"Rock & Roll" Randy
Kevin tries to be a "rebel" by getting a leather jacket and a motorcycle (a moped, actually). When he's goaded into performing a dangerous stunt, however, he winds up crashing into a tree, spraining his knee and shattering his self-confidence.
Kevin enters a "rebel" phase when he first gets a leather motorcycle jacket, then an actual motorcycle (well, a moped, anyway) when Daria and Jane point out what the jacket is for. Some of the guys at school goad him into attempting to pop a wheelie, and true to Daria and Jane's prediction, disaster strikes when he plows into the Tommy Sherman Memorial Tree and sprains his knee. Convinced that his football career is over, Kevin gives up his pads, his sports drinks, and his girlfriend, throwing both himself and Brittany into a pit of depression. Kevin's absence from the team begins to make its presence felt, as the Lions enter a major losing streak (through no fault of Mack, who tries his best but just isn't quarterback material) and the rest of the town reacts in strange ways, such as the Fashion Club being shunned at Cashman's and property values dropping like a rock. This leads to desperate measures all around, from Ms. Li bringing in a roughneck ringer quarterback to Quinn, Helen, and Jake contemplating moving to another town entirely. When Daria and Jane try to think of a way to rectify the situation, Tom suggests that Kevin could regain his self-esteem by becoming a safety speaker at elementary schools, lecturing kids on the dangers of riding motorcycles and how to avoid the mistake he made. The plan works a little too well, as Kevin becomes absorbed with being a safety lecturer and forgets all about the team, until Brittany convinces him to see the light and he returns to both her and the team.
Historical & Cultural References:
- The title of the episode is a pun on the 1945 film A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (based on a novel by Betty Smith), starring Dorothy McGuire as a girl trying to rise above hardship in turn-of-the-century New York.
- "That Paunch guy" Kevin refers to is Officer Frank "Ponch" Poncherello (played by Erik Estrada) from the TV series CHiPs, which chronicled the exploits of a California Highway Patrol motorcycle unit.
- Jane calling Quinn "Quinnie O" is a play on "Jackie O," the nickname of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (who, apparently, tended to dress in a manner that would hide herself from the press while married to Aristotle Onassis).
- Daria's "a salesman's got to dream, boy" is from the Arthur Miller play Death of a Salesman.
- Sammy "The Bull" Gravano was a key witness in the trial of reputed New York Mafia kingpin John Gotti. His testimony helped secure a conviction of the former mobster.
- Jane's "twist my head around and around" refers to a scene from the 1973 film The Exorcist.
- Jonestown, located in Guyana, was the site of the 1978 mass suicide of the Reverend Jim Jones and all 1000 members of his People's Temple cult. They committed suicide by drinking poisoned Kool-Aid, hence Daria's "Jonestown bartender's handbook" joke.
Kevin - No, I mean check out the new Kevin.
Daria - You'll note he didn't say "improved."
Helen - Rita, I'll have to call you back. (pause) Yes, I will! (pause) Very, very soon.
Brittany - Don't we look like rebels?
Jane - Oh, yeah, that cricket in your front teeth is very James Dean.
Mack - You know, you aren't supposed to ride those things without a helmet.
Kevin - Hey, I don't follow rules. I'm rebellent.
Daria - Did he say repellent?
Jane - Seems like he should have, doesn't it?
Daria - Gee, this won't end badly.
Jane - You know, we are the ones who told him to get a motorcycle.
Daria - Hey, if we told him to jump off a bridge, would he do that?
Jane - Dunno. We'll try that next time.
Jane - This is sort of like what happened at my fourth birthday party, only it involved a tiny tricycle and a chimp.
Daria - The difference being?
Daria - You know, if you break up Brittany's attempt at thought, it looks like a Mystik Spiral song.
Jane - (grabs Daria's notepad) "Armpits have feelings, but not for me. Now what do I do with lips emp-ty?" Eh. Are you sure you don't want to replace "lips" with "skull?"
Daria - It's a work in progress.
Mr. O'Neill - Please, Daria, any form of expression is cause for celebration. I see you've chosen to celebrate in the way of verse.
Daria - The only thing here in the way of verse might be its complete lack of quality.
Mr. O'Neill - You're being judgmental, Daria. And you know what they say: judge and you get mental. (picks up Daria's notepad)
Daria - And you know what I say.
Jane - Life sucks and then you die?
Brittany - But what about our eternal love that was supposed to last till graduation?
Jane - Is it me, or does study hall go faster when you're somewhere else?
Daria - Life goes faster when you're somewhere else.
Daria - My home life's becoming intolerable.
Jane - Becoming intolerable?
Daria - Is there such a word as "intolerabler"?
Daria - We could try sending him back to the third grade, where winning a paste-eating contest still counts for something.
Tom - Actually, why not send him back to elementary school?
Daria - Because he'd never meet the academic requirements.
Brittany - He'd be such a wonderful father.
Daria - Of a coconut.
Mack - This isn't working. The new guy, he's got some weird rules.
Jodie - Weirder than sticking your butt in the air and making a football appear?
Mack - It's called a hike.
Daria - You know, if you can just get those crutches away from Kevin, you can plant one of them instead. That's sure to appease Tommy's restless bathroom spirit.
Brittany - You're right! (leaves)
Jane - You know you're going to hell.
Daria - Anything that gets me out of Lawndale.
(Daria and Jane walk up to the spot where the Tommy Sherman Memorial Tree once stood... where Brittany has planted one of Kevin's crutches in the dirt)
Brittany - Look, the new Tommy Sherman Memorial Tree.
Jane - Lovely.
Brittany - I wonder why it isn't blossoming?
Daria - Did you take the little rubber thing off the bottom?
Brittany - Oh!
Jane - Oh, mmm, Daria? Maybe we should go inside before lightning strikes you dead and bits of you mess up my nice shoes.
Cheerleaders - We're not losers! We're not losers! We're not losers! Lawndale rules!
Jane - Brittany worked all week writing that.
Tom - It shows. The reiteration? Powerful.
Daria - Like getting hit in the head repeatedly with a sock full of quarters.
Delayed Reaction Review
How Kevin leads any team to any victory is one of the mysteries of the universe Lawndale is in. For someone in a leadership role, even as insignificant as quarterback of a high school football team, he has a knack for poor decision making. He took Daria and Jane's word that wearing a leather jacket necessitates riding a bike, and then he was peer pressured into doing a wheelie by the Three J's, whom he must outrank on some level.
Why exactly can't Kevin and Brittany continue to go steady in this episode? I'm not quite sure they even knew why. The simple explanation is that those who don't play football don't date cheerleaders. However, Kevin was never kicked off the team. They don't usually do that to injured players, even ones that hurt themselves. This subplot did provide some of the funnier moments, especially Brittany's comment about going out "until graduation," and their inevitable reunion.
I get the feeling that Daria and Jane unintentionally (maybe it was intentional) conducted a small experiment on Kevin by sort of convincing him to get a moped. At the very least, they felt a little responsible for his injury because they did try to get everything back to normal by getting Kevin to lecture about "safety." (Which, BTW, was Tom's idea -- how can you not like this guy?)
Where's Val When You Need Her?
I think some evil spirit was unleashed by the destruction of the Tommy Sherman tree. I counted sixteen mentions of Tommy Sherman's name (not to mention several more implicit references to him and numerous shots of what was left of the tree), most of which came during the ill-conceived bathroom exorcism scene.
Courage for Dummies:
For the "traumatic" experience that Kevin just went through, he showed some real courage and, dare I say, maturity. He did try to make some good come from his own stupidity and took the responsibility somewhat seriously. Now, he still didn't completely understand what the message was, but he did get something through to those third graders. But I think they understood that they should be like him, but not too much like him.
I'll admit that I was a high school football player (an offensive lineman, one of the smart ones), but I'm stupefied by the reaction the whole town had to one or two losses. I realize that high school football is big business in a lot of places, but let's be realistic: even the best of teams are going to lose once in a while (my senior year, we had one of the best teams in school history and we lost twice). It's hard to believe anyone would believe that a couple of football games could drive property values down immediately. That brings me to my next point....
Jake was in classic form in this episode by going off in a rage over a seemingly trivial situation. They have to move because some "80 year old guy" says the local high school is for losers. My favorite parts were when he was pushed into asking if they lived on a fault line and his yelling at the little kid on the phone.
Stop the Bleeding:
Ms. Li tried to get the team back on track by hiring that ringer. On second thought, let's not go there.
Guilty by Association:
Finally, I'm still a bit unsure of why all of Lawndale High is ostracized. For once, the Fashion Club had a point: they don't even play football. Even Artie, the biggest loser we've seen in a long time, was scoring off of Lawndale (admittedly, that scene was overplayed on purpose to make the point of how "loserly" Lawndale had become -- even the biggest loser was looking down on them). I know the reason was to show how much Kevin was affecting the whole town by sulking, but it still was laid on a bit too thick.
I'd have to say that this whole episode has left me confused. I'm not quite sure what to think of it. The whole thing jumped around sort of haphazardly, from one place to another, and there was too much to keep track of. Other than that, I don't quite know if we ever really needed an episode about Kevin, but that doesn't really bother me too much. And I probably could've done with out some of Jane's "you're going to hell" jokes.
Daria as a Whole, Alter-Ego of the Week:
This week, I'll go with Mount Fashionmore.
Copyright © 2000 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.