"Rock & Roll" Randy,
Helen and Jake set up ground rules for Daria and Quinn after both come home late. When Quinn breaks the rules, the girls are tried in "family court" and are grounded for a month.
When Daria and Quinn come home late, Helen comes up with a set of ground rules, which includes a strict curfew. Incensed by what she sees as a cruel restriction of her social life, Quinn schemes to break the "no dating on a school night" rule by convincing Helen and Jake that she'll be attending a study group. Her story falls apart the next morning, however, but rather than just mete out a punishment, Helen takes a cue from her profession and holds Family Court to decide the girls' punishments. Despite her claims of wanting to hold a fair hearing, Helen and Jake essentially railroad the girls into month-long groundings. As payback for what she considers an unjust punishment, Daria takes her revenge by beating Helen and Jake at board games and driving them crazy with loud and obnoxious harmonica playing. Quinn, however, is really in hell, as she's prevented from talking on the phone or essentially doing anything. Finally, Daria is unable to stand it, and plans to "bust out" so she and Jane can go to the high school's "DJs Versus Faculty" roller hocky game (most of the students have bets on how soon Mr. DeMartino -- who plans to get his revenge on one of the DJs for humiliating him in a previous game -- will collapse from a heart attack). Her elaborate plan to sneak out is rendered moot by the fact that both Helen and Jake have to work late, so she simply walks out the front door. The game itself is pretty much a bust until "Rock & Roll" Randy takes out Mr. DeMartino with a cheap shot to the knee, which earns him a butt-kicking by the man-hating Ms. Barch. When Daria comes home, she's confronted by a monumentally angry Helen, but before she can be punished further, she works out a plea bargain with Helen by reminding her of board games and harmonica playing. Upon learning that Daria got off on "parole," Quinn convinces Helen and Jake to do the same with her, essentially making the whole Family Court experiment a failure.
Historical & Cultural References:
- "Rock & Roll" Randy was first seen in "Malled" (#105) as one of the passengers on the Mall of the Millennium's parking shuttle. He would show up in several future episodes as a non-speaking background character.
- "There she is, Miss American Bookworm!" -- A play on the theme from The Miss America Pageant ("There she is, Miss America!").
- "I will do this thing you ask, but one day I may ask a favor of you." -- A play on Marlon Brando's immortal line from the 1972 film The Godfather. (In the opening scene, Bonasera the undertaker asks Don Vito Corleone to take revenge on the punks that beat up and disfigured his daughter. The Don agrees, telling him, "Some day, and that day may never come, I will call upon you to do a service for me." He later repays the debt when the Don asks him to use all his skills to make his murdered son Santino look presentable for his mother.)
- Helen pulling out two tablets enscribed with the house rules is a parody of the Biblical account of Moses and the Ten Commandments, the most famous depiction being the 1956 Cecil B. DeMille film The Ten Commandments. This is also the origin of Daria's subsequent quip about wandering in the desert for 40 years, which is what the Israelites had to do (thanks to their "fall from grace" at the foot of Mount Sinai) before God would allow them to enter the Promised Land.
- During the grounding, Daria reads Herman Melville's Moby Dick, and tries to trick Quinn into reading Homer's The Illiad.
Quinn - Have a little dignity, Daria.
Daria - If I had any dignity, do you think I'd be out here letting you try and teach me how to be cool?
Jake (VO) - What's going on down there!
Helen (VO) - More threatening.
Jake (VO) - Let me handle it. Darn it, what's going on down there!
Helen (VO) - Jake, you sound like such a geek.
(Helen takes out two tablets; they look much like classical representations of the Ten Commandments, and are labeled "RULES")
Daria - Hey, does this mean we get to wander in the desert for forty years?
Jake - (points to tablets) Do you have any idea how many of these rules you've broken?!
(Daria turns one tablet over the other, hiding the text)
Daria - How many, Dad? And which ones?
Daria - So instead of saying, "Don't come home so late," now they've created some elaborate punishment system.
Jane - You mean like a spanking machine?
Daria - Look, someone once said, "The most important thing in life is not to look like a geek." Do you have any idea how geeky all of this is?
Jake - Oh, my God, I almost forgot! (grabs the coffee table) Sorry, councilor, the court requires this accoutrement.
(Jake drags the coffee table over and sets the chair on it, so that he is elevated)
Helen - Oh, for heaven's sake.
Jake - There. Family court is now in session.
Daria - Careful. Don't fall off the accoutrement.
Daria - The confinement has made me desperate. If I don't get out, I'm afraid I might do something crazy.
Quinn - Really?
Daria - No.
Daria - I suspect you have some scam worked out for yourself, but since I can't prove anything, I'm asking you not to rat on me.
Quinn - ("Godfather mode") Hmmm, okay, yes, I will do this thing you ask. But one day, I may ask a favor of you.
Daria - Never mind. (leaves)
Jane - So, basically, you've convinced them that you were too dull to be worth grounding.
Daria - Exactly, and the sad thing is, it's kinda true.
Daria - I had a magnetic device implanted in my head.
Kevin - I knew it! What does it do?
Daria - It attracts gullible boys.
Kevin - Cool! Does it work?
Daria - It's working right now.
(Kevin looks around for a moment before finally figuring out what Daria meant)
Kevin - Whoa! Dude! That is very uncool. (leaves)
Daria - There's no sadder sight on this Earth than a football player trying to think.
Delayed Reaction Review
Dazed and Confused:
Jake isn't up to his usual level of sharpness in this episode. He falls for Quinn's stupid explanations of the "misunderstanding" of the words "love" and "date." Also he was having trouble with the whole rules thing. He also went too far with his role as judge (what is an accouterment?). He proclaimed "don't you know how many rules you've broken?" but couldn't tell how many or which ones. Who else said that? Maybe it was Jefferson.
Mr. DeMartino was at least very determined to come ahead against Rock & Roll Randy and his cohorts. I wouldn't be surprised if the heart attack we learned about wasn't his only one (I'm kind of surprised that he was allowed to play, but he probably didn't tell his doctor). I thought it was a bit odd that he took a drag on a cigarette after working out. He did exit the game early but it wasn't his heart, bummer.
The family court thing was "geeky" (or looked that way) at best. I agree with Quinn here, they were getting punished anyway. Why did Jake and Helen even bother? The "trial," if you can call it that, was a formality at best (plus bureaucratic) and Quinn and Daria had no chance of winning. By the way, what exactly were the "charges?" Daria didn't get busted for anything.
The family court thing did have one positive outcome for Daria, there is virtually no chance of her ever getting grounded again. So it wasn't a total loss. Daria got Helen and Jake to realize that grounding her would take too much effort on their part. She is "dull" sometimes, but imaginative enough to make Kevin think he was attracted by a magnetic implant in her skull.
This is the episode that got me hooked on Daria and is definitely my favorite of the first season. It was cleverly done and very amusing. The hockey subplot fit well enough in the main plot for me. "The Big House" showed how the Morgendorffers relate to one another at home and how Daria tries to get away from the rest of them. Plus that escape plan was devious and well thought out.
Copyright © 1998 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.