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Friday, February 03, 2017

Jem Reviewed: Episode 46 - The Middle of Nowhere

When we last left Jem and the Holograms, they had spent some time in New Orleans for Mardi Gras in what was a fairly decent episode.  Let's hope the trend continues with the next edition of Jem Reviewed.

This is Episode 46: The Middle of Nowhere.  Oh, look...the animation is screwy again.  This must be from Korea.

Unlike most episodes of the series, we begin at the headquarters of Harvey Gabor - who you might recognize as Phyllis "Pizzazz" Gabor's father.  You know, the guy who apparently shares more of a father-daughter relationship with Kimber?  Well, it seems as though Pizzazz and Eric Raymond (and really, this is like the first episode in a while that we've seen Eric make an appearance) have a proposition for Mr. Gabor.  Apparently, Eric has a plan to open a refinery in Alaska near the major oil pipeline there, and his plan is to make vinyl records for a cheaper cost and higher profit.  Eric, by this point in time it's 1987 where you are.  Records are on their way out and compact discs are where it's at.  You're seriously wasting your time.

Apparently, Harvey seems to think the same thing, reminding Eric of the fiasco that was the Misfits movie.  Nice use of revisiting past history there!  Pizzazz manages to swing Harvey over by telling him of the financial positives, and how he could become a billionaire if he backs Eric on his idea...but he tells Eric and Pizzazz that he better not be disappointed or else he'll walk away.

At the same time, Ba Nee is showing Shana a picture of her Alaskan pen pal named Uto.  And, it's here that we get an unusual piece of Jem Trivia.  Depending on the language you speak, Uto could be a female or a male!  Now, in the English version, it's implied that Uto is female.  But if you watch the French version, it's made painfully clear that Uto is male!  For the sake of this entry, Uto will be female, but I can see how she could be mistaken for being male.  She does have a gender neutral look.   Uto is posing with her favourite seal named Naku, and it's here where we learn that Uto is upset that some rich businessman wants to buy the island that Naku lives on to build a factory, and that if the factory gets built, the seals will lose their home.  I can only imagine who this businessman is...

At some point during this conversation, Jerrica and Raya overhear Ba Nee talk about how Uto lives in Alaska, and Jerrica remarks that Jem and the Holograms will be touring there next week.  Jerrica asks Ba Nee if she would like to tag along with them, and Ba Nee of course is over the moon.  I wonder if Ba Nee will end up nearly getting eaten by a polar bear.

The Misfits and Eric are also on their way to Alaska...and it seems as though once they are there, they head off to their destination via dog sled.  I wonder how many Alaskan stereotypes we're going to get in this episode?  Anyway, Pizzazz complains about the method of transportation and Eric explains that there were no planes available and they had to travel by sled to the town that is closest to the island.  Naturally, a plane flies overhead and Pizzazz blasts Eric for being cheap.  Hah!

Inside the plane is Jem and the Holograms, Ba Nee, Uto, and their pilot, Sanders.  No relation to the Colonel.  And the beautiful Alaskan scenery inspires Jem to sing a song about it.

They say Alaska is called the "Land of the Midnight Sun" because depending on the time of year, the sun will stay in the sky for practically the whole day.  This song of the same title is absolutely beautiful...and it's one of those videos that would look absolutely stunning if this were live action.  It's very cool.  Both figuratively AND literally.

The Holograms' plane lands, and Uto's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Keniak are waiting for them.  Also there is Uto's brother George.  Okay...Uto and George?  Those are like the most random names ever!

Also arriving at the same time is Eric Raymond, who confirms that he is the one who wants to purchase the island (with backing from Harvey Gabor).  And as Eric explains his idea, we see cracks forming in the Keniak family.  George has no problem selling the island because he sees it as his ticket out of Alaska.  But Uto is firmly against it because she doesn't want to see Naku lose his home.  Mr. Keniak tells Eric that he will have a decision for him tomorrow morning, which pisses Eric off, but Eric has no choice but to wait.

Later that day, as the Keniak's clean up after dinner, Uto is still visibly upset over the thought of Eric building his factory.  Ba Nee tells her to stay positive and that everything will work out.  Raya comes up with the good idea for Uto to introduce Ba Nee to Naku.  Uto's mood considerably shifts...until she remembers all the chores she has to do.  But Kimber, Aja, Shana, and Raya all agree to let Uto have the day off and they will fill in for her.  Aw...that's really nice of them.  And since Uto and Ba Nee need adult supervision, Jem agrees to go with them to the island cove.

I guess it's a good thing Jem tags along because immediately Ba Nee wants to go in the kayak by herself.  But Uto explains that there's a strong current around the north side of Attuk Island which if they aren't careful, it will send them to some very dangerous places filled with rocks and icebergs.  Jem and Ba Nee share a kayak which makes Ba Nee disappointed. 

You want to know who else is disappointed?  Harvey Gabor.  He's not interested in landing in Alaska once Eric tells him that the deal is temporarily on hold, but when Pizzazz informs him that the deal will be signed tomorrow, Harvey tells her that he'll be back then.  He also once again tells Pizzazz not to disappoint him.  Man, he sounds like he could definitely win the Father of the Year award...not!

And, I'm sure that the rest of the Holograms aren't very thrilled with George either.  While Kimber, Raya, Shana, and Aja are chopping wood, George is sitting underneath a tree doing nothing.  It's a wonder Raya doesn't go after him with an axe, she's so angry!  The Holograms also question George about his stance regarding the sale of the island, and George is awful defensive about it.  He makes the statement that the money could be handy in helping him leave Alaska, but also to provide Uto with a college education.  When Raya asks if there's a way that they could do that without threatening the seal cove, George gets really rude and storms off.  Wow...what a prince.

On Attuk Island, Jem, Ba Nee, and Uto come across the beautiful scene of dozens of seals playing with each other.  Uto comments that Naku is the seal that is darker than all the others and that he usually is either the cause of mischief or part of a group that is.  Naku sounds like a Misfit!

Fear not though...Naku's a nice seal, and he greets Ba Nee and Jem with love.  But while Uto and Jem are playing with Naku, Ba Nee takes the opportunity to grab Uto's kayak and go out into the water by herself...

...and immediately gets caught in a whirlpool caused by the current that Uto warned them about.  Sigh...say it with me everyone.  What the hell, Ba Nee?

Jem and Uto take the double kayak out to rescue Ba Nee, and with a little bit of careful steering and help from Naku, they manage to get Ba Nee out safely.  But in the process, the double kayak springs a leak and starts to sink.  Even worse, Jem slips trying to pull Ba Nee to safety and knocks herself unconscious.  Now Ba Nee and Uto are stuck in the middle of an ice cold ocean with their adult supervisor passed out.  Naku and his seal buddies help the three get to shore (with Ba Nee losing her hat in the process), but unless they act fact, they'll all die of hypothermia.

Back in town, the Misfits are bored to death of Alaska and decide that they'll rent some snowmobiles and cause some mischief leading to the reuse of another song from way back in the second episode of the series.

The difference is very clear though.  The first time the song was used, the Misfits just caused a food fight on Countess DuVoisin's yacht.  This time around, they're actually trying to kill people.  Not very good.

After they destroy half the Alaskan village, the Misfits pull over to do some sightseeing and Pizzazz notices Ba Nee, Uto, and Jem in the distance and makes the remark that they're in trouble.  Stormer's good side kicks in and she insists that they go get help.  But Pizzazz seems to think that a better idea would be for them to rescue them.  Roxy scoffs at the idea, but Jetta understands completely.  If they save Uto, it might convince the Keniak's to sell the land to Eric needed to build the factory.  Very devious plan, but Pizzazz seems to think it will work.

Back at the Keniak's home, everyone is starting to get worried about Uto, as it's been a long time since they left to go visit with the seals.  The Holograms are also equally concerned that Jem and Ba Nee haven't come back either.  Night is falling, and everyone knows that time is of the essence, so a search party is immediately drafted.

And with the sky getting darker, and Jem still unconscious, Ba Nee is starting to panic and worries that they will never be found and that they will be permanent frozen popsicles.  But Uto tells Ba Nee not to worry, as she's got it covered.  She always carries waterproof matches with her so that she can start a fire.  At the very least, it will keep them all warm until help arrives.  Seems like Uto's very mature and skilled for her age.

Too bad Jetta and Pizzazz don't seem to share the same qualities as Uto.  After renting a motorboat to drive to the island where Jem and company are, they get into trouble right from the get go.  They too get caught up in the same current that Ba Nee got caught in...only instead of a whirlpool, they find themselves trapped in a strait filled with gigantic icebergs.  The motor on their boat quits (something Jetta claims is because it's American made, which admittedly got a chuckle from me), and they are on the path of being squashed to death.  If an iceberg was powerful enough to sink the Titanic, then clearly a little puny boat like Pizzazz and Jetta's wouldn't stand a chance.

As luck would have it, the icebergs lock together leaving a tiny area for Pizzazz and Jetta to slip through unharmed.  But that was just one of many.  If they don't find a way out of the strait, their luck won't last.  What is it with everyone getting themselves into danger this episode?

Well, at least Jem has regained consciousness, and is shocked that Ba Nee and Uto have got the fire going.  Good job!  Now that they're all warmed up, Jem tells everyone not to panic and to keep calm while Uto gathers more wood to build up the fire so that they can be seen.

Meanwhile, as part of the search party, Kimber and Shana are up inside the sea plane with Sanders looking for any sign of life.  They don't come across Jem and the others...but they do spot Pizzazz and Jetta struggling to get to safety.  

Fortunately, they land the plane and scoop up Pizzazz and Jetta and fly off to safety before they get squashed by another pair of icebergs.  I'm sure it'll be quite a long time before Pizzazz and Jetta decide to go anywhere with snow again (well, at least a couple of episodes anyway). 

And in a boat traversing the straits in a separate area, George and Mr. Keniak are out with Raya and Aja trying to see if they can find Jem, Uto, and Ba Nee.  At this point, George is feeding himself with a couple of big pieces of humble pie, and he regrets being so mean to Uto.  He wishes that they could find her so he can attempt to make things right again.

As they continue further down the strait, Raya makes an interesting discovery.  She spots three seals playing with a multicoloured object, and at first George dismisses it as being unimportant.  But when Raya recognizes one of the seals as Naku and the multicoloured object turns out to be Ba Nee's hat, Raya makes the declaration that Naku knows where they are.  George is skeptical, but Raya's pleas to follow Naku don't completely fall on deaf ears, as Mr. Keniak decides to listen to her.  Wow, Raya's been an all-star in this episode.  She's definitely got to be one of my favourites this season!

Turns out that Raya's hunch was right on the money.  As the boat approaches the island, they spot the flames that Uto made and realize that they have found everyone safe and sound, leading to an emotional family reunion.

And of course, Ba Nee and Uto thank Naku properly, as it was he who saved the day.  You know, this scene alone is enough to make me list this episode as a great one as well.  Now, let's see how it ends.  Will George be convinced that the deal that Eric wants to make is a bad one?  Will Naku lose his home?  Will Ba Nee ever learn to stay out of trouble?

Well, we can answer two of those questions right now when dawn breaks and Eric arrives to seal the deal.  But in a change of heart, George actually challenges Eric with a question.  If they agree to the deal, will they preserve the cove so that the seals can stay?  Eric says absolutely not, as they need the cove to build the shipping harbor, which is all that the Keniak family need to hear.  They tell Eric to not let the iceberg hit him on the way out and that they will NOT sell him the land.

Of course, this doesn't bode well with Harvey Gabor who basically calls his daughter a failure (no wonder Pizzazz turned out the way she did), and tells Eric never to contact him with another business deal again.  I get the feeling that Eric will get nothing but a frosty reception from Pizzazz the rest of their stay in Alaska.

It's time for Jem and the Holograms to move on, but Ba Nee is staying with the Keniaks for another week so that she can get to know Uto and Naku better.  They'll come back to pick her up once their tour is over.  For now though, it's time for one last song.

Basically "Safe and Sound" works as a recap video of everything that happened, and is essentially like a Season 2 version of "I Believe in Happy Endings".  The song itself isn't one of their better ones, but I do appreciate the tone of the single.  It does show at least a happy ending for the Jem and the Hologram portion of the show.

Not so much for the Misfits though...well, okay, Eric.  Pizzazz is so steamed at him for ruining her father's plans and making her look like an idiot in his eyes that they take off on the dog sleds back home WITHOUT him.  Serves Eric right as far as I'm concerned.

You know, bad animation aside, I really liked this one.  I've been critical of the Holograms in recent weeks, but this one showed that they really were the good guys.  And once more I find myself feeling sorry for Pizzazz.  All she wants is to gain acceptance in her father's eyes, and it's heartbreaking to see how badly he treats her.

Next week's episode should be fun.  We get to go to a Renaissance Faire!

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