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'Daria' still delights: Animated MTV series witty and full of extras in DVD set of 53 shows
[May 09, 2010]

'Daria' still delights: Animated MTV series witty and full of extras in DVD set of 53 shows


May 09, 2010 (The Akron Beacon Journal - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- In the middle of the sometimes brainless programming offered by MTV in 1997 was Daria, a smart and cynical high-school girl who seemed designed to mock everything MTV stood for. In fact, one of my colleagues said Daria was the music channel's penance for giving a show to Jenny McCarthy.



A new DVD set does reveal that Daria was, if not penance, at least an attempt at balance at MTV. But whatever the reason, Daria was a delight -- barely animated but full of verbal wit, not to mention Daria's deadpan voice, well provided by Tracy Grandstaff.

The series, which ran until 2002, will finally land on DVD on Tuesday in Daria: The Complete Animated Series (MTV/Paramount, eight discs, $72.99), a set containing all 53 regular episodes, two movies (Is It Fall Yet? and Is It College Yet?) and some intermittently interesting extras.


Daria Morgendorffer originally appeared on Beavis and Butt-head, offering a droll perspective on those idiots. For her series, she was moved to a new town and given an array of rivals and foils, along with one good friend, Jane Layne.

The version on DVD is not exactly as fans remember it. Series creator Glenn Eichler confesses in a note with the package that the episodes are in the "most complete versions that could be found." More significantly, he says that "99 percent of the music has been changed, because the cost of licensing the many music bites we used would have made it impossible to release the collection [and for many years did]." Eichler anticipates debate. I just enjoyed the comedy.

Well, most of the time. One of the extras has Daria and Jane hosting an MTV countdown of the 10 best animated music videos of all time; it has just their comments, not the videos, and even leaves the top video unnamed. (Apparently it was Peter Gabriel's Sledgehammer.) Other extras include the two movies (previously available as separate DVDs), interviews, a short, sketched-out pilot for the series, band-within-the-show Mystik Spiral's Freakin' Friends video and a pilot script for a never-made Mystik Spiral spin-off.

As you know, a new version of Robin Hood arrives in theaters soon, with Russell Crowe in the title role. The guy who battled oppression in bow-and-arrow Britain has been adapted for the big and small screen many, many times, with stars from Douglas Fairbanks to Kevin Costner. And while I have not seen the Crowe version yet, I am partial to 1938's The Adventures of Robin Hood, with Errol Flynn, great action and glorious color. You can, and should, find it on DVD, from Warner Home Video ($26.98 standard DVD, $28.99 on Blu-ray).

Flynn's Hood not only entertained, he set the tone for a number of successors, as three new releases from Sony's "Robin Hood collection" show; each of the heroes has a Flynn-like mustache. The Bandit of Sherwood Forest (1946) stars Cornel Wilde as Robin's son, Prince of Thieves (1947) presents Jon Hall as Robin, and Rogues of Sherwood Forest (1950) is another son-of-Robin saga, with John Derek in the role.

Also in the collection: Sword of Sherwood Forest (1960), with a mustache-free Richard Greene. But he had established his own Robin Hood pedigree by starring in an Adventures of Robin Hood TV series in the '50s.

Each Sony disc retails for $14.94. The only extras are movie trailers for Sword of Sherwood Forest and Rogues of Sherwood Forest.

Down the video road: The second and final season of The Cleaner, the A&E series starring Benjamin Bratt, hits DVD on June 1, same date as Burn Notice: Season 3. . . . The final season of Saving Grace will be on DVD on June 29, eight days after the series finale airs on TNT. . . . The recent movie comedy Our Family Wedding will be on DVD and Blu-ray on July 13. . . . The release date of Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief has been changed to June 29. . . . Brooklyn's Finest, with Richard Gere and Iron Man 2's Don Cheadle, will be on DVD and Blu-ray on July 6.

Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and in the HeldenFiles Online blog at http://heldenfels.ohio.com and on Facebook and on Twitter. He also does a weekly video chat for Ohio.com. He can be reached at 330-996-3582 or [email protected]

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