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Friday, July 15, 2016

Jem Reviewed: Episode 17 - In Search of the Stolen Album

Previously on Jem Reviewed, the girls auditioned for and won roles in a Broadway musical because this show hasn't suspended reality enough!

What adventures will the girls get into this week?  Let's find out.



This is Episode 17: In Search of the Stolen Album.



We're at a recording studio that presumably is owned by Starlight Records, as the building has the same logo.  Inside, Jem and the Holograms are putting the finishing touches on a new track, and are rehearsing their latest hit.  Aja is so into the recording of the song that she continues to sing fifteen seconds after Jem stops production due to the track not sounding right.  Jem proceeds to blame Aja for the mess up, and Aja defends herself by saying that she has nice shoes.  I'm not lying either.  It's...so...strange.

Even stranger still is the fact that the girls mention that this is their debut album.  Okay, wait a minute.  You mean to tell me that they filmed a full length motion picture, performed at a benefit concert for Haven House, won a fashion contest, shot a fashion book, and performed in a Broadway musical BEFORE releasing an album?  Sigh...let's continue to distort reality some more, shall we?



It seems as though the fortunes of Eric Raymond and the Misfits have taken a turn for the worse as well.  The Misfits open up the front door of a building that probably should have been condemned years earlier and are greeted by a gigantic rat scurrying out the door! 

And, no...it's not Eric.  It's a genuine rat.



Eric's been holed up inside the building and he is looking rough.  He explains that ever since he was thrown out of Misfits Music, he's had it bad.  What I'm wondering is...WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN?  Misfits Music was established in Episode 13.  Four episodes ago.  And in four episodes, he screwed up so badly that he was thrown out?  Again, this makes NO SENSE.

The only thing I can come up with for an explanation is that this episode aired out of order.  It should have aired after the Battle of the Bands, but before the girls started filming Starbright.  After all, there was a six month window in between those two episodes.  It's plenty of time to cut an album.  And maybe instead of Misfits Music, Eric could have been talking about Starlight Music.  See, THAT would have made much more sense.

But whatever.  The Misfits still have a recording studio that is part owned by Pizzazz's father, so their plan is to make an album themselves.  Sounds simple enough.



We're treated to a boring set of clips featuring Jerrica, Kimber, Aja, and Shana doing actual work at Starlight Music.  I won't bother recapping it as it seems like a filler scene.  The only highlight to mention is that Kimber spends the whole time snoozing on the couch while the other three are working, and then complains that her life is so hard.  Having worked with people who have the same work ethic as Kimber, I admit to wondering how the other three can put up with her!  But, I guess when you're related to the lead singer of the group, anything can be possible.



The next day, the Holograms are back at work recording more songs for the album.  And, I want to you pay very special attention to this song, as well as the song the Misfits will release in this episode.



First, the song "There's a Melody Playing".  It's a song that personifies Jem and the Holograms best...it's a danceable love song filled with happiness, rainbows, and pixie dust that would almost be forgettable if not for the fact that Britta Phillips hits not one but two high notes flawlessly.  I think those notes save the song from being completely forgettable.

But my opinion means nothing.  The Holograms think it's the best thing they've ever recorded and are looking forward to putting the finishing touches on the album the next day.



But while the girls are celebrating their success, Eric is planning a very nasty scheme.  Naturally, Zipper is there for the ride because when you really want to count on someone screwing up your plans, Zipper is the guy to call.



In this case, Zipper actually comes through for Eric.  He successfully breaks into the Starlight Recording Studio, and snatches the master tape of Jem's album.  Of course, when you label the tape case "JEM'S MASTER TAPE", well...they kind of made his job even easier.

Jem and the Holograms are absolutely crestfallen that their master tape has been stolen right out from under them and they immediately try to come up with a way to fix the situation.  If their album was stolen, it's not like they could re-record it.  Zipper stole all of their songbooks as well.



Meanwhile, presumably miles from Los Angeles, Eric Raymond and the rest of the Misfits are relaxing at a poolside resort.  I'm thinking that Eric arranged the vacation so that they would have plenty of time to hide Jem's master tape and work on their own album without having the police come and arrest them for theft.  But while they are talking, Pizzazz comes up with an idea to have a little bit of fun with Jem and the Holograms.  The idea?  Take the girls on a scavenger hunt with a surprise at the end.  Do I even want to know what the surprise is?  Knowing Pizzazz, she'll have a sniper ready to gun them all down!

That will be a project that will have to wait.  It's time to hear what the Misfits have to sing.



So, do you notice anything about "There Ain't Nobody Better" in comparison to "There's a Melody Playing?"  Well, the backing music is exactly the same, which means that the Misfits plan on recording an album via plagiarism.  But even more noticeable is the fact that both groups ended up releasing almost an identical music video concept!  To me, this is unfortunate because I don't even think the Misfits needed to even resort to plagiarizing Jem and the Holograms.  They can come up with decent songs on their own.  Although, I do admit...I kind of like their version better.

Jerrica, Kimber, Aja, and Shana arrive home to see a note pinned to the front door of Starlight Mansion.  It's arranged in the form of a ransom note and it reads that they have kidnapped Ashley, Deirdre, and Krissie, and that they need to give them a trillion dollars if they want to see them again.



Just kidding.  Here's the real message.  When the Holograms read the message, they say the word TUNES instead of TIMES.  So, apparently, the girls can't read.  Nice.



They do figure out that the note offers subtle clues about where they need to go.  Kimber seems to think that they need to go to an underground club in the seedy part of town - which kind of makes me wonder how Kimber would even know about the club in the first place.  Somebody's been sneaking out past curfew!  Whatever the case, the girls decide that this club is worth checking out - after all, the clue does elude to the fact that the person who wrote the note also has the master tape.



After driving around for what seems like hours, the girls find the place they're looking for.  It's a club on the top floor of an abandoned building, and judging from the crowd that is inside, I am guessing that it is a place filled with drugs, sex, and really bad dye jobs.  In fact, I would probably hazard a guess that we may very well see the biological parents of a couple of the Starlight Girls in this very club!  But that's merely speculation.



To nobody's surprise, the crowd inside isn't very helpful.  When the girls keep asking random strangers who the "Chubette" is in the note, they tell them to go away or threaten them with random acts of violence.  Kimber actually seems upset when one of the guys in the club tell her she isn't his type!  Who knew this crowd had standards?



Eventually, one man - who has one scary laugh - introduces the girls to Chubette...the Coca-Cola machine in the middle of the club.  Aja is so upset that she kicks the machine hard!  There go Aja's new shoes.

The kick dislodges a can of Coke from the machine, and Jerrica is happy that they at least got a free soda.  But given how dirty the place is, I'd reckon that soda's best before date is 1981. 



It's all good though.  They aren't here to drink.  They're here for their next clue which is taped to the outside of the can.  It says something about mirages and garages as well as a dented fender, but it's too late for them to think about what it means now.  They decide to head home and disinfect themselves.



But as they arrive at the Rockin' Roadster, they notice that someone has smashed their fender in.  Guess the note they received was accurate.  But when they turn to leave, they realize that an angry mob from the club have come to put dents in all of them before robbing them of all their stuff.  What a warm and fuzzy neighbourhood this is turning out to be!  The girls are all trapped, and Shana remarks that not even Synergy can help them out.



To which Jerrica responds with "Bitch, please", and uses Synergy to create an illusion of them burning to death the moment one of them throws a rock at their car.  That's...a little harsh!  But it works, as the men all scurry back to their run-down homes.  Even Shana has to admit that she underestimated Synergy's importance and Jerrica actually tells Shana that she'll forgive her even though Synergy is a computer and shouldn't feel any emotion whatsoever.



The next day, the girls discover what the clue means.  There's a place in the middle of nowhere called the "Mirage Garage".  It's a gas station that happens to boast one of the tallest tire piles in all of Southern California.  I don't know whether that's something to be proud of or ashamed of. 



Now, here is the exact moment where Jem and the Holograms really annoy the hell out of me.  There aren't many, so believe me, I will point them out whenever I see it.  They introduce themselves to the owner of the Mirage Garage - the charming Southerner named Bubba.  And while Jerrica shows the dented fender to Bubba - who exclaims that he can fix it - the other girls go searching through his things to find the next clue to the hunt.  Wow, way to go through his stuff without asking permission, ladies!



To make matters worse, in the haste to find the clue, Kimber, Aja, and Shana disturb the giant pile of tires which come crashing through the roof of the garage!  Oh, great, so now they're adding vandalism to the mix.

And even more disgusting...when the girls find the next note underneath the tire pile, Jerrica exclaims that they can get the fender fixed in town, and so they speed off leaving Bubba alone to fix his tire pile and roof.  I feel like Jerrica has somehow switched bodies with Pizzazz.  That's the only way I can even justify the Holograms' horrible behaviour.  You know, I almost hope they DON'T find their master tape.



But since every episode of Jem has to reward Jem in some way, we can only assume that the next clue will lead them closer to where the tape is hidden.  And it looks as though the next clue takes them to the beach where a place called the Blue Wave surf shop is located. 



Once again, Jerrica and the girls barge into someone's place of business and ransack the place trying to find what they are looking for.  What is this?  "The Amazing Race"?  I bet they won't give our extremely laid-back sales employee an apology either for tossing wetsuits and surfboard wax all over the floor either.  Those jerks.



Thankfully for the Holograms - and every business owner in Southern California, the girls get their final clue - which points them towards a net where a group of people are playing volleyball.  So help me, if those girls upset that volleyball game in any way, I would reckon that they deserve to be bumped, set, and spiked out of there.



Fortunately, the girls decide that they do want to showcase their manners, and they safely dig up a tape case without interfering with the game.  So, it's fine to destroy a person's business, but heaven forbid they interrupt a group of people playing sports.  Talk about priorities.

To nobody's surprise, the Misfits have left them with a blank tape.  While I would consider it karma for the way the Holograms behaved, I know that this ending would not really cut it, so Jerrica comes up with the idea to have Synergy analyze the notes so that they can figure out what the next step is.  My question...why didn't they just come up with that idea before going all around town destroying things?  This episode makes my brain hurt.

Synergy does provide them with information that confirms that the Misfits were behind the theft.  The club was a place where the Misfits performed.  The gas station is on property owned by Pizzazz's dad.  Pizzazz made a purchase at the surf shop using her credit card.  Again, this is nice information, but it doesn't tell them where the tape is.



Until Synergy points out that the Misfits made one fatal error in one of their clues when they talked about flashy music.  Turns out that the recording studio where the Misfits record their music is named Flash Recording Studios, which is partly owned by Pizzazz's father.  Connecting the dots like Pee-Wee Herman, the girls deduce that their tape is being held at Flash Studios.  But they will never be allowed inside. 



Never fear, for Synergy is here!  As Aja drives away in the Roadster, Jerrica, Shana, and Kimber use Synergy to transform into holograms of Pizzazz, Roxy, and Stormer.  Synergy does such a good job in disguising them that they even sound like the characters! 



Once inside the recording studio, they split up to try and find the tape.  It seems as though the Misfits are just as stupid as the Holograms, as they make no effort to disguise the tape at all.  If I were them, I'd have put a fake label over top of the original one, claiming that the tape holds Polka's Greatest Hits or something like that.  Now that the tape is safely in the hands of the Holograms, they leave - but not before they leave the Misfits with one final surprise.

At a press conference announcing the Misfits new album, Eric Raymond is schmoozing over the guests while the Misfits are standing around looking pretty.  In short, it's a typical Friday.



So imagine their surprise when Eric plays the tape and it turns out to be a Rosetta Stone tape of French lessons!  Quel dommage!  It appears as though la presse is quite ennui about the tape, and they vamoose out of there faster than you can say "Vive les Misfits!".  As for pauvre Pizzazz, she burns hot with anger faster than Joan of Arc is burned at the stake, and she takes the tape and destroys it with her bare hands right in the middle of the room.  Yeah, that's mature, Pizzazz.  At least Roxy and Stormer are showing some restraint!



Back at Starlight Records, Jem and the Holograms are celebrating the fact that because they acted like the Misfits, their album is number one in the country.  Oh, yeah...great moral to teach kids there, ladies.  If something doesn't go your way, get revenge on them.  That may work in some cases, but in most others, it just makes the situation worse. 

And so ends what I believe to be one of the more frustrating episodes of Jem so far.  I mean, the idea of the Misfits stealing Jem's album probably looked great on paper.  But the execution of it was horrendous...and so was the way that Jem and the others treated people during their quest.  I sure hope this is a side we don't see too often, because it's really ugly.

Before I close this off, I'll post some
Jem Trivia.  It's right around this episode that Jem decided to add some PSA's to the end of each show, telling people that if they do the right thing, they'll end up being a superstar - despite the fact that the girls didn't do any superstar behaviour in this episode.  I believe a total of nine PSA's aired...and if you click on the video below, you can watch them all.  They're like "One To Grow On"...but cheesier!



Next week, both bands compete in a Battle of the Music Stars event...in Hawaii!  And Kimber falls in love.  Again.

But before I end this piece off, I wish to extend my deepest condolences to the people of Nice, France, whose Bastille Day celebrations ended in tragedy.  I wish I could do more for you, but know that the entire world is feeling your pain at this time.  

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