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Friday, January 06, 2017

Jem Reviewed: Episode 42 - Trick or Techrat

Welcome to the first Jem Reviewed of 2017!  Last week, we watched as Jem saved a radio station from going belly up.  Let's see what's going on this week.

It's time for Episode 42: Trick or Techrat.  I'm guessing based on the title that this is a Halloween episode.  Too bad we're a couple of months too late.  Or, maybe we're actually ten months early.  You make the call.

Anyway, it looks as though the Starlight Girls are watching a retro horror movie on television late at night.  See, that's how you can tell that this is a Halloween episode.  And it appears to be a film that is sort of a combo between Dracula and the Hunchback of Notre Dame.  I'm not sure what the plot of this film is, but one thing is for sure, it's enough to make Starlight Girl Terri extremely scared.

So when two of the Starlight Girls pop out of the next room wearing scary monster masks, it's enough for Terri to lose her wits and immediately seek comfort in Jerrica's arms.  Naturally, Jerrica tells Terri that everything is going to be okay, but needless to say that Halloween is not one of Terri's favourite holidays.

Once the movie is over and the Starlight Girls go to bed, Rio arrives and tells the girls that they have a meeting to go to - at midnight.  What a strange time to be going out for a meeting.  I wonder what it could be about?

Well, it turns out that their meeting is taking place at an old abandoned opera house in the middle of town.  It seems as though the building is in danger of being completely demolished, and Rio has a plan to preserve the building for historical purposes.  You want to know how I know?  He tells us.  Yep, Rio's insecure about his own successes that he feels the need to brag about how important he is.  Sigh.

They meet the owner of the opera house, one Frederick Vincent.  And yes, the fact that he looks almost like a double of horror star Vincent Price is meant to be intentional.  In fact, Raya instantly remembers him as the star of the film that they had just finished watching.  Apparently, Vincent was quite the horror film star back in the day.  But now he's having trouble keeping the opera house afloat.  It doubles as his own private residence, and he's gotten behind on the taxes.  If he doesn't come up with enough money before the deadline, it opens the door for other people to come in and buy the property.

Well, Jem and the Holograms decide that they will have none of that.  They decide that they will host a benefit concert on Halloween night (this is the plan that Rio had in mind) where all of the proceeds will go towards paying off the taxes and restoring the opera house to its former glory.  Gee, aren't we optimistic about our fundraising goals?  And a concert on Halloween night?  Great plan.  Your target audience is probably going to be too busy trick-or-treating to even think about the concert!  The least you could do is throw Skittles to the audience!

Back at Starlight Mansion, Jerrica invites Danse over to teach them choreography for the Halloween concert, and Danse naturally says yes.  Sheesh, just make her a Hologram already!  

But the conversation is interrupted when Terri is scared by another Starlight Girl which causes the jack-o-lantern that she is carving to get broken.  Terri screeches that she hates Halloween and she hates being scared!  She does come across as a bit of a wuss here, but in this edition of Jem Trivia, here's some shocking news for you.  Terri is voiced by Patricia Alice Albrecht - who plays PIZZAZZ!  The fact that she can go from meek and scared girl to evil bitch on wheels Pizzazz shows just what range Patricia Alice Albrecht has!

Jerrica tries to comfort Terri by singing a song about how fun it is to be scared.  No, seriously.  It's like...we know everything scares you, but lighten up!  It's FUN!  Those goose pimples are FUN!  Your bulging eyes are FUN!  Your being unable to breathe is FUN!  FUN!  Okay, so the song itself isn't's just used in the worst possible context, and really does nothing to ease Terri's fears. 

As the Holograms arrive at the opera house to being setting up and rehearsing for the show, we learn that in addition to being scared of everything that Terri is also superstitious.  When she discovers that the address number of the opera house is 1313, she refuses to go inside until Ashley reassures her that it's okay.

Meanwhile, Techrat and Eric are holed up in one of Techrat's secret labs, and considering that this episode is entitled "Trick or Techrat", I knew he'd be making an appearance in this one.  The Misfits are also there and Pizzazz is not amused over the fact that Jem's benefit concert is making front page news. 

Eric tells the Misfits to put on their own concert and hands them a business card.  It belongs to real estate developer Terrance Landau and Eric says he can help them out.  But what would a real estate agent know about concert promotion?

Oh, I see...Terrance has an ulterior motive.  He wants to destroy the opera house so that he can build another condominium.  And naturally he sees the Misfits concert - which Pizzazz schedules for the same night as the Holograms show - as a way to ensure that the taxes for the building don't get paid.  It's an elaborate plan...but will it work?

Well, Pizzazz interrupts a live feed of Lindsey Pearce's piece about the opera house restoration project to throw some promotion towards the Misfits concert - which appears to be taking place on an inflatable stage?  Okay, whatever.  Pizzazz also remarks that their show will be the only one taking place because the opera house could have structural problems.  This coming from a group who plans on doing their own show on a bouncy castle.  The logic's flying out the window with this episode, isn't it?

Jem does show concern about the structural integrity of the building, but Rio assures her that he did a walkthrough of the building and it's structurally sound.  Oh, so Rio's an architect in addition to being a pilot, engineer, and member of the historical preservation club?  Yeah.  Sure.

Danse is set to perform some of her new moves for the concert, but when she walks under a ladder, Terri freaks out and tells Danse that she's going to die!  Well, okay, maybe she doesn't, but she is REALLY annoying in this one.  Danse tells her to sit down and that everything is going to be fine.

But just seconds later, one of the gigantic pumpkin props comes loose and falls on top of Danse!  Okay, first she gets a leg crushed by a Christmas tree, and now she gets squashed by a pumpkin?  Maybe Danse should take the 4th of July off...just saying.

Luckily, Danse isn't hurt.  She avoided injury by standing in the spot where the eye cut-outs were.  But when Rio examines the pumpkin prop, he discovers that the chains have been cut.  Someone did this on purpose, but who?

It's at this point that Vincent appears...only this time around, he announces that the place is haunted and that they need to leave.  Um, what?  A few days earlier, you were happy to have them there because they were trying to save your home, and now you're wanting them out?  Something doesn't seem right here.

Of course, Jem and the Holograms refuse to leave, and instead get to work on polishing up a beautiful antique chandelier.  It's like the one on "Phantom of the Opera".  I just hope it doesn't fall on anybody!

But just as the crew is finishing off the last bit of spit and polish, the Misfits arrive with a surprise.  A building inspector has come to see if the building is safe.  If it's not, it will be condemned which means no concert.  Now, I'd be more angry at the Misfits for interfering like this, but I'm too distracted by the fact that Jetta appears to be dressed as if she's working the lunch shift at Burger King.  Seriously, Jetta...not your best look.

Fortunately for Rio and Jerrica, the building inspector is pleased with the work they've put into the building, and he leaves...but he plans to do one final inspection before the concert to make sure of it.

And while the Misfits are upset that their plan has failed, Jetta is just upset that a creepy looking hand has popped out of a cupboard, and the Misfits are so terrified that...they sing a song about it?  Again.  Logic out the window.

Though, I will admit.  "Don't Look Now" is an appropriate song and video for the Halloween themed episode.

And once the Misfits finish their song and run away from the building, something happens with the pulley that is hoisting the chandelier.  It breaks down and it sends the chandelier careening down towards Terri!  I guess it also didn't help matters much that a black cat happened to cross Terri's path just seconds before the mishap.  Luckily, Raya acts quickly and pulls Terri to safety before the chandelier turns her into a pancake.  But this prompts Vincent to make another plea to the Holograms to leave the opera house for good.

This time around, Jerrica and Rio start putting two and two together and realize that this does not make any sense whatsoever.  What in the world is going on?

We flash forward to the night of the concerts, and the Misfits are standing outside their inflatable stage dressed in their wicked cool Halloween costumes.  Pizzazz sort of looks like a bat in hers.  But Pizzazz is upset that Eric and Terrance are a no-show, and wonder where they've gone to.

Inside the opera house, the Holograms are putting on their scary Halloween costumes that Shana designed for them, and Jem remarks that even the crowd has dressed up in great costumes.  But their conversation is interrupted when some scary images pop up on the mirror behind them and tell them that they must leave the opera house now or else they will suffer their doom.

And on the stage area itself where Danse is performing and where Ashley and Terri are seated, the ground starts to shake, the lights begin to flicker, and Terri screams a scream so loud it could wake the dead.

And when the vibrations continue after Jem and the Holograms appear on stage, Terri gets so freaked out that she runs away.  Jem tries to follow after her, but Terri gets so lost that she accidentally falls through a trap door!  Man, this show is really being sadistic, isn't it?

Jem goes back to the stage which is still experiencing spooky things.  It looks like there is more bad news as Rio appears saying that the building inspector is here early.  Jem realizes that if the building inspector comes into the opera house with everything going out of control, the place will be shut down for good, so Jem orders Rio to stall him while the rest of the Holograms try to find out where Terri could have disappeared to.

It seems as though Terri has found herself in a secret set of catacombs.  It's not unusual for older buildings to have secret passages, and the opera house is filled with them.  And at first Terri is unsure of where to go.  But when she spots a pair of menacing green eyes in the distance, she runs in the opposite direction scared out of her wits.  But hey, this is supposed to be FUN according to Jem and the Holograms!  FUN!  FUN!  FUN!

But Terri happens to be in the right place at the right time, for she soon discovers the source of all of the problems.  It appears as though Techrat and the real estate guy are in cahoots with a Vincent lookalike.  Of course there would be a doppelganger in this storyline.  So predictable. 

Terri continues to listen to the evil plan unfold when she is startled by a black cat.  The same black cat that passed by during the chandelier incident.  Unfortunately, the cat meows which alerts the three men inside the room, and they give chase after Terri.  Okay, seriously how much more is Terri going to have to take?  No wonder she's a panic attack waiting to happen!

And to add to the fright, Terri passes by another door where she is grabbed by someone inside!  And what's really strange is that the person inside the cell is Frederick Vincent!  The REAL Frederick Vincent!  Vincent explains to Terri that he's been held captive so that the fake Vincent can ensure that the opera house gets destroyed.

Oh, and the cat that has been popping up?  That's Vincent's pet cat, Phantom.  My guess is that Phantom had tried to alert someone of the fact that Vincent was in danger, and Terri was the person he chose to alert.  Not exactly the brightest cat in the world, but he did what he set out to accomplish.  I'm sure there will be an extra piece of salmon in it for him.

For now, Vincent and Terri have to get out of there and expose the evil plan once and for all.  Luckily, Vincent knows all of the tricks of the opera house, and manages to locate all of the secret passages to keep the bad guys a safe distance away.

The climax of the chase takes place on a gigantic spiral staircase, and Terri is worried that they won't be able to outrun them.  But Vincent has one more trick up his sleeve, and as soon as they reach the top of the staircase, he pulls a lever that sends "Vincent", Techrat, and Terrance down a gigantic slide!

Downstairs, the Misfits pop over to see Rio and Jem with the building inspector, and Jem is almost ready to cancel the concert because of what is happening...but before she gets the chance to, a door opens up and out pops Techrat, Terrance, and "Vincent"! 

Pizzazz sarcastically remarks that it's about time that Terrance showed up.  And even though this is technically the first time that Techrat has come face to face with Jem, he's wearing a ghost costume, so his identity remains a secret.  But Jem is understandably confused and wonders what is going on.  And she wants to know where Terri is.

Cue the spinning wall passageway where Vincent and Terri appear safe and sound.  Terri points towards the three men and inform Jem that they were the ones responsible for all of the scary things. 

The three try to escape the theatre, but Jem uses a little bit of Synergy's magic to create an illusion so scary that Techrat actually flees the scene!  Brilliant!

Oh, and the fake Vincent?  It's actually Eric Raymond in disguise.  And Eric would have gotten away with it too if it wasn't for that meddling kid.

Wait.  Wrong show.

Yeah, it comes as no surprise that Eric and Terrance were working together in a sweetheart deal.  Eric would get the Misfits promotion, Terrance would get the land, and both would be partners in a condo development.  Both are now going to jail.  But since this is Jem, they won't stay there long.

And it appears as though the Misfits get to share in the laser guided karma.  A sudden thunderstorm causes lightning to strike their inflatable stage, and their dreams of a Halloween concert quite literally blow up in their faces.  Too bad.

And it's time for Jem's concert, where the first song they perform is one we heard back in Episode 15, "We Can Change It".  But is it just me, or does this song seem like it's been tweaked a bit to make it more scary sounding?  It could just be my ears playing tricks on me, but I think this works.

The end result is that the concert generated enough funds to not only pay off the back taxes of the building, but to fully restore it.  And this prompts Vincent to announce that he will be coming out of retirement and opening up the opera house to the public once more.  This is definitely a cause for celebration.

Oh, and Terri's no longer afraid of things.  Because in the real world that's all it takes.  22 minutes to overcome a lifetime of fears.

This is one of those episodes that is mixed for me.  It is a decent plot, and I appreciate the fact that the show did a Halloween episode.  But logic was defied at every opportunity, and the superstitions being drilled into my head were a bit monotonous.  Overall, it's an episode I'd watch again.

Next week - a week before the inauguration of Donald Trump - Jem gets an invitation to meet the President - who at that time was Reagan.  I wonder what will happen?

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