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Friday, November 11, 2016

Jem Reviewed: Episode 34 - Treasure Hunt

Before I go ahead with today's Jem Reviewed, I want all of us to pause for just a moment to remember our veterans who fought for the freedom that we all enjoy today.  Given the results of the 2016 Elections, we need to thank them for their sacrifices more than ever before.

Thank you.

So, last week, Jem celebrated Father's Day - a day that brought back bad memories for both Kimber and Pizzazz.  Let's see what we're going to do this week?

Episode 34: Treasure Hunt?  Sounds exciting!

I don't know why, but once again we're at a lavishly expensive building.  It sort of gives off the false stereotype that only rich people live in Jem's world.  But anyway, this building is where our story begins.

Inside this building is the home of the Xanthos Charity Foundation - what I assume is a non-profit organization that works with and for various charitable organizations in the area.  The head of the foundation is one Richard Xanthos (who admittedly looks kind of like a cross between Tom Selleck and Vincent Price).  Xanthos also has an assistant named Christine, who has a fairly sizeable role in this episode as well.

Anyway, it appears as though Xanthos has a contest idea for two very deserving charitable organizations, and the winner of the contest will receive a very special treasure from Richard Xanthos' own collection!  Sounds enticing!  I wonder what it could be?  Xanthos sends out the memo asking interested teams to sign up, and he personally will choose the two teams.  Why do I get the feeling that this is going to be another Holograms vs. Misfits thing?

Well, over at Starlight Mansion, Jem and the Holograms are teaching the Starlight Girls how to play volleyball, and Starlight Girl Anne is already getting the hang of it.  Anne thanks the Holograms for taking the time to teach her how to play, and this leads into the first of two new songs by the Holograms in this episode.

Okay, so the video for "Take The Time" opens with the 1992 Summer Olympics, which is amusing - you can tell this is an 80s cartoon!  Other than that, the video is cute, but dull.  But hey, I will give the Holograms credit.  They're spending a lot more time with the Starlight Girls in Season 2 than they did in Season 1!

Video - who seems to be in almost every episode in Season 2 so far - is talking with Christine.  It's revealed that Video has nominated the Holograms to take part in the contest, and judging by Christine's reaction, it's safe to say that the Holograms have impressed her enough to make the short list.

Later that day, Christine gets the tip that the Misfits are also doing their part to make the community a better place, and she arrives just as Pizzazz, Roxy, and Stormer are presenting boxed lunches to three girls who look like they've been dressed by Punky Brewster.  Gee, I'm not sure if a box lunch social is the way to go here, but thanks to Eric's charm, Christine buys that the Misfits are truly good people and rushes off to tell Xanthos.

Once Christine leaves, the jig is up, and Eric pays off the three girls!  The whole thing was a set up just so they could get their hands on Xanthos' treasure!  What's worse, the three girls - whose names are Molly, Ellen, and Sandra - are like what Pizzazz, Roxy, and Stormer would be like at fourteen years of age.  Even Pizzazz comments on the rudeness of the three girls, which Eric remarks that Molly reminds him of Pizzazz!  ZING!

It's the day of the treasure hunt, and the two teams are the Starlight Girls, comprised of Jem, Ashley, Ba Nee, and Krissie, and the Misfit Girls, who are made up of Pizzazz, Molly, Ellen, and Sandra.  They arrive at Xanthos' mansion, and I am completely blown away at how gigantic Xanthos' library is.  I'm so jealous!  I do wish I had taken a picture of it, but I have another screenshot coming up.

Xanthos explains the rules of the contest.  They have to go around various places around the estate and answer questions based on famous literary works.  If they get the answer right, they get a map to their next clue.  The first team to solve all the riddles and get the hidden key to unlock the treasure chest will win the treasure!  Jem and Pizzazz are allowed to accompany their teams, but they can NOT assist them in solving the riddles.  The girls have to do this on their own.  Sounds fair to me.

As the contest is set to begin, you can hear the difference in tone between each team.  Jem is telling her girls that they should do their best and play fair, and that they should have fun no matter what.  Pizzazz is telling her girls that winning is everything and that nobody loves a loser.  Like night and day between those two.

Xanthos holds up two different maps.  Apparently to make it more challenging, each team will go a different route with different questions.  Good planning...makes it harder to cheat that way.

Of course, that never stopped Eric Raymond.  He's holed up with Techrat in a secret location feeding the answers to Molly, who is wearing a microphone disguised as a brooch.  Of course there'd be cheating involved with the Misfits.

And as soon as the Misfits get their first clue, Pizzazz starts taking the lead and tells them where to go, which completely breaks the rule that Xanthos implemented at the start of the treasure hunt!  You didn't even last five minutes, Pizzazz!

The Misfit Girls get to their first clue location.  It appears as though literary characters have come to life as they come across Hiawatha in a giant canoe.  The question posed to the girls is - where was Hiawatha born.  The answer is, of course, on the shores of Gitche Gumee.  See, look.  Even Techrat's computer says so.

Wait...TECHRAT HAS THE INTERNET?  In 1987?!?  Whoa, he really IS a genius!

Needless to say, the girls get their second map and they are on their way to their next destination.  But before they leave, they spot Jem and the Starlight Girls approaching, and they decide to have a little fun with them.  The Starlight Girls have to cross a river by walking over a log, and as they cross, the Misfit Girls start shaking the log violently, causing the girls to hold on for dear life.  Sandra stays out of it, telling them that it's not a good idea, but the others don't listen to her.

It's poor Ba Nee who ends up falling into the river, and she appears to be having a hard time staying above water.  She ends up drowning in the river and the contest is called off.  The End.

No, wait.  Hiawatha saves her life.  Ba Nee is extremely grateful to him, and Ashley and Krissie want to kill the Misfit Girls.  But Jem reminds them that they have a contest to win, so they hop to it.

Despite the fact that Ba Nee is soaking wet, they arrive at their first clue where a costumed Christine asks them how many voyages Sinbad went on.  As they ponder their answer, the Misfits arrive at their second destination - Alice in Wonderland's tea party, where the girls are downright rude to the actress playing Alice.  I half expect Alice to feed them a cupcake that turns them into the Cheshire Cat or gets them beheaded by the Queen of Hearts.

It's also pretty clear that the Misfit Girls don't appear to have read any books because they need Techrat's help to let them know that the March Hare and the Mad Hatter were at the tea party.  I've known that since I was three and a half!

It's also obvious that the Starlight Girls have read books because Ba Nee knew that Sinbad went on seven voyages without any help!  It's also noteworthy that the Starlight Girls are polite and say thank you when they get their next map.  As I said, night and day.

The two teams congregate inside of a hedge maze, and right off the bat there is tension between the Misfit Team and Starlight Team.  I suppose there would be, since Ba Nee almost drowned because of them.  But it appears as though Molly and Ellen haven't learned a thing because they swipe the Starlight Girls' map and run into the maze.  Jem tries to stop the fight, but Pizzazz scoffs that they promised not to intervene.  Oh, so the rules only apply if Jem's team is getting screwed.  Good to know.

And we hear a song by The Misfits.  Sadly, it's a song we've heard before in Episode 22, but "Ahead of the Game" is definitely appropriate, as it seems that by cheating and playing dirty, not only have they forged ahead of the competition, but they've gotten the Starlight Girls lost in the hedge maze.  Sandra worries that the Starlight Girls will never find their way out, which causes the other Misfit Girls to scoff at her before moving on.  I get the feeling that Sandra is the Stormer of this group.

This allows the group to meet up with Robin Hood, who dazzles Sandra with his archery skills.  Of course, Molly and Ellen use Techrat to get the answer, but I have this feeling that Sandra probably could have answered the question about the Sheriff of Nottingham on her own.  She seems to be the only one in the group with brains and a conscience.  By the way, speaking of Robin this week's Jem Trivia, I can tell you that Robin Hood makes another appearance some fourteen episodes down the line.

Fortunately, the Starlight Girls manage to figure out how to escape, as Ashley remembers that if you use your hand to feel your way through the maze's walls, you can always find your way out.  It takes some time, but Ashley's brain seems to work, and it's not long before they find their next clue.

They easily answer a question about King Arthur.

And d'Artagnan charms the Starlight Girls when Krissie answers a question correctly about the Three Musketeers.  Just like that, the Holograms have caught up to the Misfits and it could be anybody's game.

But disaster strikes the Misfits team when Sandra trips over a branch lying on the ground and clobbers her knee.  But instead of helping the hurt girl, they leave her behind in the dark forest desperate to win.  How do you like that?  Poor Sandra.

Fortunately for Sandra, the Starlight Girls arrive at that moment with Jem, and the Starlight Girls do everything to try and help.  Sandra begs for them to go ahead and leave her behind so they can beat Molly and Ellen, but the Starlight Girls know that she's injured.  What's worse, Jem sticks to her guns and tells them that she can't help them.  Okay, that might be true for the treasure hunt, but you're dealing with an INJURED CHILD!  Seriously, Jem.  Stop taking your stupid pills!

While the Starlight Girls are debating on what to do, the Misfits arrive at a dock, where Odysseus (or some character from the book) is standing with yet another riddle.  Once more, Techrat gives them the answer, and their boat takes off towards their final destination just as the Starlight Girls approach. 

It appears as though the Starlight Girls have decided to take Sandra with them, and have asked Jem to look after her while they finish the treasure hunt.  Xanthos is in a Long John Silver costume and greets the Starlight Girls with another riddle for them.  Personally, I'd have told Xanthos that the Misfits are dirty rotten cheaters, but they decide to answer the riddle correctly and soon the race is on.

It appears as though the key to the treasure chest is hidden on a remote island near a couple of trees that literally form an X.  How...cliche.  Molly and Ashley spot the key at the same time and grab the key at the same time.  Christine remarks to Xanthos that she can't tell who grabbed the key first, so Xanthos declares that the contest is over and neither team won.

Just kidding.

Actually, Xanthos believes that to determine the winner, he must come up with one final riddle.  And I know I'm paraphrasing this riddle, but basically it goes like this.  When I am closed, I am nothing, but when I am opened, many things appear.  What am I?

At first, the girls are all stumped.  They don't know what Xanthos is talking about.  And unfortunately Techrat's magical computer with 80s Internet is unable to come up with the answer.  When Eric accidentally trips over a cord and makes Techrat's computer explode, it makes Techrat go crazy and his outburst is heard through Molly's brooch!

It's enough to get Xanthos' attention, and Xanthos basically accuses the girls of cheating even though he doesn't actually say it.  Of course Molly denies the accusation and flat out tells Xanthos that since nobody knows the answer to the riddle then the Misfits should get it.  Yeah, that's wonderful logic.

But wait.  Sandra announces that she knows the answer.  The answer is a book!  When a book is closed, you can't see anything.  But if you open the book, you can get taken to whatever place you want with the people in the story!  Sandra has won the contest!

But just as the Misfits start to celebrate, Sandra cries out "NOT SO FAST".  The Misfits ditched her after she hurt herself, so she declares herself to be a free agent.  And this free agent has decided to join the Starlight Girls, making them the real winners of the contest!  How's that laser guided karma working out for you, Pizzazz?

So what does the key open?  Well, we're going back to Xanthos' massive library that I am still jealous of to find out.  Since Sandra answered the riddle, she gets to unlock the treasure.  Inside is a bookshelf filled with lots and lots of books.  But what's special about this shelf is that all of the books inside are first edition copies signed by all of the original authors!  And for winning the contest, Sandra and the Starlight Girls can choose one of these books as a prize!  I...I...I...I want to do this contest!  Do you have any idea what a book like that would be worth?  And not just for monetary value either...just the idea of having a copy of Alice in Wonderland signed by Lewis Carroll?  That is an AWESOME treasure!

I guess this explains why Xanthos' treasure hunt was literary themed.  All of the books represented on the hunt are in the bookshelf of riches!  Hey, if there was a copy of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" signed by Roald Dahl, I would totally take that book for myself!  Ba Nee even exclaims that it is the best prize she's ever gotten.

By now you've guessed that the real prize is not in money, but in knowledge.  And that books give you the opportunity for endless imagination and fun.  And to prove it, Jem and the Holograms sing a song about it.

Okay, so the theme could be used for the television show "Reading Rainbow".  But I do like the song "Open A Book".  It's certainly a good message to send to people young and old, and to be honest I am a huge champion for literacy.  I believe that all of us have the right to learn how to read and write because it allows us all to express ourselves.  And for someone like me who finds it hard to physically talk with people, reading and writing is key for me.  I absolutely love this episode.  So far, it's a big contender for best episode of Season 2.

Next week, the girls travel to Mexico to film a video.  I hope this means that Raya actually gets a storyline.

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