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Friday, August 12, 2016

Jem Reviewed: Episode 21 - Old Meets New

We watched last week as Jem and the Holograms worked together with the Misfits to survive on the Island of Deception.  Now that they've been rescued and they've gotten the sea salt out of their hair, it's time for the next installment of Jem Reviewed.

It's time for
Episode 21:  Old Meets New.  And after today we're just five episodes away from the season one finale!  Isn't that exciting?

It looks as though the Holograms are performing at another benefit concert - this time fighting against intellectual poverty.  So, basically, they're performing to stop stupidity and ignorance?  Works for me. 

Jem and the Holograms have a special performance in mind...and given that Jem is dressed like Laverne from "Laverne and Shirley", I'm guessing they plan on performing a classic song - well, one that exists in the Jem world, anyway.  Jem talks about how rock and roll first appeared in the 1950s, and how the song they were about to perform was written in 1954 - right around the time that Bill Haley and his Comets were recording "Rock Around The Clock".

The song is "Rock and Roll Is Forever", and I have to say, for a song that technically doesn't exist, the girls did a great job of making it 50s style.  Back in the 1980s, 1950s nostalgia was coming back in vogue, so there was quite a lot of interest in the decade that gave us rock and roll music, "Leave it to Beaver", and "I Love Lucy".

Unfortunately, not everybody in the audience is appreciative of Jem's version.  There's a man in the crowd who boos them, tells them that they suck, and that they ruined a classic tune before being escorted out of the stadium by security.  Kimber is annoyed, and wonders who he is.  I'm surprised that they haven't accused the Misfits of planting him in the audience!

It appears as though our angry fan isn't finished venting yet.  Somehow he manages to sneak past security and makes his way into Jem's dressing room!  Boy, I guess security at these concerts was lax compared to what they're like now!  Anyway, the man's name is Bobby Bailey, and Jem instantly recognizes the name.  He was the frontman for the band Bobby Bailey and the Tornadoes, and the song "Rock and Roll Forever" was originally performed by them!  Well, I guess if anyone has a right to tell a band that they butchered his song, Bobby Bailey is that guy.  Too bad Don McLean didn't give Madonna that same treatment when she butchered "American Pie".

Everyone seems impressed by Bobby being there once he revealed who he was...well, everyone except Kimber.  Kimber is unimpressed by Bobby Bailey, and the way she treats him, it's like she thinks he's a has-been.  She even wonders what good a guitar is if it can't be plugged into an amplifier.  Wow, who died and made you Queen Bitch, Kimber? 

Fortunately, Bobby doesn't kill the red-haired keyboard player.  He may want to, but he has good control of his emotions.  But he does offer to take the band to the place where he wrote the song, as well as the guitar that he wrote the song on.  At least three of the four Holograms would appreciate it.

The place happens to be an old dilapidated apartment building in the middle of Los Angeles.  It sort of looks like New York's SoHo District in which old warehouses and factories were converted into living spaces and lofts.  The building is where Bobby Bailey lives, and inside is a treasure trove of music memorabilia.  It's actually the same building where Bobby Bailey and the Tornadoes recorded their debut album!  Inside is the guitar that Bobby used when his band recorded their album.  There are several gold records hanging on the wall which showed the success of Bobby Bailey and the Tornadoes over the years.  You could tell that even though the limelight has faded, and Bobby Bailey has been retired for many years, he still holds that period very close to his heart.

Outside the building though are four people who definitely don't hold memories that near and dear.  Eric, Pizzazz, Roxy, and Stormer are in the neighbourhood, and Eric seems to be having fun destroying random buildings in the area, which causes Stormer to remark that Eric has some really weird hobbies.  Preach it, Stormer.

So, why is Eric knocking down all of these buildings?  Well, he wants to build a factory that produces vinyl records, and he convinces the Misfits to help by promising them that the first records printed at the factory will be theirs, and that he would use the money the factory generates to further promote their music.  It's just too bad that this was the year 1986, and vinyl sales were starting to plummet in favour of cassette tapes and compact discs.   But let's not spoil Eric's fun.  Besides, he has a bigger issue to worry about.  There's one more building standing in the way of Eric's vinyl cash cow, and it happens to be the same building that Bobby Bailey lives in.  There's our conflict.

And despite the fact that there are people inside the building, Eric aims his wrecking ball directly at Bobby's apartment.  I don't even think Miley Cyrus would want to get in front of that ball...of course, this episode aired six years before Miley was even born, so that's a moot point.

Thankfully, Pizzazz's "Gimme Gimme Gimme" attitude takes over, and when she gets her hands on the controls, the wrecking ball misses the building and takes out a fire escape and a telephone pole, giving Jem and the Holograms and Bobby Bailey enough of a warning to escape the building.  Bobby cusses Eric out (well, without profanity as this is a kids' show), and vows that Eric will not destroy his home. 

But, luckily for Bobby, Eric and the Misfits are held up by the most kickass meter maid/police officer ever who gives Eric so many tickets that I fear that Pizzazz's father will have to float him a loan.  Again.  So, I guess we can call it a win for Bobby Bailey - for now.

Of course, Eric and his wrecking ball caused a lot of damage to Bobby's building.  Jem, Kimber, Aja, and Shana agree to help him with the repairs, which again I have to state is awfully nice of them given that Bobby went all Simon Cowell on their asses not long ago.  But maybe Bobby is starting to see that maybe Jem and the Holograms aren't bad people after all.

Well, at least he can say that about Jem, Aja, and Shana.  There continues to be no love lost between Bobby and Kimber, as their ridiculous Old vs. New arguments continue to build up steam.  Say, I bet that's where the title of the episode comes from!  Of course, before the argument gets another chance to erupt out of control, a huge truck pulls up in front of the building, and before our lovely cop can issue a citation for noise pollution, the Misfits are already performing another song.

Okay, so in context, "Jack, Take a Hike" is a rather mean song.  At least when it's used as a public service announcement for the people who live in Bobby's neighbourhood.  The Misfits play so loud they actually make people's potted plants explode!  Though, I suppose the song does have a positive meaning to it.  If Pizzazz was singing about Kimber's infatuation with Nick Mann - who was a real creep to begin with - the song would be absolutely perfect.  Here though, it just makes the Misfits seem petty and Bobby Bailey more angry and determined to stop Eric Raymond once and for all.  

It's just too bad that Eric already has a plan to remove Bobby and the rest of the building's residents once and for all.  On his yacht (I guess this means that he's recovered from his near ruin a few episodes ago), he enlists the help of two nasty looking goons named Torch and Mickey to cause some damage to the building so that it will be condemned.  That way, Bobby will have no choice but to leave.  It all seems so ridiculous given that Eric is more or less funding a project will become obsolete by 1990 anyway, but hey, what did he know back then?

Right off the bat, Eric's henchmen get to work, and I'm actually impressed.  They seem much more coherent than Zipper could ever hope to be.  They sneak inside the building in an effort to cause some major damage, and one way they decide to do this is by messing with the plumbing.  They unscrew a few pipes and water comes cascading into the basement.  Okay, maybe doing that would cause a little bit of mold to form, but that's not exactly a quick way to get everyone out.

The other one gets the idea to climb up a hydro pole and use a pair of wire cutters to cut the power to the whole block.  Okay, so the building loses electricity for...what, 24 hours?  Again, I fail to see how something like that would scare people away.  Maybe these guys aren't so great after all.

Meanwhile, Jem and the Holograms are walking down the same sidewalk as the one where one of Eric's goons are working, and they seem to be performing an impromptu roast of Eric and the Misfits as the walk down the street...which I have to admit is kind of funny.

What isn't funny is that the man up above snips the power cable at the same moment that they are passing by, and the live wire threatens to roast Bobby Bailey.  Literally!

Thanks to some quick thinking by Kimber, she manages to push Bobby out of the way as the wire falls on the sidewalk.  Neither Bobby or Kimber are injured, but it seems to be a catalyst for how the rest of the episode is going to go, as Bobby is grateful to Kimber for saving his life, and Kimber is glad that he is okay.

But I don't think Eric's partner in crime wants to stick around because I get the feeling that if he's caught by Jem and the Holograms, he'll really get fried.  Unfortunately, our Holograms are a little too slow to catch up with him, but they know exactly who is responsible for what just happened, and they decide to fight fire with fire.

And do you want to know who leads the charge in all of this?  If you said Aja, you're WRONG!

It seems as though the near death experience that Bobby Bailey went through has really sparked something in Kimber, as she spent most of the day at the public library!  And believe it or not, she wasn't reading "Sweet Valley High" novels the whole time!  She was actually doing some research in regards to city bylaws and found something interesting that she could possibly use to save Bobby's building from getting torn down by Eric Raymond.  Of course, Jerrica and Aja can't help but poke fun at Kimber, with Aja worrying about her spending so much time at the library and Jerrica wondering if Kimber is feeling ill. 

If this doesn't make it obvious that Kimber is the red-haired black sheep of the band, I don't know what else to do to convince you.

Despite the fact that her own bandmates seem to have little confidence in her, Kimber presents Bobby with her trump card.  It seems as though Bobby Bailey's building was once zoned as a residential area.  In fact, I would argue that it IS a residential area now.  The point is that according to Los Angeles law (at least back in 1986), it was against the law to build a factory in a residential zone.  I guess that makes sense, given that pollution from the factories could cause health problems for everyone.  Whatever the case, Bobby seems to think that this means victory for him.

In fact, Jem and the Holograms make it a personal mission to board Eric's yacht and tell him exactly what they which I sigh in disbelief and smack myself in the head hard.  Not only has Jem refilled her stupid pill prescription, but she apparently has shared her medication with Aja, Kimber, and Shana.  Seriously, when you have a trump card, you NEVER SHOW YOUR HAND!  It's the first rule of playing Poker!  Heaven help them if you ever see them on Fremont Street in Las Vegas!

You see, because the Holograms showed their hand, the newly wealthy Eric has decided that the best way to counteract their claim is to buy off a city councilman Carl Sanford - a politician who apparently was made out of the same modeling clay that Eric Raymond was built from.

After a hefty cash bribe is given, our slimy politician would do anything to make Eric happy...even if it means that he abuses his power by rescinding the residential zone status from Bobby's neighbourhood, giving Eric full control to build his soon to be outdated vinyl factory.  Eric, if you had just waited until 2016 when vinyl was making a comeback, you might have had a better argument!

Whatever the case, when the news hits the airwaves, Bobby Bailey is understandably pissed off, and he has all but given up hope.  Jem, Aja, and Shana try their best to console the man, but Kimber is sort of lost in thought, and runs off.  Again, the Holograms seem to think that Kimber is a space case, but in this episode, I really think that - and I'm kicking myself for admitting this - I think that Kimber's the only one who seems to really be fighting for Bobby.

Of course, Jem has her own idea to preserve the building.  At least in video form.  And in order to do that, she needs help from her old pal, Video.  Since Jem believes that Eric will likely tear down the building despite any attempts to slow him down, Jem thinks that by filming a live documentary on television depicting the rich history of the building as well as Bobby Bailey's contribution to rock and roll will make a great human interest piece, as well as a final goodbye to the building.  Part of me wonders how Jem even got the clearance to even get a few minutes of live airtime, but then it dawns on me that Video is friends with Lindsey Pearce, and it all makes sense. 

To Jem's credit, she does a fantastic job of recalling the rich history behind the building.  I only wish I had a sound clip available of Jem's speech because it really is powerful.  At a nearby shopping mall, a group of people are watching Jem's live broadcast at an electronics store, and a father and son have a discussion about the rock music scene and they wonder if they can do anything to save the building.  You know, if I didn't know any better, I'd say this was a last ditch attempt for Jem to rally the troops to physically stop Eric from tearing down the building.  Though, given that Eric and the Misfits have heavy machinery capable of reducing a ten story building into a ten foot pile of rubble, I wonder if they thought this plan through.

It doesn't matter because Bobby Bailey, Jem, Shana, and Aja all form a human chain in front of the building telling Eric that if he is going to knock down the building, he'll have to take them all out too.  Eric hesitates at first - but once he sees a larger crowd of people forming outside - a crowd that includes our father and son from the shopping mall - he decides to go ahead with the demolition anyway.  I guess in Eric's case, he only is allowed to save the Holograms once.

But just before Eric and the Misfits can get charged with attempted murder, Kimber and another man appear out of nowhere with Kimber shoving a piece of paper in their faces.  At first I'm thinking that it might be a restraining order, but it turns out to be something even better.  Kimber decides to let her new friend, Mr. Wellington, explain.

Mr. Wellington is a man that Kimber met while she was coming up with ways to save the building.  He's the head of the city's historical society, and when Kimber told him about Bobby's building, he was fascinated by the story and came through for Kimber with the ultimate Ace in the hole.  Because Bobby's building was a recording studio which saw the debuts of several artists (as well as the birthplace of Rock and Roll in Los Angeles), he deems it to be a significant piece of history.  When buildings are designated as significant to history, they are declared historical landmarks.  And when a building is declared a landmark, it CANNOT BE KNOCKED DOWN! Never thought I'd say this, but Kimber is outrageously smart.  And she saved Bobby's home - and a piece of valuable music history - from being destroyed by Eric Raymond all by herself. 

SO, WHY IS BOBBY HUGGING JEM?!?  She did nothing but film a documentary and gather a huge crowd together!  If you're gonna hug someone, hug Kimber!

There!  That's better!  And, I think it's important to note that the lesson of this episode is that you can never be too old or too young to make a difference and learn valuable lessons.  Bobby and Kimber certainly learned that lesson very well.  

And as we close off this episode, we get to hear something new.  We hear a collaboration of old meeting new as Jem and the Holograms partner up with Bobby Bailey for a collaborative effort called "Let's Not Forget The Past".  I don't know who does Bobby Bailey's singing voice, but it's quite good, and blends well with Britta Phillips' near perfect vocals.  It really is a great way to close off the episode.  I'll be completely honest.  This may very well be one of my favourite episodes of the show so far.  Yeah, it's a plot that's been done to the death...but having Kimber and Bobby start off as antagonists only to become friends in the end was a nice story. 

I think this is one of the few episodes of the show where I was actually a Kimber fan.  She still grates on my nerves most of the time, but I love how she was used here. 

And for today's edition of Jem Trivia, I'll tell you a bit about Shana's voice actress.  She's played by Cindy McGee, who also voiced Lela and Krissie.  She also appeared in "Tiny Toon Adventures" and "A Pup Named Scooby-Doo".  But she seems to have retired from the public eye as her last credit was in 1990.

Coming up next week, Jem competes in the Indianapolis 500.  Oh dear...

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