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Friday, September 16, 2016

Jem Reviewed: Episode 26 - Glitter and Gold

Well, here we are.  The final episode of season one of Jem Reviewed!  And after stopping a jewel smuggling ring last episode, it's time for the Holograms to relax a bit.  But for how long?  We'll find out in Episode 26 - Glitter and Gold.

And as we begin this episode, everybody seems to be at the mall!  Jerrica and Kimber Benton are there, Rio is there, Anthony Julien is there, and a new group that just signed a contract with Starlight Music is there called the 5th Avenue Boys.  Really, they look like what would happen if Bryan Adams, Rick Astley, and that red haired guy from the Thompson Twins formed a group, but they appear to be the hottest new act at the record company.  Which is good considering that according to this episode, Jem hasn't released any new music in what seems like seventeen years or so.

Kimber is holding up a magazine that has all of the chart listings for that week, and it looks like the Misfits have the #1 song of the week, which Jerrica just shrugs her shoulder and says that she doesn't care.  Sounds like someone needs a coffee!  But Kimber does care, and she mentions the fact that the Glitter and Gold Contest is coming up and they need to start making music again, but Jerrica bitterly tells Kimber that she doesn't want to talk about Jem.  Whoa!  Where is this coming from?

Thankfully, Rio interrups the fight between the Benton siblings and introduces Kimber to his photographer friend, Max Conley.  Because as we know, Kimber will hit on anything that has a pulse and washboard abs.  But luckily, Max seems to find Kimber attractive and charming, and Kimber finds him gorgeous and exciting, and before you know it, they've made a date for this coming Saturday at 6:00.  Wow, that might be a new record for Kimber.  She at least waited five minutes before going out with that guy from Hawaii.

Rio then picks up the same magazine that Kimber was looking at and mentions to Jerrica that there's an article about Jem.  Jerrica reads the article which basically insinuates that Jem has disappeared from the music scene and they speculate what happened and whether she had the musical chops to sustain a long-lasting career.  Jerrica gets even angrier at Rio, throws the magazine in the garbage can, and basically says something along the lines of "DIE, JEM, DIE!".  I'm thinking Jerrica should avoid the coffee made with the bitter roast.  But why is Jerrica so anti-Jem all of a sudden?

Well, we won't find out just yet as Kimber is accosted by a man on a motorcycle!  Why, look!  It's Kimber's old flame from the Starbright Movie, Jeff Wright...and he's a brunette now.  I'm guessing he must be Tom Cruise's stunt double now.  The funny thing is that Kimber goes on a ride with him even though she just made a date with Max two minutes ago.  See, Kimber...this is why people think you're easy.

Across town at a record store (remember when those existed) called Diskovery Records, the Misfits arrive to great fanfare.  After all, their song is #1 on Casey Kasem's American Top 40.  But they aren't here to sign autographs.  They're here to take part in the Glitter and Gold Contest.  And luckily, we have the CEO/owner of the Diskovery Records chain, Owen Beach with us to explain the contest rules.

The Glitter and Gold contest pits two high-profile groups against each other in a race to see which group can sell 500,000 copies of their latest album all across the United States.  

Each Diskovery Records store will be keeping track of the sales of each record, and the first group to reach that magic number will win the grand prize which includes a trophy and a brand new car!

The Misfits have already tossed their name into the hat, but in order to have a contest, they need another group to compete against.  One of the press members suggests that they battle Jem and the Holograms which prompts a response by Stormer of "Jem, who?".  Wow, that's kind of catty, even for a cream puff like Stormer.  Then again, she does hang around Pizzazz and Roxy a lot.  Besides, Pizzazz responds to the question by tooting the Misfits own horn by singing the song that I'm assuming is their chart-topper.

I have to say, "How Does It Feel" is certainly a song that celebrates popularity, winning, star power...basically it's a Pizzazz anthem if ever there was one.

And while the Misfits are celebrating their success at the record store, Jeff drops Kimber off at Starlight Mansion where Kimber tells Jeff that she'll see him Saturday at 6:00.  Hmm...where have I heard that before?

Jerrica is having a conversation with Synergy about what has been happening, and it seems as though we know what is bugging her.  With Jem becoming so popular and everyone wanting to know all about her, Jerrica thinks she might be starting to get jealous of her alter ego.  And even though Synergy has warned her about telling people from the outside about her existence (even though two people from Morvania already know), Jerrica contemplates finally telling Rio the truth.  She asks Synergy to project a hologram of Rio, inserting as much of Rio's personality into it as possible so that she can find out how he'll react.  I'm questioning how Synergy could even know so much about someone she hasn't met yet, but nevertheless, Synergy does what Jerrica asks.

Jerrica then tells the Rio hologram that she is really Jem and transforms into her Jem persona quicker than you can say "Showtime, Synergy!".  And just like that, Hologram Rio burns with anger faster than you can say "I hate liars, and I hate deception and I never want to see you again." 

Seriously.  That's what Hologram Rio says.  And Jerrica is so frightened that she tells Synergy to remove the hologram.  Synergy tells Jerrica that this was merely a test, but Jerrica believes that Rio wouldn't react like that and vows to tell him once and for all.  Why do I get the feeling that Rio's going to come by, say...Saturday at 6:00?

It must be, as Jeff arrives first to pick Kimber up.  Kimber isn't quite ready yet, so she asks Jeff to wait in a side room.  A few seconds later, Rio arrives and is greeted warmly by Jerrica, though you know that her knees are knocking a mile a minute.

A few seconds after that, Max Conley arrives, and Aja shows him into the same room that Jeff is waiting in.  Uh-oh.  Aja then informs Kimber that Max is waiting for him, which Kimber responds that Jeff is waiting, not Max, to which Aja replies, Max is here you stupid bitch.  Okay, not even Aja is that cold to say that, but Kimber's having her own Uh-oh moment.  What is it with red-haired cartoon characters making two different dates at the same time?  Is Kimber related to Archie Andrews or something?

As predicted, Max and Jeff get into a physical altercation - which amusingly is ignored by Jerrica and Rio outside as Jerrica is figuring out how to tell Rio that she's really Jem. 

Kimber and Aja run into the room to try and explain things, but they arrive too late and Kimber screams in horror as Jeff and Max sail through the window of the room while wrestling each other for the love of Kimber.  For the love of Kimber, can we just end this part of the story? 

Unsurprisingly, Jeff and Max crash through the wall of the patio where Rio and Jerrica are seated, and with help from Rio break the two men apart.  But as far as Max and Jeff are concerned, Kimber is a two-bit...well, you know, and leave our flame haired vixen with a double broken heart.

To make matters worse, Rio goes off on a tirade towards Kimber and spouts off the very same speech about liars and deception that Synergy projected with the Rio hologram.  Damn, maybe Synergy really is that good at reading people!  Rio is so angry with Kimber that Kimber runs away bawling, Aja runs away to comfort Kimber, and Jerrica runs towards Rio and calls him a jerk for how he treated Kimber!  As much as I poke fun at Kimber, she really didn't deserve Rio's outburst.

And because of Rio's outburst, Jerrica decides that now is not the best time to tell him that she's really Jem, which causes Rio to get even angrier.  I believe he leaves Starlight Mansion by kicking a potted plant onto the ground which shows his "maturity", leaving Jerrica in tears and the viewer wondering how Jerrica can even tolerate Rio being her apparent "one and only".  Rio's a complete ass in this episode, and honestly as much fun as I poke at Jem/Jerrica, she deserves much better than him.

But the fight with Rio seems to have sparked a fire within Jerrica's belly.  Well, that, plus she overhears Eric telling the people at Diskovery Records that he thinks Jerrica destroyed Jem's career.  Because of that outburst, Jem and the Holograms declare that they will be entering the contest and that they will have a new album ready before the contest begins the next day.  Um, Jerrica, you do realize that you have 24 hours to put together a record of at least eight songs which will be next to impossible given that your sound engineer boyfriend is too busy kicking topiaries from here to La Cienega Boulevard?  

Oh,'s Jerrica that Rio's mad at, not Jem.  Sigh...just when I begin to feel sorry for Jerrica, she enables the situation by sweet-talking Rio as Jem.  You know, maybe they really DO deserve each other.  But we have no time to examine the unhealthy relationship between Jerrica Benton and Rio Pacheco.  The band needs eight songs, a new image, and a whole new look!  And what better look than the one that the contest is named after?

Okay, I have to say this...the song "Glitter and Gold" is an absolute masterpiece - despite the lame dancing from Jem and Rio - and really sets the tone for the end of season one and the beginning of season two.  And in this edition of Jem Trivia, you might notice that people's appearances start changing a bit, such as Jem's eye makeup going from pink to gold to purple.  That was to make the characters look more like the Glitter and Gold doll line released in 1987.  There's one more character that appears at the end of the episode who was also changed to match their doll counterpart, but I'll wait until she appears before I say who it is.

While the band is in the recording studio, we get the first (of many) instances of cheating within the contest.  Eric Raymond arrives at a seedy nightclub called "Flipside" where he's bribing a nasty looking group called "The Skulls" with money and a recording contract with Misfits Music if they'll sabotage the Jem album.  Oh, I DIDN'T miss your smarmy face.

Somehow, Jem and the Holograms have recorded an album, made 500,000 copies of the album for distribution, and Jerrica is loading the last of the boxes into a van.  Rio offers to help Jerrica, but Jerrica bitterly snaps at him, still sore over the plant kicking incident.  I told her to avoid the bitter roast!

Turns out that Rio might have had a reason to be concerned after all.  The Skulls nearly sideswipe Jerrica's van and hold her hostage as one of them takes a baseball bat to the boxes of albums, smashing them to smithereens.  All Jerrica can do is watch in horror as all of her hard work fades away.  Well, that plus she could possibly die.

That is until Rio comes along, grabs one of the baseball bats away from one of the Skulls, and somehow they run away like cowards.  It must be the really ugly sweater Rio is wearing.  That's the only answer I'll accept.  But whatever, Jerrica's like "my hero", and Rio's like "I won't kick any living thing ever again", and they make out.  You know what?  Let's just skip ahead to the contest.

In one corner with the pink album sleeve, we have the album "Glitter and Gold" by Jem and the Holograms, which includes the title track, "I'm Coming From Behind", "Set Your Sails", and "I Believe in Happy Endings".  I guess Jerrica must have stayed up all night pressing another half million copies of the album.  At least you can say she's dedicated.

In the other corner with the purple album sleeve, we have the Misfits album which contains the songs "How Does It Feel", "Ahead of the Game", "Take A Hike, Jack", and "We're The Misfits In Hawaii".  Well, they can't all be winners.

Owen is pleased that the record counting system in place at all his stores is working and he talks about the "revolutionary new computer labels" on each record.  Um, Owen...barcodes aren't a new invention.  Comic books had them on their covers ten years BEFORE this episode aired!

The numbers don't lie though.  The Misfits after one day have sold twice as many albums as Jem and the Holograms.  Jem isn't worried though.  She has a trump card named Lindsey Pearce - and that trump card will be playing the "Glitter and Gold" music video every hour on the hour!

The move actually works, and Jem takes the lead just a couple of days later.  And this leads to another Jem/Misfits mash-up.

It's interesting to note the change of tone between the Holograms' "We're Up", versus the Misfits' "You're Down".  One is light and fluffy, and the other is mean and spiteful.  It's quite well done the way they arrange this song.  I kind of like it.  Are you liking this contest of good sportsmanship and playing fair?  You are?  Good.  It ends now.

Eric decides to use cash to influence the voting results.  He sets up people outside every Diskovery store in the country and bribes them with money to buy up all the Misfits records to increase their totals.  He even convinces a woman of about eighty years old to buy a Misfits record!  Which of course completely backfires on him as the woman buys a Jem record instead, using the argument that the Misfits don't look like nice girls.  I suppose they had her say this because they can't use the word whore in a kids cartoon.  Whatever the case, this does nothing to change the rate of sale of records.

Now, some would argue that Jerrica bringing the Starlight Girls in to buy a record each to add twelve more sales to the Glitter and Gold tally would classify as cheating.  I don't see it as such, as Ashley and Deirdre at least seem to be doing this of their own free will.  I bet they got the money to pay for those records with the Honor Jar!

By Day #10 of the competition, there's a tie.  Each group has sold 499,999 records each, and the next record sold will determine the winner.

It's here that Rio - know what, I can't even describe what he's wearing because I don't even know what it is myself.  I lived through 1987, okay...clothes were never THAT ugly - at least not any I remember.  But Rio decides to purchase a copy of the Glitter and Gold record to inch Jem's total to 500,000. 

But wait!  Pizzazz declares shenanigans, outing Rio as an employee of Starlight Music, which voids his purchase, setting the score back to 499,999.  Pizzazz was absolutely right in this case for once.  No double standards for Jem's staff!  Besides, Pizzazz is probably upset that she didn't think of it first.  Another customer comes up to the register, and the Misfits total reaches 500,000!  Outrageous!  The Misfits win?!?  How can that be?  It's predetermined that Jem must have a happy ending in every show!  She sings a song about happy endings, for crying out loud!

Speaking of crying out loud, Aja screeches that they should look at the board again.  Jem's now at 500,000 too.  The customer apparently bought one of each album because she likes both bands, and Owen extends the contest by one more which I call shenanigans!  The Misfits album was scanned first...ergo, THE MISFITS SHOULD WIN!  But instead we have to let the Holograms have a fighting chance because plot.

 The last customer of the day approaches the record displays, but Shana (who I think says her only line this episode) points out that they're screwed.  The Jem record stock is sold out meaning that he'll have to purchase a Misfits record by default...well, until Ashley takes the Jem record that Rio purchased, puts it back on the shelf, and informs him that he does have a choice.  NO, HE DOESN'T!  That album's already been scanned out!  You can't double sell a record that was previously sold!  It screws up the inventory!  I work retail!  I bloody know these things!  Sheesh, I could cry shenanigans once more, but nobody cares, right?

A newly purple-haired Clash (what did I tell you about changing character appearances) approaches the customer as well, and Clash and Ashley try to convince the customer to buy their respective group's album.  The customer admits he loves both, but only has enough money to buy one record.

Clash offers the customer fifty dollars to buy the Misfits record, but Ashley grabs the money from Clash saying that it's going to be a fair contest.  Um, since when?  EVERYONE'S BEEN CHEATING!!!

In fact, Ashley and Clash are so busy arguing with each other that they don't realize that our customer has made his choice.  And apparently Glitter and Gold triumphs over Misfits.  As if we weren't shocked already. 

And yes, Pizzazz is angry.  As if we weren't shocked already.  Not even Stormer's eternal optimism over selling half a million records is enough to stop Pizzazz from having a meltdown the way a three-year-old would do.  Thing is, I completely find myself feeling sorry for Pizzazz because if you want to get technical, the Misfits won the contest the minute that female customer purchased both albums.  She had the cashier scan the Misfits album BEFORE the Jem album.  Whether it was intentional or not, who knows?  The point is that the Misfits hit that milestone BEFORE Jem, so they should have won the contest.  This episode really pisses me off.

Especially with Jem and Rio celebrating the win, and the Holograms looking smug even though they technically cheated too by offering an album for sale that was already sold.  Glitter and Gold had promise to be an excellent episode and yet in the last five minutes, the golden enticement of the episode quickly turned into Fool's Gold without a glimmer of redemption.  It's not the worst episode by any means, but it is a disappointment.

Tune in this
Saturday, September 17, where I will do a recap of Season 1.  I'll list what characters I loved, which ones I hated, my Top and Bottom 5 songs of each group, and my Top and Bottom 5 episodes.  

And then on Friday, September 23, Season 2 of Jem Reviewed kicks off where Jem finds herself without a drummer!  I'm guessing Shana quit because she was tired of saying six words an episode, but who can say, right?

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