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Monday, March 27, 2017

Jem Reviewed: Season 2 Recap

Yes, fear not...Jem Reviewed will be coming back as planned this coming Friday.  But before we get to the abbreviated third and final season of the show, we must recap the previous season gone by.

This is the official Season 2 recap of the cartoon series Jem.  And, I guess the general consensus of the season is this.  Started off incredibly strong, dipped in quality a LOT in the middle, had moments of greatness towards the end, and then the finale was one dismal mess.  So, all in all...a very confusing season.  But we were introduced to new characters, heard some more complex music (including some from different characters), and saw both the Holograms and Misfits go all over the world to promote the gift of music (and other social issues).

Now, did you miss any episode reviews prior to this one?  No problem.  Clicking
HERE will take you to the list of episodes from Season 1.  There's 26 in all.  And for the 27 episodes of Season 2, just click on each individual link below to catch up.

First, we'll begin with character profiles from Season 2, and both bands received a new member a piece.  And, unlike season one where the roles of good versus evil were black and white, this season blurs that line considerably.  We see a couple of the Misfits soften up with one even becoming friends with a Hologram.  On the flipside, we see a couple of instances in which the Holograms act more like Misfits.  Fortunately, Rio doesn't kick any plants this season.

Once again, we'll start with the Holograms.  And in a surprising upset, newcomer Raya is my pick as my favourite Hologram of Season 2!  From the moment she joined the show, she resonated with me because of her inital lack of self-confidence (who can forget that her father orchestrated getting her an audience with Jem), as well as her extreme loyalty to the band (refusing to tell anyone about Jem's real identity when she accidentally found out).  Being a Hologram means the world to her, but so does doing the right thing.  When Shana came back to the band, Raya considered stepping back, but Shana and the others insisted that she stay.  She made a good choice too, as she's absolutely delightful.  Just don't attack her family's greenhouse or you might lose some hair.

Aja drops down to second place, but I still hold her in high regard.  I think Aja's biggest problem this year was lack of storyline - though at least the showrunners gave her a love interest in Craig.  Still, I think more should have been done to explore this - especially since Aja is dating Stormer's brother.  The possible plot points that could have come from that alone would have been gold.  And besides, it was Aja who helped Jerrica release her mother's music on record after successfully infiltrating Synergy's memory banks.  That alone makes her a standout.

Last season, she was ranked dead last...but this season Kimber improved enough for me to include her in the middle of the pack.  I think it was the last couple of episodes where she finally started acting like an adult and choosing to be with Sean (without marrying him) that firmly cemented it.  One of my main concerns with Kimber last season was her indecisiveness and immaturity when it came to men.  This time around, it seemed as though Danse had more love interests!  But, Kimber's also had some moving moments as well, such as coming to terms with her father's death, breaking out on her own and forming a friendship with Stormer, and helping Jerrica deal with the loss of their mother.  I think those moments have helped Kimber become a more sympathetic character.

Was Shana even in this season?  I mean, I can only think of two defining moments that she had in season two.  One was when she quit the band to work for the devil that wore anything but orange Prada, and two was when she was mistaken for a New Orleans singer from ages ago during Mardi Gras.  Is Shana a lovely character?  Yes.  But is she completely underused?  Well, when Danse gets more storylines and she's not even a Hologram, I'd have to say YES.  Hopefully in the final stretch of the show, Shana gets to do something.

Now, Jem/Jerrica...was it just me, or was she completely insufferable during the second season?  I mean, she's the star of the show, and yet she's the Hologram I hate the most!  I suppose Jerrica isn't too bad in comparison, and as Jerrica, I have to agree she had some really sweet moments such as her helping Laura out, and her dealing with the loss of her mother.  But as Jem, she has the most enormous ego, and is so judgmental.  I actually laughed when the old woman refused to show Jem the way to Shangri-La because she deemed Jem a big old fake.  Because it's the truth!  As Jerrica Benton, she's fine.  As Jem...she sucks.  And, to be honest, she and Rio deserve each other.  As far as I'm concerned, they're both fatheads.

Looking over the Misfits, I had Stormer as my favourite Misfit, and very little has changed in that regard.  Even though Stormer can still be considered wishy-washy, she does have a good heart.  I loved the episode where she left the Misfits and recorded an album with Kimber because it helped her realize that even without the Misfits, she could still be a star.  Granted, the Misfits took her back...but since that episode, they do treat her with more respect.  I just wish she wasn't too much of a follower when it came to the Misfits most dastardly deeds (see Episode 32).  Stormer's brother Craig put it best - she could do better than them.

She may have been at the bottom of my list at Season 1, but Roxy is firmly my second place pick for best Misfit.  I think Episode 39 was really the turning point.  That was where we learned that Roxy had a rough upbringing and that she never finished school or learned to read.  By the end of the episode, we were thinking that she was totally humiliated...until Ba Nee gave her a book to learn how to read.  Since then, Roxy's gotten a little bit softer, but still has a rough edge.  One that she uses to insult Jetta at every opportunity.  And any enemy of Jetta is someone I like.

I nearly considered putting Pizzazz at the bottom of my list, but when the Father's Day episode aired, I couldn't do it.  In the last few minutes of that episode we learned EXACTLY why Pizzazz turned out the way she did.  She wanted the love and attention of her father - a man who simply couldn't give it to her the way she wanted.  That would sour anyone's disposition.  It's difficult to ignore the many crimes that she was involved in during Season 2, but at least knowing what fueled it...well, that makes me understand and even like her at times.

Jetta - the newest member of the band - is a cold hearted bitch.  And that's putting it mildly.  She loves to cause trouble, she loves to use money to buy friends and win power, she nearly bankrupted Raya's family with the damage done to their greenhouse, and she is probably the rudest Brit I've ever seen - and I regularly watch EastEnders!  She has absolutely no likeable qualities whatsoever, and she doesn't even seem to be loyal to her own bandmates.  Who could forget the time she tried to extort money out of Pizzazz during the Britrock episode?  She's just completely insufferable, and easily the worst Misfit of the lot.

A huge part of Season 2 was the music.  And, all in all, I'd say the music on Season 2 was an improvement over Season 1.  The saxophone in selected Misfits songs helped make them pop, and even the Holograms experimented with new sounds that helped their music sound less Candy Crush and more mature.  But with a mix of Season 1 songs added in, which Season 2 songs did I find great?  Well, this time, I'll do four original and one reused song that I loved, plus one I couldn't stand.


1.  Beat This (Episode 28) - You know how I said that Jem songs in Season 1 were bland and sugary sweet?  Welcome to the new Jem.  This was the song that determined the winner of the Talent Search between Raya and Craig, and I think it's quite fantastic.  It's filled with energy, I love the drum solo parts, and Britta Phillips does a fantastic job with the vocals.  I love it.

2. Always There In My Heart (Episode 33) - Okay, this is one ballad that I don't mind admitting I enjoy because of the message behind it.  It was a song that Kimber wrote while she was grieving her father, and it serves as a great message in dealing with the loss of a loved one.  Very poignant and moving.

3.  Let Me Take You To The Mardi Gras (Episode 45) - This song is just plain catchy, and definitely one that I found myself tapping my toes to.  The imagery is so Mardi Gras, and I can easily have heard this song blaring out of a stereo of a car pulling one of the elaborate floats.  This one's definitely a winner.

4. In The Land of the Midnight Sun (Episode 46) - While the video looks choppy because of the Korean animation, the song itself is absolutely beautiful.  It definitely tingles my spine and I'm not even in Alaska.  It's really hard for me to say something negative about this song because there isn't anything.

BEST USE OF SEASON 1 SONG: Something is Missing in My Life (Episode 33):  When the song was first used in Episode 10, Jem was singing about her missing earrings.  Hardly moving.  But when the song was reused and put to footage of Kimber grieving her father...that's where the song became a hit.  Come to think of it, a lot of Season 1 Jem songs were made better when reused in Season 2.  See "I Got My Eye On You" and "She Makes An Impression" for more evidence of this.

Alas, not all Jem songs get my seal of approval.  Episode 44's "I'm Taking A Train" is not just the worst song in season two...but it could be the worst song for the whole series!  Telling people that you're taking a train thirty-six times in the chorus doesn't make a hit song!


1.  I Like Your Style (Episode 27) - Good lord, this song is the very definition of ear candy from start to finish.  As much as I hate Jetta as a character, the addition of the saxophone in this song makes it a near perfect Misfits tune, and a brilliant start to the second season.

2. I Love a Scandal (Episode 29) - The subject of the song is quite literally scandalous.  And some might say that it's not comfortable seeing Kimber used as the Misfits punching bag.  But, I can't help but think that this song is really good.  Ellen Bernfeld's singing voice is definitely the glue that holds this tune together.

3.  Abracadabra (Episode 36) - This definitely ain't the Steve Miller Band here.  This song with its incredible music video is one of the highlights of season two.  The production values for the music have definitely improved with this season, and I'm glad that in the early part of season two, the Misfits had some AWESOME hits.

4.  Free and Easy (Episode 38) - I'm not used to the Misfits doing a slow song, but after hearing this song in action, I wonder why they didn't attempt to do more.  I suppose they had to keep the Misfits hard style in the forefront.  Too bad too, because this jam is sooooo smooth.

BEST USE OF SEASON 1 SONG:  Who Is She, Anyway? (Episode 32): Okay, so as much as I loathe the episode "The Fan" (which you'll see why in a couple of paragraphs from now), you can't deny that the video for this single was done much better than the song's original use in Episode 16.  At least it makes more sense with Pizzazz trying to gaslight Jem to find out who she really is.

One of the complaints that I had about the Misfits this season was the fact that they had far less songs than Jem and the Holograms.  And unfortunately some of the songs just weren't that great.  My least favourite Misfits song from Season 2 is easily Episode 43's "Star-Spangled Fantasy".  The name of the song is great...but everything else was boring.  The Misfits deserved better.

And, before I go into the episode discussion, I want to commend the music department for featuring songs that were solo efforts or by different characters altogether.  Songs such as "I'm Okay" by Kimber and Stormer, Roxy's "I'm Gonna Change", Laura Holloway's "Alone Again", and Jacqui Benton's "Starlight".  All were decent songs that gave other vocalists a chance to shine.  I wonder if Season 3 will have more of this.  I sure hope so.

And now for the selection of what I think are the best and worst episodes of the second season.  Remember, this are merely my observations.  You can agree or disagree with them all you wish...and you can offer up your own comments if you want.


1. Episode 28 - The Talent Search, Part 2: I thought the two-part season opener was very well done, and it did a great job introducing us to Raya and Jetta.  But what I liked about the second part was the way it all wrapped up.  Raya became a Hologram, Shana stood up to Liz Stratton, Jetta got her hair pulled out by Raya, Eric Raymond had a lamp twisted around his neck by Craig...good times!

2.  Episode 33 - Father's Day:  The fact that two of my liked songs from season two appear in this episode should indicate that I like it very much, if for no other reason that it is a pivotal episode for character development.  We see Kimber mature, we see why there's a feud between Video and Clash, and we understand why Pizzazz turned out the way she did.  It's easily one of the best episodes, but also one of the most heartbreaking.

3.  Episode 34 - The Treasure Hunt: Being a fan of books and literature helped me come to the decision to add this episode to my like list.  And it also shows a good display of teamwork and winning without cheating.  I think Jem shows more integrity than she ever did in any episode by sticking to the rules and not helping Ba Nee, Ashley, and Krissie solve the riddles to the treasure.  Inevitably, the girls had more fun solving it on their own - and they made a new friend in the process!

4.  Episode 39 - Roxy Rumbles:  By the end of this episode, I know I was rooting for Roxy.  One of the reasons I loved Season 2 so much in the first part was because the show really delved into the personalities of the Misfits.  We saw Pizzazz's character unfold in "Father's Day", and we saw Roxy go through the gamut of emotions.  But even though Roxy was left humiliated, she still received a happy ending when Ba Nee believed enough in her to try and help her read.  That beautiful moment was the icing on the cake.

5.  Episode 51 - Out Of The Past:  How could I NOT include this episode in my best of list?  We saw how Synergy was created!  We saw how the girls formed their friendships.  We saw how Starlight Music and Starlight House was created.  And we saw Jerrica smack the crap out of Eric Raymond!  This episode is a winner all around.


1.  Episode 32 - The Fan:  This episode was just cruel to watch, even if you aren't a huge fan of Jem or Jerrica.  For the Misfits to manipulate a rich fan of Jem into building a replica of Starlight Mansion just to drive Jem crazy enough for her to reveal her true identity - that's way too evil even for the Misfits!  Very uncomfortable storyline all around.

2.  Episode 35 - Aztec Enchantment:  I was so bored with this episode that I gave up on it before I finished writing my review.  It was one of those episodes that I SHOULD have liked, given that it was very Raya centered...but its execution was disappointing.

3.  Episode 43 - The Presidential Dilemma:  The bad Korean animation was the first indication that this was going to be a disaster.  The plotline where Jerrica and the President were kidnapped by a man stealing Washington's treasures was even more so.  This episode was the result of what would happen if you took all the synopses for 1980s crime shows and stapled them together into one script.  Awful.

4.  Episode 48 - Journey to Shangri-La:  Yetis.  Poisonous snow briars.  Weird guys dressed in multicoloured clothes.  Music from Shangri-La.  These are things that should probably have NEVER appeared in a Jem episode...and yet here we are.  It's like the writers wrote a Mad Lib instead of a cohesive script.

5.  Episode 49 - Journey Through Time:  The only amusing part of this whole show was Eric getting chased by a dinosaur.  Other than that, it was a script that probably should have gone into a paper shredder.

And with that, Season 2 is now closed.  We've only got twelve episodes left of Jem Reviewed...and the action will resume on March 31st!  Thanks for reading!

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