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Friday, January 13, 2017

Jem Reviewed: Episode 43 - The Presidential Dilemma

Previously on Jem Reviewed, we celebrated January.  But it was a fairly decent episode overall.  I can't say the same about this one.  It's in the running for worst Jem episode ever. 

But just what makes Episode 43: The Presidential Dilemma so terrible?  You'll see as we go ahead...but hey, at least this one's posted a week before Donald Trump gets inaugurated.  The timing's much better with this one.

Well, right off the bat, I can tell that this is one of the six episodes with the terrible animation.  I mean, just watch how Kimber answers the front door of Starlight Mansion.  Very choppy.

It appears that a couple of secret service men have appeared on the front steps of the mansion, and they have a telegram for Jem!

It seems as though Jem and the Holograms have been cordially invited to play for the President and the First Lady at a special concert at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.!  Wow, now that is a special honour indeed.  Now, at the time this episode aired, the President at that time was Ronald Reagan.  Let's see if this episode even remotely comments on this.

The concert is scheduled for the day after tomorrow, so we still have to get through tomorrow's events beforehand so the action shifts to tomorrow which becomes today.  Got all that?  Jem meets with the entertainment coordinator of the White House, Paul Davis to discuss the concert plans.  My question there really such a position as entertainment coordinator?  And just who is it?  Or, who was it during Barack Obama's presidency?  Someone fill me in?

One of the things that Paul shows Jem is the high tech security system that the Kennedy Center has.  Fair enough.  Jem's a big ticket entertainer by this time, and they want to make sure that Pizzazz doesn't shoot her or anything.  The problem with the security system is that it has an unintentional side effect.  The system successfully blocks Synergy's transmissions, and when Jem gets too close, she reverts back to Jerrica.  This could pose quite the problem when it comes to the concert itself.

So, Jerrica calls Kimber at Starlight Mansion and tells them to bring Synergy with them when they fly out to D.C. later that day.  Oh, yeah, like they can really get a seven thousand pound computer across the country in that short a notice without drawing suspicion!  But having Synergy in D.C. will give her enough power to override the security system or something.  I don't know how it works, we just need to have a conflict for this episode.

And as if bringing Synergy to Washington wasn't the group's only problem, it seems as though the Misfits have learned about Jem's trip to Washington through Lindsey Pearce's show...and they are definitely NOT happy about it.  So, they talk with Eric about flying them out to D.C. so that they can upstage Jem in front of the President.  Eric's like...oh, why not?  What's the worse that could happen?  Well, aside from the butcher job they did on Pizzazz's face, that is.  Thanks, Korean based animation company!

Well, they could barge into a session with the U.S. Congress armed with their instruments and begin playing a song!  Oh, yeah, that's sure to help you with endearing yourself to the President!

Now, expect there to be a lot of patriotism in this episode, starting with the Misfits song "Star-Spangled Fantasy".  It's a cool name for a song, but the song itself is largely forgettable.  I've definitely heard better from this group.  And apparently the politicians in the room have heard better too as they throw the Misfits out of the room threatening to arrest them!  Better luck next time.

The Misfits decide to go to Plan B.  They dress up as coffee shop girls (likely raiding Jetta's closet after being inspired by her Burger King ensemble last episode) and raid the hotel that the Holograms are staying at in hopes of sabotaging them there.  But all they spot is Jerrica and the Holograms bringing up pieces of electronic equipment inside their room.  Now, we all know that these bits and pieces are Synergy, but the Misfits don't know this.  They call Eric up to let him know what they found out, and Eric reveals that he knows exactly what they are talking about.

Yeah, remember that little plot point way back in episode five where Eric hired a spy to take pictures of Synergy but really went nowhere?  In a rare bit of continuity, Eric still has the photos taken two years earlier, and seems to come up with the idea that the computer parts are VERY important to Jem's act.  Eric, you have no idea how right you are on that!  He them makes a couple of calls to various people.  Why do I get the feeling that Eric's going to do something very bad?

Synergy is hooked up as normal, she transforms Jerrica into Jem, and the band goes out for a night on the town before performing at the Kennedy Center.

At the same time, we have another potential sideplot that is happening in the city.  Somewhere in town is a criminal who calls himself the Washington Marauder, who has been stealing historical artifacts from various museums and historical landmarks all over the city.  Nobody has ever caught him in the act, and he remains at large.  Gee, I wonder if we'll get to meet this masked man at some point in the episode.

Well, we know one thing.  It seems as though the Holograms ironically never implemented their own security system to protect Synergy because someone breaks into the room where she is kept and starts to disassemble her!

And it's not until Jem changes back into Jerrica that the girls realize that something is terribly wrong!  They rush back to the hotel to find out what is going on.

Okay, so I won't really recap this in detail because frankly this episode is kind of boring.  But what I can tell you is that Synergy was confiscated by the FBI and taken to the Pentagon for further testing.  Apparently the U.S. government received an anonymous call from someone who made the claim that Jem and the Holograms were smuggling illegal equipment into Washington, and the FBI seized Synergy to examine her. 

Oh, and it should come as no surprise that Eric Raymond was the one who made the call. 

Naturally, this strikes fear into the hearts of Jerrica, Kimber, Raya, Shana, and Aja, and they decide that they must meet with the President in order to issue some sort of presidential pardon so that Synergy can be released back into their care.  But given that the FBI now has control of Synergy, it won't be easy.

I mean, we have an entire music montage featuring a song from episode 12 - "Time Is Runnin' Out".  I think used in this context, it's a bit more effective than it was used in the episode "In Stitches".  I just wish the sound effects peppered throughout this video weren't quite so loud.  It drowns out the sound, and it's actually one of the group's better songs from season one.

Anyway, after what seems like a battle to get through to see the President, they manage to get their audience with the commander-in-chief...who might I add looks NOTHING like Ronald Reagan.  I'm guessing that they went with some generic looking President instead.

JEM TRIVIA:  They never once reveal the name of the President in this whole episode.  I guess they did that so they could play the episode over and over again since the writers all felt that only white males could ever be president.  Well, at least that was the case until January 2009, that is.  And might I add, I'll miss you Barack Obama.  And I'm not even American!

So, back to the story, Jerrica tries to explain to the President that the government has made a mistake and that Synergy is theirs without actually revealing that Synergy is the machine responsible for making Jem who she is.  But the President is reluctant to turn over control of the machine as the scientists who are examining Synergy are baffled by the technology which they see as being years away.  Okay, this episode was made in 1987.  We now live in a world where computers can be found in devices as big as a cell phone.  Just what did the writers think the future was going to be like thirty years later?

Somehow though, Jerrica and crew convince the President to show them where Synergy is, and the President takes them to the area where the experiments are being done.  To everyone's shock, they find Synergy has been taken apart and is in about twenty-five not quite so bite sized pieces, and it will definitely take some time to put her back together again.

But what nobody is aware of is the fact that above an air vent (how contrived) is the Washington Marauder...and he's there to grab the last treasure needed to complete his collection.  So help me, if that item happens to be Synergy, this episode will have surpassed its level of unbelievable happenings.  Oh, wait.  Plot twist.  Turns out that the Marauder wants the President himself as his final item.  So, it seems as though theft and burglary isn't enough to keep him it seems that he wants to add kidnapping charges to his police dossier.

But Jerrica happens to spot the kidnapping going on with her own eyes, and tells the other Holograms to stay behind to reassemble Synergy while she hops on the back of the van that the Marauder is driving in hopes of saving the President's life.  That's mighty ballsy of Jerrica to do this, but again, this episode just seems to throw together every possible plot twist from every single action movie ever made.  It's just so...terrible.

We later come to find that the Marauder is a little bit on the insane side.  He's used all of the historical artifacts that he has stolen over the last few weeks to build his very own shrine to American history.  He even has Abraham Lincoln's cane!  But of course, the crown jewel of the collection is the President, whom he plans to keep locked up in a cage that looks exactly like the Oval Office in the White House.  So, yeah, our Marauder has obviously gone off the deep end.

And unfortunately for Jerrica, the Marauder has friends who work for him, as they have no trouble capturing her when they spot her sneaking around.  Jerrica's only hope now is that the Holograms remember how to rebuild Synergy.

Well, you have Aja and Raya who seem to have the brains of the group, Shana who has the heart of the group...and then there's Kimber who really isn't doing much of anything.  Well, at least 75% of them are useful.  But they've done a fairly good job of recreating Synergy as she was before they brought her to Washington.  The only thing is...have the managed to put her together in time to save Jerrica and the President?

Aja flips the power switch, and Jerrica fiddles with her earrings, and quicker than you can say "Showtime, Synergy", Jerrica's earrings begin to glow, and she sends out one illusion after another, surprising the President and scaring the Marauder and his goons.  But to Jerrica's credit, she does summon an Abraham Lincoln hologram, so it would be the equivalent of her bringing him back from the dead.  She very well may have summoned Holograms of all of the U.S. Presidents.  Maybe she even summoned Donald Trump, for all I know. 

Whatever the case, the illusions force the bad guys into the cage and the President locks them inside.  The terror of the Washington Marauder is now over.

But now that Jerrica has essentially showed the President that she can do magic tricks with her earrings, she realizes that if she has any hope of getting Synergy back, she will have to reveal her secret.

So while they are on the ride back to the White House, Jerrica uses her earrings to transform into Jem, right in front of the President.  So, now we have the President of the United States to add to the list of people who know Jem's identity.  What's hysterical is that she has no problem telling the President who she is, but she still won't tell RIO!

The President agrees to keep Jem's identity a secret, and he has no problem with returning Synergy back into Jem's care.  Aw, that's nice. 

And just like that, it's time for the concert at the Kennedy Center.  And remember how I said that you could expect a lot of patriotism in this episode?  Have a look at the video for the Holograms' single "Freedom".  And, no, it's not a cover version of the 1990 George Michael song.  It's actually a song about how much Jem loves her country.  It's actually not horrible, but the music choices for this episode are kind of lackluster.

And so is the ending where Synergy pops up out of nowhere to meet the President and they have a grand old joke of it all. 

Yeah.  Worst. Episode. So. Far.  This is really disappointing.  Season 2 started off so strong, and the first dozen episodes were really well written...and now we have THIS tripe?  I sure hope that this was just a rough patch that we'll soon be leaving because if the rest of Season 2 is like this, I can sort of see why Season 3 was the last year of the show.

So, next week, the Holograms take a cross-country tour of the United States on the train.  But when Misfits and a con board the same train, will it derail their careers permanently?

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