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Friday, June 10, 2016

Jem Reviewed: Episode 12 - In Stitches

Last week, the Holograms and the Misfits competed in a ski competition, where the Holograms emerged victorious.  And in this week's episode, there's another contest at stake.  This could also be the episode that has the most "things that make you go WTF" instances in it, so be warned.

This is
Jem Reviewed.  And this is Episode 12:  In Stitches.

The episode begins with Shana teaching Ashley how to draw designs.  The way that Shana explains it is that she uses stick figures and coloured markers to hang the clothes on the figure, but I gotta tell you - as someone who drew stick figures exclusively until the fourth grade, Shana's stick figures look nothing like mine.  Show off.

Shana leaves Ashley behind to work on her drawing techniques while she watches Lindsey Pearce's video show with the rest of the Starlight Girls.  It seems as though there's a fashion competition going on in Venice, Italy, and the contest is being organized by Italian rock music promoter Tony Cassini.  Cassini explains that he has arranged for rock groups all over the world to model their own fashions in a runway show at his private estate, and that the winners will have their looks featured in their own fashion rock video - with the winning designer getting full credit for the designs.  Not a bad prize!

He's chosen all the finalists from the other nations except for the United States.  He can't decide between the Misfits and Jem and the Holograms, so he's decided to invite both of them to Venice to compete, causing everyone in the Starlight Mansion media room to erupt in applause and cheers.

Lindsey also mentions the fact that Shana is the main fashion designer of the Holograms - well, when Synergy doesn't help them out that is - and she's basically a newbie when it comes to designing - at least compared to the other groups entering.  And this prompts Shana to receive a phone call...and you'll never guess who it is?

Yep, Roxy, Pizzazz, and Stormer are calling to break Shana's confidence, and Roxy brags that the Misfits have gotten fashion designer Bobby Stark to do their outfits, so Shana should just drop out now.  Shana angrily hangs up the phone, but you can tell that their taunts have really gotten to her.

When Ashley tries to show Shana the designs she drew, Shana brushes her aside and sits in a corner to mope.  Poor Ashley.  First she had to deal with the Starlight Girls rejecting Shana.  How does she deal with it all?

It seems as though Jerrica, Kimber, and Aja are concerned about Shana, and in the middle of the night they decide to ask her what is going on.  Jerrica point blank asks "Who is this insecure person pretending to be Shana?".  Shana just remarks that she is scared, so Jerrica transforms into Jem and decides to give Shana a pep talk in song.

Okay, can we just talk about how awesome a song "It All Depends On The Mood I'm In" really is?  I always loved bluesy sounding music, and this one is catchy as hell.  I don't even care that the song is all about fashion, and that Kimber and Aja are acting like four year olds rummaging through their mom's closet.  This song is definitely one of Jem and the Holograms' strongest ones to date.  At least, in my opinion it is anyway.

It definitely seems to give Shana new life.  She stays up the entire night drawing brand new designs, and she comes up with some great sketches.  Of course, she'll have to turn them into actual clothes, but she'll just wait until they get to Italy.  Apparently Danielle DuVoisin has a place in Venice where Shana can work on the outfits in peace.

Here's your Jem Trivia.  Shana was always supposed to be a fashion designer according to Christy Marx's Jem Bible...but she wasn't always supposed to play the drums.  In early concepts of the series, it was Aja who played drums and Shana played the guitar!

The next morning, Shana puts her designs inside of a container, which she sets next to a big trunk.  But someone switches the containers out!  Uh-oh!  Don't tell me Pizzazz and Roxy are responsible!

Well, we can't speculate about this now.  The Holograms are going to Italy!  And for the first few hours of the flight, things go smoothly.

At least they do until a thunderstorm erupts somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean and Jem decides that she has to go to the bathroom.

Normally this wouldn't be a concern - except that this demonstrates one of Synergy's weaknesses.  If the weather is horrible outside, it can interfere with the satellite signals necessary for Jerrica to communicate with Synergy.  It's like when you try to watch satellite television in a storm and the image breaks up.

Predictably, Jem turns into Jerrica right in the middle of the bathroom and is unable to change back into Jem until the storm clears.  For one poor guy who needs to use the washroom, I assume this means a very uncomfortable flight.  My thoughts to the poor flight attendant who has to clean up THAT mess!

Fortunately for Jerrica, the storm ends before they land in Italy, and Jerrica becomes Jem again.  And before you know it, they're on their way to Danielle DuVoisin's palace.  Yep, you heard me.  I said palace.  The woman lives in a freakin' castle - or at least a place big enough to BE a castle.  I'm immediately jealous.

Jem, Aja, and Kimber hop aboard one gondola, but Shana and her designs take a secondary one.  Jem's gondola operator is pleasant, kind, and teaches the girls some history lessons about Venice, which is nice to hear.  Shana's gondola operator is rude, crude, and attempts to steal Shana's designs!

No wonder!  Shana's gondola operator is Zipper!  And soon after, the Misfits come speeding through Venice's canals on a motorboat!  I should've known!

The Misfits pick Zipper up and Zipper hops in the boat.  But when Zipper drops the package with the designs, it falls on top of the steering wheel which sends the Misfits out of control directly in the path of Shana!  Shana is thrown into the water by the force of the Misfits boat, and Jem and the others are worried that she'll drown.

But Shana is one angry woman, and she declares that she will pulverize them!  WHOA!  I am LOVING this side of Shana!  I also find that when Shana's hair is wet, it actually looks better than that football shaped style she's known for.  But there's no time to celebrate.  Shana's designs are in the hands of Zipper.  But wait...someone mysteriously switched Shana's designs with another package.  So, where are the REAL designs?  Could they be in that trunk that is floating in the Venice canals?  Too many questions, too many answers.

The girls arrive at Danielle DuVoisin's palace, and Shana is still looking like a drowned rat.  But after a nice hot bath, she's back up and running.

Danielle shows Shana her work area, which is very nice, but Shana is still upset over the loss of her designs.  Danielle comforts her, and gives her a pep talk, which I absolutely love.  It's great that Shana has a mentor like Danielle to guide her, and I think Danielle is one of the better secondary characters of the show.

Some more good luck comes with the retrieval of the trunk which contained all of the girls' accessories and shoes.  Shana's happy it was retrieved, but laments that they can't go on stage with just their shoes and accessories.  Maybe not, but it certainly would be quite the showstopper!

But what's even more shocking is that when they open the trunk, ASHLEY happens to be inside!  This.  Makes.  No.  Sense.  You mean to tell me that Ashley snuck inside the trunk, somehow had enough oxygen to breathe in there during a however long a flight it was, and didn't drown in the canals?  I've seen "1000 Ways To Die".  If this were real life, Ashley would be dead, and the Holograms would be charged with murder - or at the very least, neglect.  And how did Mrs. Bailey not realize that only ELEVEN girls made it back to Starlight House!  Not even Catherine O'Hara was that brain dead in "Home Alone"!

This episode makes less sense than "Adventure In China"!  And yet, here's the kicker.  I'm less offended at this development because it at least has humour in it!  The real humour comes from the fact that it was Ashley who switched the designs, and Shana has her original designs after all...which means that Zipper grabbed Ashley's designs - a fact that makes Ashley brag about her talent!  HA!

Wow...Ashley.  Don't quit your day job.  Whatever your day job is.

But this poses problems for the Misfits.  Their original designer is incapacitated with a toothache - which to me seems not that severe even though toothaches can really hurt.  Honestly, if he had broken his designing hand or had a mental breakdown over the colour of chartreuse, I'd buy it as a better excuse, but this episode stretches reality enough.  The point is that the Misfits go to plan B, which is to steal Shana's designs and pass them off as their own.

Shana gets to work on designing her clothes.  There's a nice aqua number that would be perfect for Kimber.  She designs an orange ensemble that seems that it would clash with Aja's hair, but Shana thinks it'll work.  And the lavender and yellow dress has Jem's name written all over it.  I don't know why Shana doesn't design anything for herself, but maybe she already did, and she's keeping it a secret.

Bad news.  Even though Ashley and Shana's designs mysteriously survived, the shoes and accessories were ruined.  Again, this makes no sense.  It just seems like an excuse for Shana and Ashley to visit a shoe store.  Fortunately, I don't care, because Pizzazz barges into the store and this sets the stage for what I think is the Misfits' finest song.

"Designing Woman" is absolute genius.  The beat is sick, and surprisingly for a Misfits song, the message is one hundred per cent positive!  It's all about taking control of your own destiny and making your own breaks, and while it's sung from a female perspective, the message could apply to anybody.  It's going to be hard to top this as my favourite Misfits song.  It's actually in the running for best song overall!

But why is Jem in the video?  She wasn't in the shoe store.  Very strange.

After the melee at the shoe store, but before Shana and the others return, Zipper successfully breaks into Shana's work area and steals the dresses.  By the time Shana returns and sees her designs are gone, she announces that she's tired of this garbage and she is going to get her designs back!

The Holograms successfully track down the villa where Eric and the Misfits are hiding, and watch as Eric greets four seamstresses.  But Eric is confused because he thought he hired five.  This gives Jem an idea.

She disguises herself as the fifth seamstress (with Synergy's help) and manages to fool Roxy into letting her in.  As the seamstress, Jem watches as the Misfits ogle Shana's designs.  But immediately they hate them.  Apparently their fashion sense is Alice Cooper and AC/DC, while the Holograms appear to be inspired by Lisa Frank and Rainbow Brite.  Pizzazz throws the disguised Jem the designs and forces her to dye them black.  Oh, Pizzazz...if you only noticed the JemStar earrings that seamstress is wearing, you might have gotten a clue.

Of course, Jem wastes no time in escaping the villa, and it's only after she changes back into Jem that Eric notices.  The Misfits and Jem and the Holograms embark on yet another chase scene, this time through the canals of Venice.  Their chase ends on a bridge crossing the canal where The Misfits nearly get thrown over the side of the bridge fighting with Jem over the designs.  

And, seriously need lessons in choosing the right fabrics for your designs.  If they rip THIS easily, you have problems.  I mean, even a garment from the dollar store has more durability!  Of course, the dresses were never meant to be used as ropes, so I guess I can give a pass.

Zipper manages to arrive in time as the dresses tear in half and the Misfits fall towards the canal.  Stormer and Pizzazz land safely in the boat, but Roxy falls in the water.  And Zipper will likely be dead within the next twelve hours.  Nice knowing you!

Kimber and Aja yell at the Misfits for destroying Shana's designs, but Shana's not ready to give up even though she has no designs and the fashion show is an hour away.  Jem makes the suggestion that Synergy can help, given that Shana programmed her designs into Synergy's memory banks.  So, basically you want to cheat.  So, basically you're turning into the Misfits. 

So, basically, this episode continues to make no sense.

Of course, a new problem arises.  The Holograms need to get to Cassini's, and the only way there is by gondola.  But in the infinite wisdom that is Jem and the Holograms, not one of them remembered to bring any money with them, so none of the gondola operators will take them.  Time is running out!  How will they get to Cassini's in time to cheat...I mean, win the contest?

Well, once again, I have to hand it to the music department of this episode.  "Time Is Runnin' Out" is another great song - even if the chorus is quite repetitive.   It's not as good as the first song of this episode, but it's a solid hit.  And we also see that Jem and the Holograms aren't above panhandling to get the money needed to pay for the trip to Cassini's.  But I'm trying to figure out why Rio is in the video.  He's not in this episode!  Oh, whatever.  It's still a good song, and it does get the Holograms from Point A to Point Cassini with moments to spare.

By the time the Holograms arrive at Cassini's, they learn that they are the last ones to go on stage, right after the Misfits.  And Shana is upset that Pizzazz, Roxy, and Stormer have recreated Shana's designs and turned them black.  Sad thing is...I do agree with the Misfits.  Shana's designs looked okay before, but the Misfits made them look even cooler.  

But Ashley is sitting at what appears to be the judge's table with Danielle DuVoisin...and I cry shenanigans.  Danielle is far from being an impartial judge in this case because of her friendship with Shana and the Holograms...and since when did Ashley become a judge?  Ah, well...we've already suspended reality a lot this episode.  The fact that a thirteen year old that stowed away in a wooden trunk can now judge a fashion competition just adds to that list.  The point is that Ashley recognizes the Misfits outfits as Shana's designs, and she immediately tells Danielle.  This could be trouble for the Misfits!

Of course, the designs the Misfits are wearing are Shana's, but the Holograms plan on using Synergy to win the contest, so really, is what they're doing ethical?  I say not.  But it's all they have left.  I sure hope nothing goes wrong, like a sudden rainstorm...

Uh-oh!  That pesky satellite interference has struck again, right at the moment where Jem and the Holograms are set to walk on stage!  They really ARE going to walk out on stage wearing nothing but their shoes and accessories - and what appears to be really ugly underwear.  Seriously, do women even still wear one-piece lingerie?  Even in 1986?

At first it looks like Jem and the Holograms might have to forfeit the contest, but Synergy decides to behave herself and reinstates the fashion hologram, meaning that Jem and the others can go on stage without getting arrested.  And I have to say, the love and the passion that Tony Cassini uses in his descriptions of the clothes are very well written.  Kudos to Mary Skrenes for the brilliant dialogue in an otherwise impossible episode.

It's time to announce the winners, and the third place winners are some band from Japan who seem to be excited even though they lost.  Good attitudes though!

In second place are The Misfits - which must make Shana upset, considering that they stole her designs.  But she needs not worry because the winners happen to be the no-good, cheating dogs known as Jem and the Holograms!  Who cares that they technically weren't wearing real fabric clothes?  Shana did technically design them, so it's a bit of a loophole.

Even more fun is that Danielle reveals the truth about the Misfits designs to Cassini, who announces that Shana will ALSO receive full credit for the Misfits second place looks.  Pizzazz is furious, and declares that because they improved the dresses by making them black, but Cassini states that as long as he is in charge of the contest, Shana will get full credit!

And the episode ends with Shana getting a standing ovation, and me left with a headache trying to understand how this episode could have so much factually wrong with it, and yet still be one of the more entertaining episodes of the show so far.  It's nice to see Shana get an episode devoted to her, rather than have Jem and Kimber as the star.  I credit Mary Skrenes for coming up with the idea of the episode, and attempting to make impossible situations look possible.  And I do believe this episode has the strongest music so far.  None of the three songs in the episode are terrible - in fact, they are three of the strongest songs to date.  But yes, Ashley should probably not even be alive at the end of this episode.  If this were real life, she'd be worm food, and the only outfits that the Holograms would worry about would be orange jumpsuits.

Just saying.

Next week, it's back to the multi-part episodes, where Jem and the Holograms tackle the serious subject of teen runaways.  I sure hope they treat the subject with dignity and not like...well...this episode!  

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