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Friday, March 25, 2016

Jem Reviewed: Episode 1 - The Beginning

Welcome to Jem: Reviewed!  Starting today, I'll be using this space every Friday to recap this cartoon series.  With 65 episodes in all, this will be a project that won't be completed until June 2017.  But, I figure that it will be a good project to take on.  And since I had fun doing the New Archies Reviewed a few months ago, I thought I'd challenge myself by doing a series which lasted longer, and which was aimed at a very specific target audience that admittedly I didn't see myself as being a part of.

What can you expect in these recaps?  Well, I have pictures, I found some videos, and I'll be inserting some snark with some trivia about each show. 

So, how did "Jem" begin?  Let's tune into Episode 1:  The Beginning to find out more.

A word of caution though.  The first five episodes of this series were broadcast as fifteen seven-minute shorts between October and December 1985.  So, if the editing of the episodes seems a bit off, that's the reason.

We begin at a premiere event or concert or some huge awards show.  I'm not sure what the occasion is, but what I can tell you is that this is where we first meet the band that call themselves Jem and the Holograms.  The first one we meet is blue-haired Aja.  Then the purple-haired Shana.  And scarlet-haired Kimber is next to be introduced.  These would be our Holograms.

Finally, we meet the star of the band, as well as the star of the show.  This pink-haired goddess is the mysterious Jem who at this point in the show has dominated the music scene and has become a huge star.  But how did this happen?

Well, let's allow Jem to reflect on that with a a funeral?  Wow...I didn't think that funerals were even allowed to be shown on a cartoon!  If that were the case, the Bugs Bunny and Tweety show would be a mortuary. 

Ah, but this was back in the days in which Jem was solely known as Jerrica Benton.  The funeral is for Jerrica's father, Emmett Benton, who owned the record company Starlight Music.  At the funeral are Kimber - Jerrica's sister and Emmett's younger daughter - and Aja and Shana.  Jerrica's love interest, Rio is also there.  At the funeral, Jerrica and Rio are introduced to Eric Raymond, who has been named CEO of Starlight Music following Emmett's death, and while Eric offers to be there for Jerrica in her time of grief, Rio is very suspicious of Eric's motives.  For good reason too, as you'll see later on.

But don't think Jerrica got the shaft.  She inherited Starlight House, the home where she and Kimber grew up.  It is currently a house for foster girls, and Aja and Shana were the first of those girls.  At the moment, there are a dozen girls who stay there, but we won't meet all of them just yet.

But Starlight House is in bad shape.  The appliances are old and wearing out, the plumbing is deteriorating, and the electricity only works half the time.  Things have gotten so bad that even the foster girls can't find a way to keep it up.  

Jerrica is so desperate to get help that she decides to pay Eric a visit at Starlight Music in hopes that he will find it in his heart to open up his bank account to float Jerrica some money to fix up the place.

But it seems as though Eric has other plans, and rather than use the money to help Jerrica out, he has opted to use it to promote a hot new girl group who call themselves the Misfits!

And the Misfits apparently drive into Eric's office (which used to be Emmett's office) on gigantic guitar shaped mopeds...which begs the did they get those things up to Eric's office on the top floor?  It's not like that sky elevator was big enough to hold them, and you can't drive a moped up a hundred flights of stairs!

Whatever the case, you have the Misfits...lead singer Pizzazz, bass player Roxy, and Stormer, the one that plays that keyboard/guitar combo known as a keytar.  Very 80s!

Oh, and you might notice that there's text on the bottom left hand corner of the screen...well, remember when MTV used to play videos and they'd have the song and artist info displayed at the beginning and end of each video?  Well, that's our cue that a song is coming!  Let's watch!

Ah, "Outta My Way".  What a great introductory song for the Misfits.  Apparently, the whole "we're the best, get lost if you hate us" theme is a common one in the Misfits discography.  Let's see if this holds true as the show progresses!

Anyway, the Misfits are Eric's pride and joy...and also Eric's meal ticket.  You see, he's staging a Battle of the Bands contest, and he plans to rig it so the Misfits win just so he can get the bragging rights and remain relevant.  And unfortunately, the Misfits seem to be nothing more than a token to make his dreams come true and are blinded by his promises that they will become famous.  It's actually kind of sad when you think about it.

Regardless, Jerrica calls the Misfits trash, and tells Eric that she will stop him.  Good plan.  How are you going to do that exactly?

Well, perhaps a mysterious package that came in the mail for Jerrica will help.  It turns out to be a pair of ruby red star shape earrings that Jerrica absolutely loves, but she is unsure of who would send them.  Aja believes that it was Rio, but before they can speculate further, a gust of wind blows out the candle and a mysterious figure appears in Jerrica's bedroom.

Apparently, she has come for Jerrica.

And, this is Jerrica's shocked face.  Come on, Jerrica.  Even an America's Next Top Model contestant can do a surprised look better.

Anyway, this purple haired robot woman or something tells the girls to meet her at the Starlight Drive-In Movie Theatre - a building that has been closed for years.  The woman instructs Aja to drive through the wall - because driving through a wall and smashing up your van seems totally logical!

Especially when you consider that the wall isn't actually a wall, but a secret entrance to a huge computerized room!  To be honest, that is kind of cool.

And once Jerrica and the girls lay their eyes on the super huge outdated computer in the middle of the room, they realize that they have been given a final gift from their late father.  The woman is named Synergy, (who looks like Jane Fonda in her workout tapes, but just go with it) and she has the power to summon any holographic image that the owner of the Jemstar earrings desires, demonstrating it by turning all the girls into holograms of each other!  And since Jerrica has the earrings, I suppose that makes her the holder of all the power.  

Synergy also has gifts for the rest of the girls as well.  Shana remarks about how there are so many clothes and how real they are.  Well, Shana, I'd hope that they were real, otherwise you'd get charged for indecent exposure!  Kimber is drooling over the musical instruments that are available, remarking that they have enough for a dozen rock groups.  I think she also utters her catchphrase of "Outrageous!" for the first time as well.  Remind me to do a tally for the whole show, okay?  

And Aja is blown away by the gorgeous looking convertible that mysteriously has the Jem logo on the front of the car even though technically "Jem" doesn't exist yet.  I bet THAT'S where she got the name!

And now for our first piece of "Jem" TRIVIA!  Believe it or not, "Jem" was NOT the first choice for Jem's name.  Originally, the creators of the doll line wanted to name the character "M".  Unfortunately, when they tried to trademark the name, they were told that they could not trademark a letter of the the name "Jem" was chosen instead.

Anyway, at the Battle of the Bands, the band known as the Limp Lizards just finish performing, and well...this is what their song lyrics are...

My life is...a garbage heap!
My life's filled...with choking cats!
Since you left, my world's like
Broken glass
Broken glass!

Wow...that's...horrible!  If Eric's plan to rig the contest in favour of the Misfits by purposely getting horrible bands to sign up, mission accomplished!  Or, is it?

Wow, Jem and the Holograms just came out of nowhere didn't she?  That's right, this truly is "Only The Beginning"!  Seems like Jerrica has used the power of Synergy to create an alter ego long before that Hannah Montana woman was even born!  Sure, I do think their first song could have been better, but this is episode one.  I'm sure they'll have more hits!

As to be expected, Eric is pretty steamed, and he demands to know what she is thinking.  At this point, Jem uses the earrings to change back into Jerrica (out of sight of everyone else) and inform Eric that she doesn't like rigged contests.  This prompts Eric to come out with a challenge.  There will be another battle of the bands - this time between his band The Misfits, and Jem and the Holograms.  The winner will get full control of Starlight Music.

And just to add to the deal, a movie producer named Howard Sands just happens to be in the audience at the event and offers up even more prizes.  He will give the winning band a movie deal, as well as the keys to one of his mansions.  I'd say that's well worth the battle, don't you?

Well, it's here where we discover that the Misfits are just as morally ethical as Eric Raymond.  They steal a whole bunch of Jem's equipment and force Jerrica and the girls into a full on car chase.

And it's during this chase that we see that the Misfits aren't really any better than their manager, as Roxy starts throwing their equipment at the Holograms, trying to ram them off the road.  Keep in mind that this is merely the first time the Misfits get away with attempted murder.  There are many other instances, believe me.

Whatever the case, Aja quickly loses control of the car and they nearly drive over a mountain cliff! 

Luckily, Jerrica remembers that Synergy can project millions of holograms, and she uses her earring to call up a hologram of Jem so that she can flag down someone to help them.  Unfortunately, the Jem hologram flags down Rio, which officially kicks off the Rio/Jerrica/Jem love triangle that doesn't exist because Rio is in love with the same person and Jerrica is too much of a coward to let him know, or maybe she secretly likes all the attention, or what have you.  The point is that this is one flaw in Jerrica's personality that I will likely be bringing up.  A lot.  Ad nauseum.

Naturally, the idea of a hot new girl group almost falling off a cliff attracts the attention of the media, which infuriates Eric and the Misfits.  Pizzazz, in particular, is really steamed because she wants to win at any cost.  I wonder if this means it's time for another song...

And because Pizzazz thinks that "Winning Is Everything", Eric decides that he will help them the most evil means necessary.

You see this guy with the sunglasses sitting in the really weird looking chair?  His name is Zipper, and you'll be seeing him quite a lot in the first few episodes.  Interestingly enough, Zipper and Eric are both voiced by veteran voice actor Charlie Adler, so what you're witnessing is one man having a conversation with himself!  Oh, and Adler also voiced Buster Bunny on "Tiny Toon Adventures", if Zipper's voice sounds familiar.  Anyway, Eric plans to use Zipper to cause havoc at Starlight House.  Scare them out of the competition, so to speak. 

Meanwhile, at Starlight House, we get to meet a few of the girls, but the two we'll be focusing on this episode are Ashley and Lela.  Lela is considered the oldest of the current Starlight Girls, which makes her in charge of the "Honor Jar".  The Honor Jar is where all the girls do chores to earn money so that they can buy a new refrigerator for the house, which I have to admit is an awesome, unselfish idea.  But Ashley - who is the newest addition to the Starlight Girls at the time -  seems to think it's a waste of time.

At least, that is until she tries to steal the money from the jar and is caught by Jerrica.  Jerrica lets Lela and the girls decide Ashley's punishment, and Lela thinks it's simple.  Since they lack thirty bucks to buy the fridge, Ashley will have to find a way to get thirty dollars.  Unfortunately, in 1985, thirty dollars may just as well be three hundred dollars, and at 13, Ashley's too young to deep fry Chicken McNuggets.

On top of all that, Rio has tried and failed to fix the electrical panels of the house, and Jerrica and the girls will have to spend the night powerless.  Gee, I wonder if this plot point will have anything to do with how this episode concludes?

Well, considering that there's no lights on, Zipper is free to break into the house to steal a few things.  Ah, plot contrivance.  You gotta love it.

Zipper, however, isn't the quietest burglar, and his noisiness causes Jerrica, Aja, Shana, and Kimber to wake up and investigate.  Look at the old style kerosene lantern that Kimber is holding!  That's old, even for 1985 standards! 

Once Zipper spots the girls, he makes a break for it, shoving Kimber out of the way which causes the old school lantern to smash on the ground, igniting the whole room with flames! 

And as the house burns down around them, we get the first of what are sure to be many "TO BE CONTINUED" text graphics appearing.

What do you think will happen?  Will everyone escape?  Will Zipper be charged with arson?  Will Ashley be exempt from her thirty dollar punishment because the Honor Jar will be a pile of ashes?

Stay tuned next week for Episode 2:  Disaster.  Gee, what a happy title...

1 comment:

  1. One thing I always hoped that they'd explore on the show is how the Misfits got together...
    How the hell did they meet????
    I suppose we'll never know...