Sunday, October 1, 2017

Daria: "Depth Takes A Holiday"

Premiered March 10, 1999

Jane: "The more debased [the holidays] become, the less reason to celebrate them, and the less reason for my family to get together, until presto! I'm finally alone on Thanksgiving with a TV dinner."
Daria: "Sometimes I wonder if you're too cynical, even for me." 
Jane: "Really?  You think?"
Daria: "No, I was being sarcastic."

In this episode from season 3 of the series, Daria (Tracy Grandstaff),  our deadpan heroine,  finds herself face to face with teen personifications of Valentine's Day (an oversized Cupid) and a St. Patrick's Day leprechaun while walking home.

Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day claim that they've come to Lawndale in search of Christmas, Halloween and Guy Fawkes Day, who've left their home on Holiday Island to start a band with a hip-hop punk electronica vibe in Daria's hometown.

Daria is unconvinced by this, so the anthropomorphic holiday personifications attempt to convince her using various strategies including breathing green beer fumes in her face ...

Causing her to reveal the name of "that particular someone who makes [her] feel like Queen Cleopatra" ...

and zapping her parents Jake (Julian Rebolledo) and Helen (Wendy Hoopes) with Cupid's love taser!

This is enough to convince Daria that something is up and she heads to see her best friend Jane (Hoopes again!) where she meets the three errant holidays, who've come to jam with Jane's brother/Daria's crush Trent (Alvaro J. Gonzalez).  

Daria offers to take them all out for pizza to talk things over.    Christmas, Halloween and Guy Fawkes Day say they don't want to return to Holiday Island (which can be reached via a wormhole behind a Chinese restaurant, naturally) because it sucks.   Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day show up and warn that there could be dire consequences if the three do not return, to wit, their respective holidays will cease to exist.

Daria and Jane aren't convinced this would be the worst thing ever,  so Cupid and St. Patrick's Day take them to the mall to see that Christmas and Halloween sales are dying as are steak and kidney pie sales due to the loss of Guy Fawkes Day (aka Bonfire Night).   Daria and Jane remain unimpressed. but Christmas, Halloween and Guy Fawkes Day are proving to be annoying houseguests and an overly amorous set of parents prove to be the last straw.

The gang travels to Holiday Island which turns out to be suspiciously like high school and in the absence of the "cool kids" has been taken over by President's Day.  

Meanwhile, Daria's younger sister Quinn (Hoopes again!!) is concerned about her parents' amorous behavior because she thinks they're planning to have another child and is willing to do anything, including risking being kicked out of the Fashion Club, to stop this horrible up-cutes-manship from taking place.

Will Christmas, Halloween and Guy Fawkes Day be cancelled?   Will Daria and Quinn get a new younger sibling?

RigbyMel says:

I am a big fan of Daria generally.  It was regular must-see viewing for me in the 1990s and overall, I find the series holds up very well.  "Depth Takes A Holiday" is an unusual and somewhat surreal episode, though.  The series tended to keep itself on the ridiculous/sarcastic but sort of realistic side of things most of the time and this is a departure into pure fantasy.

There are a lot of folks who really dislike this episode for that reason.    However, if you're willing to go along with the premise, it's quite fun.

Halloween, Christmas and Guy Fawkes Day have a disagreement at band practice
The teen characterizations of the various holidays are amusing.  Cupid is an overgrown frat boy in a diaper who speaks with a Barry White type voice when using his powers.  St. Patrick's Day is a short excitable fellow clad in a green hat and be-shamrocked Hawaiian shirt.

Christmas wears a red shirt, green trousers and a Santa hat and demands sugar cookies.   Halloween is an orange and black clad Goth chick (naturally).    Guy Fawkes Day is portrayed as a Sid Vicious like punk -  which is a bit of an oddity for a UK celebration (also known as Bonfire Night) based on a failed 17th century attempt to blow up Parliament.   Maybe it's meant to be some kind of commentary on what teenagers interpret anarchy to be?

The show's trademark snark is used to good effect -- there are some awesome/depressing comments about similarities between high school and "real" life, as well a one liner from Jane about the consumption of out-of-season nog that never fail to amuse me.

We learn that in the absence of the "cool kids" at Holiday High,  Presidents' Day has staged a bit of a popularity coup and we see them bossing around Memorial Day Arbor Day, which is a nice touch.

Although "Depth Takes A Holiday" is a bit of an oddity in the Daria-verse, it's still pretty snark-tacular and definitely worth a look if you are a fan of 1990s pop culture and holidays.

RigbyMel's rating:

3 episodes of "Sick, Sad World"

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