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Friday, February 17, 2017

Jem Reviewed: Episode 48 - Journey to Shangri-La

If you thought last week's episode of Jem Reviewed was weird enough with the whole retelling of Robin Hood, brace yourselves.  This week's episode multiplies the weirdness factor by a hundred.

This is what some would call one of the more infamous episodes of the series so far.  Episode 48: Journey to Shangri-La.

But, wait.  I know what you're saying.  Shangri-La does NOT exist.  Well, according to the Holograms' new friend Andrew - who I believe is introduced as a professor of music or something similar - Shangri-La DOES exist!  And it's the very place where the Holograms can go to improve their sound and to add new flair to their already popular music.  This I have to hear.

Andrew explains that while he has never seen Shangri-La up close in person (surprise, surprise), he does believe that it exists, and inside the gates of Shangri-La are the secrets of the finest music ever heard.  Secrets that date back thousands of years.  Kimber asks if the city has all of the old Monkees records, which gets a sarcastic comment from Aja, but Jerrica seems convinced that they should at least try to find it and they immediately book a flight to the area where they believe Shangri-La is.  Tibet.

It looks like Jem and the Holograms aren't the only ones who are ready to book a flight to Tibet.  Apparently, Techrat has his computer set to give him alerts on Jem's whereabouts at all times which upon retrospect is insanely creepy.  I bet he's the one who programmed all cell phones to monitor your location on Facebook too!

Of course, when Techrat tells Eric that the Holograms are going to Tibet, he doesn't exactly know the reason why they're going.  So when Eric informs the Misfits of the Holograms' plans, they look at him as if he has six heads.  But when Eric seems to suggest that there might be something musically related to the trip, Pizzazz jumps on board with thwarting their plans.  Wow, talk about blindly leaping to conclusions.  For all they know, the Holograms could be staging a benefit concert to promote the goodness of yak milk!

Some time later, the Holograms arrive in Tibet, all bundled up for the long hike through a series of mountains covered with snow.  Andrew is there too, along with their guide named Milkey.  Oh, lord, don't tell me they're actually going the yak milk route...

The Misfits have arrived in Tibet as well along with Eric and their own sherpa guide, Miyan.  And, apparently the Misfits have taken their entire wardrobe and all of their electric equipment with them.  Geez, you're only staying a few days.  You're not actually relocating to Tibet.  Though, it might be fun to watch Roxy and Jetta choke down yak milk.

Okay, okay...I'll shut up about yak milk.

At least the Holograms seem to be doing well in the hike.  They've even decided to sing a song about how beautiful and magical they believe Shangri-La to be.  And will be hearing this particular song played.  A lot.

"Shangri-La".  Definitely not one of my favourite Jem songs.  In fact, I've noticed that the music choices for these later episodes is not exactly Grammy Award winning.  In fact, I don't even think they'd win a Teen Choice Award surfboard.  But, I suppose that they had to incorporate one song that at least had the words Shangri-La.  What next, them singing a song about Dairy Queen?

Well, after that rousing Shangri-La singalong, the Holograms decide that they need to rest (and mainly because the sherpa guide that they hired has gotten them lost on their way to Hunza Village). Hunza Village is the destination that they have to reach first before trying to find Shangri-La.  Apparently an elderly woman who lives there is the only one who knows where it is.  And, there's our plot point.

Jem hears a noise in the background, and she wanders off to investigate.  And as soon as she walks a few steps she is surprised by a giant fur-covered beast who growls at her!

It's the BUMBLE!  Well, okay, it's just a yeti.  The fact that Yukon Cornelius and Rudolph are nowhere around is a sign.  But surprisingly, this yeti is of the friendly sort, and lets Jem in close enough to touch him.  Hell, if Kimber were around, the yeti would probably try to hit on her!  Too bad Andrew scares him off!  It's only after the yeti flees that Milkey drops the truth bomb that the yeti could actually lead the group to Hunza Village.  Nicely done, Andrew.  Looks like someone's not getting any yak milk tonight!

Up above, the Misfits and Eric are intimidated by the fact that to get to the village, they have to climb a giant ice wall.  Of course, Miyan has no problem with making the climb himself, but to take four women, a man, and 2,000 pounds of luggage with him?  Yeah, that's going to be a challenge.

And naturally it's Eric who ends up falling off the mountain first, followed by Pizzazz, Roxy, Jetta, and Stormer.  Fortunately, Stormer's rope snags just before she goes kersplut on the ground, but they are all trapped on the mountain with no way to go.

The yeti has seen this unfold, and not knowing how mean the Misfits are, he decides that he's going to go for help.  And since he already met Jem, he figures that Jem and her friends can help out.

Andrew makes a comment that he can't believe they are getting help from an abominable snowman, which prompts Kimber to make a comment that they can't believe that they're helping the Misfits get to safety.  Well, gee, Kimber.  It wouldn't be very Jem-like to let them turn into Otter Pops on the side of a mountain.  Then again, I could see Jem lecturing them on mountain climbing safety after they rescue them ending off with "climbing a mountain safely makes you a superstar!".

One by one, the Holograms help the Misfits climb up the mountain.  Highlights include Andrew catching Jetta as she loses her grip and slips, and Kimber telling Stormer to ease off the yak milkshakes and lose some weight!  Nice to see that Kimber and Stormer can still joke around with each other.

It comes as no surprise that once all the Misfits are safe, they go and abandon the Holograms before they get the chance to climb the mountain.  Aja wonders why the Misfits are there in the first place, but Jem understands that they're probably looking for the same thing that they are...and they now have a huge head start.  I think Jem's more upset that she didn't get to lecture the Misfits.

The Misfits arrive at Hunza Village - which sort of resembles a campground filled with lots of tents.  It's definitely not the most elegant place the Misfits have visited.  It's even more disappointing for the Misfits when they learn that none of the expensive electronic equipment they brought for the trip will work as there is no electricity in the village at all.  Yeah, I can see how a remote village surrounded by mountains might find it difficult to stay powered up.

But there are people.  Two people emerge from one of the tents - an elderly woman, and a young woman who appears to be around the same age as Stormer and Kimber.  The young woman introduces herself as Li San, and the elderly woman is her great-grandmother.  I couldn't quite catch her name when Li San said it, but this elderly woman is the person that they need to see to help show them the way to Shangri-La. 

It's just too bad the woman won't help them.  She takes one look at Pizzazz and deems the entire group to be UNWORTHY of the experience, and refuses to help them.  HA!  Bet Princess Pizzazz isn't too pleased right now!

But Li San does tell the Misfits that if they want, she will help them lead them as far as she can take them.  While her great-grandmother is the only one who knows the true way, she can help them go in the general area, which is good enough for them.

By the time that Jem and the Holograms arrive at Hunza Village, the Misfits have already departed with Li San.  Only the elderly woman is around to greet them.  She also points out that while the Misfits have already left, they don't know where Shangri-La is, and she expects them to return later that night.  Jem takes the opportunity to ask her to show them the way to Shangri-La, but the woman takes one look at Jem, calls her a fake, and walks away saying that she can't help them.  WHOA!  Can we keep this woman?  She is quite literally the best thing about this weird episode!

It appears as though Li San is doing her best to try and find the location of Shangri-La, but she finds herself at an impasse, and doesn't know where to proceed.  The Misfits decide to sing her a song along the way.

Ugh...ANOTHER repeat of a Misfits tune?  I mean, don't get me wrong, I like "You Oughta See The View From Here" which first appeared in Episode 14 - but it seems like forever since we had an original Misfits hit! 

After they finish singing, the Misfits and Li San slip and slide down an icy hill - which I admit looks like it would be a lot of fun!

Of course, that fun ends when the Misfits realize that Li San has got herself into a prickly pickle of a situation.  She's slid under a patch of snow briar plants which are very sharp.  Li San is uninjured, but she warns the Misfits to stay away from the patch.  Stormer is insistent that they try to rescue Li San, and Pizzazz and Roxy actually agree with her!

But in the process of trying to save Li San, Pizzazz and Roxy both get sliced by the snow briars.  In what seems to be a first for the show, we actually see Roxy bleed because of it!  Mind you, the horrible Korean animation that is present in this episode kind of makes it look strange, but still, the blood is shown!

After Li San is rescued, both Pizzazz and Roxy collapse on the ground.  Li San explains that the snow briars are poisonous, and that Pizzazz and Roxy need to get back to Hunza Village as soon as possible, or else they will die.  But Stormer and Jetta realize that they are hours away from Hanza Village, and they don't know how they will make it back in time.

Oh, look.  Here comes our friendly neighbourhood yeti to make another appearance.  Too bad Stormer and Jetta throw rocks and snowballs at him to make him run away.  Seriously, that's just rude.  Especially since the yeti genuinely wants to help.  He picks up Pizzazz and Roxy and urges the others to follow him back to the village.  He's simply trying to save them some time!  Besides, it's not as if they can just call an Uber to take them back.  One, Uber doesn't service Tibet.  And two, Uber wasn't around in the 1980s.

It doesn't take long for the yeti to bring back the sick women, and Stormer and Jetta are legitimately concerned for their friends.  Now, for Stormer, this is nothing new as she's always been soft-hearted, but seeing this side from Jetta is really something shocking.

Unfortunately, it's bad news for Pizzazz and Roxy.  The snow briar poison is not that easy to get rid of.  You can't get a vaccine or swallow a pill.  The only way to cure the illness is to play the music of Shangri-La.  Jem tries desperately to get the old woman to show her the way to Shangri-La, but the woman refuses, as she still deems Jem as false.

Jem is visibly frustrated and isn't sure what to do...until she really starts to think about what the woman is saying.  Of course Jem is false because Jem is NOT who she really is.  All it takes it for Jem to utter the words "Show's over, Synergy", and she transforms back into Jerrica Benton.  That makes another person who knows Jem's real identity. 

But it's funny that once Jem turns into Jerrica, the woman basically turns into a fangirl and compliments Jerrica on her magic skills!  And the best part is that now that Jerrica is in front of her, she has no problem giving her the map to Shangri-La!  Wow, Jerrica...great thinking!

Of course, she changes back to Jem before joining the others, telling them that they have the map to Shangri-La.  Eric, Jetta, Stormer, and Li San stay behind to watch over the feverish Roxy and Pizzazz while the others try to locate Shangri-La.

It takes a few minutes for the group to find the location, and once they do, they're disappointed to find nothing but a mountain peak.  But once Jem stands out in front, the heavens give way, and a magical village appears out of nowhere.

This is the mythical land known as Shangri-La.  It's a place where people never age a day, where people have lots of fun...

...where people look like this.  Seriously, this guy sounds a little TOO happy to be here.

Actually, he's the gatekeeper of Shangri-La, and he is there to welcome them all.  But he also states that once you enter Shangri-La, you may never leave.  Well, Pizzazz and was nice knowing you two!

Well, okay, there is ONE way that they can leave.  All Jem has to do is agree to learn the songs of Shangri-La by being given a special lesson from the High Lama of Shangri-La.  The rest of the Holograms decide that they're going to wait until Jem returns.  I just hope it doesn't take twenty years for Jem to learn the music!

I do have to admit, watching the music lesson between the High Lama and Jem is probably one of the better scenes of this incredibly weird episode.  It's really farfetched from beginning to end, but the High Lama is a patient teacher, and Jem is an eager student.  Before long, Jem is skilled in playing the music of Shangri-La, grateful for the experience and thankful for the opportunity. 

Of course, when Jem announces that it's time to leave, the rest of the Holograms consider staying in Shangri-La for the rest of their lives.  Yeah, great idea.  Let's let twelve girls under the age of fifteen take care of themselves.  Let Roxy and Pizzazz turn into corpses.  Who cares, right?  Well, apparently Jem cares.  And, it's Jem that convinces everyone else to go back to Tibet to save one-half of the Misfits from croaking.  At least someone has common sense!

Now, when Jem and the Holograms return with the musical instruments the High Lama gave them, they start to play a song for the sick girls...and I must warn you.  This next video is incredibly trippy, so if you're under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you may want to skip this one.

This is definitely not the Shannon single of 1983.  "Let The Music Play" is definitely one of the strangest singles in the Jem discography.  It sounds like some new age music from the 1960s and the imagery sort of resembles a sketch from the Claymation Christmas Special.  And yes, the word Shangri-La is repeated about seventy-eight times.  As I said, it's very trippy.

But it seems as though this musical drug does the trick, as Pizzazz and Roxy immediately recover from the sickness they were suffering from.  And for a moment there, I almost think that both of them will show the Holograms a little ounce of gratitude.

Well, that is until Pizzazz and Roxy start yelling at Eric and their sherpa guide and storm off towards Shangri-La.  Sigh...well, it was a nice moment for a little bit.

At least Jem and the Holograms have really gotten a lot out of the experience, and thank everyone for their hospitality.

Oh yeah...about the Misfits quest to find Shangri-La?  They fail.  Miserably.  And Jem and the Holograms sing Shangri-La once more to rub it in their faces.

So, looking back on this's really not one of my favourites.  I think it's marginally better than "Aztec Enchantment" and "The Presidential Dilemma", but it's just a little too insane for me to really fall in love with it.  The reappearing yeti was on a little too much, and the poisonous brambles were just a plot point that seemed tacked on.  I appreciate the concept of the episode, but I feel it wasn't executed as well as it should have been.

Well, let's hope next week, we have a more believable plot.  Let's see...Jem and the Holograms get caught up in Techrat's time machine and end up visiting three historical places. there any way I can skip Episode 49 and go on with Episode 50?

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