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Friday, January 20, 2017

Jem Reviewed: Episode 44 - Rock 'n' Roll Express

I don't even want to summarize last week's episode of Jem Reviewed, as right now it's a contender for the worst episode of the series ever.  I certainly wish that this week's episode is much better.

It is time for Episode 44: Rock 'N' Roll Express.  I get the feeling that this episode involves trains.

Huh, what do you know?  I'm right.  Hopefully this episode doesn't end up as much of a trainwreck as the last one.

It appears as though Jem and the Holograms are about to go on tour again, but this time around there are a couple of things that they're doing differently.  First, they plan on doing a cross country tour via train to visit all of the small towns along the way to give people who may not be able to get to the big cities to hear them perform.  And all of the money raised for the concert will be donated to charity.  That's actually a neat idea, but it's too bad the people of Hawaii get screwed. 

And secondly, all of the Starlight girls are boarding the train as well to help with the set up, as well as getting a first hand look at the sights that the United States has to offer.  Also a great idea.

Oh, and Rio's tagging along.  Um...yay?  Oh, well.  Two out of three good things.

The first destination on the Jem and the Holograms train tour is Rock Canyon, Arizona.  And to celebrate the launch of the tour, Jem and the Holograms sing a song about taking a train.

"This song's so lame, this song's so lame, this song's so laaaaaaame."  Okay, seriously, what did they use to write this song?  Those poetry fridge magnets?  Definitely a contender for Jem's WORST song.  I just hope they sing better songs on the road!

Speaking of which, we go ahead to Rock Canyon where a man is being thrown out of the police station by the town sheriff.  This man doesn't have a name, but I guarantee you that he will be appearing in this episode a lot...and he's not exactly who you'd call a friend.  In fact, he's kind of a required outside antagonist that is not a Misfit. 

The first thing he sees when he leaves the police station is a banner advertising the Jem and the Holograms concert, and when he asks a bunch of people in crowd what is going on, they inform him all about the concert and how it's for charity.  You can instantly see the dollar signs popping into his eyes upon hearing that news.

Sure enough, when the train pulls up at the Rock Canyon train station, our resident criminal comes up to the train with a cup of coffee in each hand.  He notices one of the security guards leaving one of the train cars and hands him one of the cups.  Now, if some strange man handed me a cup of Tim Horton's coffee out of the blue, I might be slightly suspicious - especially since I can't stand coffee.  But our guard happily downs the beverage and is fine.  Well, for a few minutes anyway.

By the time Rio comes back to check on him, he's already passed out and moaning about his stomach.  Okay, so our criminal drugged him.  But he'll be okay because nobody ever dies on Jem and...

...OH MY GOD!  Is that a body bag they're carrying out?  He really did die?!?  Wow.  And here's Rio nonchalantly asking for another guard because the other guard got food poisoning.  Um, he's in a body bag.  HE'S DEAD!  Sheesh, this is why I hate Rio.  He's jealous, he's pushy, and he does not care at all about the recently departed.  I mean, sure, they make it out like the guard is still sick and alive, but why the scene with a BODY BAG?  Seriously, this scene is just badly executed.  But hey, we have no time to mourn the deceased.  Mesaville, New Mexico is waiting!

As the train speeds towards New Mexico, Ashley is in a foul mood.  She explains to Raya that she hates being responsible for all of the band's musical instruments and wishes she could do something else.  To Raya's credit (and one of the many reasons I love Raya), she tries to boost Ashley up by telling her how important a job she has and how she should look at the extra responsibility as proof that they trust her. 

But before Ashley and Raya can continue their talk, they are nearly decapitated by a low flying plane.  Fortunately, both of them survive.

Of course, it doesn't take long to figure out what is going on.  Of course, the Misfits have heard about Jem's train tour and they plan on derailing their success by throwing leaflets advertising their own concert.  Great, way to throw litter all over America, ladies.

But it sort of backfires on the Misfits in a huge way.  You see, the Misfits' pilot is flying at so many weird angles that the engine actually stalls midway through the flight and it sends the plane crashing down towards the ground.  But don't worry...unlike our poor security guard back in Rock Canyon, the Misfits survive their plane crash.  Unfortunately, their plane does not.

At this point, Jem has reverted back to her Jerrica form, and Jerrica turns to Rio and makes the grim realization that she has to take the Misfits along with them.  Oh, this ought to be a fun experience.

Well, at least Jerrica thought ahead and put the Misfits in the dining car.  Having all of them stuff their faces with food is a sure fire way to get them to shut up.

Well, at least until Jetta begins to make a little mischief and throws a dollop of mashed potatoes all over Roxy.  This prompts Roxy to throw food all over Pizzazz, who in turn throws an entire steak at Stormer.  Before you know it, the Misfits are in a full on food fight, and it takes a visibly frustrated Rio to stop the melee once and for all.

He does this by locking the Misfits in a separate car, which infuriates all of them immensely.  Though given that the car seems to be covered entirely in windows, I would think he did them a favour.  The scenery views would be incredible!

But Jetta decides that they are going to get back onto the right side of the train by climbing up through a hatch in the ceiling of the car.  Um...are you NUTS?  The train's going a hundred miles an hour and you think you can walk across the train top to another car? 

At least Stormer sees the danger in that, but the other three Misfits are braindead common sense wise, and they all decide to follow Jetta's plan.  It's too bad that as they all make it to the outside of the train, Stormer notices that they are about to go through a railroad tunnel.  So, the question is...if Train A is speeding by at 100 mph with four Misfits on top of the train, how long will it take for all four Misfits to get decapitated by the tunnel?

Well, we never do find the answer to that question because they all leap off the train and land in the middle of a pond.  The good news is all four survive.  The bad news is...they're now stranded in the middle of a New Mexico desert.  Whatever will they do now?

Oh look...they just happen to run into a group of Native Americans on horses.  Yeah, that's not a contrived plot point, is it?  Whatever the case, the Misfits really pile on the sob stories about how they had to jump off the train, and they need to get back on.  Stormer herself remarks that it takes a lot to survive, which sparks the cue for a song first heard in Episode 20.

Though, I'll be the first one to admit...while the song still rocks out hard, I HATE the remake of the video.  It's not as fun as watching Kimber nearly get eaten by a spider, or Jem swinging over a pit of crocodiles.

Somehow, the Misfits manage to catch up to the speeding train and as soon as Raya spots them, she pulls the emergency brake to slow the train down.  The Misfits board the train, and the Native Americans are left feeling used when the Misfits won't even give them the autographs that they were promised.  Seriously, Misfits, you're starting to tread back into "you suck" territory.

Shortly after, the train pulls into the Mesaville station where a large crowd of people have gathered to watch the show.  And this is where things start to kick into high gear.

For one, that replacement guard that Rio called for back in Rock Canyon is here.  But the guard happens to be that criminal that caused the "death" of the previous guard.  My question is...where did he get a uniform so quickly?

As well, the Misfits plan to repay the kindness of the Holograms by sabotaging their show.  See, this is why nobody trusts you Misfits.  You are always sticking it to the people who actually tried to help you.  Jerks.

It seems as though the Misfits are getting their chance though.  Rio and Ashley get into a fight over Ashley's duty to watch over the equipment, and Ashley storms off in a huff.  I don't blame Ashley.  Rio can be a jackass at times. 

But with Ashley out of the way, it doesn't stop the Misfits from sticking Kimber's keyboard keys together, snapping Raya's drumsticks in half, and loosening some of the strings on Aja and Shana's guitars.  Stormer points out that Jem's been nice to them and that she doesn't feel right doing it as she is working on destroying Jem's microphone.  See, Stormer?  This is why nobody takes you seriously.  This is why your brother wants you out of the Misfits!

As to be expected, the Holograms equipment breaks apart as they start the concert, and Jem is embarrassed to have to postpone the show because of it.  Even worse, Rio seems to go off on a rant, blaming Ashley for everything!  Okay, seriously, Rio?  Ashley's thirteen.  And secondly, she's fiercely loyal to Jem now.  Rio, take a seat.  Take SEVERAL seats.

Besides, Jerrica (man, she changes clothes faster than an America's Next Top Model contestant) defends Ashley to Rio, so that goes to show just how much of a jerk Rio is.  And why is he still on the show?

Of course, the Misfits aren't happy that the Holograms plan on continuing with the show, so they must find another way to get back at them.  When they spot the engineers leaving to go on a coffee break, they come up with the idea to board the engine compartment and start the train up while Rio goes into town to fix the instruments.  Never mind the fact that none of them know how to DRIVE a train.  Oh, and while all this is going on, our friendly neighbourhood thief has found his way to the car where all the charity money is kept.  There's really nothing stopping him from grabbing all the loot he wants.  Well, except for Roxy finding a way to pull the lever that starts the train.  The train leaves with such force that it causes Jem and the Holograms to fall down on the ground...

...and it destroys the platform that Rio is standing on, leaving him behind at the Mesaville train station!  That...can't be good.

Even worse, the Misfits realize that they can't control the train...especially since clumsy Jetta has gotten her boot wedged in between the controls!  Okay, seriously, why is Jetta even on this episode...she is the one who has caused all of this trouble!  Such an annoying character.

So, here's the situation.  The train is out of control thanks to the Misfits.  A criminal is aboard, as are Jem and the Holograms and a baker's dozen Starlight Girls assuming that Laura Holloway is still with them.  And, not one of them thought to pull the emergency brake?  I mean, come on.  My dad worked for a railroad for thirty-one years!  I've had train safety drilled into my head from the time I was three years old!  Seriously, these Misfits should have known better.

Of course, we always have to make Rio the hero of the story because his ego is in need of massaging.  Seriously, at this point, I'd almost welcome a Jem/Eric Raymond pairing.  But Rio happens to steal a motorcycle and thinks that he can use it to catch up to the train that is rapidly gaining speed.  I'm sure he makes it, but come on...this is getting silly.

Even sillier is the fact that the criminal somehow wanders into the same car where the Misfits happen to be and actually helps get Jetta's stuck foot free.  I must say, I don't know what crimes he was convicted of in the past, but he seems like a nice guy here.  A nice guy who steals from charity, mind you, but still nice.  In fact, he actually comes up with the idea that I suggested earlier.  Pull the emergency brake!  Unfortunately, he pulls it so hard that it breaks off in his hand.  Sheesh, when was the last time the engine was inspected?  1977?

At this point, Rio has caught up to the runaway train and leaps off the motorcycle to the caboose where Jem and the Holograms are.  Once inside, he orders Shana to pull the emergency brake, not realizing that the Misfits and the fake security guard have broken it.

And in a scene that seems to be tacked on, at another railroad station, two workers discover that a man in his underwear has been locked in a closet and tied up.  Before they question each other about any fetishes they might have, the tied up man explains that someone knocked him out and tied him up, stealing his clothes in the process.  We don't need to guess who the culprit is.  But before anything else can be said, the word about the runaway train hits the station, and everyone is concerned.  If the train gets too fast, the possibility of it derailing could occur.  And if the train derails, anyone on board could end up dead.  The situation has just been made critical.

Rio isn't willing to give up though.  Even though many of the train cars are locked from the inside, he's willing to climb over top of the train cars to reach the engine room.  Why not?  The Misfits did it, why not him?  Who cares about train safety anyway?

After a brief scare in which Rio accidentally falls off the train, he recovers and inches his way towards the engine car.  He manages to get inside where he is shocked to find the Misfits and fake security guard.  Security guard explains that he tried to stop the train, but the brake handle snapped.  This does not faze Rio one bit as he unscrews the panel containing the emergency brake and pulls down on the nub that is remaining.  It's slow going, but Rio successfully manages to make the train slow down and come to stop at the next station.  This is great news, but I feel bad for the people of Mesaville who got screwed out of a concert.  

The criminal who tried to steal the money is arrested and taken to jail again...and in payment for nearly killing them, the Misfits are sentenced to be the Holograms' personal servants for the rest of the tour - of course, the Misfits would have gotten away with it had Stormer not blabbed the Misfits plan to sabotage the concert.  I guess this proves that you can't completely harden Stormer's heart or conscience.

And we end this...rather weird episode with the Jem and the Holograms song "All Across The Country".  I mean, seriously, after the first half of Season 2, is THIS what we can expect for the rest of the season?  I mean, come on...

Maybe next week will be better.  After all, they're celebrating Mardi Gras there.  Though something tells me we won't be seeing Kimber taking it all off for some green, gold, and purple beads.

Oh, before I leave, this week's Jem Trivia.  There's 65 episodes of Jem total, but there's evidence of there being a top secret 66th episode in existence.  Of course it was never filmed or animated, but if you look at the production numbers for each episode, there is no listing for episode 27, and episode 65 is actually labelled as episode 66.  I'm wondering if the first season was supposed to be 27 episodes long and sandwiched in between Glitter and Gold and The Talent Search.  Or maybe that episode would be the one in which Jem reveals herself to Rio.  We'll never know, but the speculation is interesting to wonder.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

January 18, 1955

It's time for another edition of Wayback Wednesday!  And today's entry will pay homage to a man who has been in the acting industry for over three decades!  That's your only clue for now.  Let's hop right into the events that took place on January 18!

474 - Leo II, then aged seven, succeeds Leo I as Byzantine emperor

1535 - Francisco Pizarro founds the city of Lima, Peru

1778 - James Cook is reportedly the first European to discover the Hawaiian islands

1886 - Modern hockey is born with the formation of the Hockey Association in England

1896 - H.L. Smith demonstrates the very first X-ray generator

1904 - Actor Cary Grant (d. 1986) is born in Horfield, Bristol, England

1911 - Actor/singer Danny Kaye (d. 1987) is born in Brooklyn, New York

1919 - The Paris Peace Conference opens in Versailles, France

1940 - Race car driver Pedro Rodriguez (d. 1971) is born in Mexico City, Mexico

1941 - Soul singer David Ruffin (d. 1991) is born in Meridian, Mississippi

1950 - Race car driver Gilles Villeneuve (d. 1982) is born in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, Canada

1952 - "The Three Stooges" star Curly Howard dies at the age of 48

1958 - The first African-Canadian hockey player - Willie O'Ree - makes his debut on the Boston Bruins

1967 - Albert DeSalvo - known as the infamous "Boston Strangler" is convicted and sentenced to life in prison

1977 - A group of scientists discover a strain of bacteria that is linked to the cause of Legionnaires' Disease

1983 - The International Olympic Committee restores Jim Thorpe's Olympic medals and gives them to his surviving family members

1986 - "That's What Friends Are For" - a song performed by Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, and Elton John - reaches #1 on the Billboard charts

1990 - Political scandal takes place with Marion Barry - then Mayor of Washington D.C. - is arrested by the FBI on charges of drug possession

1993 - For the first time since the day was created, all fifty states observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day

1997 - Adriana Caselotti - the voice of Snow White - passes away at the age of 80

2002 - The Sierra Leone Civil War ends

2003 - Canberra, Australia is devastated by wildfires which destroy more than 500 homes

2016 - Eagles singer/songwriter Glenn Frey dies at the age of 67

And happy birthday to the following famous faces turning one year older!  David Bellamy, Denise Bombardier, Bobby Goldsboro, Paul Freeman, Brett Hudson, Peter Moon, Tom Bailey, Ted DiBiase, Mark Rylance, Mark Messier, Jeff Yagher, Virgil Hill, Dave Bautista, Jesse L. Martin, Jonathan Davis, Seamus O'Regan, Burnie Burns, Luther Dickinson, Crispian Mills, Estelle, Jason Segel, Samantha Mumba, Kristy Lee Cook, Benji Schwimmer, and Ronnie Day.

Okay, so what day are we flashing back to this week?

Ah, January 18, 1955.  That'd be 62 years ago.  And it was on this date that a modern Hollywood legend was born.  Some projects he's done have been brilliant, and others have been washouts.  But through it all, he's managed to survive and thrive.

And today, actor Kevin Costner turns 62 years old!  I know.  I don't believe it either.

So, to celebrate this actor's birthday...I thought I would attempt to post 62 trivia facts about this star.  I don't know if I can do it, but I'll give it my best shot!  Here we go!

1 - Kevin's middle name is Michael.

2 - He was born in Lynwood, California.

3 - He is a two-time Academy Award winner.

4 - He is the youngest of three children.

5 - His older brother died in childbirth.

6 - He has seven children.

7 - He has been married twice.

8 - His first wife, Cindy, once played the role of Snow White at Disneyland.

9 - Kevin himself worked at Disneyland before he became famous, working as a skipper for the Jungle Cruise ride.

10 - He has switched political party allegiances, going from Republican to Democrat to Independent.

11 - He was chosen as one of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the World by People Magazine in 1990 and 1991.

12 - He starred in the 1983 movie "The Big Chill", but his scenes were notoriously cut out of the movie.

13 - He was a member of the Delta Chi fraternity.

14 - He is one of the few Hollywood stars who has NEVER done a sequel to any of his movies.

15 - Though he has starred in two movies about John F. Kennedy - he did not play JFK in either film.

16 - Turned down a role in "Platoon" because he didn't want to insult his eldest brother - a Vietnam war veteran.

17 - He owns a ranch outside of Aspen, Colorado.

18 - His 1995 film "Waterworld" is considered to be one of the biggest film failures of all time.

19 - He is one of the few actors to have won both an Academy Award and a Golden Raspberry Award.

20 - He directed the 1990 film, "Dances With Wolves", which earned him the Academy Award for Best Director.

21 - He used to play golf with President Ronald Reagan.

22 - He founded a country/rock band called "Kevin Costner and Modern West".

23 - Following the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech, he publicly called for stricter gun laws and tighter gun control.

24 - His starsign is Capricorn.

25 - His first major role in a motion picture was 1985's "Fandango".

26 - His first reported film role was in a forgettable film called "Sizzle Beach, U.S.A.".

27 - Many of Costner's films feature the theme of baseball - "Bull Durham", "Field of Dreams", "For Love of the Game", etc.

28 - He did his own horseback riding in the movie "The Postman".

29 - Was almost cast for Kevin Spacey's role in the movie "American Beauty".

30 - His role in "Bull Durham" was originally written for Kurt Russell.

31 - Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in August 2003.

32 - He was a speaker at the funeral of Whitney Houston, his former co-star on "The Bodyguard".

33 - Costner based his performance in "The Bodyguard" after Steve McQueen, even cutting his hair to resemble his look.

34 - Whitney Houston reportedly gave Costner singing lessons in exchange for him giving her acting lessons.

35 - Kevin Costner's production company spent a quarter of a million dollars on animatronic buffalo for scenes shot for "Dances With Wolves" to avoid animal cruelty charges.

36 - Kevin Costner spent money out of his own pocket to keep the budget for "Dances With Wolves" in place.

37 - It took Costner five years to make "Dances With Wolves".

38 - Though the finished cut of "Dances With Wolves" was three hours long, the initial run of the film was five and a half hours!  Costner worked with the editing team to cut the film down so that it would be suitable for screening in theatres.

39 - For his role in "The Untouchables", Costner underwent police tactic and weapons training using 1950s guidelines.

40 - Kevin Costner spent $22 million of his own money on the 1995 film "Waterworld".

41 - He spent 157 days on the set of "Waterworld", filming six days a week.

42 - Kevin Costner had a falling out with long time friend and collaborator Kevin Reynolds during the filming of "Waterworld", but had patched things up when Reynolds and Costner worked together in the 2012 miniseries "Hatfields & McCoys".

43 - Costner wanted to use an English accent in the film "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves", but was convinced not to.

44 - Although not confirmed, it was rumoured that Costner had several of Alan Rickman's scenes axed from "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" because he was worried that Rickman would upstage him.

45 - Kevin Costner had a full-frontal nude scene in the film "For Love of the Game", but it was cut after audiences reportedly responded with laughter.

46 - He was inducted into the Irish-American Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008.

47 - At the time that "The Postman" was filmed, all of Kevin's children made appearances in the film.

48 - He did all of his own stunts in the 1987 film "No Way Out".

49 - When cast for the role of Jim Garrison in "JFK", Costner did extensive research, including meeting the man himself!

50 - Interestingly enough, Costner nearly turned down the role of Jim Garrison.

51 - Kevin dyed his hair grey specifically for the role he played in "JFK".

52 - In the 1996 movie "Tin Cup", Costner plays most of his own golf scenes.

53 - Is very good friends with Don Johnson.

54 - Won a Primetime Emmy Award in 2012 for his work in "Hatfields & McCoys".

55 - In 2007, Costner was named ceremonial Grand Marshal of the NASCAR Cup Series' Auto Club 500.

56 - He serves on an honourary board for the National World War I Museum in Kansas City.

57 - During filming of a scene in "Message in a Bottle", actor Steve Mellor accidentally bloodied Costner's lip.

58 - He is 6'1" (which coincidentally happens to be my height as well).

59 - He graduated from Villa Park High School as the Class of 1973.

60 - Kevin Costner was supposed to take the lead in the film "Air Force One", but he couldn't because he was busy working on "The Postman".  He would later call up Harrison Ford and offered him the role.

61 - Is a supporter of Arsenal Football Club.

62 - His favourite genre of movie is Western, which could explain his love for making movies that have Western themes!

And there you have it.  One piece of trivia for every one of Kevin Costner's 62 years!  Happy birthday, Kevin!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Naked Truth About Peer Pressure...

It's been a couple of weeks since I shared the first of several life lessons that I have learned through the many experiences that I've lived through - as well as some of the many pieces of pop culture that I have experienced over the years.

Today, I thought that I'd share another one for all of you.  It's up to you to decide whether or not you want to take it in.

Here's today's PCA life lesson...

Okay, okay.  The lesson here is the same title of his 1986 single "We Don't Have To Take Our Clothes Off". 

And, on that note, it's not a bad song at that.

That lesson is, you don't have to take your clothes off to impress anybody.  You don't have to do drugs in order to impress anybody.  You don't have to get a tattoo, or get a piercing, or get a tattoo of a piercing in order to get people to think you are the cat's pajamas.  And you know on that note, you can say extremely outdated expressions like "the cat's pajamas" whenever you want to.

You see, we're talking about peer pressure, and how utterly stupid it is.  Well, at least, based on my experience, peer pressure is stupid.

And yet, it's a situation that almost every single one of us has been involved in.  We're brainwashed into thinking that we have to do what the status quo does in order to get respect and popularity, and that if we refuse, we're considered not worthy for society.  You see, when I phrase it like that, it sounds insane, right?  Yet this is what teenagers and young adults have lived their lives by.

I don't think there's a single sitcom that hasn't explored this topic in depth.  We all watched Stephanie on "Full House" struggle with whether smoking a cigarette with Gia and Mickey would automatically make her the coolest girl in school.  We all watched as Lisa Simpson gave herself a makeover so she could hide her geek status from a group of friends she met while on summer vacation.  And people from my generation MUST remember the one-off television special where a bunch of cartoon characters came together to tell a young boy that there were a million wild and wonderful ways to say no to drugs!  Though, part of me wonders if the writing staff of that special were actually ON drugs when they penned the script.  So trippy.

Anyway, back to peer pressure.  It absolutely sucks no matter what your age is.  I've never been a fan of the whole "Keeping Up With The Joneses" mentality that people have where they have to have something because everyone else has it.  It's silly, and in many cases, impossible to achieve.  Why go into levels of stress and financial debt just to "keep up" with someone else when you can do your own thing and probably be happier? 

Then again, I suppose part of the reason why I never had the desire to keep up with Joneses, Kardashians, or any other family for that matter was because I never really cared that much about material possessions.  I still don't, to be completely honest.  Believe me, I'm probably the cheapest date you could find.  The jury's out on whether or not that is a good thing.

But I can tell you that there have been instances in my own life where I have felt the pressure to do something in order to win friendship.  It was just that the child me actually believed the tripe that friendship was something to be "won". 

I can think of all of the people who promised to be my friend if I helped them with their homework, or told them how to spell words, and when recess came, they froze me out to play with other people they deemed "cooler".  I still don't know what made them think that, but it's all in the past now.  If anything, those experiences were necessary for me to realize that I didn't need people like that in my life in the first place.

But yes...I've definitely felt pressured to fit in with people.  I can recall many times in which I was in high school, and many of the kids in the school were having wild house parties which usually involved lots of drugs and alcohol - and possibly sex.  From the way people would describe them, it was like an episode of "Degrassi".  Whether or not that was true, I wouldn't know.  It's not like I ever went to any of the parties.

To be honest though, we lived in a small enough town that I could have found where they were located and easily have snuck in.  And part of me wanted to do exactly that.  I had a hard time finding a group of people to hang around with as it was and thought that if I had the chance to crash one of their parties and drink and smoke and stuff like that, I would finally find a way to belong.

Of course, the logical side of me thought that if I had to get drunk out of my skull for them to accept me, why would I even bother to risk screwing up my own life just for "acceptance".  The way I see it, if they wanted to get to know me for me, they wouldn't have felt the need to pressure me to do things that I wasn't comfortable with.

The same deal with pressuring people to commit to a sexual relationship before they are ready for one.  It's hard enough for young people to worry about the pressures of sex without having it thrown in their faces all the time via racy song lyrics, provocative sex scenes, and Kardashians posing naked in their 500,000th bathroom selfie.  To have a relationship be put on the line based on one person's comfort level about sex...well, honestly, I don't see that relationship surviving that long. 

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that peer pressure is a frustrating experience that we all go through.  But we also have to look at the big picture and ask sleeping with this person really worth it in the long run?  Is getting stoned with a group of friends worth it just to gain acceptance?  Is risking your own future worth sabotaging your present?

Just think about it.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Jem Reviewed: Episode 43 - The Presidential Dilemma

Previously on Jem Reviewed, we celebrated January.  But it was a fairly decent episode overall.  I can't say the same about this one.  It's in the running for worst Jem episode ever. 

But just what makes Episode 43: The Presidential Dilemma so terrible?  You'll see as we go ahead...but hey, at least this one's posted a week before Donald Trump gets inaugurated.  The timing's much better with this one.

Well, right off the bat, I can tell that this is one of the six episodes with the terrible animation.  I mean, just watch how Kimber answers the front door of Starlight Mansion.  Very choppy.

It appears that a couple of secret service men have appeared on the front steps of the mansion, and they have a telegram for Jem!

It seems as though Jem and the Holograms have been cordially invited to play for the President and the First Lady at a special concert at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.!  Wow, now that is a special honour indeed.  Now, at the time this episode aired, the President at that time was Ronald Reagan.  Let's see if this episode even remotely comments on this.

The concert is scheduled for the day after tomorrow, so we still have to get through tomorrow's events beforehand so the action shifts to tomorrow which becomes today.  Got all that?  Jem meets with the entertainment coordinator of the White House, Paul Davis to discuss the concert plans.  My question there really such a position as entertainment coordinator?  And just who is it?  Or, who was it during Barack Obama's presidency?  Someone fill me in?

One of the things that Paul shows Jem is the high tech security system that the Kennedy Center has.  Fair enough.  Jem's a big ticket entertainer by this time, and they want to make sure that Pizzazz doesn't shoot her or anything.  The problem with the security system is that it has an unintentional side effect.  The system successfully blocks Synergy's transmissions, and when Jem gets too close, she reverts back to Jerrica.  This could pose quite the problem when it comes to the concert itself.

So, Jerrica calls Kimber at Starlight Mansion and tells them to bring Synergy with them when they fly out to D.C. later that day.  Oh, yeah, like they can really get a seven thousand pound computer across the country in that short a notice without drawing suspicion!  But having Synergy in D.C. will give her enough power to override the security system or something.  I don't know how it works, we just need to have a conflict for this episode.

And as if bringing Synergy to Washington wasn't the group's only problem, it seems as though the Misfits have learned about Jem's trip to Washington through Lindsey Pearce's show...and they are definitely NOT happy about it.  So, they talk with Eric about flying them out to D.C. so that they can upstage Jem in front of the President.  Eric's like...oh, why not?  What's the worse that could happen?  Well, aside from the butcher job they did on Pizzazz's face, that is.  Thanks, Korean based animation company!

Well, they could barge into a session with the U.S. Congress armed with their instruments and begin playing a song!  Oh, yeah, that's sure to help you with endearing yourself to the President!

Now, expect there to be a lot of patriotism in this episode, starting with the Misfits song "Star-Spangled Fantasy".  It's a cool name for a song, but the song itself is largely forgettable.  I've definitely heard better from this group.  And apparently the politicians in the room have heard better too as they throw the Misfits out of the room threatening to arrest them!  Better luck next time.

The Misfits decide to go to Plan B.  They dress up as coffee shop girls (likely raiding Jetta's closet after being inspired by her Burger King ensemble last episode) and raid the hotel that the Holograms are staying at in hopes of sabotaging them there.  But all they spot is Jerrica and the Holograms bringing up pieces of electronic equipment inside their room.  Now, we all know that these bits and pieces are Synergy, but the Misfits don't know this.  They call Eric up to let him know what they found out, and Eric reveals that he knows exactly what they are talking about.

Yeah, remember that little plot point way back in episode five where Eric hired a spy to take pictures of Synergy but really went nowhere?  In a rare bit of continuity, Eric still has the photos taken two years earlier, and seems to come up with the idea that the computer parts are VERY important to Jem's act.  Eric, you have no idea how right you are on that!  He them makes a couple of calls to various people.  Why do I get the feeling that Eric's going to do something very bad?

Synergy is hooked up as normal, she transforms Jerrica into Jem, and the band goes out for a night on the town before performing at the Kennedy Center.

At the same time, we have another potential sideplot that is happening in the city.  Somewhere in town is a criminal who calls himself the Washington Marauder, who has been stealing historical artifacts from various museums and historical landmarks all over the city.  Nobody has ever caught him in the act, and he remains at large.  Gee, I wonder if we'll get to meet this masked man at some point in the episode.

Well, we know one thing.  It seems as though the Holograms ironically never implemented their own security system to protect Synergy because someone breaks into the room where she is kept and starts to disassemble her!

And it's not until Jem changes back into Jerrica that the girls realize that something is terribly wrong!  They rush back to the hotel to find out what is going on.

Okay, so I won't really recap this in detail because frankly this episode is kind of boring.  But what I can tell you is that Synergy was confiscated by the FBI and taken to the Pentagon for further testing.  Apparently the U.S. government received an anonymous call from someone who made the claim that Jem and the Holograms were smuggling illegal equipment into Washington, and the FBI seized Synergy to examine her. 

Oh, and it should come as no surprise that Eric Raymond was the one who made the call. 

Naturally, this strikes fear into the hearts of Jerrica, Kimber, Raya, Shana, and Aja, and they decide that they must meet with the President in order to issue some sort of presidential pardon so that Synergy can be released back into their care.  But given that the FBI now has control of Synergy, it won't be easy.

I mean, we have an entire music montage featuring a song from episode 12 - "Time Is Runnin' Out".  I think used in this context, it's a bit more effective than it was used in the episode "In Stitches".  I just wish the sound effects peppered throughout this video weren't quite so loud.  It drowns out the sound, and it's actually one of the group's better songs from season one.

Anyway, after what seems like a battle to get through to see the President, they manage to get their audience with the commander-in-chief...who might I add looks NOTHING like Ronald Reagan.  I'm guessing that they went with some generic looking President instead.

JEM TRIVIA:  They never once reveal the name of the President in this whole episode.  I guess they did that so they could play the episode over and over again since the writers all felt that only white males could ever be president.  Well, at least that was the case until January 2009, that is.  And might I add, I'll miss you Barack Obama.  And I'm not even American!

So, back to the story, Jerrica tries to explain to the President that the government has made a mistake and that Synergy is theirs without actually revealing that Synergy is the machine responsible for making Jem who she is.  But the President is reluctant to turn over control of the machine as the scientists who are examining Synergy are baffled by the technology which they see as being years away.  Okay, this episode was made in 1987.  We now live in a world where computers can be found in devices as big as a cell phone.  Just what did the writers think the future was going to be like thirty years later?

Somehow though, Jerrica and crew convince the President to show them where Synergy is, and the President takes them to the area where the experiments are being done.  To everyone's shock, they find Synergy has been taken apart and is in about twenty-five not quite so bite sized pieces, and it will definitely take some time to put her back together again.

But what nobody is aware of is the fact that above an air vent (how contrived) is the Washington Marauder...and he's there to grab the last treasure needed to complete his collection.  So help me, if that item happens to be Synergy, this episode will have surpassed its level of unbelievable happenings.  Oh, wait.  Plot twist.  Turns out that the Marauder wants the President himself as his final item.  So, it seems as though theft and burglary isn't enough to keep him it seems that he wants to add kidnapping charges to his police dossier.

But Jerrica happens to spot the kidnapping going on with her own eyes, and tells the other Holograms to stay behind to reassemble Synergy while she hops on the back of the van that the Marauder is driving in hopes of saving the President's life.  That's mighty ballsy of Jerrica to do this, but again, this episode just seems to throw together every possible plot twist from every single action movie ever made.  It's just so...terrible.

We later come to find that the Marauder is a little bit on the insane side.  He's used all of the historical artifacts that he has stolen over the last few weeks to build his very own shrine to American history.  He even has Abraham Lincoln's cane!  But of course, the crown jewel of the collection is the President, whom he plans to keep locked up in a cage that looks exactly like the Oval Office in the White House.  So, yeah, our Marauder has obviously gone off the deep end.

And unfortunately for Jerrica, the Marauder has friends who work for him, as they have no trouble capturing her when they spot her sneaking around.  Jerrica's only hope now is that the Holograms remember how to rebuild Synergy.

Well, you have Aja and Raya who seem to have the brains of the group, Shana who has the heart of the group...and then there's Kimber who really isn't doing much of anything.  Well, at least 75% of them are useful.  But they've done a fairly good job of recreating Synergy as she was before they brought her to Washington.  The only thing is...have the managed to put her together in time to save Jerrica and the President?

Aja flips the power switch, and Jerrica fiddles with her earrings, and quicker than you can say "Showtime, Synergy", Jerrica's earrings begin to glow, and she sends out one illusion after another, surprising the President and scaring the Marauder and his goons.  But to Jerrica's credit, she does summon an Abraham Lincoln hologram, so it would be the equivalent of her bringing him back from the dead.  She very well may have summoned Holograms of all of the U.S. Presidents.  Maybe she even summoned Donald Trump, for all I know. 

Whatever the case, the illusions force the bad guys into the cage and the President locks them inside.  The terror of the Washington Marauder is now over.

But now that Jerrica has essentially showed the President that she can do magic tricks with her earrings, she realizes that if she has any hope of getting Synergy back, she will have to reveal her secret.

So while they are on the ride back to the White House, Jerrica uses her earrings to transform into Jem, right in front of the President.  So, now we have the President of the United States to add to the list of people who know Jem's identity.  What's hysterical is that she has no problem telling the President who she is, but she still won't tell RIO!

The President agrees to keep Jem's identity a secret, and he has no problem with returning Synergy back into Jem's care.  Aw, that's nice. 

And just like that, it's time for the concert at the Kennedy Center.  And remember how I said that you could expect a lot of patriotism in this episode?  Have a look at the video for the Holograms' single "Freedom".  And, no, it's not a cover version of the 1990 George Michael song.  It's actually a song about how much Jem loves her country.  It's actually not horrible, but the music choices for this episode are kind of lackluster.

And so is the ending where Synergy pops up out of nowhere to meet the President and they have a grand old joke of it all. 

Yeah.  Worst. Episode. So. Far.  This is really disappointing.  Season 2 started off so strong, and the first dozen episodes were really well written...and now we have THIS tripe?  I sure hope that this was just a rough patch that we'll soon be leaving because if the rest of Season 2 is like this, I can sort of see why Season 3 was the last year of the show.

So, next week, the Holograms take a cross-country tour of the United States on the train.  But when Misfits and a con board the same train, will it derail their careers permanently?