It’s finally here. Since Daria left the air in 2002, the show’s fans, myself included, have been waiting for the Complete Series DVD to be released. In late 2009 we got the news that finally the full saga of Daria Morgendorffer and Lawndale High would be available for our DVD viewing pleasure and all our dreams would come true. Right? Not quite.
The reason for the delay in the first place was the distribution rights to the music used in the show and that the cost of duplicating the full experience of an episode first viewed on MTV would be astronomical. As series creator Glenn Eichler explains to Rolling Stone, “First, the music licensing was a bit of a nightmare for MTV. They had the rights to play all these songs on the show when it aired but they didn’t have these rights for home video and therein lies the rub.”
The thing is, MTV has a pool of songs they are able to use on air because they’re MTV. The shows in production for the network are able to pick from this pool at their leisure. The problem is, the rights eventually expire and that’s exactly what happened with Daria. Therefore, in order to release the original episodes with all the original music in tact, MTV would have to pay for the rights for each and every song that was used.
On paper, Daria isn’t a particularly musical show. As a fan I was so desperate for the DVD to finally be released that when I first heard that the show would be the same but with cheap replacement music, I wasn’t concerned. That was until I started to actually watch. The almost public domain sounding muzak can be distracting, especially in the early episodes. Most notably throughout the whole series is the episode, “Road Warrior” where the show parodies the R.E.M. video for “Everybody Hurts.” (Watch the original version below)
On the DVD, there is this awful, cheap, obviously NOT R.E.M. song used instead. For me, it was almost heartbreaking. A huge part of the show was the super modern (at the time) soundtrack and the fact that it did contribute to the story, not only in act breaks but in conversation and setting the mood of the scene. Missing the music takes away a lot of the ’90s nostalgia that the show represents and does cheapen the experience. That being said, I’m still glad I’m able to finally own every episode.
In the letter Glenn Eichler included in the DVD he says, “To put it bluntly, replacing the music had to be done. Does that mean this box set is compromised? Season One Daria would have said, ‘Yes.’ Season Five Daria would have said, ‘Shut up and pass the remote.'”