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Friday, April 21, 2017

Jem Reviewed: Episode 57 - Beauty and the Rock Promoter

It's time for another edition of Jem Reviewed!  There aren't too many of these coming up now that we're in Season 3.  The last episode had us feeling some sympathy for Clash as she became a misfit...and not in the way she hoped either.  Let's see what the next episode brings.

This is Episode 57:  Beauty and the Rock Promoter.  Ah, yes, this is Jem's take on "Beauty and the Beast".  Quite fitting, given that the remake of the film "Beauty and the Beast" was one of the biggest movie releases during the first quarter of 2017.  Let's see how they did it back in 1988, shall we?

The setting takes place in London, England.  Land of the Buckingham Palace Guards, double decker buses, and EastEnders - both the soap opera and people living in the East End of London!  And right off the bat, we're introduced to a guy who looks as if he should be attending classes at the School of Bad Fashions!  I mean, I was alive in 1988, and I don't remember seeing anybody dressed like that!

The man calls himself Red Johnny Mac.  I'm guessing he's not related to the Big Brother 17 player of the same name.  Anyway, it appears as though Johnny Mac is in a bit of a prickly pickle as he has thugs chasing him all over.  It makes one wonder what he did.  He either owes them a lot of money or he killed off a Coronation Street character.

Johnny Mac has escaped to a nightclub that happens to be playing Jem's "Truly Outrageous" on the video screens.  At first I think this is bollocks, as that single came out at the beginning of the series three years ago...but then again, it did take some time for the Spice Girls to find an audience in North America.  Maybe Britain was behind the times for American pop music.

Unfortunately, Johnny Mac has been caught and the man in charge of the operation - a man who calls himself Harold - orders his men to pick Johnny Mac up, hold him upside down, and gather any pound notes that fall out of his pockets.  Yep, I figured that Johnny Mac was in debt up to his ears.

Now, here's where Johnny Mac's predicament works to his favour.  You see, Johnny Mac is an aspiring producer, and he comes up with the idea to produce a rock opera of "Beauty and the Beast".  As it so happens, there is a Beauty and the Beast poster hanging on the wall of the club.  And with that poster being placed right next to a monitor showing the Jem video, Johnny Mac seems to convince Harold that he can get Jem to star as Beauty.  That's...a really huge promise to make.  I mean, by this time Jem has already done a Broadway musical and was nominated for an Academy Award!  You think she'd actually take the part for a musical written and produced by a man that she likely hasn't heard of?

Oh, who are we kidding?  Of course Jem is in!  Well, actually, it's Jerrica that receives a copy of the script - and airline tickets for all the Holograms.  Okay, question.  If Johnny Mac owes thousands of pounds to creditors and loan sharks across the United Kingdom, how can he afford plane tickets for the Holograms?  Just one of the many questions that come up during this episode, I'm sure.  But after Jerrica reads the script and seems to give it her seal of approval, she gives the Holograms the okay to fly out to London to give the musical a try.

Of course, the Holograms aren't the only ones who want to go to London.  The Misfits find out that the Holograms are going to London because they've been hand selected to act in Red Johnny Mac's play - leading to the question, how would they have known if Red Johnny Mac isn't well known in the United States?  I do find it hilarious that Pizzazz plays up the fact that Jetta will be able to travel back home again - especially since they last time they were in England, Jetta tried to con Pizzazz into selling her everything she owned!  I wonder if the rumours are true in that this episode was supposed to be for Season 2?  It's not exactly Jem Trivia, but it could explain why Eric is still in charge and why the Stingers are nowhere in sight.  Plus, in the version of the show that I watched, the bumpers are the same ones that they used for seasons one and two, whereas season three had new ones.

Anyway, the Holograms arrive in London, and Rio has decided to tag along as well in case the Holograms need some extra special effects, and in case Rio feels the need to chop down a pine tree.  Red Johnny Mac is there and he seems to be completely enchanted by Jem and the Holograms.  He is so in awe of them that he kisses every single one of them on the hand.  Rio casually remarks that he's surprised Johnny Mac hasn't kissed him too.  Don't be jealous, Rio. 

Johnny Mac also introduces the Holograms to two of the crew members of the show.  First is American born Zero Jones, who is responsible for the set design - apparently the setting is changed from medieval times to modern times, and the show takes place in an abandoned power plant.  And secondly, we have special effects supervisor Yoji Yokomura, who is responsible for the lighting and special effects seen on stage - including the light show that is attached to the costume of the Beast.  As for who the Beast is, we don't quite know yet.

Instead, we're treated to a photo montage of Jem and the Holograms posing in front of the Beast costume, as well as holding some Beast swag.  I don't know whether they're promoting the musical or doing a commercial for Esprit clothing.  Either way, Jem is eager to start rehearsing the first chance she gets.

We are immediately taken to the first scene of the play, which shows Beauty's father trying to take a gift to his beloved daughter Beauty.  Now, in the original story, the father tries to grab a rose.  But since this is a rock opera, the item the father tries to take is a guitar.  And if you know the story of Beauty and the Beast, you know that the Beast punishes the man by holding him as his prisoner for stealing.  But you also know that Beauty makes the ultimate sacrifice by offering herself in place of her father.

Sure enough, that's what BeautyJem decides to do.  The father is grateful, but you can't say the same about Beauty's sisters.  I like how the Holograms essentially play the roles of Misfits, and do a fantastic job with it too!  I guess they would know from experience.  I especially like Aja and Raya's performances.  Raya is so convincing, she actually loses her accent!

So BeautyJem arrives at the abandoned power plant where the Beast lives, and Beasty wants Beauty all to himself.  And he loudly proclaims that he will do whatever it takes to win her love.  But Beauty's all like "Nuh-uh, loser" and sings a song about how he will NEVER win her love.

The song "You'll Never Win My Love" is a typical throwaway song that seems to be the theme for Season 3.  It's okay on its own with the context that it is used in, but it's not exactly all that memorable.  It's not like, say, "Glitter and Gold" or "Truly Outrageous".  Though it's better than "Deception" and "I'm Taking A Train".

Needless to say, the Beast doesn't take BeautyJem's rejection well and tries to bash a chair over her head.  Well that escalated quickly.

Fear not.  This Beast is a gentleman, and only smashes the chair into the ground.  And that's a wrap for the scene rehearsal.

The Beast quickly disappears backstage, and Rio appears on stage to give Jem congratulations.  However Jem seems to be in some sort of trance as she completely ignores Rio and tries to look for the Beast.  Wow, it's not every day that a girl dumps her boyfriend for a big hairy monster, but given that it's jerkface Rio that gets dumped, I actually find it quite enjoyable.

It's interesting that Red Johnny Mac doesn't seem to be anywhere around when all this is going on, but Jem manages to track him down in one of the back offices.  Note how Johnny Mac happens to be standing near a Beast head.  I wonder if there is some foreshadowing magic coming up in this episode.  Because as we know, cartoons NEVER foreshadow anything.

Jem is already beat from doing several scenes of rehearsing, but Johnny Mac isn't quite finished with them yet.  They have another photo shoot promoting the rock musical and all five Holograms are put in front of the camera once more to pose, pose, and pose some more.  You'd think they'd be used to it, given that they released a rock fashion book not long ago.

By the time the band gets back to their hotel, Jem has changed back into Jerrica and she is trying to stay awake long enough to memorize her lines.  But ultimately Mr. Sandman decides to drop by and zonk Jerrica out long enough for her to start dreaming about the Beast.

What's interesting about the dream is that she is dreaming of Jem modelling dresses for the Beast that the costume designer of the musical has made.  Every single dress she tries on is a costume that she wore in a previous episode, and she's all like - these clothes suck!  I found it amusing anyway. 

Before "Jem" can get close to the Beast, Kimber wakes Jerrica up and tells her that they have to be at the theatre for more rehearsing.  Jerrica complains that she had hardly had any rest since they arrived in London and even Kimber remarks that none of the Holograms have gotten any more than three hours of sleep a night.  Ah, there's that foreshadowing fairy working overtime again.

Back at the theatre, it's time to shoot the next scene.  It's the dinner scene between BeautyJem and the Beast complete with an elegant dinner, dancing ladies, and all sorts of other luxuries.  I guess having actors playing Lumiere, Cogsworth, and Mrs. Potts would be too Disney for this episode.

But just as the scene is getting underway, the ground shakes beneath them and the set starts to spin around in a gigantic circle!  What gives?

Oh, it's just the Misfits wanting to cause trouble by sabotaging the rehearsal.  While Roxy and Stormer have Yoji pinned against the wall, Jetta and Pizzazz are fooling around with the controls for the stage.  What is Pizzazz's obsession with grabbing levers and pushing buttons?  Does she secretly want to be an engineer or something?

Fortunately, Rio and the other crew members grab all four of the Misfits and throw them out of the building.  Now see, I think this was a missed opportunity to spotlight a Misfits tune.  It could have even been an older song like "Makin' Mischief" or "Takin' It All".  But no, the storyboard says that we must have all Jem songs this episode.

Before we get to the second of three Jem songs featured in this episode, Rio tells Jem that the Misfits tried to cause trouble but he got them out of the building...and Jem completely ignores Rio to schmooze with the Beast!  It's simultaneously pathetic yet hilarious as hell to see Rio pouting and sarcastically thanking himself since Jem won't do it.  Oh, Rio...always the putz.

The second song is actually a duet between Jem and the Beast, and the song is called "Let Me Go".  It's about Beauty's desire to go back home, and the Beast realizing that he is hurting her by not letting her go.  I think it's the best song of the three featured, and whoever does the singing voice of the Beast does quite a nice job.

The song ends, the Beast disappears backstage, and Jem is practically lovesick over the Beast.  This causes Rio to lose his mind and smash a rosebush on the ground.  No wait.  He just tells Jem that she is deliriously tired and that they are going to take the night off to have dinner and sleep.  You know, this may be the only time that Rio acts sensibly, so take that moment in for posterity.

Back at the hotel, Jem and Rio are arguing about how Jem is doing way too much for Johnny Mac and how she is going to burn herself out, and Jem is trying to defend herself by saying that she can press through it and how she's not even tired.  But when she passes out in the middle of the hallway and Kimber barely manages to catch her before she hits the floor, everyone sees just how much the rock musical has taken out of her.

A doctor is summoned (and who else is impressed that doctors still made house calls in 1988) and tells everyone that Jem has overexerted herself and needs to get plenty of rest.  Raya mentions that they are involved in a rock opera of Beauty and the Beast, and Rio rudely tells Raya to can it.  Wow, I know that Raya didn't exactly think before she spoke, but your snapping back at her was just rude.  Rio, you're not a man.  You're a boy.  An insecure boy who is too stupid to realize that he's cheating on his girlfriend with a hologram that is actually still his girlfriend.

Can you all tell that I hate Rio?

With Jem being out of commission for the time being, the other Holograms come to the conclusion that they can't continue with the show.  What they decide to do is something that is quite uncharacteristic for them.  They find out where the Misfits are staying and offer them the gig instead!  I wonder how Red Johnny Mac is going to take the news...

Well, clearly Red Johnny Mac is feeling a bit blue upon hearing the news...and he's especially green with sickness when he is informed that the Misfits will be their replacements.  Red Johnny Mac tries to protest, but Rio is white hot with anger blaming him for pushing Jem too hard, and eventually Johnny Mac backs down, realizing that he has no other choice.

The decision to make the Misfits the stars of the show doesn't sit too well with Harold either, who accuses Red Johnny Mac of lying to him.  It seems as though Red Johnny Mac needs a miracle to get through the practice run of the show.  But hey...maybe the Misfits have gotten better in acting since their disastrous movie project.

Luckily, just as the Misfits are about to go on stage, Jem wakes up feeling the most refreshed she's felt since arriving in London.  The other Holograms are happy to see that she's awake, and casually remark that she's been asleep for four days.  Um...WHAT?  Jem's been sleeping for four days, and they treat it as if it's just a cat nap?  That's not a nap!  That's a freakin' coma!  Needless to say, Jem is not happy that she managed to sleep for half a week knowing that they have to go on stage.  When Shana and Kimber mention that the Misfits are doing the show now, that surprisingly gives Jem more energy to get dressed and get to the theatre.  Wow, who needs coffee when you have pure green jealousy to get you through the roughest of mornings!

Oh, and in case you were wondering about the Misfits acting abilities, well...they've actually gotten worse.  Jetta and Stormer are staring into space, Roxy reads her lines as if she's Vicki, the robot girl from "Small Wonder", and Pizzazz throws a temper tantrum on stage because she forgets her lines.  Nice to see that some things haven't changed.

Fortunately, Jem and the Holograms arrive just before the play's final scene, and everyone - including Harold - are more than thrilled to see her come back.  Jem tells Pizzazz that she is there to relieve her, and Pizzazz goes into a full on Joan Crawford like meltdown which causes her to be escorted out by several men!  Heh...poor Pizzazz.  She always did want to be the center of attention no matter what the context.

Jem appears on stage to a standing ovation, and the Beast (who is playing the scene where he is dying in his bedroom) is so stunned to see her that he actually calls her Jem instead of Beauty!  Whoops!  Oh well...considering that the Misfits chewed the scenery so much that they're still picking splinters out of their tongues, I guess one gaffe wouldn't hurt.

And in the final song of the show, "Our Love Makes You Beautiful", we see why Johnny Mac hasn't been around for the rehearsals.  If you guessed that he was the actor playing the Beast, you'd win a gold star.  Of course, the show made it blatantly obvious, but still, it's a nice song.  It's no Peabo Bryson or Celine Dion, but they make it work.

The crowd goes wild and after the actors take their final bows, Jem congratulates Johnny Mac on the success of the play (well, at least the part after the Misfits left), and Johnny Mac is grateful to Jem for giving him the self-confidence needed to show his work more often.  Aw, that's kind of nice, Jem helping Johnny Mac become a better person much like Beauty helped the Beast find the man within.

I'm also guessing that based on this screenshot that Harold loved the play as well and that the debt is all but paid off.  Johnny Mac seems less than impressed.

Jem, meanwhile, beelines towards Rio, and Rio tells Jem that she was great, and blah blah blah.  Seriously, I don't care.  I hate Jem and Rio together and honestly think that she and Riot make a better couple given how narcissistic both are.  But other than the Jem and Rio scenes, this episode was a fun one.  I didn't think it was too bad, and I liked their take on "Beauty and the Beast".  But once again, the Misfits seem more like bit players, and it's kind of sad to see, given how strong they were in Season 1 and the first half of Season 2.  Mind you it was around this time that the Jem dolls were halted in production and the show was ordered to end rather quickly.  Perhaps the episode quality suffered in that regard.  But still, this episode's probably one of the better Season 3 episodes, so on that note, we'll nod our heads and move onto the next episode.

Next week, the Holograms travel to the area formerly known as Yugoslavia...where Danse finds herself in the middle of a mystery.

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