Daria: The Complete Animated Series

Yes, it's a period piece, but this cult hit still hits the mark

Dvd Watch

Daria: The Complete Animated Series

MTV/Paramount, $72.99

That superhierarchical environment known as high school has been the backdrop of a number of iconic films and TV shows featuring teenage-outsiders from Rebel Without a Cause to Glee. Now, after 13 long years, Daria Morgendorffer can be added to the long list of characters who made their mark and will perhaps be introduced to a new, even more appreciative audience, with the release of this 8-disc set. Held up from its DVD release due to music rights issues, Daria was spun off from MTV's popular Beavis and Butt-Head series in 1997, continuing for five seasons. It was created to tap into the female audience that sneered along with Darlene Conner on Roseanne and, later, Angela Chase on the short-lived but much loved My So-Called Life. And so a cult hit was born.

  "There was a lot less planning on this series than people believe," series creator Glenn Eichler says in the cast interviews featurette, one of a handful of extras included. Tellingly, the first few episodes are rudderless. It's hard to say just where Daria hits its stride, but it might be when she declares in her sullen, straightforward way, "I'm not miserable; I'm just not like them." By "them," she means the revered of high school – the jocks, cheerleaders, and other popular kids – but also the parents, teachers, and authority figures they grow up to be. And then, there's Daria. Disaffected but always likable, she's trying to make her way through high school the best way she can, with an acerbic wit and pizza.

  References to beepers, Daria's newspaper reading habit, and her droll command to "get me to a pay phone" peppered throughout the series remind viewers that this is a period piece. Yet, Daria's extraordinarily dry wit – aimed at her dim-witted classmates, clueless but well-meaning parents, and hack teachers – can still induce guffaws, and they seem as fresh and sharp as the day they were first uttered.

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Daria: The Complete Animated Series, Daria, Beavis and Butt-Head, Daria Morgendorffer, Glenn Eichler

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