Note that some characters did not play themselves; rather, they
played similar roles in stories told by the main characters.
Urban legends are the order of the day, told to pass the time when the Fashion Club is stranded in a bad part of town, and Trent takes Daria, Jane, and Jake to pick them up.
When Jake can't get his car started, Daria and Jane volunteer Trent's services to take them to the mall to pick up Quinn and the Fashion Club. As the girls are walking home, Stacy tells the story of a girl from 1968 (played by Sandi) who was the most beautiful and popular girl in her class. However, she was obsessed over being perfect, until eventually she lost so much weight that her bones rattled. Humiliated, she vowed revenge against all the other girls in the school, scaring them while they slept until they all became plain and ugly due to lack of sleep. Meanwhile, as they drove, Trent tells Jake, Daria, and Jane the story of "Metalmouth," a metal shop teacher from the 1980s (played by Mr. DeMartino) who ground his teeth in frustration over his idiotic students, until one day he ground them down to nothing. Unable to afford dentures on a teacher's salary and driven to madness over his inability to speak clearly, he forged a set of solid steel dentures. Unfortunately, they had one drawback: they picked up radio stations, usually when they were playing a Cyndi Lauper tune. Further humiliated, he began stalking kids in the woods, biting holes in their tires and chewing on the door handles. Jake is scared by the story, but the ever-cynical Daria and Jane are not. When the car breaks down, Jane tells her own story about a family from the 1950s (played by the Morgendorffers) whose daughter, a smart and cynical girl, was trying to get into college. Since it was the height of the Cold War era, the father in this family built a state-of-the-art bomb shelter, to which the daughter eventually retreated in order to complete her college applications in peace and quiet. Unfortunately, she fell asleep as her father laid cement over the shelter in order to build a barbeque pit. Trapped in the shelter with no way to get out, she vowed her revenge: if she couldn't get into college (and, henceforth, out of Lawndale), then no one else would, either. Her spirit would continue to haunt anyone who lived in the house, changing their homework answers and forcing them to fail and get minimum-wage jobs in town. As Jane wraps up her story, Quinn and the Fashion Club arrive on the scene, who inform them that they're only two blocks away from home. Back at the house, Jake and the girls are sitting at the kitchen table when Helen arrives. She explains that she thinks she's having car trouble: she was stopped by the light near the woods when she heard the radio, but it wasn't on... followed by a strange scraping sound on the door.
Historical & Cultural References:
- The title of the episode is a pun on Legends of the Fall, a 1994 movie starring Brad Pitt and Anthony Hopkins (based on a novella by Jim Harrison).
- "Little cross-dressers," and Daria's mention of Judy Garland, are references to the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. No cross-dressing was involved, but Judy Garland's Dorothy did encounter little people (the Munchkins) in Oz.
- The Ford Pinto was an automobile from the 1970s that had a rather nasty defect: in a collision, the gas tank could rupture, causing a fire or even an explosion.
- TAB was a sugar-free soft drink introduced by the Coca-Cola Company, and was a precursor to Diet Coke. At the time, diet drinks were not very popular, and Coca-Cola did not want to harm its Coke brand by associating it with the term, hence the introduction of TAB. When PepsiCo's new Diet Pepsi became a big hit, Diet Coke was brought onto the market and TAB was eventually phased out (though its name lives on as an energy drink).
- Tangerine Dream is an electronic music band that has been around since the late 1960s.
The Rattling Girl of Lawndale:
This story didn't do much for me. Like I've probably said thousands of times, I'm not too fond of "Fashion-Club-worrying-about-their-popularity" stories. Though I could see the Fashion Club falling for this little story.
This was probably my favorite of the three urban legends told in this episode (and some of that has to do with the very end of the episode). It was funny and a little suspenseful, even if it wasn't "rolled up in a neat package." Speaking of that, Trent's narration added to the amusement, especially when he said, "Some say that's what drove him to madness, others say, you know, no...."
The House of Bad Grades:
I liked the 50's look and feel of this short. However, some of the 50's clichés were way overplayed, like the "Cold War" and "girls don't go to college" routines (which were obviously based somewhat on the truth, but exaggerated, much like everything in almost any urban legend). Other than that, I enjoyed it, though Daria's laugh did feel a little bit off.
Of course, this episode doesn't really lend itself to too much more analysis, but I'm not one to back away from a challenge, so I'm going to try anyway:
Adventure on Wheels:
Trent more or less kept a lot of this episode together, in my opinion, and much of his involvement had something to do with his car and its trouble. He even got in a lot of "jokes" (some of them probably weren't intended as jokes) about it. Especially about the smell, the car's capacity (apparently, it has as much room as your average clown car) and its "steal-ability."
Through the Cracks:
Hey, Jake did his best to "save" Quinn and get her home safely; too bad no one really noticed. However, he shouldn't need any recognition: he's supposed to keep her safe. He was just looking for more attention.
Jane was real quick to dismiss the Metal Mouth story because the same song always played from the teeth. However, she seemed to fall hook, line and sinker for the Bad Grade House story. It probably was the "evidence" of all those minimum wage workers. Scoff.
Metahumor of the Week:
The easy one was that Jake was cooking lasagna (which is also the Running Gag of the Series). The other was all the roaming alter-egos in all the stories; my favorite was Mack's Dr. Hibbert impression. I wonder if the football coach back in the 80's told him to "Run, DMC."
Obviously, this is a filler episode that isn't intended for anything except some good-natured fun. And fun it was. First, I'm sort of fascinated by urban legends (if you all knew how much time I spent looking at the Urban Legends Reference Page). Second, I wasn't taken by this episode until the very end, when Helen was retelling part of the Metal Mouth story to a very surprised Daria and Jake. Finally, like it or leave it, "Legends of the Mall" produced a lot of funny quotes.
Daria as a Whole #1, Alter-Ego of the Week:
Kevin Kojak (at least that's who I thought he was supposed to be).
Daria as a Whole #2, Parallel Universe:
One thing that occurred to me with this episode, is that the filler episodes of season four seem to have a parallel filler episode in season three. When I say parallel, I don't mean that the season three episodes were just tweaked a little, I'm saying that these newer filler episodes have had a similar tone to their predecessor. The two pairs that jump out in my mind are "Depth Takes a Holiday" with "Murder, She Snored," and this episode with "The Lawndale File." Also, to a lesser extent, "Mart of Darkness" could be compared to "Just Add Water." I'm not saying this is good or bad, though I'd lean toward good because the filler episodes this year have been much better. And I'm just talking about the filler episodes: I doubt there are any parallels for episodes like "Daria!," "Lane Miserables" or "I Loathe a Parade."
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.