When Lawndale High's teachers go on strike, Ms. Li hires temporary replacements in order to keep the school running. When she's forced to get rid of one replacement due to inappropriate behavior, she recruits as his replacement the student whose mother was responsible for getting him fired: Daria.
Lawndale High's teachers go on strike after Ms. Li refuses to meet their demands for higher wages. Determined to keep the school running, she hires substitutes to replace the striking teachers. One of them, Mrs. Stoller, is an old woman who doesn't seem to be connecting very well: she treats the students like they were first graders (because that's what she thinks they are), and calls Kevin "Cubie" (for "Q.B.") and continually chides him for his bad posture. The replacement for Mr. O'Neill, a budding author, seems to have read Lolita once too often, and starts paying way too much attention to Tiffany. When Helen hears about it, she puts the legal gears into motion and gets him fired; incensed, Ms. Li demands that Daria take his place, and, after a brief internal debate, she accepts (which, naturally, doesn't sit well with Quinn). On the picket line, the teachers don't seem to be getting their message across very well, until Ms. Defoe asks Jane to help with some strike posters and Mr. O'Neill convinces Trent to help him write a stirring strike song. Mr. DeMartino, however, is livid over Ms. Li's latest offer, and decides to brave the lion's den and not come back until she accepts the teachers' offer. In English class, Daria discovers that the students were studying Romeo and Juliet, and after a few classes, prepares to give them a test on the material. Sandi urges Quinn to convince Daria to go easy on them, but Daria is not swayed; she's determined to do the best she can in a thankless position. Quinn is smarter than they are, she reminds her, and they deserve to fail if all they're interested in doing is figuring out how to pass the test with little to no effort. Dejected, Quinn hunkers down to study, but when Jake tries (and fails) to help her, she finds that she already knows the material. The next day, in History class, Mrs. Stoller gives the students an ultra-simple test, which almost everyone aces (Brittany gets a "C," and Kevin gets an "F" for not knowing the colors on the U.S. flag... which is right in front of him!). In English class, Daria's test consists of one question: say what you thought Romeo and Juliet was about and back up your opinion. Most of the students do well, since Daria was more interested in having them expand their thinking instead of simply reciting facts, but Sandi, Stacy, and Tiffany -- who copied off each other -- all get a "D-" for talking about the Leonardo DiCaprio movie. Quinn, however, gets a "B+," and when Sandi accuses Quinn of sucking up to Daria "like she's a relative or something," Quinn turns around and puts Sandi in her place by defending Daria... before revealing, in public, that they're sisters. Sandi tries to use this revelation for one last shot at humiliating Quinn, but it backfires when Stacy and Tiffany tell her that they (and almost everyone else in the whole school) already knew about it (they didn't say anything because they were being polite). At home, Daria reassures Quinn that she earned her grade solely on her own merit; after all, she says, would she ever do anything nice for Quinn? And the strike? It finally ends with the teachers prevailing, thanks to Mr. DeMartino's perseverance. His elation at his victory is short-lived, however, as he once again faces the one obstacle that's nearly impossible for any teacher to overcome: teaching Kevin.
Historical & Cultural References:
- Daria reminding Quinn that she isn't stupid is a reference to "Is It Fall Yet?", where Quinn discovered her brain underneath all that makeup and bouncy hair.
- This episode finally solves the mystery of how Quinn got away with calling Daria her "cousin" all these years, when Daria had already clearly announced -- to the entire school, mind you -- that Quinn was her sister (in "Esteemsters" (#101)). The answer, of course, was that she hadn't gotten away with it: everyone already knew!
- "Leonardo" and "the movie and the play somehow being connected" -- These are references to the 1996 film Romeo + Juliet, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes as the doomed lovers. This modern-era retelling of the play was set in the fictional city of Verona Beach, home of the rival Montague and Capulet families, whose disputes are often fought not with swords, but with guns.
- "Grasshopper" -- A reference to Kwai Chang Caine, David Carradine's character on the 1972 TV series Kung Fu ("Grasshopper" was the name that Master Po called him while he was studying to be a Shaolin monk).
- "Touched by an angel" -- A sarcastic reference to the 1994 TV series Touched by an Angel, starring Roma Downey and Della Reese as angels sent to Earth to help people in trouble.
- "The Super Bowl being preempted by Antiques Roadshow" -- Daria's comment is based on an actual incident. On November 17, 1968, NBC interrupted a football game between the Oakland Raiders and the New York Jets, who were leading 32-29. With only 65 seconds left in a game whose conclusion seemed certain, NBC switched away to a pre-scheduled airing of Heidi, a new made-for-TV version of the classic children's story. Unfortunately, viewers were unable to see the Raiders storm back and quickly score 14 points to win the game, 43-32. The subsequent outrage prompted the American and National Football Leagues to impose new rules requiring networks to show games to their completion.
- Mr. DeMartino sobbing about "how everyone was in his dream" is based on the final scene from the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz (based on the L. Frank Baum book), when Dorothy (played by Judy Garland) awakened from her Oz dream after flying debris from the tornado knocked her unconscious.
- James R. "Jimmy" Hoffa (1913-1975) was president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters from the mid-1950's through the mid-1960's. His reign as union president was tainted by scandal and accusations of racketeering, and his mysterious disappearance in 1975 is suspected to be the work of the Mafia. (His body has never been found.) Hoffa's life story was dramatized in the 1992 movie Hoffa, with Jack Nicholson as the title character.
(Upchuck is peeking through the keyhole into Ms. Li's office)
Upchuck - Ooh, I like what I'm seeing...
(Daria and Jane approach as Upchuck stands up)
Jane - Ms. Li changing her support hose again?
Daria - That's another habit that will lead to blindness, Upchuck.
Jane - But in this case you'll wish for it.
Ms. Li (over P.A.) - Students of Lawndale High, your attention, please.
Jane - Is that the voice in my head that tells me to kill and kill again?
Daria - No. Satan's voice is lower and he has an English accent.
Mrs. Stoller - For our first lesson, let's learn each other's names. I'm Mrs. Stoller.
Kevin - Got it! Man, this class is going to be a breeze!
Mrs. Stoller - And you are?
Kevin - I'm the Q.B.!
Mrs. Stoller - Posture, Cubie, posture.
Mrs. Stoller - And what's your name, dear?
Daria - Daria.
Mrs. Stoller - That sounds like a hippie name. I think I'll call you Darlene. So much prettier.
Mr. Edwards - You see, the only books worth reading are those written in the deep, passionate waters of life.
Stacy - So, like Jaws?
Mr. Edwards - No, no, like the novel I'm writing. (he leans over Tiffany's desk) It's about a slightly older, sensitive man and the love a budding woman child feels for him when she gets to know him better.
Tiffany - What...?
Mr. Edwards - See... love can be so simple when the hand of experience nurtures the budding flower to full blossom.
Tiffany - You're writing about gardening?
Quinn - And my Language Arts substitute wouldn't stop talking about this stupid novel he's writing!
Helen - Mm-hmm...
Quinn - About some professor who dates a budding child woman because he wants to blossom her.
Helen - Mm-hmm...
Quinn - And then he started acting out his stupid book for us, stroking Tiffany's hair and telling her about his anguished soul...
Helen - Mm-hmm... what?! He was stroking Tiffany's hair?!
Quinn - I know! Like Tiffany would ever date someone who wore a tweed jacket.
Helen - Daria! Get me the...
(she turns and sees Daria standing beside her, phone in hand; she had seen where this was headed moments earlier)
Helen - (takes phone) Thank you.
(Daria stands up and starts to walk out)
Mrs. Stoller - Darlene? Where are you going?
Daria (as she's leaving) - To get Daria.
Ms. Li - We wouldn't be in this fix if it weren't for your mother.
Daria - Yeah. Hire one pedophile and she gets all bent out of shape.
("devil" and "angel" versions of Daria appear and hover over each of her shoulders)
Devil Daria - Not so fast. You'll get out of gym class.
Angel Daria - You? A scab?
Devil Daria - Oh, great. Touched by an angel.
Angel Daria - You'd be betraying your teachers.
Devil Daria - Hey, yeah! You'd be betraying your teachers!
Angel Daria - You'd just be falling into the same trap that managements always use to keep wages low and workers weak.
Devil Daria - Oh, go dance on the head of a pin. You could make Quinn's life really miserable.
Angel Daria - Huh. That's a good point.
Devil Daria - Hey, you hungry?
Angel Daria - Yeah, we can pick this up later.
(the "devil" and the "angel" disappear)
Ms. Li - Attention, young people! Mr. Edwards will no longer be joining us due to... reasons.
Tiffany - I hope it's not his anguish acting up.
Ms. Li - But I am proud to introduce a substitute with tolerable credentials, who is far less liable to engender a lawsuit that could cost me my very pants.
Jane - Well, what do you know? Trent's actually on time to pick us up, and all I had to do was set his clock ahead four hours.
Daria - I don't think he's adjusted to the time change. He appears to be writing a song with Mr. O'Neill.
Jane - He's too good-natured. If a teacher tried to take advantage of me like that, I'd tell them right where to stick it.
(Ms. Defoe approaches the girls)
Ms. Defoe - Jane, thank God. We need your taste and talent.
Daria - Go on, Jane, offer that piece of friendly advice you just mentioned.
Mrs. Stoller - And so, the people asked George Washington, "Will you be our new king?" And Washington said... (Jane enters the room) ...young lady, you're tardy.
Brittany - Gee, he wasn't very focused.
Daria - Okay. We know Mr. O'Neill assigned a play, and you're pretty sure the title didn't contain the word "alien." Do you remember anything else?
Joey - Uh, I think the guy on the cover was wearing tights.
Daria - Hmm. Since there are no wrestling dramas on the syllabus, I'm guessing Shakespeare.
Jeffy - Wait, I remember now. He's a stalker. He follows girls home from parties and peeks in their windows.
Daria - Romeo and Juliet.
Kevin - Hey, Daria. Could you write me a note that says I didn't put that dent in my dad's car?
Brittany - And can we have one to get out of class so we can make out... (sees look on Daria's face) ...scholarship applications?
(DeMartino pulls a contract out of his pocket)
Mr. DeMartino - This is the contract we wrote, and this is the contract she's going to sign! Cover me, boys. I'm going in! (enters the building)
(Ms. Defoe approaches Jane, who's searching the skies)
Ms. Defoe - What are you looking for, Jane?
Jane - Bombers. He'll never make it without air support.
Jamie - (slowly and flatly) "For never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her... Romeo."
Daria - Thank you, Joey, Jeffy or Jamie. Laurence Olivier, in his present state, couldn't have done better.
Jeffy - What does "woe" mean?
Daria - It like the feeling you'd get if the Super Bowl were preempted by Antiques Roadshow.
Joey - Whoa!
Daria - See?
Tom - Hey, how about asking them this: "If Verona had had metal detectors, would Mercutio be alive today?"
Daria - If he were, he'd be about 400 years old.
Tom - That's why they'll all get it wrong. Trick question, yeah!
Daria - Gee, I wonder why no one's ever asked you to teach a class.
Quinn - So you'll do it?
Daria - Right after I change into my fur bikini. (Tom smiles at this)
Tom - Hmm, maybe you should make it easy. Give the poor kids a break.
Daria - I lied about the fur bikini.
Tom - (fake anger) Damn!
Ms. Li - Don't think you can intimiate... intermolate... don't think you can scare me with your threat to picket naked!
Mr. DeMartino - You think I'm bluffing?! This is Goodwill polyester I've been sweating in all night. I want to picket naked!
Sandi - An essay test?
Stacy - 200 words?
Tiffany - Think...?
Ms. Li - (sleepily) Oh, Puffy, you don't need a weapon to make me do your bidding...
Quinn - Besides, why shouldn't I act sisterly towards her? After all... (she looks right at Daria) ...she's my sister.
Sandi - (gasps) Did you hear that? Oh, my gosh! Quinn just admitted that weird girl is her sister!
Stacy - ("well, duh!") Well, um, of course she is, Sandi. We knew that.
Tiffany - We were just being polite about it.
Ms. Li - (over P.A., dazed) People of Mars! I mean, students of Lawndale High. This is your leader... um, principal. What was I saying? Oh! The teachers... the teachers... the strike's over! Your teachers will be back tomorrow! Good ni... day. (P.A. clicks off)
Delayed Reaction Review
Ms. Li and the teachers of Lawndale weren't exactly close in their negotiations. Mr. DeMartino and the teachers wanted a ten-percent raise, while she was offering a coffee maker in the teachers' lounge. Who could blame them for striking? Now, maybe ten-percent is a little steep, but they do deserve something. I mean, they do have to try to teach kids like Kevin! That, in itself, justifies any raise they get!
Where Do They Find These People?
Of course, by "these people," I mean the substitute teachers. And I know we only saw three of them (and one of them was Daria, who did a fine job), but Ms. Li might as well have shut down the whole school. First, there was Mrs. Stoller, who thought she was teaching first graders and then decided to change some of the students' names (like "QB" for Kevin and "Darlene" for Daria -- funny, she thought "Daria" was odd, but didn't have a problem with "QB" [ed note: in the closed captioning, it's spelled "Cubie"]). Then there was Quinn's class' sub, Mr. Edwards; he certainly had some issues. He wanted to "bloom Tiffany's flower" or something; obviously, he shouldn't have been teaching kids. Once Helen caught wind of this problem, he got the boot. And since Daria's mom caused the opening, Ms. Li drafted Daria to take over the class. I'm guessing this isn't customary, letting students teach in high school (unless it's part of some sort of project). I guess desperate times call for desperate measures.
Pros and Cons:
One of the greatest cartoon cliches of all time has to be the good old "imaginary angel versus imaginary devil arguing on the shoulders of the main character in an attempt to make a crucial decision." Maybe I'm being over-descriptive, but it would be disappointing if an animated program went on for five years and didn't use that one at least once. Daria's devil was for Daria teaching Quinn's class, giving reasons like getting out of gym class, making Quinn miserable, and betraying her teachers. Her angel, on the other hand, told her not to be a scab, not to make the teachers week, and that she'd be betraying her teachers. Ah, they even used the one where they both gave the same reason and ended up deciding to bail on the hero. How refreshing! The point (and you though we'd never get to one) is that they took this classic gag that's been done a million times before, put their own spin on it, and then executed it to perfection (unless you weren't looking at the screen while it was going on -- that would make it tough to know who's talking).
Of course, Quinn wasn't too happy to learn that Daria would be teaching her class during the rest of the strike. However, she did benefit from it. Not only did she have 24-hour access to her teacher, she also seemed to work a lot harder for the class. She was taking notes much more vigorously than I've ever seen, and it ended up helping her in the end.
One of the odder combinations of characters we've ever seen has to be Trent's whole involvement in the writing of protest songs with Mr. O'Neill. As we've heard in the past, Trent hasn't exactly mastered the lyrical part of songwriting yet (not that he has mastered the musical part). Add that to the fact that O'Neill isn't the most creative person in the world, and you can't help but expect success. All in all, they never did quite get anything done before the strike was over, but it was funny to see the little bit of interaction between Trent and O'Neill that we did. O'Neill's attempt to finish one of Trent's lyrics, and how Trent dismissed it, was hilarious (not to mention the fact that Trent probably would've come up with something like that himself anyway).
Where to Begin:
Daria's foray into teaching had a rocky start. She just about had to beat out of the class the fact that they were working on "Romeo and Juliet." Then she had to worry about making up a test about it (and then having to grade that test). During all of this, Quinn is hounding her to go easy on the class. Then again, Quinn didn't exactly get a free pass. Her sister, whom she has feuded with on many occasions, is suddenly her teacher. And just when she felt she could take advantage of that, she comes up empty.
Again, as he did in "The Story of D," Jake came through for one of his girls. Again, it was sort of inadvertent, but he's got to cling to any success he has (if he even realized he helped here). Anyway, when Quinn goes to him to complain about Daria, he offers to help her with "Romeo and Juliet" and proceeds to get it completely confused with every other work of Shakespeare (he should get credit for knowing they're all related). That causes Quinn to rattle off the basic plot and make her realize that she knows it.
Fight to the Death:
Mr. DeMartino took it upon himself to go and try to convince Ms. Li to sign his proposed contract. Anyway, he did get her to cave and sign it in some sort of delirious stupor. He was proud of himself and fired up to take on any challenge, until he tried to teach Kevin again.
But before the regular teachers could take back their posts, the grades for Daria's little test came back. The class seemed to do well (and for the most part appreciated Daria's effort to teach them), except for three-quarters of the Fashion Club (who only passed because they knew that the play and the movie were somehow related). Quinn ended up with a B+, seemingly a marked improvement over her usual performance. This caused Sandi to move in for the kill. She said that Quinn only did well because she had a "certain relationship with the teacher," and Quinn countered with a strong defense of Daria's instruction (while not so subtly adding that she had pictures of a 5th grade Sandi clad with braces). The kicker was that after getting through this little argument, Quinn went for broke and just said that Daria was her sister. The best part about that was when Sandi tried to use this little "admission": Tiffany and Stacy just shot her down by saying they already knew that and saying "we were just being polite." I couldn't have thought of a better way to end that gag.
Swing and a Long Drive:
Speaking of Quinn's B+ and her subsequent "admission," it really showed a lot. She's realizing that she's not one of the dumb ones and that if she works hard, she'll earn high grades. Also, she learned that she shouldn't be ashamed of her family (not that she was).
"Lucky Strike" was a very strong episode and, quite frankly, had a lot of things that I wanted to see. Daria was thrust into a leadership role that she didn't particularly want, and it was good for her. She "made the best of a bad situation" quite nicely and showed how capable she is to deal with "crisis" predicaments (an ability that's very valuable in the real world). As for Quinn, she showed some more of the dedication to her studies that she did in "Is It Fall Yet?" And while between now and then she seemed to have had a minor relapse of her old ways, events like the ones that happened in "Lucky Strike" will continue to push her in the right direction. How can I not like that?
Daria as a Whole, Running Gag R.I.P.:
The whole "she's not my sister" gag has been mercifully put out of its misery. Let's see: Quinn has called Daria her cousin, an exchange student, and a bunch of other stuff that I don't remember and don't feel like looking up. Anyway, I'm glad to see this one go.
Copyright © 2001 Mike Quinn [All Rights Reserved]. Used with permission. The views presented in this review are those of the author, and may or may not necessarily be those of Outpost Daria Reborn.