Search This Blog

Friday, July 08, 2016

Jem Reviewed: Episode 16 - Broadway Magic

In the previous installment of Jem Reviewed, the Holograms successfully published their rock fashion book despite some roadblocks that the Misfits placed in front of them.

And apparently that book was so successful that the band now has a chance to headline their own Broadway musical!  Only in America, huh?

This is Episode 16:  Broadway Magic!

It's a beautiful view of the New York City skyline as we kick off this tale...and it's also a bittersweet reminder that just fifteen years after this episode aired, the original World Trade Center would be no more.  We also see that this episode is written by Marv Wolfman.  In this edition of Jem Trivia, I can tell you that Marv Wolfman would later go on work on the New Teen Titans comic book series, where he slipped in a Jem joke in one of the panels.

We peek into the office window of Broadway producer Bob Merritt - who apparently seems to think the year is 1976.  Aside from the fact that his clothes are very outdated, he's sporting a toupee that not even Donald Trump would touch!  He sees himself as a Broadway producer, but I see him more along the lines of a Match Game 74 panelist!  But looks aside, he's apparently one of the best Broadway producers in the city, and he's trying to brainstorm ideas with his secretary on what should be his next idea.  While all this is going on, two window cleaners are outside trying to clean the windows listening to Misfits music instrumentals, but the noise of their boom box is so distracting that it causes Merritt to close the window, sending both men falling off the scaffolding to their deaths below.

No, wait.  Merritt's office is on the second floor, so they just bruise their dignity.  But the music does inspire Merritt to come up with an idea to feature a rock group in his next musical.  I'm sure you all know where this is going.

In sunny California, Jerrica, Kimber, Aja, and Shana are playing a game of beach volleyball while Rio and an unknown guy watch from a snack shack in the background.  And while Rio tells his friend that he has got it bad for Jerrica, he can't help but feel as though she's hiding something from him.  Like, oh, maybe the fact that she can use her earrings to transform into the pink-haired goddess known as Jem, perhaps?  Because as we know, Jerrica can't tell Rio the truth because she knows he hates deception.  It's the broken record that should have been shattered all the way back in episode one, and yet somehow still finds a way to a radio playlist's heavy rotation.  Total annoyance.

Rio's gaze turns back towards a magazine which happens to be announcing Merritt's new Broadway show, and in his excitement to tell the girls, he upsets the hot dog tray on the table!  That's twenty bucks Rio owes somebody!  And I love how he tells the girls about the announcement by telling them that they're going to be Broadway stars!  I admire your optimism, Rio, but they still have to audition like Chita Rivera, Carol Channing, and Liza Minnelli before them!

(The fact that I just named three stars of Broadway without using Google shocks even myself!)

You want to know who else is interested in joining the cast of the play?  The Misfits, of course.  And while they are working out at a gym with Eric Raymond, they entertain the possibility that Jem would be trying out as well.  This concerns Stormer because Stormer openly admits that Jem is quite good!  I'm more impressed that Pizzazz and Roxy didn't deck her one for that comment!  But Stormer later questions Jem's real identity.  She thinks it is strange that she just came out of nowhere without anyone knowing who she was before.  I think I sense a song coming on!

The Misfits song "Who Is She, Anyway" is definitely a song that symbolizes the band's hard edge, and once again, Ellen Bernfeld owns this song with her voice.  The video itself could have been a little more stunning visually - and could have been spell checked as the magazine in the video refers to Jem's band as Jem and the HOROGRAMS, but other than that, I've no major complaints.

Stormer's sudden interest in who Jem really is causes Eric to come up with a plan of his own.  And before both bands can make it to New York City, he holds a press conference from Misfits Music to announce a contest.  He will give a reward of one hundred thousand dollars to anybody who can find out who Jem's real identity is.  And back in 1986, $100,000 was worth a LOT of money!  Just ask anyone who ever played Dick Clark's "Pyramid" game!

Sure enough, when Jem and the Holograms land in New York, a mob of journalists approach them and ask Jem who she is, whether she's a spy, and if she really did what they think she did with Charlie Sheen.

Okay, I made that last part up...but Jem and the others are understandably spooked, and wonder what's going on.

It takes a friendly New York City cabbie to explain what has happened and she tells them about Eric's "Find Out Who Jem Is" Sweepstakes, which doesn't shock them at all given Eric's track record.  But in a city of millions, this could prove very problematic for Jem.

At the Broadway theatre where Bob Merritt's show is set to open, we see Bob and his secretary watching the Misfits perform their previous chart topper "Makin' Mischief", and he showers them with compliments and tells them that they are the best he's seen today.  My guess is, they're the only ones he's seen today unless the Limp Lizards performed earlier in the day.

Ah, but here comes Jerrica, Kimber, Aja, and Shana, ready to take on the competition.  Of course, Eric notices right away that Jem is nowhere to be found and deduces that she's a no-show - largely because of the contest he's launched.  But Jerrica sees a hidden passage behind the stage to connect with Synergy so that she can change into Jem.

Uh-oh!  What Jerrica doesn't realize is that Roxy has snuck into the control booth above the stage and has a clear view of everything!  If Jerrica changes into Jem right there, her secret will be exposed to Roxy!

Good thing Roxy has a short attention span, because her focus soon shifts from Jerrica to the fancy looking buttons on the panel.  She pushes the buttons as Jerrica transforms into Jem and somehow sets off a burglar alarm.  Hilariously, Merritt thinks this is part of Jem's act!

Jem runs up to the control booth, shoves Roxy out of the way, and shuts the power off, but Pizzazz is already trying to throw the Holograms under the bus by saying that Jem was responsible for the mishap.  Bob Merritt is clearly annoyed, but he decides that he will let Jem sing anyway.  So, here's song number two, courtesy of Jem and the Holograms.

There's something quite moving about "Can't Get My Love Together".  Even though the video features Jem and Rio prominently, it certainly is a perfect song to symbolize their...obviously dysfunctional relationship with one another.  I have said that Jem's strength is ballads, and certainly this one is emotionally charged.  If you watch closely in this video, you can even see that Stormer is crying!  Remember, she's sort of a "tart with a heart" in this cartoon.

Seems like Merritt was impressed by the Holograms as well, and even showers them with the same compliments that he showed the Misfits some six minutes earlier!  No wonder Pizzazz wants to force feed his toupee down his throat!

To settle things once and for all, Merritt invites both groups to appear with him on Lindsey Pearce's show where he can announce the decision in person.  And to this, I wonder if MTV even covered news on Broadway musicals back in the day.  Seriously, I want to know!

Later that night, both groups and Merritt are seated comfortably on Lindsey's soundstage, and one thing I notice is that all the guests have orange drinks in front of them!  Classy.  And, given that it's the 1980s, they're either drinking fuzzy navels, screwdrivers, Orange Crush, or Tang.  Let's go with Orange Crush!  Nobody likes a drunken rock musician.

Bob Merritt holds up an envelope that announces which band he has chosen for the contest.  Both groups wait in anticipation as he opens the envelope and reveals that the winning group is Bananarama!

No, wait.  It's Jem and the Holograms.  Shocker, I know.

And while Pizzazz's decision to storm off the stage and attack Lindsey's guests with a giant fire hose while the show is still on the air might seem shocking in real life...for this cartoon, we wouldn't expect anything less.  Not that what Pizzazz did was okay by any means.  I'm just not shocked.

What is shocking is that despite the fact that Pizzazz tries to drown Merritt on television, he still thinks the group is peachy keen, and offers them the chance to be the understudies for Jem and the Holograms!  Sweet Jesus, I thought Howard Sands lacked balls...I think this guy may have him beat!

After leaving Lindsey's water-logged set, Jem is accosted by a man offering her a zillion dollars in exchange for her real name, and then she is confronted by a wacko psychic who tries to hypnotize her into saying who she is.  And to think this was before Miss Cleo and Dionne Warwick's Psychic Friends started ripping people off!

Jem manages to rebuff the con artists, but Bob Merritt is getting annoyed by the constant distractions and warns them that if they aren't fully committed to the musical that he will replace them with the Misfits.  I wonder if Merritt and Howard Sands are related?

Later on, Jerrica arrives back at the Plaza Hotel with the rest of the Holograms and is wondering how to handle the fact that everyone seems to want to find out who Jem really is.  But Synergy warns Jerrica that she must not let anyone know about her because if anyone finds out, they could use Synergy's powers for evil. 

The other Holograms retire for the night, and Jerrica is about to do the same, but she is shocked to find Rio snooping through her things.  Jerrica is immediately angered at the fact that even Rio is trying to find out who Jem really is and throws him out of the room.  And, I get the feeling that we missed a scene somewhere.  Why do I feel that there was supposed to be an added clip where Rio and Jerrica have a fight over Jem's real identity.  It could certainly make Jerrica's anger more justified.  Instead, she comes across as a psychopath!

And at rehearsals the following day, Jem is nowhere to be found at the theatre, which worries the other Holograms, makes Rio feel sorry for himself, the Misfits shriek with glee, and Bob Merritt understandably pissed.  But not so pissed that he doesn't allow the Holograms a chance to find Jem.  They have until eight o'clock tonight to bring her back to the theatre.  Apparently, that's when the show opens!  Wow, Merritt doesn't waste time, does he?

The girls recall Jerrica wanting to visit Central Park, so maybe she might be there.  But it's Rio who comes across Jerrica and apologizes for going through her private things in her hotel room.  Jerrica seems to accept the apology, but still demands to know what is bothering Rio.  And it's here where the most frustrating moment in the whole series takes place.

Rio tells Jerrica that he is torn between Jerrica and Jem and that he feels that whenever he gets too close to Jerrica, she pulls away.  He even speculates that maybe Jerrica IS Jem!  I'm like...OH MY GOSH, FINALLY!  He figured it out and Jerrica can finally admit that yes, she is the pink-haired goddess of his dreams and that they can finally live happily ever after!  And then Jerrica summons a Jem hologram in the park because she decides that listening to Synergy's warning is more important that telling her boyfriend THE TRUTH!!!  I'm pretty sure Rio wouldn't use Synergy for evil doings.  I honestly don't even know if Rio would even know how to turn Synergy on!  But whatever the case, Rio walks away dejected, and Jerrica is left looking like a complete fool.  I officially give up on these two, and I think that for her own sake, Jerrica (and Jem) should choose celibacy.

At least the Misfits seem to show more determination in trying to stop Jem and the Holograms from making their eight o'clock curtain call.  Pizzazz and Roxy come to the conclusion that Jem would do anything for Rio, and they make Stormer type out a letter from Rio to Jem on one of those new fangled inventions that they call a typewriter! 

Apparently it's a very expensive typewriter because the note is written in cursive script!  How...weird.

The note tells Jem to meet Rio at the top of the Statue of Liberty, which she does.  But she finds herself locked in by Pizzazz...and the last ferry leaves at five o'clock, essentially trapping her on Ellis Island!  I suppose Jem could try to swim to Manhattan, but it'd take her a lot longer than three hours to do it!

She notices two dock workers standing outside and she thinks that she can use one of her earrings to summon a hologram of her to lead them to her.  I don't know if throwing an earring on the ground from hundreds of feet up in the air is a good idea, but miraculously, the earring doesn't shatter, and the Jem hologram leads both men to the top of the statue - as both of them want the reward money associated with Jem's real identity.

Once she is rescued, Jem pleads with the men to take her by boat to the main island so that she can make it to the show.  The older man seems to be willing to help, but the younger man decides that nobody will stop him from collecting all the money, and throws the other man overboard.  Once they arrive at Manhattan, the man demands that Jem show him who she she obliges.

This is probably the most disturbing, yet funniest scene ever featured in this show so far!  The sight of the guy's ugly face on Jem's Polka Dot Door inspired jumpsuit is enough to make him fall off the edge of the pier!  But it distracts Jem long enough to run right into the taxi driver that helped her earlier. 

The taxi driver agrees to take Jem to the Broadway District, but they get stopped by what appears to be a Chinese New Year celebration?!?  This episode is just filled with plot contrivances, isn't it? 

And also filled with spelling mistakes too!  Look at how the driver is driving a TAXY cab!

Jem can't wait around any longer, and she decides to try and make the distance by foot.  She randomly grabs some kid's skateboard and announces that she will give them tickets to her next show - even though she has no idea where they live!  Nice one, Jem.

At least her skateboarding skills are better than her people skills, and somehow she skates right into a subway car which delivers her to what appears to be the Lexington Subway Station - which isn't far from the Empire State Building.  And of course, Jem is pursued by a mob of subway commuters who want a piece of the prize money!  Jem races inside the Empire State Building where apparently there's a hang gliding convention going on.  Okay, seriously, this plot is too unbelievable even for a cartoon.  I suppose next she's going to steal a hang glider and glide her way to...

...OH, COME ON!!!!!

At the theatre, the rest of the Holograms are trying to convince Bob Merritt to wait a few minutes longer because they know that Jem will be there, but Merritt can't give them any more time, which makes the Misfits salivate with glee over finally besting the Holograms once and for all.

Shana immediately notices that Jem has safely glided to the theatre's roof on a hang glider, but Pizzazz notes that she will never get her costume on in time.

Cue Jem in a stunning pink evening gown walking down the stairs as if she had never taken a fifteen minute tour of New York City before.  Everyone is shocked at Jem's sudden transformation and even Pizzazz asks how she did it.  Jem replies that she just might have that Broadway Magic.

Oh for the final song of the show, "Broadway Magic".  Total snoozefest.  If the rest of the songs of this musical are any indication as to what the play is about, I'm guessing this show will have a shorter life than "Taboo".  Both the musical and the short-lived game show.

Whatever the case, there seems to be a congratulatory party celebrating the success of the Holograms debut performance, and Rio and Jerrica are having a quiet conversation where Rio and Jerrica reaffirm their love since Jerrica doesn't seem to feel that telling Rio that she is Jem is all that important.  Seriously, I'm sick of these two.  I almost want to see more of Kimber throwing herself at every man.  Almost.

As the episode concludes, Jerrica changes back into Jem and holds a bit of a press conference where she makes the announcement that she is a very private person and she likes to keep it that way.  She does admit to using a stage name, but questions what is more important.  Her real name, or the music she releases.  Unanimously, the crowd declares that the music is more important.  I wonder how much the Holograms paid them to say that.

Seriously, this episode right now is probably one of the worst ones yet so far.  Just when I thought we were getting into the groove (as the last four episodes of this series were quite enjoyable), they throw this turkey in the mix.  And honestly, this episode made me care less about Jerrica and Rio...more so than I did before.  It was just one giant mess.  At least I can say that the episode itself was factually correct and Wolfman did his research into the layout of New York City.  And to Wolfman's credit, there was quite a lot of background gags and spurts of humour mixed in.  Still...this episode had a weak plot and frustrating character development.

Here's hoping episode 17 is much better.  The Holograms are working on a new album.  And the Misfits decide to steal it.  This can't be good.

No comments:

Post a Comment