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Friday, May 20, 2016

Jem Reviewed: Episode 9 - The World Hunger Shindig

Previously on Jem Reviewed, the Holograms overtook the Misfits in the movie wars, and Ba Nee got her eyesight restored.  And this week, we get a chance to see Jem and the Holograms try to make a difference by raising awareness for famine.

It's also the first episode that does NOT have a second part to it!



Time for Episode 9:  The World Hunger Shindig.

A little background before we begin.  This episode originally aired in 1986 - right around the time of the concert benefit era to eradicate world hunger.  It was the time in which we had Farm-Aid, Live-Aid, Band-Aid, USA for Africa, Northern Lights, etc, etc.  So, the timing of this episode is appropriate.

The setting of the episode is Houston, Texas, and The World Hunger Shindig is taking part in Houston's Astrodome.  Great, a cartoon that establishes real world landmarks in real world cities.  A touch of realism is always appreciated.



The World Hunger Shindig is being presented by none other than Miss Sally Brand and Miss Ellen Sue Tanner, who have a little bit of a bet going on between them.  Ellen Sue gives Miss Sally a challenge to raise eight million dollars for the hunger relief fundraiser - which might seem like pocket change given that Jerry Lewis raised nearly nine times that amount for his kids during the telethons he used to host for muscular dystrophy.  Nevertheless, Miss Sally accepts the bet and pulls her trump card out.



You know, I've said that the more I watch this show, the more mature that Jem and the Holograms' songs are.  This is a case where this is true.  "We Can Make A Difference" is a wonderful song with a wonderful message.  Consider this their own version of "We Are The World", if you will.  And at this point, I think I like the idea of Jem doing more ballads.



After the song is over, Rio and Jem meet up with Miss Sally and an oil investor named C.B. Dodd who is looking to invest in a record company.  Miss Sally is pleased to meet them, but she is wondering where Jerrica is.  This prompts Jem to summon a taxi cab hologram of Jerrica to arrive at Miss Sally's manor, which switches places with Jem.  So now Jem is the hologram leaving in the hologram cab, and Jerrica is the flesh and blood person.  Got all that?



I should also mention that since this is a benefit concert, Jem and the Holograms aren't the only ones performing.  One of the headliners happens to be budding teen idol from Britain, Sean Harrison!  And right off the bat, Kimber is smitten over the dulcet tones of Sean's obviously exaggerated British accent.

I say this because in this installment of Jem Trivia, Sean Harrison is voiced by actor Dan Gilvezan - an American.

I think it's sweet that Kimber's found love so soon after Jeff Wright...I mean, that whole period between episodes 8 and 9 must have been so horrible for our flame haired love goddess.  And yes, that's sarcasm.



Of course, no episode of Jem would be complete without the Misfits barging in on the action.  This time however, Eric has a legitimate reason for being there.  Somehow, he's managed to convince Miss Sally to hire him as the official promoter of The World Hunger Shindig, and that's the only reason he's there - or so he tells Miss Sally.  The Misfits just happen to be there because they want to perform in the concert as well.  Problem is, Miss Sally already has the line-up prepared for the live album to be released later, and they can only be on the album if another rock band drops out.

You can smell where this is going a mile away, can't you?



Oh, and it turns out that Pizzazz has a little bit of a history with Sean Harrison.  Back when Pizzazz was in London, it's alleged that they used to date - and maybe then some.  It's also alleged that Sean was just as crazy as the Misfits back in those carefree days of being nineteen some two months ago, or however old Sean's supposed to be.  Sean flat out rejects Pizzazz, saying that he's grown up and she should run along.  If I wasn't so distracted by Sean's fake accent, I'd cheer him on!



Jem warns Miss Sally that Eric Raymond is nothing but trouble, but Miss Sally doesn't pay attention, simply telling Jem that she's worked with people like Eric before and she can handle him just fine.  My question is...can we swap out Howard Sands for Miss Sally?  She's awesome!



So, Eric and the Misfits are staying inside Miss Sally's guest house, which only has three bedrooms.  I say only because Eric and the Misfits are sharing the same living space, and the Misfits naturally take all the rooms.  But Pizzazz basically issues a threat to Eric that he had better make sure that he gets them on the live record.  You know, I used to think that Eric got off too easily with his crimes against Jem and the Holograms, but having to be saddled with the Misfits - well, Pizzazz and Roxy anyway - makes a swell punishment.



Of course, Eric can't do this alone, so he calls in reinforcements.  Welcome back to the now brunette Zipper!  I'm not even going to ask how Eric got Zipper out of jail for nearly killing the Holograms on four separate occasions...I'm still trying to comprehend how ERIC got out of jail!  But one thing is for sure...Zipper is on the loose, and nobody is safe.



Morning comes, and Jerrica and Kimber run into Miss Sally once more, who is all suited up in her finest business clothing.  And after Jerrica makes up an excuse that Jem caught a cold and will be resting in her room, Miss Sally encourages the girls to explore the ranch with C.B. and Sean.  She does warn them to say away from the rivers, as flash floods can happen at any time.  Sounds like a rather random thing, but whatever.

It's also a perfect opportunity for Kimber and Sean to get to know each other, since she seems to have forgotten about the guy who saved her life last episode.  What was his name again?  Jeff?  Jack?  Jebediah?  Who cares?  Kimber's got a new man now!



See?  Look how they are having fun riding horses, and swimming in the lake, and doing all the things that lovers do.  It's like a Eurythmics video come to life with these two!



What else is interesting is the fact that while everyone is on a picnic, Sean gets a call on a cellular phone!  And back in 1986, the only cell phones that existed were Zack Morris brick phones!  Oh, 1980s, technology, how I've missed you!

Needless to say, Sean and C.B. have to be called away for a bit, but Sean promises to see Kimber and the others at a hayride that is scheduled for later that night.  Sounds like a really romantic time.

Of course, what isn't romantic is Zipper and his thugs approaching the Holograms armed with guns, ordering them to follow them.  Now, we all know that the Holograms are not allowed to die, so this is a fairly empty threat.  That being said, it scares the girls enough to do what they say.  Oh, and since Zipper and the others are wearing masks, they don't know who they are. 



They're brought to a deserted canyon area that looks like it used to be a river before it dried up.  Not a great place to be.  And Jerrica and the others are really concerned that they will never be found.



Surprisingly enough, it's Kimber that comes up with a clever escape plan.  Remembering what Miss Sally said about flash floods, she fakes getting injured to distract Jerrica long enough to concoct one of the most elaborate Synergy holograms that she's done so far.



I mean, seriously...Synergy creates a gigantic thunderstorm and a tsunami like wave to sweep over Zipper and the others, making them fear for their lives!  Of course, we all know that the wave is harmless, but seeing how Synergy can create something like that?  It makes me wonder if they bothered using some of those special effects in their Starbright film.  Bravo, Synergy!  Whatever the case, it worked, and Jerrica and the others are free to make the hayride.



It's just a shame that Sean hasn't arrived yet.  Thanks to him being "abducted" by the Misfits who take him to a dive bar on the outskirts of Houston, Sean misses the whole thing, and Pizzazz wants it that way.  I can't help but feel that this is where the Pizzazz/Sean/Kimber love triangle begins.



And to just summarize how legitimate Pizzazz's interests are towards the World Hunger Shindig, she and the Misfits perform a song called "Gimme Gimme Gimme"!  How...inappropriate!



I do have to say..."Gimme Gimme Gimme" isn't a bad song - at least stylistically.  I just wish the video were better.  But again, seeing as how this is an episode about a charity event, it's extremely out of place.  Though one can argue that the Misfits being there is out of place as well!



At any rate, Sean's had all he can take of Pizzazz's selfishness, and he sets out to try and find Kimber.  He forces the Misfits to drive him to the place where the hayride was set to leave from, which Pizzazz reluctantly agrees to do.  Of course, while they're in the car, Pizzazz and Sean get into an argument about Kimber, and neither one of them are watching where they are going.  Stormer notices the hay wagon coming in the opposite direction and screams loud enough for Pizzazz to narrowly avoid hitting it, but the hay wagon derails and collapses on the side of the road.



Of course it comes as no surprise that the hay wagon happens to be the same one that Jerrica and the others are on, and because the wagon wheel is busted, they'll have to walk back to the ranch.  Meanwhile Kimber declares that she is never speaking to Sean Harrison again.  Sure hope she kept Justin's number on her.  Or is that Jeremy?  Oh, who cares...it's time for the World Hunger Shindig to begin!

Ah, but before we do that, we have to get the prerequisite shot of Eric getting a call from Zipper saying that he screwed up again!  So, with Jem and the Holograms still making their way to the Astrodome, Eric now has to come up with another plan to get them out of the way.



Oh, and while he's at it, why not appoint Zipper as a ticket seller so that he can pocket the ticket sales for his own greedy needs?  This sadly doesn't shock me, as Eric embezzled money from Starlight Music for months before Jerrica caught on.  But you'd have thought he'd have learned his lesson.

Oh, wait.  This is Eric Raymond.  Never mind.



It seems as though Jem and the Holograms were expected as some bald guard arrives on what looks like a golf cart to escort the girls to their dressing room.  But just as Kimber is about to board, Sean arrives on a cart of his own, desperate to explain why he was with Pizzazz the night of the hayride.  Jem convinces Kimber to hear him out, so Kimber hops on Sean's cart to listen to his explanation while the other three arrive at their dressing room.



I don't know though...something doesn't seem right.  Maybe it's the fact that the guy is smirking through the whole thing.  Maybe it's because their dressing room has a peephole in the door.  Maybe it's because HOLOGRAMS is spelled incorrectly and appears to be drawn on the door with sidewalk chalk.  Yeah, that's standard for the Astrodome.



I knew it.  It was all a trap.  Baldy happens to be one of Eric and Zipper's henchmen, and they purposely locked Jem, Aja, and Shana in the room long enough for them to miss their performance so that the Misfits can take over.  Sounds just like Eric.  It's just a shame that their plan has one tiny blip.



You see, Kimber was too busy fawning over Sean to avoid the trap, and when she arrives at the stage and sees only Rio there, she wonders what's up.  Rio is upset too because he can't find Jem or Jerrica, and the rest of the band has gone missing.  But before Rio has a chance to yell "J'ACCUSE" at some random roadie for trying to woo away his women...woman...whatever, Kimber puts two and two together, and realizes that something must have happened.  Rio and Kimber go off to try and find their missing friends before the Misfits try to sing a rousing chorus of "Gimme Gimme Gimme" at a hunger fundraiser.

The henchman goes to check on his prisoners, and Jem, Shana, and Aja are sitting there quietly.  Maybe a little too quietly.



I knew it.  Jem projected holograms of the three of them while they make their escape through the air ducts of the Astrodome.  I'm not so sure this is a great plan given how huge the stadium is, but I do give them credit for trying to find their own way out instead of relying on Rio to help them.

And it is here where Jem and the others discover the sinister plan that is taking place thanks to Zipper.  He stashes the money he stole from the ticket booth in the air ducts while revealing the plan to Jem indirectly.  You don't think that Jem will take that lying down, do you?



She uses Synergy's help to project an image of a deadly rattlesnake to appear in front of the suitcase of money - which does make sense as the Southern United States are filled with rattlesnakes.  Zipper naturally gets freaked out and runs away screeching like a little girl, and Jem grabs onto the suitcase filled with money.  That's one problem solved, but how do they get onto the stage to sing at the Shindig?



I sure hope they find a way soon.  Kimber and Rio have found Miss Sally and they try to convince her to put the concert on hold for a few minutes until they find Jem, but Miss Sally has to play by the rules.  Of course, Miss Sally isn't aware of the fact that Eric's been playing dirty pool, so I'll give her a pass for this unlike the man with no cojones Howard Sands.  Of course Eric is standing in the background taking it all in, knowing that the Misfits will be going on stage, and that there's nothing that can be done about it...

...at least until a voice that sounds a lot like Synergy announces that Jem and the Holograms are here!



Somehow, Jem, Aja, and Shana traced the path of the air ducts to the pledge board above the stage and somehow use one of those nets that are used for balloon drops on New Years' Eve to slide down to the stage safely.  Now, if this weren't a cartoon, Jem, Aja, and Shana would be dead, and Kimber would have to carry the band all on her own.  But physics are not allowed on cartoons, so we just have to pretend that balloon nets have as much durability as a parachute.

Once Kimber joins the rest of the Holograms, they break out into their song.  Interestingly enough, the Misfits get a couple of lines in this song, though they aren't credited for it.



I guess "Share A Little Bit Of Yourself" is meant to be the theme song for the World Hunger Shindig, and I suppose it's an okay song...but I like "We Can Make A Difference" much better. 

There is some bad news though.  Even after Zipper's scheme to steal the money from the benefit comes to light and Jem gives the suitcase back to Miss Sally, Miss Sally is still fifty thousand dollars short of the eight million dollar goal.  It seems like a sad ending that the Holograms managed to perform and Miss Sally put in all that work only to come up short.



Oh, but this where I really LOVE Miss Sally.  See, Miss Sally long suspected that Eric would cause trouble at the event, and with Zipper caught in the act, Miss Sally knows where to hit him where it hurts.  Seems Eric was paid fifty thousand dollars up front to help with the promotion of the World Hunger Shindig - and now that Eric's been exposed, Miss Sally forces Eric to sign over his fee to HER to donate to the Shindig!  Eric, knowing that he's over a barrel, has no choice, and as the Misfits chuckle in his misfortune, the tally board reaches the eight million dollars and the Shindig is a success! 



Seriously, can Miss Sally appear in EVERY episode?  I love this woman!

So that was our first standalone episode, and I have to say, I didn't mind it.  It was nice to see the Holograms doing a charity concert, and I even have to say that despite Pizzazz's obsession with Sean being a bit annoying, the Misfits actually weren't too obnoxious here.  Maybe they too have a soft spot when it comes to charity events, even though they really wanted to be there to get more attention.  If anything Zipper was the one who did the most damage of all, and I have to wonder why Eric continues to deal with this loser.

Oh, and the Kimber/Sean thing?  I'm not sold on it yet...though I hear this isn't Sean's first appearance in the show, so time will tell.

Next week, the girls go to China...and Jem loses something very important.

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