helen forces Daria to take a job as a camp counselor at the "OK to Cry Corral" that Mr. O'Neill is running for the summer. He wants kids to get in touch with their feelings, but they can't stand his rules, they just want to have fun. Mr. DeMartino is also a counselor there, hoping to restore his lost love of teaching. Meanwhile, there's one kid named Link, who really does need someone to talk to about problems at home, and Daria makes an effort to help him, though he's not very receptive. (Link, btw, is the one who utters the question, "Is it Fall yet?") Another plot thread involves Quinn hiring a tutor named David, because she feels she could have done better on her P-SAT (or whatever). At first she doesn't try very hard, but she eventually makes a real effort, when he threatens to quit. (He also tried tutoring Sandi, Stacy, and Tiffany, but that didn't work out at all.) Over the course of the summer, Quinn develops romantic feelings for David, but I won't say how that turns out. Kevin and Brittany get jobs as pool lifeguards, which they suck at. Jodie is overloaded with activities, as always. Mack is forced to take a job driving an ice cream truck, which he hates, but he owed money to his father, and wanted to pay him back. However, between Mack's job and all of Jodie's responsibilities, they don't really have time to see each other.
I hope I'm not forgetting any plot threads. But it really was an excellent movie, full of humor, drama, character development, and so forth. Not everything goes well for everyone, but basically... things end up fairly well for most people, including Daria and Jane patching up their friendship, as well as Daria and Tom giving their own relationship another try. And Quinn growing as a person, somewhat. But I've said at least enough; I don't wanna spoil no mores. Except I should also mention that peripheral characters like Trent, Helen, and Jake were all pretty cool, in their own ways.... So anyway, now you can go back to the review of the series, where I told you to leave off before you came here to read this. At the end of that review, you can come back here to read a review of the second movie...
Is It College Yet?, on MTV
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This TV movie is set after season 5 of Daria, and served as the series finale. Like the first movie, it starts with a song by Splendora, this one called "College Try (Gives Me Blisters)." It was alright, though I didn't like it as well as the song from "Is It Fall Yet?" Same goes for the montage that the song played over, which in this case had characters from the show in historical settings over various decades, I think. It's not important. The actual story begins with Daria and Jane having pizza (as usual) and talking about the colleges they've applied to. Meanwhile, Helen wants Quinn to get a job, to pay off the shoes she charged on the credit card. So she becomes a hostess at a fancy restaurant. (I'm not sure if it's Chez Pierre, the place she often mentioned throughout the series as the ideal place for a date, but maybe.) She befriends another hostess there named Lindy, who is in college, and starts hanging with her and her friends. This leads Quinn to want to change her opinions about lots of things to the more "mature" opinions of these college students. Though eventually she may realize... well, being older doesn't automatically make one's judgment all that great. As for the rest of the Fashion Club, there's a subplot about Sandi getting laryngitis, which Stacy's concerned about, for a reason I won't get into.
Anyway, Jake would like Daria to go to his and Helen's alma mater, Midddleton, in which Daria has no interest. Her first choice is an elite school called Bromwell, which she applies to along with Tom. (His family has apparently gone there for generations.) Her feelings about that school struck me as somewhat ambivalent, at first, though it is her first choice. (Her second choice is a place in Boston called Raft, which is also quite good.) Jane wants to get into Boston Fine Arts College (B-FAC), though she's stressed about submitting a portfolio of her work. She's further discouraged by being rejected by both Lawndale State and State University (her safety schools, I guess) And Trent, in his slackery way, appeals to Jane's sense that others don't have a right to judge her, which prompts her to decide she doesn't want to go to college at all. (This, predictably, doesn't sit well with Daria.)
Meanwhile, Jodie wants to go to a college called Turner, which is where her father went, and which is predominantly African-American. She wants to not have to work so hard as she always had at proving herself in a predominantly white school like Lawndale High... and like Crestmore, where her father wants her to go, because it's more elite than Turner. (I find it a bit ironic that she wants to go her father's alma mater but he doesn't want her to, since it's the exact opposite of Daria and Jake's respective feelings regarding Middleton.) And Mack's worried about whether or not he'll get a scholarship, so that he can go to a school called Vance. There's also something about Brittany and Kevin's college plans. She's going to Great Prairie State University, but he's... evasive about his plans. Um, I should also mention we get to see a bit of Upchuck, and Andrea has one of her all-too-rare speaking scenes, which was fun.
There's another subplot about Mrs. Barch misconstruing something Mr. O'Neill said to her as a marriage proposal, and of course he's too timid to tell her that's not what he meant. So... they're kinda engaged. But Mr. DeMartino takes it upon himself to help Mr. O'Neill with this problem. (If you've watched the series, you'll be aware that DeMartino and Barch have never gotten along.) Anyway, I don't want to say any more about that. Or about any other aspects of the plot. But as always, there's plenty of humor, sarcasm, cynicism, drama, personal growth, problem solving, shining family moments and friendship moments. And in spite of whatever pain there may have been for all the characters, things ultimately turned out quite well for everyone. Pretty much. Not perfect, but hey... that's life. And there's few people I enjoy watching live life more than the people in this show. So, whatever, the movie was a fitting end to the series. I wish we could see the characters in college, but like I said, life's not perfect. If the show had to end, I can't complain about how it ended....