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Friday, June 24, 2016

Jem Reviewed: Episode 14 - The Music Awards - Part 2

In the first part of the last episode of Jem Reviewed, we met a whole slew of new people.  We met Danse, a dancer who works at a home for teen runaways, Krissie and Deirdre, who became teen runaways, and some unknown kid who was forced to be a runaway.



Would you like to know how this story ends?  Let's watch Episode 14: The Music Awards - Part 2!



Okay, so we last left off with Krissie falling off of an antenna to her death.  But killing off a thirteen year old girl would be too much drama for this show, so her backpack saves her fall long enough for unknown kid to pop up and carry her the rest of the way down.

After the title of the episode appears, we're standing outside the concert venue where we learn the kid's name is Danny.  Deirdre, Krissie, and Ba Nee explain that they've run away from home too, and they make a vow to stick together.  Danny at first rejects this offer, but Krissie shows some sense and tells Danny they'd be better off together.  How nice of Krissie to use her brain now.



Before they can do anything, the scalper approaches and grabs Danny, demanding that he pay for the Misfits ticket he stole.  Krissie, Ba Nee, and Deirdre try to reason with him by trying to give him twenty-two bucks (I get the feeling that the girls never planned their running away strategy very well), but the guy (whose name is Mick) has other plans.

Mick takes them inside of an abandoned school bus - which is from the Marx School, (a clever pun alluding to the showrunner, Christy Marx), and feeds them bread and Jif - because choosy con artists choose Jif.  His partner seems to be wondering why he's doing this, but we learn that Mick plans to use Danny and the girls for something big.  Big - and evil judging by the sound of his voice.  Oh, and those Misfits tickets that Danny swiped?  They were fakes.  As if we hadn't already guessed before.



The kids, of course, are too much into their peanut butter induced nirvana to take notice though.  In between mouthfuls, Danny interviews the three girls, wanting to know what was so bad at home that they had to run away.  These may as well have been their answers.

DEIRDRE:  We all used to have our own bedrooms in a big mansion, but we weren't getting attention from our four foster mothers, so I decided I'd leave home to make a career as a street entertainer.

KRISSIE:  I left because these two needed a chaperone.  But I also think our swimming pool was too cold!  70 degrees is child abuse!  CHILD ABUSE!

BA NEE:  I hate Jerrica so much!  All she did for me was take abuse from the very band we just saw so she could pay for me to see again, and she wouldn't even take us out for a banana split at Dairy Queen afterwards!  That bitch!

Okay, maybe they don't actually SAY that...but whatever they say, it makes Danny look at them as if they have six heads and point blank tells them that they are the stupidest girls in the whole world.  He said it, not me.



And just how is the search for their three missing foster girls going?  Not well.  Despite another search around Los Angeles, Jerrica, Kimber, Aja, and Shana have come up empty.  And to make matters worse, the child welfare worker, Mr. Sobieski has shown up to relay the message to Jerrica that someone reported her for neglect.  This is the last thing that Jerrica needs to deal with, and I almost think she'll use her JemStar earrings to summon up holograms of the three missing girls. 

You know what?  Why DOESN'T she just do that?!?  Problem solved!  It's not as if Mr. Sobieski has to touch them...he just has to see them!



But Ashley arrives with a bunch of pamphlets in her hands, and she explains that the three girls are out posting handbills for the upcoming benefit for Haven House, which buys them some time.  But Mr. Sobieski will be returning the night of the concert, and if there's no sign of the three girls, he'll be forced to take the remaining nine girls and put them in different foster homes.

You see what your neglect has got you, Jerrica?  Whatever the case, the Holograms head back to Starlight Music while the rest of the girls search for the girls.



Over at Misfits Music, it seems as though Eric and Techrat have come up with a plan of their own to promote the Misfits.  By sending Pizzazz, Roxy, and Stormer over the city on hang gliders, they'll throw leaflets and posters of them all over the city.  Which basically means millions of dollars in littering fines for nothing since the Misfits are merely nominated for an award and not performing.  Seems silly to me.

Roxy seems to think it's silly as well, and you can tell she has a fear of heights...but the rest of the Misfits are gung-ho, and before you know it, it's time for a song.



The song is "You Oughta See The View From Here", and again, it's another solid Misfits hit.  I've said that the concept for Jem's "Twilight In Paris" video would look stunning in real life.  I would say the same for this video by the Misfits. 

After the song, Roxy and Stormer glide to safety in a nearby park.  But Pizzazz seems to enjoy being up in the sky.  That's because Techrat installed a laser gun on Pizzazz's glider which prompts Eric to hilariously respond with "You let Pizzazz loose with a laser gun?!?"



Yes.  Techrat let Pizzazz loose with a laser gun.  And you see that great big billboard of Jem's head above Starlight Music?  She uses the gun to draw a mustache on Jem.  That's...mature.

But Pizzazz's aim isn't all that great, and she accidentally zaps the support beam holding the sign up...



...which crashes straight through the window of Jerrica's office!

Luckily, nobody is hurt by the shards of flying glass and thousand pound billboard - however, Jerrica decides to use Synergy's help to get Pizzazz to stop.



Synergy conjures up a gigantic bird to appear in front of Pizzazz which spooks her enough for her to lose control of the glider.  But don't worry...Jerrica's scheme doesn't kill Pizzazz.  She just ends up falling into a pond in the park.  See, Jerrica's not heartless!



Though, Techrat's very upset that Pizzazz broke his laser gun - and Pizzazz is very upset that Techrat's invention nearly broke her neck!  Let's call it even.



At the same time all this is going on, we're taken to a city street where there is an electronics store in full view.  Danny and the Starlight Girls are there with Mick.  And it's here where we learn just how evil Mick is.  He forces Danny to go inside the store and steal an item to pay for the ticket that he swiped even though the tickets were worth nothing.  Krissie immediately calls out Mick on his dishonesty (which in reality would get her shot or something else that is horrific), and begs Danny not to do it.  But Danny feels as though he's over a barrel and isn't sure what to do.

We come across what looks like a metal igloo inside of a junkyard, and I'm wondering why we have this place setting in this episode.  Turns out that this is Techrat's "home".  Not creepy.  Not creepy at all.  It turns out that Techrat is designing another invention that will gum up the works for Jem and the Holograms at the benefit concert.  Naturally after Pizzazz broke Techrat's previous inventions, he refuses to let her come near him, which makes Pizzazz exclaim that he's a weirdo.  Finally...something I can agree with her on.  Surprisingly, Eric defends Techrat, calling him a genius.  Well, he's already proven himself more intelligent than Zipper, so that's a start.



Back at the electronics store, despite the pleas from Deirdre, Krissie, and Ba Nee, Danny swipes what looks like a CD player from the store.  As soon as he exits from the store, Krissie runs to him and tells him that he will ruin his life if he goes through with it.  Krissie's words seem to sink in to Danny and he decides to go back in the store and put the CD player back. 



Mick and his buddy don't like the fact that Krissie is wrecking their plan, so Mick goes in to intervene and make sure that Danny goes through with the plan which sends Deirdre and Ba Nee out to confront them.

The group ends up making so much noise that the shopkeeper comes out to stop them.  At the same time, a police car pulls up and two officers pop out and give chase.  And you know what would go great with a chase scene?  A Jem and the Holograms song!



"Runnin' Like The Wind" does what it's supposed to do.  It provides backing music for a music montage that includes the Starlight Girls evading the police intertwined with a worried Jerrica desperate to locate her missing girls.  If it weren't for the fact that this song was plot based, it would unfortunately be a bit forgettable.



The girls, Danny, and Mick seem to have hit a roadblock.  A huge chain link fence that is covered with crates seems to be in their way.  And with one of the two officers hot on their trail, they decide the only way to go is over the fence. 

The Starlight Girls make it over the fence without too much difficulty.  But when the police officer tries to reach Danny and Mick, Mick throws the CD Player at the officer which makes him lose his balance and get crushed by the cascading crates!  Oh, great...now we're going to add attempted murder to the charges.  Good one, Mick.



It is Danny who risks getting caught by lifting the crates off of the officer, hoping that he isn't hurt too badly.  By the time the officer's partner comes around the corner with Mick's friend in handcuffs, Danny makes it over the fence and runs away with the Starlight Girls.  And when Mick is apprehended, Mick brags about how he made sure the kids were so scared of cops that they wouldn't approach another one for help.  This is a statement that makes both police officers (and me) cringe in disgust.  It's too bad too because I know those police officers would have helped them out - especially with Danny helping to free one of them.



The action shifts to Stouffer Stadium where Jem and the Holograms are doing a sound check with Rio on stage while the other nine Starlight Girls are sitting in the audience, worried about their foster sisters.  Well, okay, maybe eight of them are.  Ashley's more concerned with knocking Deirdre out for scaring Jerrica half to death.  Nice to see Ashley hasn't lost her edge, but with Mr. Sobieski in the vicinity, Ashley probably should mind her P's and Q's.  Of course, Mr. Sobieski has given Jerrica to the beginning of the concert to produce the missing girls, so she has no reason to panic yet.  But time is running out.

Oh, wait.  That song isn't in this episode.  Never mind.

It seems like Danny and the girls have found temporary refuge at a hamburger restaurant, where the girls have used their money to buy them all food.  But now that their money is all gone, they're talking about what their next move is.  The girls can go back to Starlight Mansion, but Danny has nowhere else to go.  Krissie and Deirdre seem to think that Danny could move in with them, but Ba Nee points out that it's the Starlight House for Foster GIRLS.  And since Danny makes a pretty ugly girl, he's pretty much out of luck.



At least until some random waiter approaches them and starts talking to them.  Because I know when some random stranger starts offering me unsolicited advice, I immediately perk up.  And yes, that's sarcasm.

But the waiter's advice is good.  He gives Danny a card to a nearby home for runaway teens, and encourages him to at least give them a call if he won't go there directly.  Danny's hesitant at first, but Krissie practically grabs the card and force feeds it down Danny's throat, telling him that he should have done this a long time ago!

And I'll bet that the place on the card just happens to be Haven House.

What do you know?  I was right.  Yay me.  But to their surprise, it looks as though nobody is home.  What kind of a teen runaway shelter is this anyway?  Is it like Sears?  Only open from 10-7?



Oh, wait.  They see Danse pulling out of the driveway and flag her down.  Krissie explains the situation to Danse - that they're all runaways and all of them need help - with Danny needing the most help of all.  Danse explains that everyone at Haven House is out at a benefit concert, but if they want, they can hitch a ride with her to Stouffer Stadium where they can see Jem and the Holograms perform.  That's all the motivation any of them need.  Danse also promises that Danny can speak to a counselor after the concert if he needs to.  And this is why I love Danse as a character.  Whereas Jerrica/Jem can seem flawed and even hypocritical at her worse, Danse is 100% genuine class.  Jerrica can learn a lot from this lady.  Danse has only known Deirdre for five minutes and already she's shown her more attention than Jerrica has the whole damn series so far!



Once Danse arrives at the stadium, the three Starlight Girls make a beeline towards Jem and the Holograms, and there's a tearful reunion to be had for sure.  This should also get Mr. Sobieski off of their backs once and for all.  But there's still one minor glitch that has to be taken care of first.



Techrat has managed to sneak into the concert hall with a remote control.  The remote control is a mobile version of the electronic jammer that we saw him use in the last episode.  One click and everything electronic in the stadium will go haywire, just as they did with Starlight Mansion.



Predictably, Techrat flicks the switch at the moment Jem and the Holograms take the stage, and every light and musical instrument starts going wonky.  Kimber narrowly manages to take Jem off the stage before the device causes her to change back into Jerrica!  Rio is completely baffled over what is going on, but Danny - who happens to be standing near Rio - seems to think that he might know where it's coming from.



While all hell is breaking loose at Stouffer Stadium, across town at the Music Awards, the winners of the Best New Rock Group Award are...the Misfits!  Wow, I guess Lindsey wasn't kidding about how showing up at the awards could mean the difference between winning and not winning.  Predictably, Pizzazz gives a self-serving acceptance speech about how much they desperately deserved the award.  It's a wonder they weren't thrown off the stage!



To add insult to injury, Pizzazz wants to go over to Stouffer Stadium to gloat about winning the award to Jem in person.  Yep, that's our Pizzazz.



Back at the stadium, Danny successfully locates Techrat and confronts the weasel right in the middle of the audience.  Techrat tries to pull Danny away, but with his aversion to being touched, he certainly doesn't put up much of a fight.  Danny causes Techrat to break his invention, and seconds later, everything goes back to normal, Jerrica changes back to Jem, and we get the final song of the episode.  Watch this video carefully - it summarizes the whole episode beautifully.



First things first...the song "Friend Or Stranger" is beautifully done, and a perfect song to illustrate the Haven House benefit and the reason why it's being held.  Secondly, I like the fact that they left Danny's fate unknown at the end of this episode because to give everyone a happy ending would seem a bit unrealistic.  I'd like to think that Danny went with Danse to Haven House to take her up on the offer of counseling because judging by how Danny was thrown out of his own home, I get the feeling it wasn't his fault.



It was a nice touch to have Krissie, Ba Nee, and Deirdre reuniting with the Starlight Girls during this video.  And while Ashley nearly does deck Deirdre, she instead bursts into tears and hugs her.  That was a nice touch.



Perhaps the greatest surprise of all was how Pizzazz reacted.  You could see her expression change from snark to shock to embarrassment in the time frame of 45 seconds.  Seeing everyone coming together and singing...it's nothing that would ever happen at a Misfits concert.  Truth be told, I expect to see mosh pits at one of their shows.  But looking at how Pizzazz stares at them...it's like even though they won a coveted award, they'd rather have the adoration of people instead for doing something meaningful.  By the end of the song, the award means so little to Pizzazz that she lets it shatter on the ground.  I don't care what anyone says...Pizzazz was definitely affected by that song.  What we don't know is why that is.  Maybe it'll come up in a future episode.  Maybe not.



One final footnote that makes this episode even more special.  It's part of this week's Jem Trivia.  At the end of this episode during its original run, Christy Marx displayed a toll free number of a runaway hotline to help people out who needed it.  After the conclusion of the episode, the hotline received an increase in volume of calls and even succeeded in reuniting a few kids with their families!  Now THAT'S awesome!

Coming up next week - remember the fashion contest the band won?  It's time for them to work on a fashion book.  But with the Misfits and Clash doing everything to stop them, will the book come out at all?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

June 21, 1975

It's time for another installment of the Tuesday Timeline, and the only thing that I can say about this week's topic is that it is all about love!

I just hope the weather holds out long enough for me to get this all typed out.  As I write this, the sky has turned black and we're expected to get thunderstorms and quite possibly a tornado.  So, my ability to post this really depends on whether or not I still have power - or a house, for that matter.

For now, let's have a look at the events that took place on this date in history that I didn't choose.  A lot happened on June 21!

1734 - Marie-Joseph Angelique is put to death in Montreal after being convicted of setting the fire that nearly destroyed the whole city

1749 - The city of Halifax, Nova Scotia is founded

1788 - New Hampshire is admitted as the ninth U.S. state

1791 - Louis XVI begins the Flight to Varennes during the French Revolution

1854 - The first Victoria Cross is awarded

1877 - Ten Irish immigrants convicted of murder - known as the Molly Maguires - are hanged

1900 - China formally declares war on the United States, Britain, Germany, France, and Japan in the Boxer Rebellion

1919 - Two people are killed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police after they fire a volley into a crowd of unemployed war veterans who gathered together as part of the Winnipeg General Strike

1921 - Actress/singer Judy Holliday (d. 1965) is born in New York City; also born on this date is actress Jane Russell (d. 2011)

1925 - Actress Maureen Stapleton (d. 2006) is born in Troy, New York

1944 - Director Tony Scott (d. 2012) is born in Tynemouth, England

1945 - The Battle of Okinawa ends

1954 - British soap actress Anne Kirkbride (d. 2015) is born

1964 - Members of the Ku Klux Klan murder civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Mickey Schwerner; Edgar Ray Killen is convicted of manslaughter exactly 41 years later in 2005

1970 - The largest American bankruptcy takes place on this date as Penn Central declares Section 77 bankruptcy

1982 - A not guilty verdict by reason of insanity is given to John Hinckley for his assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan in March 1981

2001 - Actor Carroll O'Connor passes away at the age of 76

2006 - The newly discovered moons of Pluto are named Hydra and Nix

2008 - American puppeteer Kermit Love passes away, aged 91

2012 - A boat carrying over 200 refugees capsizes in between Christmas Island and Java, killing 17, and leaving 70 missing

And happy birthday to the following famous faces!  Turning another year older are Wally Fawkes, Bernie Kopell, Eddie Adcock, Don Black, Mariette Hartley, Joe Flaherty, Lyman Ward, Dan Henning, Marjorie Margolies, Ray Davies, Brenda Holloway, Meredith Baxter, Michael Gross, Ian McEwan, Joey Kramer, John Paul Young, Nils Lofgren, Marcella Detroit, Berkeley Breathed, Kathy Mattea, Kip Winger, David Morrissey, Doug Savant, Lana Wachowski, Gretchen Carlson, Mancow Muller, Carrie Preston, Sonique, Juliette Lewis, Pascal Rheaume, Craig Lowndes, Shelley Craft, Sarah Slean, Chris Pratt, Brandon Flowers, Edward Snowden, Kris Allen, Sharna Burgess, and Lana Del Rey.

That's a lot of June 21 birthdays!

All right.  It's time to check and see what date we'll be looking at this week.



Ah, June 21, 1975.  A good year indeed.  Or at least that's what I've heard.  I wasn't born yet.

But I suppose you could say that as far as 1975 was concerned, it was the summer of love...at least it was on the music charts.  During the summer of 1975, everyone did a little bit of "Jive Talkin'", they did the Hustle, they were "Fallin' in Love", and they even did a little dance, made a little love, and got down tonight!

Of course, the song that kicked off the summer of romance hit the top of the charts forty-one years ago today.  And that song was also the song that had the longest chart run of the year - four whole weeks at the top!

Come on.  Let's listen to that song together.



ARTIST:  Captain & Tennille
SONG:  Love Will Keep Us Together
ALBUM:  Love Will Keep Us Together
DATE RELEASED:  April 1975
PEAK POSITION ON THE BILLBOARD CHARTS:  #1 for 4 weeks

Ah, yes.  "Love Will Keep Us Together".  The debut single for Daryl Dragon and Toni Tennille - otherwise known as Captain & Tennille.  This pop duo entertained people throughout most of the decade known as the 1970s, but this song will forever be known as their signature hit.



But did you know that this song was actually a cover version?



The original version was recorded two years earlier by singer-songwriter Neil Sedaka.  He's the guy that brought us "Calendar Girl", "Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen", and "Laughter in the Rain".  Though the single was recorded in 1973, it was never released in the United States (which could explain why so many think that "Love Will Keep Us Together" was a brand new song when it was released in 1975).  Sedaka's version of the song was released in some parts of Europe - most notably France.



Also in 1973, the UK first got their taste of the song courtesy of singing duo Mac and Katie Kissoon - who just happened to be brother and sister.  Yeah, that's not creepy.  That's not creepy at all.

Anyway, their version also failed to make an impact on the American charts as well, though in the Netherlands, their song peaked at #12.

Enter Captain & Tennille, who released their version to much fanfare...though if the Captain was the one who was steering the ship, "Love Will Keep Us Together" would NOT have been the song that they would have preferred to have as their debut.  Instead, the Captain believed that their version of "I Write The Songs" (made famous by singer Barry Manilow later that year) would have been a better choice.  But when the single peaked at #1 on the Easy Listening charts on June 7, 1975, Captain & Tennille knew that they were on the verge of something big with that single.

Two weeks later, the song peaked at #1 in the United States.  It would also chart at the top of the Canadian and Australian charts later that year.  And it would eventually be the song that kicked off the recording careers of Captain & Tennille who would later go on to release "Muskrat Love", "Can't Stop Dancin'", and "Do That To Me One More Time".  The song was even translated into Spanish and peaked at #49 on the charts - one of the few instances in which the same song released in two different languages would chart on the Billboard 100!

It turns out that the song could have very well have been a personal statement for the duo.  Having been involved as a couple in real life when they recorded this song, Captain & Tennille would get married on November 11, 1975 - just a few months after the song peaked at the top of the charts.

Sadly, love didn't keep these two together.  After thirty-eight years of marriage, Toni Tennille filed for divorce from the Captain in January 2014 - and the Captain himself had no idea that she had even filed until he was served with the divorce papers!  Although nobody really knows why the divorce went through, it is speculated that a neurological condition that the Captain was experiencing was preventing him from performing.  Whether or not that had anything to do with the split, who can say?

But back in 1975, Captain & Tennille were very much in love.  And I'm sure that this song has been playing at wedding receptions ever since.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Popular

This could end up being one of the most ironic statements that I have ever made in this blog space, but I really dislike the word "popular".

It's quite ironic, given that the "POP" in "A Pop Culture Addict's Guide To Life" stands for popular.

I mean, it's not like I don't like the word popular in the same context that most people don't like the word moist.  Truth be told, I know a lot of people who don't like the word moist.  It makes me wonder why that Canadian band Moist would ever think it to be a good name.

Anyway, back to the word "popular" and why I don't like it.

Interestingly enough, the reason why I don't like the word isn't because of the fact that I never really saw myself as being popular.  Truth is, I'd be the first one to tell you that I'm not popular.  That's the way I sort of like it.  I don't need to have an entourage of people telling me that I am great - because, let's face it.  That'd get real old, real tiring, and real creepy real fast.

The reason I don't like the word popular is because I feel that it is an impossible word.  Because when it comes down to popularity, it is fleeting and doesn't always last forever.  If it did, I'm sure that CSI, ER, or any other show that ranked at the top of the Nielsen ratings would still be on the air today.  The popular cheerleaders don't always stay popular after the rah-rah-rahs and sis-boom-bahs are uttered.  The football jocks of yesteryear fade away to make room for the fresh young blood.  And eventually people come to the realization that they only need to have the love and respect of a few select people instead of everybody in the world.  I think it's an absolutely pointless quest to try and become the most popular person because there are always going to be people who don't agree.

I mean, I can think of a few people that I know who think that they are popular, but in reality not a lot of people care too much for them.  I'm not going to reveal who those people are...but I've met a few who are like this.

The thing is that life is not meant to be a popularity contest.  It's nice to be liked, but understand that getting the whole world to fall in love with you is an impossible situation. 

I suppose that when it comes to the lives of fictional high school students Sam McPherson and Brooke McQueen, popularity either came naturally or it was something that you had to work on. 



Interestingly enough, the two names I dropped came from the short-lived television series "Popular".



The show aired between September 29, 1999 and May 18, 2001, and I do recall it being a show that a lot of people watched.  I was in my OAC year when the show debuted so certainly it was a byproduct of my generation.  Despite the show's success (it was created by Ryan Murphy who also was the creative genius behind "Nip/Tuck" and "Glee"), it only ran for two years, mainly because it was featured on the struggling WB Network.  All in all, the show itself wasn't terrible, aside from the fact that the show's storylines became more like an episode of "Passions". 

It is a classic case of what happens when you blend the popular in-crowd with the geek squad.  Brooke McQueen (Leslie Bibb) is the popular cheerleader who is adored by nearly everybody at Kennedy High School.  She will do anything to stay popular, no matter how bitchy or insecure she might come across as.  On the other side, you have shy and incredibly intelligent Sam McPherson (Carly Pope), a young woman who has her circle of outcast friends and is quite content with not wanting anything more than that.

Two polar opposites with two different upbringings.  Now, imagine if the two were brought together by something unexpected...like say, a marriage?

When Brooke's father gets engaged to Sam's mother, and Brooke and Sam are forced to live in the same house together, tensions flare.  Immediately, both girls declare that they hate each other and they both make it a point to try and break their parents up so that they can go back to the way things used to be.  And you know what?  They almost succeed in doing exactly that at the end of the show's first year. 

But here's the great part about "Popular".  By the second season, the girls have a major change of heart and decide that their family deserves to stay together, and they even become closer as a result.  Even more interesting is the fact that both of the girls' social circles expands as both girls and their sets of friends start hanging around together.  Some examples include Harrison John (Christopher Gorham), a socially awkward individual who slowly breaks out of his shell and ends up falling for both Brooke and Sam.  We have Nicole Julien (Tammy Lynn Michaels), the incredibly brash and manipulative head cheerleader who is known as Kennedy High's pot stirrer, but behind that social piranha exterior is a wounded and insecure person.  There's Carmen Ferrara and Lily Esposito (Sara Rue and Tamara Mello), two friends of Sam's who start out as part of the unpopular crowd but somehow find a way to move up the social ranks.  There's Josh Ford (Bryce Johnson), the quintessential school jock who softens up the moment he gets involved with Lily.  



And, well...there's Mary Cherry (Leslie Grossman), and well...Mary Cherry is such an enigma of a character trainwreck that I would need an entire blog entry to dissect her incredibly unbelievable personality.  But while she may come across as completely insane, she does provide ample amounts of comic relief.

And you know, when it comes down to popularity, the whole quest for it just seems like one huge comedic moment.  It's almost like a sitcom filled with karmic retribution and a storyline that will never end because the quest for total popularity is one that cannot be won.  Though the good thing about "Popular" is that it certainly did a great job spoofing the very quest to be popular.  I only wish it had a chance to go on.

And, well...there's a particular reason why I decided to talk about "Popular"...and sadly, the reason is one of sorrow.



One of the stars of the show, Ron Lester, passed away on June 17, 2016 at the age of 45.  On the show, Ron played the role of Michael "Sugar Daddy" Bernardino, afootball player who simply wants to be respected and find love despite the fact that he knows his size was a major factor.  Believe me, I could totally relate to Sugar Daddy's concerns. 

As many well know, Lester underwent gastric bypass surgery in 2001, dropping over 300 pounds as a result, and undergoing several cosmetic surgeries to remove excess skin as a result of it.  Unfortunately, fourteen years after the surgery, Lester developed problems with his kidneys and liver, and went into hospice care in early 2016.



May he rest in peace.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Jem Reviewed: Episode 13 - The Music Awards - Part 1

When we last left off with Jem Reviewed, the Holograms won a fashion contest thanks to Shana's designs and a little help from Synergy.  Let's see what happens this week.



Why, it's time for another two-parter episode.  Like we didn't have enough of those!  This is Episode 13:  The Music Awards - Part 1.



The setting is one of the many bedrooms inside of Starlight Mansion.  And inside the bedroom are three of the Starlight Girls.  Playing with the Jem doll - and a nice tie in with merchandising courtesy of Hasbro - is Ba Nee.  Brushing Ba Nee's hair is a new girl we haven't met yet named Krissie.



And standing in front of the mirror annoying both Ba Nee and Krissie is another Starlight Girl named Deirdre.  And Deirdre is a huge fan of Jem.  In fact, with the posters plastered all over her bedroom wall, one might say she's obsessed.  Wouldn't it blow her mind to know that she's been living with Jem all this time?  But of course she'll never find out.  She has a hard enough time telling RIO!  But of course, Deirdre is determined to learn the guitar well enough to one day play on stage with Jem.  Too bad with the way she's playing, that won't happen until the year 2017...which back in 1986 was decades away!



Lindsey Pearce's show is on, and it's here that one of the plots is introduced - the one that this episode is named after.  There's an awards show celebrating music (I'm assuming that it's the American Music Awards, as the Grammys are usually held in February and this episode screened in September), and in the category of Best New Rock Group, Jem and the Holograms have been nominated for the award - which makes all the Starlight Girls shriek with glee.



But guess what?  The Misfits are also nominated in the same category.  And since Jerrica Benton took over Starlight Music and ousted the Misfits from the company, that very well could be the only award they get.  I'm also thinking that the episode might have aired out of order...I think it probably should have been sandwiched in between "Starbright: Rising Star" and "The World Hunger Shindig" for it to make sense...but that could have been an oversight.



At any rate, Pizzazz decides to take matters into her own hands and practically begs her father to buy her a record company.  Because when he bought that movie studio for her seven episodes ago, that worked out SO well!  But having learned nothing from that fiasco, Harvey Gabor does what Pizzazz wants, and makes some calls.  This isn't good.

But we've got no time to worry about that now.  School starts very soon, and Jerrica has taken all twelve Starlight Girls to Target to get the hottest fashions from 1986!  Time for a song to commemorate this occasion!



It's been said that this video is one of Christy Marx's least favourites, and I can see why.  It's a lot like the music video for "Something Is Missing In My Life".  There's nothing wrong with the song "She Makes An Impression".  If used properly, it could have packed a punch.  But somehow watching a group of junior high students and grade schoolers shopping for clothes that Punky Brewster would reject just makes this video kind of...meh.



Deirdre thinks she's hit the jackpot when she finds a dress that looks exactly like Jem's.  Oh yeah, like some junior high school will let you wear that around the hallways.  Jem's hemline isn't exactly long, you know.  But to Deirdre's frustration, Jerrica seems to be caught up in other things for her to notice Deirdre.  My guess is that her heart probably stopped when she saw the final bill.  Happens all the time when you're shopping for twelve.  And they haven't even gone to Staples yet for school supplies!



After the shopping excursion has ended, Jerrica goes back to work to make up for all the money she spent on Vuarnet T-shirts and rainbow coloured toe socks when her secretary Joanie alerts her to something going on across the street.  It doesn't take long for Jerrica to realize that Pizzazz's dream has come true.



Across the street in the blackest, darkest, tallest office building that you could imagine is "Misfits Music".  Oh, that's cold.  Opening up across the street from your competitor.  That's like opening up a Krispy Kreme donut shop in the same shopping plaza as Dunkin' Donuts!  With all of this happening, and the stress from the upcoming awards show, this is too much for Jerrica to handle.

Jerrica calls for Aja, Shana, and Kimber to meet in Synergy's room, but before they get there, Deirdre is trying to show Jerrica the cool new chords that she has learned.  Once again, Jerrica brushes her off, and this time, Deirdre is venting her frustrations to Krissie and Ba Nee.  She's quite upset...and honestly while I would say she has reason to be, this behaviour of putting the band over the girls is nothing new for Jerrica.  Unfortunately.



Once inside Synergy's room, the Holograms request Synergy's assistance in using special effects to try and get an edge on the Misfits at the Music Awards, and as shown by this screenshot, she definitely delivers.



But outside of Starlight Mansion, a limousine pulls up.  And inside the limo are the Misfits, Eric Raymond, and some weird looking dude with a creepy voice who simply goes by the name of Techrat.  But if Christy Marx had her way, Techrat would look even weirder.  In this edition of Jem Trivia, Christy's initial sketch of Techrat was supposed to be more androgynous.  Think either David Bowie in his Ziggy Stardust phase or Boy George.

Well, Techrat - in addition to being very creepy - is also very handy with technology.  His latest invention is a little box that can reportedly take any electronic item within a certain area and make them go out of control.  The device would most certainly screw up Jem's appearance at the Music Awards, but Techrat has to test it first.

When he turns on the box outside of Starlight Mansion, everything goes haywire.  Lights flicker on and off, Deirdre's electric guitar starts making weird noises, and a blender explodes all over Starlight Girl Delaree...who I think might only have like two lines in the whole series.



Synergy also starts to go crazy, and the light show turns into deadly lasers that could divide the band into twenty-eight equal pieces!  Jerrica tries to get close enough to Synergy to unplug her, but those lasers are shooting at her very quickly and unpredictably for her to do anything about it.



Fortunately, luck - and Pizzazz's "Gimme Gimme Gimme" attitude strikes at the right time, and she tries to get control of Techrat's invention so she can play with it.  Techrat, who can't stand to be touched, is very aggravated by Pizzazz's forwardness, and in the scuffle, the invention gets smashed into a million pieces, stopping the craziness inside the mansion.

Once everything has calmed down, and Synergy explains that the outside interference caused her to go loco, Jerrica suspects the Misfits are responsible, which makes her resolve to beat them even stronger.



The rest of the Starlight Girls tell Jerrica and the others what happened, and Jerrica tells them not to worry, as it was just a freak electrical mishap.  But once again, she brushes Deirdre off, and Deirdre loudly complains about Jerrica in front of the whole group.  Surprisingly enough it is Ashley that acts as the voice of reason, and explains that Jerrica is very busy, and that she's doing her best.  But Deirdre doesn't believe Ashley, and remarks that Jem would never brush her aside like Jerrica does.



And where is Jem?  Well, she's on her way to a mysterious location with Rio, Video, and the rest of the Holograms.  What's so special about a house on a simple residential street?  Video explains that the Holograms have to meet with someone who may be able to improve their choreography skills in their live concerts.



And...wow...I know she's a cartoon character, but she is absolutely stunning.  She can really dance too.  Have a look!



The video for "When It's Only Me And The Music" is stunning.  Visually, it's near perfection.  And as far as the song itself goes, it once again proves that Jem and the Holograms' strength is with ballads.  Absolutely beautiful.  In fact, just as "Designing Woman" might be my favourite Misfits song, I think this one might be my favourite Jem song so far!



Once the song ends, and Jem and the others applaud the mysterious woman, the woman seems shocked and then flattered by the attention.  Video introduces the group to Giselle Dvorak.  But her stage name is...yep.  You guessed it.  Danse.  Oooh la la...she uses the French spelling too!



Turns out that this wonderful dancer with the multi-coloured hair also has a huge heart as well.  When she's not working as a dancer on rock videos and stage productions, she works at a place called Haven House - the location where they are now.  Haven House is a place where teenagers who have run away from home go to stay.  The space is limited and there aren't enough beds for everyone, but they do the best they can with the resources they have. 

The reason why Danse wanted to meet with Jem and the Holograms is because she needs their help.  Haven House is putting on a benefit at Stouffer Stadium where all proceeds will go towards the house, and Danse thinks that if Jem performs at the benefit concert, it would be a big help.  Jem, of course, doesn't hesitate in saying yes.



Back home, Jem and Rio are discussing the plans for the benefit concert, and Rio is thinking of trying something new with the lighting on stage, but Jem makes the mistake of telling Rio that they've got it covered - not realizing that Rio doesn't know about Synergy.  Actually, there's not much Rio knows.



All Rio knows is that he's upset that Jem seems to think that someone else is better than him, and this leads to a small fight between the two of them.  And of course, Deirdre picks the worst time to try and show Jem how to play guitar because Jem snaps at her and brushes her off again, causing Deirdre to cry.



We see Deirdre shredding all of the posters on her wall, and crying about how much she hates everyone, and how she is going to run away from home to get away from everyone.  Ba Nee thinks it to be a fun adventure, and decides she wants to run away too.  Yeah, never mind the fact that Jerrica tortured herself making a movie to pay for an operation that ALLOWED YOU TO SEE!!!  That's gratitude for you!



Krissie attempts to make Deirdre see the error in her ways, but Deirdre insists on taking off.  Krissie, unable to change her mind, agrees to go with her - but before they leave, Krissie leaves a note for Jerrica explaining the situation.  At least ONE of the three are thinking sensibly.  But when Deirdre announces that they'll be going to hide out at the Misfits, I shake my head.  Did Ashley not tell you ANYTHING about what happened to her when she ran away?  I mean, you might be able to get in good with Stormer, but Pizzazz and Roxy?  Yeesh...



And there's also a scene that seems tacked on where a man throws his son out of the house and orders him not to come back ever again.  I don't know why they do this...I mean, what are the odds of this having anything to do with the storyline?



Completely oblivious to what is going on - as usual - Lindsey is meeting with Jem and Danse to discuss the benefit concert for Haven House.  Apparently, it's being held on August 3, 1986 - which seems like an eternity ago, doesn't it?  But it's nice of Lindsey to agree to promote the cause on her show.

But no episode would be an episode without conflict.  And this conflict is a huge one.  The night of the Haven House benefit is the same night as the Music Awards.  And as Lindsey explains to Jem, skipping out on the Music Awards could mean career suicide.  Unfortunately, Jem seems to agree with Lindsey, and breaks Danse's heart by telling her they can't make the benefit.  Danse takes the news with disappointment, but handles it really well.  A lot better than I would handle it.



Seriously, Jem...you can't go back on a commitment you made to Danse just to puff up your ego and win an award!  Who do you think you are?   Pizzazz?  This is why Jem/Jerrica aggravates me sometimes.

Speaking of Pizzazz, Deirdre, Krissie, and Ba Nee arrive at Misfits Music, and Stormer immediately recognizes them as Starlight Girls.  Deirdre explains the situation, and while Stormer is assigned to watch them, Pizzazz and Roxy make a phone call.



The phone call they make is to a child protective services officer named Jack Sobieski.  The fact that Pizzazz of all people is reporting a crime against child welfare is hysterical comedy in itself.  But unfortunately, Pizzazz's call to CPS does make Mr. Sobieski very suspicious, and he vows to take the matter seriously.  Seems to me like Jerrica is about to receive a cosmic bitchslap any time now.



Sure enough, Jerrica's finally ready to hear Deirdre's song - only to see the bedroom floor covered with bits and pieces of Jem posters.  If this weren't a cartoon, that would be very creepy.  Ashley runs in with the note that Krissie left behind explaining that they ran away from Starlight Mansion, and before you know it, Jerrica is swallowing a huge slice of humble pie.  I hope it tastes really bitter, Jerrica.  Believe me, you kind of deserve it.



Back at Pizzazz's mansion, would you believe that the Misfits are making Deirdre, Ba Nee, and Krissie do chores?  They thought that by running away from Starlight Mansion that they'd never do chores again!  Silly kids!  But Pizzazz does tell them that because of their work, they have earned free tickets to their concert that night...which Deirdre sees as justification for running away.



Meanwhile, everyone at Starlight House is going all over the city trying to find the missing girls.  They check the video arcade, the local diner, and even a bus depot.  Still no luck.

At this point, Jerrica realizes that she's made a terrible mistake - well, actually she's made terrible mistakes.  As in plural.  But that's all semantics now, and she now has to do what is right.



The first thing she does is make things right with Danse, and they tell her that no award is worth having the wonderful opportunity to play a charity gig, and Danse happily accepts their recommitment to the cause.  But when Danse asks what changed their mind, the Holograms are a little too chatty and tell her everything that happened with Deirdre, Krissie, and Ba Nee, which I find to be a bit much considering that they only met yesterday.  Why Danse could be an undercover cop and all four of them would be thrown in jail!  Whatever the case, Jem believes that if the girls see them perform at the benefit concert, it will make them come back home.



Outside of the arena where the Misfits are performing, we see a scalper trying to sell Misfits tickets for outrageous prices.  Well, okay, maybe fifty bucks doesn't sound like a lot now, but it was worth a small fortune in 1986.  I'd have to lose 50 baby teeth to make that much back then!  That kid that was thrown out of his home earlier in the episode crashes into the scalper, and he swipes one of the concert tickets, angering the scalper.  But before he can get his hands on the kid, the kid enters the concert hall, and the scalper threatens to deal with him later. 



And Krissie and Ba Nee are starting to get angry with Deirdre, and try to convince her that staying with the Misfits is not a good idea, but Deirdre refuses to listen to reason until after the concert.  They have a hard time seeing the show, so Deirdre spots a nearby antenna, and the three girls decide to climb up on it to get a better view as the Misfits start their set.



I have to say, "I Am A Giant" is a kick-ass song with a creative video.  I think this may be the only video in the Jem series that has actually utilized black and white so far.  It's very stunning, and Pizzazz as an Amazon woman would be one scary sight!

Krissie on the other hand is scared of heights, and she realizes that she wants to climb down.  But she loses her footing and falls off the antenna with Deirdre screaming in horror!





But we don't get to see Krissie go kersplut on the ground, as the TO BE CONTINUED graphic gets superimposed over her look of pure horror.  We'll have to wait until next week to see what happens next.  And believe me, I'll have plenty of opinions in that show too.