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Friday, December 30, 2016

Jem Reviewed: Episode 41 - KJEM

We're taking a small break from the 2016 retrospective to bring you the latest edition of Jem Reviewed.  And it's certainly a lot more lighthearted than the very special episode of Jem that we discussed last week.

This is Episode 41: KJEM.  And with this, we only have 24 weeks left of the Jem Reviewed series.  Where did the time go?  And in an unprecedented twist, I've got several pieces of Jem Trivia hidden throughout this post.  It's some behind the scenes secrets about this episode that you might find surprising, and that might have actually made this episode much more fun.  Not that it wasn't fun before.  You'll see what I mean.

For now, Danse is at what I believe to be Haven House, where she has a class made up of Starlight Girls and Haven House dwellers.  She's teaching them how to do basic dance moves, but she needs some music.  She decides to turn on a station known as KMEL, but Deirdre and Ashley protest, saying that KBST is better.  Ah, yes...I too remember the days when we fought over radio stations.  Seems like so long ago.

Danse explains that a station doesn't have to be flashy to play good music.  And to prove her point, a Jem and the Holograms song is playing.  The song of course seems to be Danse's unofficial theme song, "When It's Only Me and the Music" - a song we heard during Danse's first offical appearance in Episode 13.  The video this time around isn't as good as the first version, but I'm glad they re-used this song.  It's one of my favourites from Season 1.

But what Danse doesn't know is that KMEL is in a lot of trouble.  Financial strain to keep the station running, plus additional competition from stations such as KBST have meant that people are tuning in less to KMEL, and the owner of the station, Elzer Marcus, is considering selling the station to an anonymous buyer.  It also doesn't help matters much that much of Elzer's staff have been offered a generous pay increase from rival station KBST for them to join the staff there.  It certainly seems like the bell is about to toll for the once popular radio station.

Of course, this news does not bode well for the group of college interns who are working there as part of their experience for their communications course.  The guy with the lime green shirt and blonde hair is somebody who calls himself "
Switch", and he decides that he must find a way to save the station from closing.

Man, this KBST station is a real threat to KMEL.  I wonder who runs it?

Well, considering that Eric Raymond and the Misfits are there taping promotions for the radio station, it's not hard to figure out.  But in a surprise twist, we learn that Eric and the Misfits are really only there for promotions.

Our villain du jour is the owner of KBST,
Adrian Lassiter.  And this leads to my first piece of Jem Trivia.  Initially when Jetta was being created, Christy Marx wanted to make her dark-skinned.  When she was told no, she improvised by creating Adrian Lassiter as the first (and only villain) who was not Caucasian.  I guess in her way she wanted to prove that anybody could be a bad guy.

And believe me, Adrian is definitely a bad guy.  We learn from a conversation with his henchman (the man who made the offer to buy KMEL) that Lassiter is the man responsible for trying to shut down KMEL.  It seems that even though his radio station is popular, it's not enough for him, and he feels that if he can shut down every radio station near him, he'll dominate the radio airwaves.  Ah, your typical "nobody can be better than me" approach.  No wonder the Misfits felt at home at KBST!

Back at the college cafeteria (and yes, colleges do have them.  The food's usually subpar, but they have them), Switch and his friends are brainstorming ideas for how they can save KMEL, but because they're college students, it's not as if they have any money to buy it.  But Switch happens to notice a girl reading a magazine with Jem and the Holograms and it makes him remember that he was friends with Kimber in high school.  That's...contrived.  But, Switch seems to think that he can get through to Kimber to convince Jem and the Holograms to help save KMEL.  I have to say, it's not a terrible idea.

Unfortunately, Jem and the Holograms are performing at a private party where the general public is barred. 

Oh, yeah...while we're at this party, Rio can't help but show off his brand new plane!  Say what?!?  Apparently in between getting yelled at by Jem and him breaking up with Jerrica eight hundred times, Rio's managed to get his pilot's license and just paid off the last installment of the payment plan for his new plane!  Exactly how much is Starlight Music paying Rio for him to afford a freakin' airplane!!!  Alas, this plotline is part of Jem Trivia #2.  Christy's husband Peter Ledger had just gotten his pilot's license right around the time that Christy was working on this episode, and it was his idea to incorporate the flying storyline.

And if this does not make any sense to you, consider Jem Trivia #3.  This episode was intended to be a two-parter.  So, a lot of the details were left on the cutting room how RIO COULD AFFORD A PLANE!!!

Well, it seems as though Rio hasn't even taken his plane on a test run yet before making an enemy.  In this case, it's a rival pilot by the name of McDuffy who can't help but trade jabs with Rio about how lame his plane is.  I bet he's going to factor in a bit with the storyline, but let's hold off on that for a moment.

For now, Switch is trying to get into the party, but since it's by invitation only, he's out of luck.  He even tries to jump high enough over the gate to get Kimber's attention, but fails miserably.

So, what does Switch do?  Well, somehow he ends up getting mixed up with McDuffy who agrees to help him get into the skydiving into the venue.  I should point out that McDuffy is NOT a licensed skydiving instructor, and that Switch is stupid for taking his word, but of course if everybody had common sense in this cartoon, it would be a boring program.

So, Switch jumps out of the airplane and even though he's never really had any lessons in skydiving, he manages to successfully activate his parachute on the first try.  But then reality sets in and Switch realizes that he has no way of controlling the parachute to make the safest landing possible.

So what inevitably happens is that he crashes right into the stage where Jem and the Holograms are performing and takes out Kimber, her synthesizer and enough electric wires to electrocute half of Los Angeles!

Miraculously, nobody ends up killed in the melee.  By the time Jem and the others reach Kimber, she and Switch are having a grand old chat laughing about the times they had in high school.  Never mind that there are live wires around everywhere and Switch caused thousands of bucks in damage...high school reunions are far more important.

Of course, Rio immediately wants to kick Switch's ass for causing a scene, but Kimber tells the brute to leave him be.  Switch explains the reason why he quite literally dropped in, and while Jem is sympathetic about his cause, she doesn't know if she can make the commitment.  Well, how do you like that?  Switch risked his life to get the Holograms to help him save KMEL and Jem says no!  What ungrateful behaviour!  Shame on Jem!

The next day though, Jerrica Benton is doing some paperwork at Starlight Music and has KMEL on in the background.  As it so happens, she turns on the radio just as Elzer is giving his farewell address.  Here it is, verbatum.

"Radio is a medium of imagination, creates pictures in the mind, it brings us news and new ideas, it entertains us with comedy, drama, and music.  Rock, country and western, classical, jazz, and everything in between.  But most of all, radio is the vital part of our most precious right...freedom of speech.  So support your community and public stations, let radio do more than entertain you.  Let it educate you!"

Wow.  So profound.  Apparently it was enough to move Jerrica so much that she changes to Jem while she's driving the Rockin' Roadster...yeah, I don't even think she's trying to keep her identity a secret anymore. 

Anyway, she makes a beeline to KMEL and interrupts a meeting between Lassiter's henchmen and the staff at KMEL.  She formally tells Elzer that she and the Holograms are willing to help any way they can, and they start by announcing that she will get the rest of the Holograms to perform at the radio station, and Switch says that he and the rest of his college friends can round up sponsors and advertisers to keep the station going.  Jem even offers to pay the station's bills and salaries of the staff going until Elzer can get a full team going.  Until that happens, everybody will be volunteering.  Even Rio lends a hand by being an engineer! 

Elzer is touched by Jem's generosity, and he makes a decision to rename the station KJEM, which flatters Jem immensely.  But lest you think this is a plot of contrivance, consider
Jem Trivia #4.  This episode was made because Hasbro released a KJEM playset.  In a way, it was an extremely clever way to tie the toy line to the cartoon, and vice versa!

Of course, one person who ISN'T happy about the news is Mr. Lassiter, and as he spies a plane piloted by Rio flying a banner informing viewers to listen to KJEM, he tells his flunky to do something about it. 

Naturally whenever Jem's plans have to get thrown a monkey wrench, the Misfits are there to lend a helping hand.  But in this case, even the Misfits themselves are left in the dark as to what is going on.  All Lassiter's flunky will say is that he wants them to play in some soundstage for however long they want.  The Misfits are happy to play where their music will be appreciated, but part of me wonders what Lassiter has planned.

Well, it's time for KJEM to make its first broadcast, and the DJ is ready to introduce Jem and the Holograms who are going to perform live at a special concert outside of the radio station.  And with Switch, Rio, and several college students on the staff who know what they are doing, nothing could possibly go wrong, right?


Yeah, that's not a Jem and the Holograms song that's playing on KJEM.  It's a Misfits song!  I mean, granted, it's a good Misfits song - an original ditty called "Listen Up" which definitely gets your attention.  But considering that the station is called KJEM and not KMIS, I get the feeling that this was not planned.

Sure enough, Lassiter's flunky has given Jem and the Holograms a lesson in pirate radio.  Somehow, he's managed to interfere with the radio signal that KJEM uses, and overrode the frequency with his own pirate radio station.  And the Misfits are unintentionally involved with the whole thing!  That's pretty ballsy.  

And naturally the takeover of KJEM is causing havoc.  Sponsors are threatening to pull out if KJEM doesn't come back on the air, and everyone is left wondering what the heck happened.  Rio seems to think that he has an idea as to how it all went down.  He tells Jem and the Holograms his theory that someone else has taken over the radio signal with expensive equipment designed to do exactly that, and Jerrica immediately suspects that Eric Raymond is the person who is ultimately responsible.  Jerrica drives off towards Misfits Music while Rio tries to figure out where the pirate radio station is coming from.

But in this case, Jerrica's accusation that Eric is responsible falls on deaf ears, as Eric himself assures her that he had nothing to do with it.  But Eric does tell Jerrica that he may know who is responsible, and the action shifts over to KBST, where Lassiter more or less reveals that he's the mastermind behind the whole thing.  But of course he doesn't really say that, as he is too intelligent to implicate himself.  In fact, he actually throws his flunky under the bus by placing all responsibility on him!  Naturally, Eric is upset that the Misfits are caught in the middle of all this, and Jerrica is furious that Lassiter would do this to Elzer.  But Lassiter shows no remorse in this case and actually tells Jerrica that he looks forward to sparring with her again as an enemy.  Okay, I know Jerrica and Eric supposedly hate each other, but if they tag-teamed together and beat up Lassiter in his office, I'd be okay with that.  Instead, they decide to go another route.

By this time, Rio and Switch have figured out how the pirate radio broadcast is working.  Although they haven't found any evidence of this happening on the ground, they certainly haven't discounted the fact that the broadcast could be happening from someplace higher say, an airplane?

Of course...McDuffy's plane.  It wouldn't rip any skin off his nose to help Lassiter out.  After all, I bet he paid McDuffy a fortune for his help.  And that soundstage that the Misfits are playing from?  It's actually located inside the plane!  Pretty sneaky. 

But what McDuffy and the Misfits didn't count on was the fact that Rio also has a pilot's license, and while the Holograms follow along in the Rockin' Roadster, Rio takes his plane into the skies and tries to force McDuffy to land the plane so that KJEM can get back on the air - and so the FCC can have words with everybody involved in the pirate radio scheme.

It's almost like we're watching the movie "Top Gun" for a bit as Rio and McDuffy get into a dual in the skies...and I'm hoping that when the planes land that there are first aid kits aboard.  McDuffy's plane shakes so violently that the Misfits get tossed around like rag dolls!  But of course, Rio has to be the victor and the plane carrying the Misfits is forced to land.

Now, it comes as no shocker that McDuffy and Lassiter's henchman are arrested and taken into custody...but the Misfits are also taken away in handcuffs - which shouldn't really be happening since they were tricked into working for the pirate radio station and had no prior knowledge of it.  The Holograms at least recognize this fact, but Jerrica tells Rio that she'll get them released...tomorrow.  See Jerrica, this is why the Misfits can't stand you.  Just saying.

But of course we have a happy ending.  KJEM is saved, and in celebration we get to hear the KJEM theme song...which is largely forgettable, but's meant to be a promo song for a radio station and not a single.  I'll give them a pass.

But you know, this episode seemed so terribly stitched together.  I mean, as far as the episode itself went, it was fine, and plot wise it did make a lot of sense...but I think back to Christy Marx's original idea to make it a two-parter, and I can't help but agree that this would have been a better option.  After all, in the final piece of Jem Trivia, Christy had a ton of ideas for the two-part version which would have included Switch needing an organ transplant, or one of the engineers becoming an alcoholic and the Holograms trying to help them get sober again.  I think those would have been interesting ideas that should have been greenlit.  I'm not saying KJEM is a bad episode.  But, since the last few have been great, this one seems a little bit of a letdown.  I hope this isn't a trend.

Coming up next week for the first Jem Reviewed of 2017...we celebrate Halloween in January.  Well, you can't have good timing all the time.

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