"The Spatula Man"
Jake's recovery from a mild heart attack is complicated by the arrival of his mother, a woman with old-fashioned ideas that clash wildly with the Morgendorffer women, particularly Helen.
Daria's day goes from bad to worse when the arrival of a pair of morning radio DJs at the school (orchestrated by Ms. Li, of course) is topped by Jake having a mild heart attack and flopping face-first into a bowl of guacamole. Convinced that the Grim Reaper is just around the corner, he demands to have his mother take care of him. Ruth Morgendorffer, like mothers-in-law throughout time, is overly critical of everything Helen does as she tends to her Jakey, which drives Helen into doing everything she can to prove her wrong. Quinn, meanwhile, is scared out of her mind over her father's brush with death, so she resolves to study medicine and become a heart specialist, but her efforts fall somewhat short of the mark when her primary training consists of a game of Operation and reading medical textbooks that are way out of her league. Ruth is no help, as she continually insists that Quinn concentrate on her looks and to get married so she doesn't have to work. At school, the DJs drive Daria to distraction with their antics, which range from love match-ups (with Upchuck as the potential mate) to "101 different words for 'sex'." Finally, Daria can't take it anymore, and manages to get rid of the DJs as only she can: by shaming them into leaving. Meanwhile, Ruth gets an earful from a recuperating Jake regarding his father, "Mad Dog" Morgendorffer, shattering her rose-colored image of the man and making her realize that his influence was not very beneficial for Jake. Daria reminds her of this to get her to lay off Helen and Quinn, and has a heart-to-heart with Jake that makes him feel much better as he realizes that he's doing much better than his father (who was already dead at Jake's age).
Historical & Cultural References:
- "Good grief" is the signature phrase uttered by Charlie Brown, the main character in the Charles Schulz (1922-2000) comic strip Peanuts. "It's lame deejays, Charlie Brown" is a pun on all the various animated Peanuts TV shows that have a similarly-phrased title (i.e. It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown).
- Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937) was an Italian physicist. He is credited for the development of wireless telegraphy (radio), for which he won the Nobel Prize.
- "Dr. Quinn, medicine moron" is a pun on the title of the TV series Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, which starred Jane Seymour as a frontier doctor in late 1800s Colorado.
Spatula Man (over loudspeaker) - Hey, Lawndale High! Are you ready to par-tay crazy?
Jane - What the hell is that?
Daria - If it's an ice cream truck, that better be some damn good ice cream.
Daria - Good grief.
Jane - It's lame deejays, Charlie Brown.
Quinn - That Spatula Man is funny!
Daria - As are most men named for kitchen utensils.
Jake - "What did the doctor tell you about cheese, Jake? What did the doctor tell you about cheese, Jake?" Why can't a man come home from a hard day's work and enjoy a lousy taco without it turning into... hey, you know, it's the darndest thing! I can't feel my arm! (starts wheezing)
Daria - Dad?
Jake - Blurk... (flops face-first into guacamole)
Quinn - Daddy?
Jake - Mom's... going to miss... the guacamole... (collapses again)
Helen - Jakey! (drops phone)
Daria - Was there much damage to his heart?
Doctor - I don't think so. If he adopts the right diet, exercise, and attitude, he should be fine. I hope you don't mind the question, but is there anything in your father's home life that might be causing him stress?
(everyone looks at each other uneasily)
Helen - Oh, Jakey! I promise, the girls and I will take good care of you from now on.
Jake - What's the catch?
Helen - There's no catch, Jake. That's just your medication talking.
Daria - Assuming he's on any medication.
Quinn - And guess what, Daddy? I'm going to study to be a doctor!
Jake - Hey, that's great!
Daria - Dr. Quinn, medicine moron.
Quinn - A heart doctor. If Dad had died, I would've been freaked out for, like, years.
Jake - That's the spirit, sweetie. Avenge my death.
Daria - You're not dying, Dad.
Jake - Avenge me!
Quinn - Ugh! This is so frustrating! Daria, have you ever read this book?
Daria - Thrombocytopenic Complications After Stent Placement Post-Coronary Artery Angioplasty. Maybe you should start off with something easier. Many coloring books feature hearts -- and rainbows.
Jake - Daria... my eldest... my heir...
Daria - Well, if I manage to bump off Mom and make it look like an accident.
Jake - To think I promised to walk you down the aisle one day.
Daria - Now there's a request I definitely don't remember making.
Sandi - Tiffany, dear. Would you please explain to the Spatula Man why a bumper sticker cannot possibly compensate for the shame and permanent reputation damage involved in a single date with Charles Ruttheimer.
Tiffany - (into microphone) Upchuck? Eww...
Upchuck - Climb on up here, kitten. Let me be your ball of yarn. (growls seductively)
Daria - Okay, you talked me into it.
Spatula Man - You hear that, everybody?
Daria - I'll just run home first and take a ten-year shower.
Daria - Hello? (beat) Mom, it's Marianne at the office.
Helen - I'll just have to call her back. Use the message pad.
Daria - Message pad? (grabs notepad) She'll have to get back to you when she regains her sanity. (beat) No, I don't know when that'll be.
Daria - Hello? (beat) Yes, Quinn's here, but she's studying. (beat) "Stud-y-ing." (beat) No, this isn't prank call. You called me.
Daria - Between Dad and the Party Van, life's become a living hell at home and at school.
Jane - Don't worry, the van will move on soon. Or be destroyed in a mysterious bombing. I haven't decided yet.
Quinn - Do doctors in operating rooms have to wear these masks? Because they can't be good for your pores.
Helen - Not now, Quinn! I mixed up the sugar and the salt again.
Jake - (runs around outside) Yay! Hello, front lawn! Hello, garbage truck! Merry Christmas, you wonderful old garden gnome!
Jane - So Grandma Ruth just took off?
Daria - She finally realized she was doing more harm than good.
Jane - And did you, perhaps, help her realize that?
Daria - I may have had a hand in her epiphany.
Jane - I hope you washed it thoroughly.
Delayed Reaction Review
Mental in the Morning:
I've often wondered why weekday morning DJ's tend to lean toward the wacky (or at least out of the ordinary). Those guys from Z-93 do more than lean -- they're stereotypes of stereotypes. They take the idea of the "morning zoo" to the absolute extreme. No wonder Daria and Jane didn't want anything to do with them; they were dense. Speaking of being dense, "Rainbow Man" (as I'm calling the guy with the wig) and the Spatula Man couldn't take a hint if you nailed it to their heads. Jane's threat of a restraining order, the thrashing by the Fashion Club, and Daria's imaginary run home for a ten year long shower barely slowed them down. The "big guns" were needed to finally get rid of them.
How Much Did They Pay Her?
Ms. Li is beyond greed. I couldn't imagine inviting some DJ's to a school for a whole week, just because they're paying. Maybe for a day, if a charitable event is involved, but a whole week is pushing it. I'm surprised that Ms. Li hasn't at least been investigated for some of this stuff. I also wouldn't be surprised if some of the student body has taken to calling her a warden instead of a principal. I don't think most school districts, let alone individual schools, have their own drug-sniffing dogs (I could be wrong, but please don't tell me I'm wrong).
Cameos of the Week:
It's nice to see that peripheral characters like Jodie and Upchuck haven't been completely forgotten, but it would be even nicer if they were used better. This goes more for Jodie than Upchuck, since he did fit into the scene he was placed. Jane probably could have easily said Jodie's one line. Here's to hoping for at least some meaningful use of Jodie (not to mention that guy she hangs out with -- what's his name, again?). It would be a shame otherwise.
I Want My Mommy:
No wonder Jake is so screwed up. Whatever Mad Dog may have done to him, his mother didn't seem to help him out any. As Daria pointed out, she just about admitted this to Jake, especially when he confronted her. She also fit the role of the meddling mother-in-law. She had a disparaging comment about everything Helen said or did. Ruth seemed to be conflicted about everything. She defended the way her life went; she had one of the more "traditional" roles of women. At the same time, she wishes that she would have broken that role every once and a while. At least Quinn and Helen were able to see her "advice" for what it was worth (with Daria's help) -- all right, but not necessarily the only way to go.
The End of the Heart Attack Watch:
I've probably said in every other review that Jake was on the short road to coronary displeasure, based on almost everything he's ever done in the show. That doesn't make me particularly insightful, but the actual heart attack was sort of anti-climactic. I guess that'll happen with all of the build up. But the more interesting thing is the?
Instant Transformation of the Week:
At first I was surprised that Helen and Quinn changed so suddenly and drastically into the "perfect" housewife and the medical student wannabe. When I started to think about it, the transformation made a whole lot of sense. Both of them have taken Jake for granted, and when the possibility of him dying came up, and therefore having their lives completely changed, it made them appreciate how important he could be to them.
Cartoon-ish Behavior of the Week:
Probably one of the most cartoon-ish happenings in all of Daria-canon was the sequence after Jake figured out that he outlived his father. I can understand him being overjoyed by this revelation, but he was a bit overactive for a heart patient. Settle down Jake, there'll be plenty of time to celebrate. Hopefully.
I'm sort of surprised that I haven't noticed this mentioned yet (if it has been, I'm sorry I missed it). With all of the talk about the "Homer-ization" of Jake, I noticed some peculiarly placed references to Homer Simpson in this episode (not to mention the fact that Homer has had numerous heart attacks over the years, but that'll be chalked up to coincidence). First, right at the beginning during all of the funny puppet talk, Daria mentions a nuclear power plant, which is where Homer works on The Simpsons. The second thing I noticed was when Jake was celebrating, he yelled "Wah-hoo!" which bears more than a striking resemblance to Homer's "Woo-hoo!" I'm not sure if this was intentional, but it certainly is eerie.
Well, Jake has finally been turned completely into a cartoon character (which is what he is anyway), but I can't say that the way it happened was that upsetting. It doesn't seem that the way Jake acted was that far off, for someone who went through what he just did. After all, this episode was a laugh a minute, and that goes a long way to soften the blow of Jake's evolution. The only other major complaint I have is that we could have done without some of the wacky DJ moments. Otherwise, I enjoyed this episode but only to a point.
The Bottom Line:
Jake now has at least one more thing in common with DeMartino.
Daria as a Whole, Awesome Analysis:
"Ewww, Upchuck" is right up there with "Wind, Hair." Tiffany, keep up the good work and I see a Rhodes Scholarship in your future.
Copyright © 1999 Mike Quinn [All Rights Reserved]. Used with permission. The views presented here are those of the author, and may or may not necessarily be those of Outpost Daria Reborn.