Daria: The Complete
Animated Series

May 11, 2010 will go down in history for the Daria fan community, for it was on this date that MTV finally released Daria: The Complete Animated Series on DVD. After eight years of rumors, speculation, and countless bootlegs sold through eBay and shady online outfits, fans could now legally enjoy the adventures of Our Heroine as she navigated through the choppy waters of high school life. To celebrate, this page is devoted to providing not only complete information about the DVD set, it also provides links to reviews of the set from outside sources, as well as reviews and observations from the fan community.

A big thank you (and a bear-crushing hug) goes out to Kara Wild, who, in addition to taking up the DVDaria petition and de-facto leadership of the "get Daria on DVD" movement, followed up leads, made calls, and generally pestered the hell out of MTV (and Glenn Eichler) in order to help make the DVD release a reality. Bless you, Kara!

This page will continue to be updated as more information, reviews, etc. becomes available.

The Cold, Hard Facts
A Detailed Look
Media Reviews & Discussions
Impressions from the Fans

The Cold, Hard Facts
Number of Discs:
Region Coding:
Closed Captioning:
Region 1 (United States and Canada)
NTSC full screen (4:3 aspect ratio)
Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
Replacement music (due to high licensing costs)

  • All 65 episodes (complete and uncut)
  • "Is It Fall Yet?" (complete and uncut)
  • "Is It College Yet?" (edited-for-time version)
  • The animatic pilot episode "Sealed With a Kick"
  • The Mystik Spiral music video for "Freakin' Friends"
  • The option on selected episodes to view their short introductions from 2001's "Sarcastathon 3000" episode marathon
  • MTV's "Top 10 Animated Video Countdown" (minus the videos) hosted by Daria and Jane
  • A new six-minute cast and crew interview
  • The never-before-seen Mystik Spiral spinoff script (requires a DVD-ROM drive and Adobe Acrobat or other PDF viewer)

A Detailed Look
by Martin J. Pollard

After an excruciatingly long wait, the Daria: The Complete Animated Series DVD box set is available to the public. As with most things, this set is a mixed bag: a lot of good, some bad, a few inexcusable choices, and a lot of things we fans will nit-pick until The End Of Time. Let's take an in-depth look at this, the Holy Grail of Daria fandom.


The 8-disc set comes in a single Amray-style case that uses four hinged trays to hold the discs (one disc on each side of the trays). The trays are certainly more convenient in terms of removing discs than other designs (such as trays where one disc overlaps the other, making discs a nightmare to remove), while still being compact enough to not take up acres of space on your self. At least it's not one of those cardboard-and-plastic jobs, or a box that uses separate "thinpak" DVD cases. (The latter is marginally better than the cardboard jobs, but I personally prefer the Amray-style case: it keeps all the discs together in one snap-closed box.)

(images courtesy of Derek - click to enlarge)

The front and back artwork is functional, though not particularly inspired. On the front, Daria herself appears in the classic "arms folded with deadpan expression" pose. The back contains the usual draw-you-in blurb, half-portraits of six of the main characters (Daria, Jane, Trent, Quinn, Kevin, and Brittany), and a description of the set's contents, all using the "Daria's writing" font found in the two Daria books (The Daria Diaries and The Daria Database). Again, functional but not inspired; it's my opinion that this is the first indication of many that MTV wanted to get this set out cheaply by cutting as many corners as they could get away with without severly pissing off the fans. More on this later.

(image courtesy of Derek - click to enlarge)

Unlike DVD releases in the past, the set does not come with a booklet, a trend that's the norm these days as a cost-cutting move by the studios to keep prices low and margins high. However, a sheet with a personal message from series creator Glenn Eichler is included, which is a nice touch. The main thrust of his message is in regards to the replacement music used throughout the set (more on this later), which basically amounts to "we had to do this, otherwise you'd never have seen this set, so bugger off." Like Kara Wild said in her review, though, it might have been nicer if the fans had gotten more of a "thank you" instead of being treated like "neurotic burdens to be kept at a distance of ten feet at all times," particularly in light of the fact that it was the fans' constantly reminding MTV that there was a market for Daria that was instrumental in getting this set out in the first place. (Sigh...)

(image courtesy of Derek - click to enlarge)

The eight discs themselves feature a combination of individual and paired characters. They are, in disc order: Daria, Jane, Quinn and Trent, Kevin and Brittany, Helen and Jake, Stacy and Upchuck, Jodie and Mack, and Mr. DeMartino and Ms. Li. Again, more logical choices could have been made (example: get rid of DeMartino and Li, pair up Daria and Jane, substitute Tom for Quinn, and pair up the four Fashion Clubbers on two discs, thus featuring the series' major players). Also, someone in production must not have been paying attention, otherwise they would have realized that the pictures of Jane and Mr. DeMartino were backwards!

Disc Contents

The episodes are presented in production order, spread out over each disc, with the eighth disc containing the movies and the bonus features. The layout is as follows:

  • Disc 1: Episodes 101-109
  • Disc 2: Episodes 110-113 and 201-205
  • Disc 3: Episodes 206-213 and 301
  • Disc 4: Episodes 302-310
  • Disc 5: Episodes 311-313 and 401-406
  • Disc 6: Episodes 407-413 and 501-502
  • Disc 7: Episodes 503-511
  • Disc 8: Episodes 512-513, movies, bonus features

(One significant note: this set does finally settle the long-standing question of where the episode "Daria!" fits into the production schedule. Even though MTV used the much-hyped episode as the third season premiere, it is shown here that it was indeed supposed to be the seventh episode of season three, with "Through A Lens Darkly" being the first episode.)

With the exception of disc one, each disc goes straight to the root menu when loaded (the first disc contains pre-menu advertisements for other MTV DVD releases). The menus themselves are a pleasant surprise: instead of a static screen with choices, the disc shows a smiling Daria zooming into close-up and receding into the familiar logo (just like the episode opening credits) in the center of an animated menu. This is one of the set's bright spots, and was quite unexpected given MTV's stated desire to keep costs low.

The Episodes

Each disc allows you to select individual episodes for viewing, or you can use the "play all" option to watch all of the episodes back-to-back. Unfortunately, the overall presentation of the episodes is marred by the fact that only the first episode on each disc has the opening credits intact; the remaining episodes begin at the logo zoom-in. They managed to keep the end credits intact on every episode; how hard would it have been to leave the opening ones alone (particularly in the case of the Broadway-themed "Daria!", the only episode to feature a unique rendition of the theme song)? Did those extra 30 seconds per episode really make that much of a difference? For those of us who value an intact viewing experience, this particular act of corner-cutting is a big black mark.

On several episodes, the option is presented to show a clip from 2001's "Sarcastathon 3000," a day-long marathon of episodes that preceded the season five premiere, "Fizz Ed." The clips have Daria and Jane making their usual snarky banter while dressed in bizarre outfits that are related to the theme of the episode. Unfortunately, they are not collected into one long feature—you have to view the episodes individually in order to see them—and there is no option to show them when using the "play all" feature.

The Movies

"Is It Fall Yet?" and "Is It College Yet?" appear to have both been lifted whole from their individual DVD releases. This is good news and bad news, for while IIFY is the original, uncut version that MTV broadcast on its premiere night, IICY is the edited-for-time version. According to MTV, the individual elements for the uncut version were lost. Since separate audio tracks were necessary in order to replace the music (more on this later), they had no choice but to use the edited version. If true, then the inclusion of the edited version makes sense, but again, it's another big black mark against the set.

Video, Audio, Subtitles and Captioning

The video quality is amazingly good; the episodes never looked better. Colors are crisp, with little evidence of compression artifacting. They should scale well on high-definition televisions, though I can't verify this personally. (Wisely, MTV decided not to go the George Lucas route and tinker with the video. What you see is what was originally shown, the best example of this being Daria's miscolored green jacket in "The Misery Chick.") The crisp video also means you can now very clearly see the difference between the animation in the first three seasons, which were exclusively hand-drawn, and seasons four and five, where the animations had computer assistance (character and object motion is visibly smoother in many places).

Audio quality is also good, even if limited to Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 (though I can't imagine any benefit to Dolby Surround 5.1 here). The Region 1 release includes English audio tracks only; it remains to be seen if releases in other regions (if and when they arrive) include alternate audio tracks.

Subtitles are not included, but every episode does contain Closed Captioning information (in English), as does "Is It Fall Yet?". None of the special features has CC, nor does "Is It College Yet?" (the standalone DVD didn't include it, either, so again it's consistent with the movies being transplanted directly from their solo releases).

Music Licensing

This has probably been the most contentious part of the entire set: the substitution of nearly all of the original music cues with "generic" replacements. Why? Back in the 1990s, when MTV was developing the show, it had access to a vast array of contemporary songs to use as background music, and since it had the rights to use this music in broadcasts, it was liberally scattered throughout Daria. Widespread distribution of television shows on home video was an idea that was still in its infancy, however, and MTV did not think to negotiate for the home video distribution rights. Since the cost of obtaining these rights today would be astronomical, MTV made the only decision it could: it replaced the music.

To their credit, MTV did make a valiant attempt to use "sound-alike" music in most places. Thanks to this effort, the result is that the substitutions do not (mostly) affect the overall tone of the episodes. (Contrast this with the release of the first season of WKRP in Cincinatti: whole episodes were butchered because of the removal of key pieces of music, much of which was essential to their plots. As a result, sales were a disaster, and no further releases have been announced.)

That is not the case in some instances, however. The examples of missing music greatly affecting episodes that have been cited most often are:

  • R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts" from "Road Worrier"—The removal of this song from the scene where the Tank is stuck in a traffic jam destroys the entire intent of the "this is like that R.E.M. video" gag, as the scene mimics a similar one from the video.
  • Monaco's "What Do You Want From Me?" from "Quinn the Brain"—The song has become such an iconic part of the episode (it is playing during Daria's desperate transformation into a Quinn-clone) that its absence is keenly felt. The scene is definitely lessened without it.
  • Foo Fighter's "Everlong" from "Lane Miserables"—Again, an iconic part of the episode; the scene (played when a crestfallen Daria watches Trent leaving the house with Monique) is definitely lessened without it.
  • Various TV show themes from "Murder, She Snored"—The gags about Murder, She Wrote, Magnum P.I., Columbo, McCloud and Charlie's Angels simply fall flat without the accompanying theme music.

A few songs were retained, more or less. "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" remains in "Legends of the Mall," though it is a new recording with a Cyndi Lauper sound-alike. "Whoomp! There It Is" by Tag Team remains in "One J at a Time." All of the music in "Daria!" remains intact, as those were original tunes that were sung by the voice actors. And, of course, the main themes by Splendora ("You're Standing On My Neck," "Turn the Sun Down," and "College Try") are still here. Others have reported that a small number of other songs have also been retained, but are relatively minor compared to the missing major ones listed above. (Many have opined that MTV should've saved their money for those particular songs and replaced the rest with generic tunes.)

Ultimately, and unfortunately, it's a situation that we're going to have to live with. It's highly doubtful that MTV is going to bother ponying up the cash for music rights to a series that—let's be honest—was an atypical niche program that, inexplicably, became popular in spite of their typical audience. (Sure, we know better, but the Bottom Line rules all.)

Special Features

MTV could have packaged just the episodes and movies and said, "There, you've got your episodes, have fun." Instead, they included a collection of special features on disc 8 to add a little "oomph!" to the set. As you might have guessed by now, these features range from "good" to "why bother?" They are:

  • "Sealed With a Kick"—This is the short animatic pilot episode that convinced the MTV executives to give Daria the green light. It was previously only available on the first Daria VHS release.
  • Mystik Spiral's "Freakin' Friends" video—A carryover from the standalone "Is It Fall Yet?" DVD. It's a fun bit of fluff that shows that Mystik Spiral could've been much, much better if they'd put this much effort into their whole act (but then we wouldn't have a running gag, would we?).
  • MTV's Top 10 Animated Videos Countdown—Hosted by Daria and Jane, this was a special edition of their countdown show that featured animated videos (such as Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing" and Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer"). The videos themselves aren't included, and they never mention the number one video by name (it was "Sledgehammer"). They do, however, give a shout-out to Beavis and Butt-Head when discussing "Love Rollercoaster" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers (which was used in the film Beavis and Butt-Head Do America).
  • A six-minute cast and crew interview, with comments from (among others) series creator Glenn Eichler and voice actors Tracy Grandstaff and Wendy Hoopes. Unfortunately, it's way too short, and doesn't really tell us much more than we already knew. (The half-hour Daria: Behind the Scenes special would have been a better choice; it was much more thorough.)
  • A previously unseen script for a Mystik Spiral spin-off (requires a computer with a DVD-ROM drive and Adobe Acrobat Reader or other software that will read PDF files). The script has the boys keeping their "eyes on the prize" by moving to another city, where they find a place to live and meet new people while continuing to pursue their dream. No other characters from Daria appear in the script.

A few additional items would have been welcome (the Look Back in Annoyance special, the "final farewell" montage from the premiere broadcast of "Is It College Yet?", Jane Clayton's interview with Daria on the CBS Morning Show, the Daria and Jane segments from the 1998 and 1999 Daria Day marathons), but like I said, MTV really didn't have to include anything at all. Giving the fans these special features, warts and all, was a nice gesture on their part, I thought.


Daria: The Complete Animated Series is not the perfect DVD box set that we all dreamed about, but it's a good collection nonetheless. Having all of the episodes and movies at your fingertips (and not in bootleg form, where "you get what you pay for" takes on a whole new meaning) is a definite plus, and gives Daria a chance to delight audiences, new and old, for a long time.

Media Reviews & Discussions
Note: These links may change or become extinct at any time.
This is a list of all known reviews and discussions of the DVD set from various media outlets.
Any omissions are due solely to lack of awareness, not a deliberate attempt at exclusion.
(In other words, I can't include it if I don't know about it!)

Harry Knowles at Ain't It Cool News
Hercules at Ain't It Cool News
Rich Heldenfels at the Akron Beacon Journal
Nathan Rabin at The A.V. Club
Chris Ball at Cleveland.com
Francis Rizzo III at DVD Talk
Judge Victor Valdivia at DVD Verdict
Jefferson Robbins at Film Freak Central
John Wenzel at Get Real Denver
Haunted Flower at IndyMojo.com
Dennis Amith at J!-ENT
Margaret Hartmann at Jezebel.com
Aaron Barnhart at the Kansas City Star
Liz Ohanesian at LA Weekly
Ccfmds at NERDSociety.com
C.S. Strowbridge at The Numbers
Kevin O'Donnell at Rolling Stone Magazine
Latoya Peterson at Salon.com
Reihan Salam at Slate.com
Dominic von Riedemann at Suite101.com
Louis Peitzman at TV.com
Afton Lorraine Woodward at the Washington Post

Impressions from the Fans
(Coming Soon)