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Friday, October 28, 2016

Jem Reviewed: Episode 32 - The Fan

Last week on Jem Reviewed, Kimber and Stormer had enough of their bands and decided to branch out on their own.  They were only together enough to release one album before going back to their home bases, but they seemed to want to stay friends.  Let's see how long that friendship lasts as we check in on another episode.



This is Episode 32:  The Fan.

Instead of opening up with a scene from Starlight Mansion, we're outside of Gabor Manor.  You can tell because the episode opens up with "Makin' Mischief".  And Pizzazz has noticed something interesting in the classified ads section of the newspaper.  I wonder what she's looking for?  A man?  A pet pitbull?  A Jem voodoo doll?



Oh, it's an ad from an "extremely desperate fan of Jem".  Now, normally this would make Pizzazz and the rest of the Misfits cringe with disgust, but Pizzazz notices that the ad is asking for help in discovering Jem's true identity.  Pizzazz seems to think that this might be a fun game, so she recruits the rest of the Misfits to go to this guy's house to find out what is going on.



Seems as though this guy is also loaded like Pizzazz is.  I'm guessing there's a huge monetary reward for finding out who Jem is.  And as Pizzazz and the rest of the Misfits are about to find out, this guy's love for Jem jumps from admiration to restraining order in the time span of a few seconds.  After all, not only does his doorbell play the song "Truly Outrageous"...



...but his entire foyer and living room has so many pictures of Jem on the walls that one might half expect a Jem blow-up doll to be stashed away in the closet or under the guy's bed or something.  Seriously, this is really creepy.  I guess it's good timing that I'm doing this entry three days before Halloween, huh?



Ah, and here's our host.  Prescott A. Wentworth III.  Also voiced by Rob Paulsen.  And Prescott doesn't waste time for formalities.  He wants the Misfits to tell them who Jem is right there, right now.  And when Pizzazz tells him that they don't have the information, he pitches such a fit that he starts smashing things in his house!  I think Prescott needs a nap.  Or a sleeping pill.  Or, perhaps even a taser.

But wait!  Pizzazz - not feeling threatened by Prescott's instability by the slightest - tells Prescott that they have a way they can get the information for him and that he needs to hire all of them to do it.  Prescott agrees, and the Misfits get to work.  And you hear that sound?  That's the sound of Stormer and Kimber's friendship snapping in half.  At least they tried to make an honest go of it.



The next scene takes place outside of Starlight Music, where Jem is leaving the offices when she is stopped by a limousine that has pulled up in front.  The driver calls Jem by name, and tells her that Kimber has arranged for the limo to take her home for her birthday party.  Aw, isn't that sweet!



But, wait!  Jem's birthday isn't today!  Jem tells the driver that her birthday isn't until June 1!  The driver remarks how Jem was born under the sign of "Gemini" - a sign that depicts two different personalities.  Huh, I always thought that Gemini was the sign of the twins.  But what's really interesting is that the limo driver also has a tape recorder at the front of the car.  That's so random...unless he has a collection of celebrity voices he's been keeping track of.  I bet he has Joan Rivers and Christie Brinkley on tape too!



Jem arrives as Ba Nee, Ashley, and Krissie come out to bring her into the living room of Starlight Mansion where Kimber, Aja, Shana, and Raya are surprising her with balloons, confetti, cake, and a big banner that reads "Happy Birthday, Jem!"



And after a few seconds of cheering and "She's a Jolly Good Fellow", Jem screams at them to shut up and corners Kimber, telling her that if anyone would know when her birthday was, it should be her own sister.  Fair point, Jem.  Kimber responds by saying that Jem should tell her who her sister is so she can ask her.  Um...what?  Apparently Jem's expecting Allen Funt to pop out of the wall to say that she's on "Candid Camera" because she tells Kimber that her practical joke isn't funny, and she storms up to her room to have a nap. 



Jem is trying to figure out what is going on, and how it could be that the people she loves the most in the world have gone completely nuts.  It's a total nightmare for her.



I guess it's only fitting that the first song heard in today's show is a song called "Nightmare".  The video's very creepy, but it's effective at the same time.  And I suppose the song is very appropriate for Halloween as well, even though this episode originally aired on September 29, 1987.  And that's your Jem Trivia for today as I really have nothing else to add.  Believe me, this episode is so filled with stuff that it's almost a blessing I don't have anything this week.



Jem is woken up from her nightmare by Rio, and Jem tells Rio all about her strange day with the birthday celebrations and the like, and Rio just holds her and tells her that it's going to be okay because they don't know who she really is...unlike him.  And Jem just goes "J'ACCUSE" to Rio, demanding who told him about who she really is!  Wow, Jem really IS going crazy this time around.  Before Rio can do anything, Krissie comes into the room and informs Jem that Video is here with a special birthday present for her.  And Jem is once more trying to figure out what is going on because now Video's involved in this charade as well. 



Apparently, Video's come with a special birthday video for Jem and the others to watch, and Jem is wondering what could possibly be on the tape.  I guess we'll find out as Video powers up the VCR - because as we know, DVD Players didn't come into the mainstream for another ten years after this show aired.



The first clip shows Jem as a baby with pink hair - and right off the bat, Jem should clue in that this video is bogus as pink is definitely NOT Jem's natural hair colour...at least, I hope not.  But the second clip shows an eight year old Jem singing with a pink haired mother coming onto the scene.  Jem wants to know who the woman is, and Shana pipes up that it's her mother!  Okay, now wait a minute...I could see Raya making that mistake, but I'm pretty sure that Jerrica and Kimber's mother was alive when Aja and Shana came to live with them. 



By the time we reach the end of the video, Jem angrily yanks the tape out of the VCR and cries shenanigans, which makes Video grab the tape and storm out of the mansion with three of the Starlight Girls following behind her.  My question is...why only three?  Shouldn't there be TWELVE?  Very strange.  Unbelievably, the rest of the Holograms defend Video and tell Jem that she worked hard on her birthday video which Jem tells them is completely bogus.  Once more, she tries to appeal to Kimber, and Kimber tries to get Jem to reveal herself as Jerrica - but Jem is onto the whole thing and runs out of the room to get away.  What in the world is going on?

And more importantly, why does Kimber's voice drop about two octaves? 



And, why are the Misfits and Prescott watching the whole thing on closed circuit television?



Oh, wait...I get it.  Because Jem doesn't think we've dealt with enough doppelganger plotlines so let's make a doppelganger of every single person that Jem knows so that they can drive her crazy and reveal her secret!  It's classic gaslighting.  And I have to say - this is probably the cruelest that the Misfits have ever been.  The fact that Stormer is going along with this sick plan negates everything that she did in the last episode.  It's really disturbing to watch.  And I think that Prescott's reactions say it all.  He's already showing buyer's remorse here.



But Pizzazz is obviously wanting more, and she calls in all of the Jem actors to do a better job.  I must admit, it's funny to see "Aja" with a short brown haircut and "Raya" without a Latino accent, but still, this is insanity.  Of course, Pizzazz is willing to go all out to find out who Jem really is.  Even if we have to have a song from Episode 16 to prove it.



Seriously, they just play "Who Is She, Anyway" again while Pizzazz berates her actresses.  It's still an effective use of the song, but again, this plot development is very disturbing.  I'm almost wondering if the real Holograms are okay.  I hope Jetta and Roxy didn't kidnap them or kill them or sell them to Eric as slaves or something.



No, they're busy practicing for a concert at the real Starlight Mansion.  Well, at least Aja, Raya, and Shana are.  Kimber comes back with the announcement that when she went to pick up Jem, she had already left, which causes the rest of the Holograms to wonder where she went.



Oh my goodness, Pizzazz actually built a complete replica of Starlight Mansion.  The used car lot next door is a dead giveaway.  But my question is...how in the world did Pizzazz know what the interior of Starlight Mansion looked like?  The only one who actually went inside that house was Stormer and...yeah, we can say it.  Stormer's officially gone back to the dark side once more.  A shame.



Seems like Jem is rested up enough to want to play some tunes, and the rest of the "band" is starting to worry.  I'm guessing that when Pizzazz hired the actors to play the parts of Jem's friends and family that she neglected to hire ones who could play musical instruments.  This is made obvious when "Aja" starts to play the guitar backwards.  And even more obvious when Jem tries to sing and nobody can play a note in tune.  But hey, at least Samantha Newark's singing is much better in this episode than the one a couple of weeks ago.



At this point, Jem is really starting to get annoyed and she practically forces "Kimber" to start playing something on the keyboard.  And "Kimber's" natural response to this is to fake a fainting spell.  Because nothing changes the subject quite like passing out on a hard floor.  Jem instantly rushes to "Kimber's" side, and to "Kimber's" credit, she's doing a good job faking being knocked silly and not knowing who Jem is.  She's doing so well that I almost think that Jem is going to reveal herself as Jerrica to the imposters!



Well, at least she almost does - until JERRICA walks into the room!  Now, if this isn't a red flag that something strange is going on, then I think that Jem must be on drugs.  Serious memory loss drugs. 



Pizzazz is cursing the fact that the actress that they hired to play Jerrica was three hours late!  Um...just saying, if "Jerrica" showed up on time, your ruse would have been up three hours ago.  Poor Prescott is getting more and more horrified by the Misfits tactics and he demands that they cease this plan - but Jetta overpowers him and tells him that things are just getting good now.



Jem is blown away by "Jerrica" and how she is there when Jem knows she shouldn't be.  Jem even asks "Jerrica" who she is, and when "Jerrica" tells her that she's Jerrica Benton, Jem actually asks "then, who am I?".  Oh, I sure hope the Misfits didn't hear that!  That's almost a confession!  This is how screwed up Jem's mind is, and this is how screwed up this plan is!  This episode is really, REALLY uncomfortable to watch. 



Fortunately, the Misfits are too busy stuffing Prescott inside of a closet to have heard said confession.  Seems like Prescott is getting uncomfortable with Jem's gaslighting and in his effort to try and get to Jem to tell her everything, Pizzazz, Roxy, and Jetta make sure he doesn't.  Stormer does show concern by questioning whether they're doing the right thing by Prescott, but at this point it's too little, too late.



Back at the real Starlight Mansion, the real Holograms are having a consultation with Synergy, and given that Synergy can track Jem's location using the JemStar earrings, it doesn't take them long to find her.  They are just as horrified as I am that Jem seems to be in a replica of Starlight Mansion, and they are concerned that Jem seems to be having a conversation with Jerrica!  Synergy warns them that Jem is very confused and very close to telling everyone who she really is, so the rest of the Holograms get the location of the fake Starlight Mansion from Synergy and speed off to try and rescue her.



Jem's trying her best to stay composed, but being in a house filled with pod people has really made her mind bend.  She does remember that Synergy is in the house somewhere and she feels that if she can get to her, she might be saved.  But when the set designers built the fake Starlight Mansion for the Misfits, they would have no way of knowing that Synergy was in the house, so when Jem tries to walk through the holographic wall that protects Synergy, she actually walks into a solid wall and knocks herself unconscious. 



Jem wakes up in a hospital bed and she is surrounded by her bandmates who tell her everything that happened - about how actresses were posing as them and how cameras were filming her every move.  It was like Jem was on "Big Brother", only with no Julie Chen, power of veto, or half million dollar cash prize.  What I find interesting is that these Holograms seem to be wearing the same outfits as the fake Holograms.  Compare the two Kimbers for the best example of this.  I'm now starting to question whether Jem is really at the hospital.



Nope.  The hospital room is as fake as the ones used on "General Hospital", and once more the Misfits are salivating over the fact that Jem is about to reveal herself once and for all...



...but wait!  Aja is confronting...Aja?  Seems as though the real Holograms are about to come face to face with the fake Holograms in a battle of the ages!  Kimber and "Kimber" even come to blows and get into a Jerry Springer style catfight!  I half expect "Shana" and "Raya" to throw their blouses off for some Jerry beads!  But instead, Kimber just yanks off the fake Kimber's nasty looking wig and the four actresses flee in terror.  And the Misfits are starting to get sick to their stomachs. 

Of course, Pizzazz is stubborn as ever, and decides that even though their actresses sucked, they could still make Jem reveal herself.



Unfortunately, real Aja has more insight and brains than "Aja", "Kimber", and "Raya" combined, and she spots the camera hidden in the hospital room fairly quickly.  She sprays some sort of chemical on the lens that distorts the image, and this now causes the Misfits to be forced to flee themselves.  Well, after Pizzazz throws a temper tantrum and kicks a chair, that is.  Cowards.



So it's finally time for Jem to leave the house of horrors with her real friends, but Shana happens to hear sounds coming from one of the rooms, and thinking that the day hasn't been strange enough, they decide to investigate and find poor little Prescott stuck in the closet.  Oh, this explanation should be fun.



So, after Prescott fills them in on everything, Jem punches Prescott in the face, Raya and Aja call the police, and all the Misfits are taken to prison.  Oh, wait.  That's what SHOULD have happened.



In reality, Prescott tells them that he is extremely remorseful for letting a bunch of leopard-skin clad hookers manipulate him into doing bad things to Jem, and Jem somehow finds a way to forgive him even though she almost ended up in a padded room because of it.  This. defies. reality.



Oh, and Prescott tries to make it up to them by planning a concert or something where he'll donate the funds to a charity, and Jem's like, okay, sure.  And the show concludes with an Episode 25 song, "I Believe in Happy Endings" because despite the fact that this was the most disturbing episode of the series that I have seen so far, we have to somehow find a way to make it a happy ending even though Prescott is obsessed, the Misfits are sadistic sociopaths, and Jem will likely be suffering post-traumatic stress disorder for the next twenty years!  



Next week, the girls celebrate Father's Day - in November.  And Pizzazz and Kimber are not happy about it.

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