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Friday, August 19, 2016

Jem Reviewed: Episode 22 - Intrigue at the Indy 500

Previously on Jem Reviewed, Kimber proved that she wasn't quite the boy-crazy airhead we all thought she was and ended up saving the home of a rock legend from being bulldozed by Eric Raymond.  And, I have to admit, I really liked last week's episode to the point that it might be my favourite of season one thus far.  I wonder if the next one will be just as good.

Let's see...Episode 22:  Intrigue at the Indy 500.  Sounds...intriguing.  You might notice that in behind the title is a black and white glossy of Eric that Pizzazz is using as a dartboard.  I guess we now know that the Misfits think about Eric as little as Jem and the Holograms do.  But when Pizzazz runs out of darts to throw, she decides that she'll just use raw eggs instead. 

And guess who just happens to walk through the door just as Pizzazz throws the egg?  If you guessed Eric, you're right...though Jem could have walked through the door and Pizzazz would have gotten just as much satisfaction out of the deal.

It appears as though the Misfits have a reason for being angry with Eric.  The Misfits and Eric are in the city of Indianapolis, home of the Indy 500 - one of the largest auto racing events in the world.  There's a fancy dress party going on at a restaurant in town in which all of the racers would be present.  Eric received an invitation to the party, but the Misfits did not.  And Eric isn't exactly keen on having the Misfits make an appearance as he likely believes that the Misfits would cause nothing but trouble.  Naturally, Pizzazz is steamed, and she makes it a mission to find a way in.

The night of the party arrives, and Eric is seated with two large men who are quite intimidating.  And if you're wondering how Eric scored an invitation to the party, it's quite simple.  He's one of the sponsors who has a driver in the race.  Raymond's driver will be driving car #007.  Geez, who is this driver anyway?  James Bond?

Naturally whenever Eric is around, there is bound to be trouble.  Further investigation reveals that these guys are Eric's prospective business partners who would happily partake in betting and gambling to ensure that they make a fortune.  They have given Eric a huge sum of money to place a bet on Car #007 with Eric's bookie, Harry.  And, to ensure that Car #007 is the winner, Eric has done some damage control of his own.  The real threat of the race is four-time winner Martino Grandzetti, and Eric used his funds to bribe Martino's sponsors to back out of the race.  Apparently when it comes to the Indy 500, no sponsor, no race.  Oh, and your Jem Trivia for today?  Martino Grandzetti is apparently based off of the character of famous auto racer Mario Andretti.

So, with Martino seemingly out of the race, and it's all but certain that Eric's sponsored driver will win, what could go wrong?  I suppose the announcement that Martino has a new sponsor and is back in the race might make Eric sweat a little bit.  That sponsor just happens to be a little recording company known as Starlight Music.  Gee, I wonder where I've heard that name before.

Oh, right!  That's Jem's record company.  And it's time for a performance and a song.

Okay, first off, I'm going to avoid the obvious racy jokes that could stem from a song title like "I'm Coming From Behind".  Won't go there.  Trying to keep this blog PG-13 rated at most.  That said, I actually don't mind this one.  It's not Jem's best song, but it's hardly "Deception" quality.  I'd firmly place this one right in the middle of my list of Jem's greatest hits.

Now while Eric is not very pleased with Starlight Music backing Martino up. Martino couldn't be more grateful, and he is incredibly charmed by Jem and the Holograms.  That's okay with me though.  He seems to have a charming personality anyway.  But when Martino asks where Jerrica Benton is, it causes Jem to panic a little bit.  How is she going to explain this one?

She doesn't get a chance to do anything though, as Pizzazz, Roxy, and Stormer crash the party by crashing through the front doors of the restaurant where everyone is gathered.  To add insult to injury, they do this by stealing Jem's Rockin' Roadster!  So either Roxy knows how to hotwire a car, or Jem was stupid and left the keys in the ignition.  Either way, the Misfits have to be stopped before they scratch any of the paint off the vintage race cars inside.  Or until they kill a person.  You know, priorities.  At least this gives us an opportunity to see just how skilled a driver Martino is.  He leaps inside one of the cars and drives it in an effort to slow the Misfits down.  It takes a little bit of clever steering as well as avoiding obstacles like tables and the maitre d', but Martino successfully causes the Misfits to lose control of the car, which goes crashing into the kitchen of the restaurant!  I sure hope Jerrica has a hefty insurance policy on the car!

The Misfits are covered in spaghetti and are immediately thrown out of the restaurant - but when Pizzazz recognizes Eric, she helpfully points out that they were with him, and thus Eric is tossed out as well.  I guess this is Pizzazz's revenge for Eric not taking them to the party in the first place.  Thing is, I actually like the Misfits better when Eric ISN'T around, so maybe the real antagonist in this show is Eric.  After all, Eric doesn't seem to really care about the Misfits either.

But Eric does care about money.  And to ensure that he comes out on top, he's not above hiring someone to sabotage Martino's car before the race.  Not cool, Eric.  Those cars can go extremely fast.  If one of them were to crash, it could mean serious trouble.  Look at what happened to Dale Earnhardt.

Fortunately the race isn't scheduled for a few days yet, so as it stands, only practice runs are being held today.  Sure enough, Martino's in tip-top form as a driver, and the Holograms have decided to see him in action to cheer him on.

Also at the venue is Rio, who I assume is Jem's personal guest.  Or Jerrica's.  Yeah, whatever.  He's climbed up on top of some scaffolding to take some shots of Martino with his camera.  I guess Rio must be a racing fan or something.

Turns out it was the worst thing that Rio could have done.  As Martino is passing by Rio and the girls, one of the wheels comes loose, and Martino is spinning out of control.  He manages to avoid Jem and the Holograms but crashes right into the scaffolding where Rio is perched, which sends Rio falling to his death and Martino burning up in a fiery inferno.

Just kidding.  They only up in Intensive Care, since nobody is allowed to die on Jem except for Emmett Benton.

Jerrica decides to pay Rio a visit and is shocked to see a mummy lying in one of the hospital beds.  Jerrica is horrified to think that Rio could be under those bandages, but in actuality it is Martino - who seems to have an unbelievably good attitude about nearly dying on the track.  Fortunately, all Rio seems to have is a broken leg and a couple of head injuries.  Or, maybe the head injuries were already there from his inability to see that Jem and Jerrica are the same person.  Who can say?

But with Martino bruised and bandaged and his car completely smashed, there is no way that he can compete in the Indy 500.  What's more, Jerrica was informed that Martino's car was sabotaged and she gets so angry that she destroys the flowers that she brought Rio as a Get Well Soon gift.  Hilariously, she gives Rio the broken stems anyway.  It's like...yeah, I brought these for you, but I destroyed them.  Love you, mean it!

Certainly the car that Martino was in looks as though it has seen better days.  Seriously, I've seen cars on "Canada's Worst Driver" in better condition.  Kimber, Aja, and Shana decide to try and help Jem fix up the car, but none of them took shop class in high school and have no idea where to even start.  Jem decides that she has an idea.  Calling for Synergy to appear, Jem asks Synergy to project a set of blueprints for Martino's car as it looked before the accident and that way they can go from there in reassembling the car.  I question this strategy because Jem seems to have the idea that the car can be rebuilt like a Lego playset - but I suppose that it's better than having Synergy project a hologram of Martino's car.

Besides, we need another excuse to play another Jem song.  This time, we're hearing "Back in Shape" - which admittedly could have been used in "Last Resorts" or "Hot Time In Hawaii" as both those shows dealt with getting in shape.  That said, the song does work here, and I do like the imagery that Synergy projects throughout the video.  If not for the fact that Synergy is meant to be kept a secret, this would make a good concept video.

It appears as though Synergy was of excellent help because the car is like new and even Rio is quite impressed.  But that leaves the question of who will drive the car, as Martino is still bandaged up.  The camera then pans to Jem who seems to have a very strange look on her face.  I wonder...

...oh, you can't be serious.  You mean to tell me that JEM is going to drive the car?  I mean, I get it.  Danica Patrick was only four years old when this episode aired and she was likely only driving around in one of those Power Wheels toys at that time.  But Jem?  Seems like we have another one of those "this episode is impossible, but let's believe it anyway because plot" shows.  Just when I had such high hopes for this episode too.

But with Jem taking over Martino's car, this means that she'll be starting off in the pole position - not a bad place to start.  She's in Car #11.  And right next to her is Eric's driver, Car #007.

And up in the stands, Eric and the Misfits are blown away by the fact that Jem is driving Martino's car.  Actually, I'm blown away too.  To be honest, if anyone should be driving the car, it should be the one who drives it for 75% of the series so far.  But it's not the first time Aja gets shoved to the side for Jem's sake, and it probably won't be the last either.

For Eric though, Jem racing in Martino's place is not exactly comforting for him.  Especially since his "business associates" are seated a few rows behind him.  And with Jem somehow mustering up enough driving skills to take the lead in the race, it causes Eric's paranoia to skyrocket.  And to top it all off, Pizzazz is getting hungry and demands that Eric buy her a hot dog with mustard.  Can't say I blame her.  Mustard is the only condiment I put on hot dogs.

This does work out well for Eric, as Eric's bookie has set up a hot dog stand that doubles as an impromptu betting station.  And Eric is so paranoid about the race that he actually places a bet in favour of Jem!  Eric's paranoia also causes him to be forgetful as all he brings Pizzazz is a hot dog bun!  Okay, so technically Eric's betting slip was stuffed inside the bun.  Harry could have at least thrown a hot dog in there.

Although Pizzazz is angry that she has to go hungry, she is even more upset that Jem seems to be in the lead.  And considering that Eric promised that the Misfits would play at the victory party for his driver after the race should he win, that's more than enough ammo for Pizzazz to take drastic measures.

So when Eric's driver pulls in at the required pit stop of the race, Pizzazz more or less assaults him and tells him to beat it because she was going to drive the car the rest of the race.

You know, I'm pretty sure Pizzazz can't do that.  I'm almost positive that she would be arrested or at the very least escorted outside of the venue.  But we have to somehow believe that it's okay for Pizzazz to drive a race car because plot.  I didn't think I could hate an episode more than "The Princess and the Singer", but this episode is just horrible!

Oh, and Pizzazz's method of trying to stay ahead of the game?  Smashing into every single race car to make them crash.  Seriously, I get that Pizzazz wants to win at all costs, but threatening the lives of innocent race car drivers to do it?  This is an all time low for our green haired Misfit, and it's actually kind of painful to watch.  Though once again, Eric is panicked about the fact that Pizzazz could now win the race and he races towards the hot dog stand to change his bet from Jem to Pizzazz.  I sure hope that bookie is charging him a fee for his wishy-washy decision making.

Of course, Pizzazz saves her worst for Jem, and she manages to run Jem off the road straight into the path of one of the race cars that Pizzazz was responsible for destroying!  It looks as though Jem might be completely out of the race for good.

Nah, turns out that the obstacle was no match for her.  Though Jem's car does suffer a little bit of damage and is forced to the Pit Stop for repairs, leaving Pizzazz to once more get ahead of the game.

Ah, yes...that's the same name of the Misfits song in this episode.  And, it's a good thing that "Ahead of the Game" has a decent beat and a great video because right now the music is the only thing that is holding this stupid episode together.  Seriously, what the hell was Roger Slifer thinking?  We know he's capable of writing good scripts (I believe "Last Resorts" was his creation as well), so why would he submit this one?  It. Makes. No. Sense.

Anyway, Jem's ready to get back out on the track even though she's a couple of laps behind.  Rio warns Jem that it might not be a good idea and tells Jem that one of her wheels isn't holding out that well and that too much speed could cause the axle to snap.  But Jem seems to have caught the "I'm too good to listen to you" disease that the Misfits have gotten and speeds off in the quest for victory. 

And just like that it is neck and neck between Pizzazz and Jem, with Pizzazz having a slight lead over Jem.  Of course, Jem isn't above using Synergy to play mind games with Pizzazz, and she summons up a hologram of Pizzazz's "conscience", who admonishes Pizzazz on her poor sportsmanship.  I have to admit though, I chucked when Pizzazz was shooing the hologram away telling it that she didn't HAVE a conscience.  Pizzazz truly does have the best lines in this series - and kudos to Patricia Alice Albrecht who delivers Pizzazz's lines so flawlessly.

Eric once again decides that he wants to change his bet again to Jem, but this time around Harry refuses to honour his request as the cutoff point for final bets has arrived.  Eric pleads for Harry to reconsider, but all Harry does is take his money and give him a hot dog.  With mustard.  Too bad Pizzazz is out on the track making a mockery of the Indy 500. 

But after all that, it looks as though Eric and Pizzazz may have the last laugh as Rio's warning about the wheel failing comes true.  The faster Jem speeds up the car, the more dangerous the car becomes.  On the sidelines, Kimber, Aja, Shana, and Rio watch in horror as Jem seems destined to crash and there isn't a lot they can do.

But Jem finds some inner strength and declares that what she is about to do next is all for Martino, and with a little bit of fancy steering, Jem somehow manages to cross the finish line ahead of Pizzazz even though the wheel completely falls off, and causes Jem's car to do several somersaults through the air!  Jem wins the Indianapolis 500!

Jem should also probably be dead if this were real life.  But as I said before, nobody is allowed to die in this cartoon except for Emmett Benton, so Jem's pit crew escort her to safety before she is incinerated in the resulting explosion.

I bet Eric was wishing that he was inside that car when it blew up.  Now he has to face his "business associates" who lost a lot of money.  And it appears as though they mean business with them grabbing metal rods and threatening to strangle Eric with them.

But they back off when Pizzazz drives through the door and corners Eric with the car yelling at him for losing, and the associates decide that having Pizzazz in his life is punishment enough for Eric.  Ha!

So, Jem is awarded the trophy for winning the Indy 500 and they make remarks about her being the first woman to win.  Jem throws support to Martino who watches with pride from his hospital bed even though he'll likely be there until the 1990s.

The episode concludes with Rio planting a huge smooch on Jem, thankfully putting this edition of Jem Reviewed out of its misery.  Seriously, this episode was just plain awful.  I get that it's supposed to be a cartoon and all, and I do appreciate the fact that the show tried to show us all that girls could do anything that boys could do...but the way that Jem and Pizzazz went about it - especially Pizzazz - was so unbelievable, ridiculous, and dangerous that it sort of made the Indianapolis 500 look like a parody of itself.  Not exactly what the show was supposed to do.  And seriously, why wasn't Aja driving the car?  Aja wouldn't have let the car flip more times than Dominique Moceanu at the 1996 Summer Olympics!  Seriously, Aja is the best Hologram of the four!  Use her more!!!

Well, next week on Jem Reviewed, it's another two-part episode.  In part one, we're introduced to the Jem Jam, filled with Starlight Girls, "celebrity guests", and ways to find your father without the aid of Maury Povich!

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