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Friday, September 09, 2016

Jem Reviewed: Episode 25 - Culture Clash

Can you believe there's only two episodes left in season one of Jem Reviewed?  Time flies, doesn't it?  And now that we've seen what happened at the Jem Jam, it's time to see what adventures Jem and the Holograms will embark on this week.

It's time for Jem Reviewed Episode 25 - Culture Clash.  And right off the bat, we're going straight into Jem Trivia.  You might notice that the episode is written by David Wise.  He's got a huge background with animation, and at the time of this episode airing, he was working on the Transformers cartoon.  He also was a part of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon.  So, if this episode's plot seems strange and unbelievable in certain places, that's the reason why.

Anyway, Jem and the Holograms are back in New York City for the first time since episode 16, though this time around they aren't auditioning for a Broadway show, nor are they hiding from people who want to know Jem's secret identity.  They're in town to film their latest music video for a song that is called "I Believe in Happy Endings", and they're supposedly working with a creative director who is one of the hottest new artists to come onto the New York City art scene in years.  Quite impressive.

Naturally anything that involves the Holograms having success means that the Misfits have to be there to throw a spanner into the works.  In fact, Pizzazz makes it clear that she will make every single day of the Holograms' two week stay in the Big Apple totally rotten to the core.  How...sweet?

Inside of a limo that is carrying the Holograms are Video Montgomery and Anthony Julien, who are also working on the music video.  We also find out more about the creative art director who is working on the video, one Fitzgerald Beck.  Anthony Julien and Video can't praise him enough, telling Jem and the Holograms that they are lucky to have him on the project.

But after seeing some of Fitzgerald Beck's work on the television set in the limo - which includes men in latex Power Ranger costumes beating themselves on the noggin with wooden spoons, Kimber is already starting to think that he's a bit of a weirdo.  Considering that Kimber herself is a bit of a weirdo, that's saying a lot.

Once the group arrives at a party that is hosted by Fitzgerald Beck, the weirdness continues.  A sneaker wheel statue plays footsies with Aja.  Robots made of gumball machines and vacuum cleaners hobknob with the guests.  And some random guy starts taking a chainsaw to a baby grand piano.  Jem and the others are thinking - if this is what "art" is nowadays, they maybe should have filmed their video at the Louvre in Paris.

Instead, they're at New York City, and they're about to film their video in front of one of Manhattan's gigantic office buildings.  Jem is quite annoyed that in the two days they've been in the city that Fitzgerald Beck hasn't bothered to make an appearance to even so much as say hello, but they're on a schedule so they best just perform "I Believe in Happy Endings" and get on with it.

On the roof of the building, a man with a unique hairstyle and even more unique clothing sense orders a couple of men to tip a couple of vats upside down as the Holograms are performing.  

The vats contain several hundred gallons of paint which dye Jem and the Holograms in brilliant shades of red, purple, green, and yellow.

The man slides down the side of the building the same way that Spider-Man would after rescuing Mary Jane from Mysterio and formally introduces himself as Fitzgerald Beck to Jem, who is seeing red...and purple...and green.  Let's just say his first impression wasn't a good one.

Fitzgerald Beck does get another chance to prove himself as the Holograms agree to give him another chance to film the video.  Only this time, he's arranged for the Holograms to play their song as they sail along the Atlantic Ocean...on a garbage barge.  Okay, I know art is meant to be subjective, but I seriously question Fitzgerald Beck's mental stability here.  I don't think the Bangles would have even filmed a video on a garbage barge.  But since Jem and the Holograms made a commitment, they have to see it through.

Unfortunately, while Jem and the Holograms are talking with Fitzgerald Beck, the Misfits have sabotaged the controls of the garbage barge.  This can't be good.

So, Jem and the Holograms are once again singing "I Believe in Happy Endings" while trying to hold their noses at the rotting garbage that is piled up behind them.  And at first, things are going smoothly.  At least, that is until the garbage barge speeds up and gets too far away from Fitzgerald Beck's boat.  Fitzgerald Beck quickly realizes that he can't control the barge, and Jem and the Holograms realize that they are about to crash into a cruise ship!  Wait, didn't they already do this plot twist in "Kimber's Rebellion"?

Fortunately, Jem, Aja, and Shana apparently have read a few book on how to repair the controls of a garbage barge in between concerts, and they somehow manage to get the controls working again.  However in the process of steering the barge away from the cruise ship, Kimber nearly flies over the side of the boat!

Shana manages to keep Kimber from drowning in the Atlantic Ocean - again - as Jem and Aja steer the boat to safety.  What's interesting is that Kimber is wearing the same exact outfit that she wore the day that she almost got eaten by killer whales.  Maybe Kimber should probably burn those clothes forever.

At any rate, the Holograms have had their fill of Fitzgerald Beck and Jem tries to be calm about it by telling him that while they know he means well, they also think he's a menace.  That's not calm.  That's harsh!  Even Anthony Julien wants to cut ties with Fitzgerald Beck before he kills them all with his creativity...however, Anthony recognizes that they made a commitment and they have to stick with it.  After all, there's still another thirteen minutes left of this show.

We are then taken to an art gallery - Castello Gallery - which is owned by a woman named Maria Castello.  Maria is having a meeting with Fitzgerald Beck and she is demanding that he step up his production schedule.  She's ordered several statues by Fitzgerald Beck that she needs for her gallery and is less than impressed that he has decided to spend more time on the Jem and the Holograms music video.  Something tells me that this is part of the reason why Fitzgerald Beck appears to be stressed out all the time.  But why would Maria want Fitzgerald Beck's artwork so badly?  I mean, it's all made from random junk...who could possibly love it that much?

Oh, I suppose only a person with a junky personality like Eric Raymond would.  He shows the Misfits the only piece of Fitzgerald Beck's artwork he could afford and talks about how he has arranged a deal with a man named Alex Falk to store several pieces of Fitzgerald Beck artwork at Eric's warehouse in New York for him to admire. 

It's not until the meeting between Alex, Maria, and Eric that us viewers are clued into what is really going on...and it takes the Misfits who have tagged along for the ride to help us understand.  The plot is quite intricate.  It appears as though Alex and Maria are operating a diamond smuggling ring in the city that is sure to net them millions of dollars in illegal riches, and they've decided to use both Fitzgerald Beck and Eric in their scheme.  With the stolen diamonds stuffed inside of Fitzgerald Beck's statues, and Eric agreeing to store them in his warehouse, it gives both Alex and Maria the perfect opportunity to continue their scheme.  And even if the police discover the operation, they'll just pin it on Fitzgerald Beck.  It's quite an elaborate scheme, and I have to admit that up until now, I was about to dismiss this episode as yet another "Intrigue at the Indy 500".

To make things even more interesting, while Eric is blissfully ignorant to the smuggling scheme, the Misfits figure it out right away, and Pizzazz comes up with the idea to surprise Jem by having the sculptures appear on stage while the Holograms perform their latest concert so that they'll be charged as accomplices.  Well...I suppose it wouldn't be the first time this happened, as Jem was almost arrested for burglary in "Frame Up".  In fact, I get the feeling that a lot of this script was formed by reading old Jem scripts...and suddenly my hopes for this being a good episode drop again.

Although this does lead into a Misfits song.  And unlike Jem's many attempts at "I Believe in Happy Endings", the Misfits actually get a full song in with "Surprise! Surprise!".  It's no surprise that I love Misfits music in general, and this song is really fun.  Well, maybe not fun for Jem and the Holograms, but it's a throwback to their "Makin' Mischief" days which is always appreciated.

It's time for the Jem and the Holograms concert, and everybody is there including Video, Anthony Julien, and the Misfits.  Interestingly enough, Fitzgerald Beck is not present, but his statues are.  And once more, Jem and the Holograms attempt to sing their song "I Believe in Happy Endings".  The question is, will they finally make it to the end of the song without being interrupted?

I'm guessing that little remote control that happens to be in Stormer's hand will probably make the answer to the above question a big fat no.  As soon as Stormer pushes the button, all of Fitzgerald Beck's creations explode on stage.  I really wish I knew how the Misfits knew that the statues were rigged with explosives or where they even got the explosives in the first place, but within a matter of moments rubies, sapphires, and diamonds rain down on the stage as a shocked Jem and the Holograms look on.

As soon as the police happen to see the jewels on stage, they investigate the scene of the crime and deduce that the jewels have been stolen.  Jem and the Holograms are immediately apprehended and put on house arrest at their hotel until further investigation takes place, which includes locating Fitzgerald Beck and arresting him for the diamond smuggling ring.

Of course, Jem and the Holograms can't let that happen, but with a burly New York City cop standing guard, it's not as if they have free reign to move around.  But Jem gets the idea to knock on the wooden coffee table and using Synergy's help to project a hologram of Fitzgerald Beck to distract the cop long enough for Jem and the others to escape.  

Surprisingly, the plan works...though Jem and the others are now fugitives from the law.  I guess they didn't plan this out very well did they?  Nor do they seem to have any faith in Fitzgerald Beck.  They don't believe that he had anything to do with the diamond smuggling because they can't believe that he is that intelligent to come up with that scheme.  Ouch.  Furthermore, when they brainstorm ideas over where Fitzgerald Beck could have gone, Kimber tries to tell the others to think of where the dumbest place that he could have gone.  Double ouch!

They eventually find him in his own studio where he is crying about the fact that nobody respects him, nobody likes him, and they think his sculptures are garbage.  Oh, and there the fact that there's a warrant out for his arrest, but priorities, right?  Jem tries to comfort the dejected artist by telling him that she even thinks that his artwork is...well, cute.  Wow, Jem.  Just wow.  But of course, Fitzgerald Beck seems to misinterpret Jem's forced kindness as Jem confessing her love for him.  Oh, why do I get the feeling this is not going to end well?

Before Jem can slap Fitzgerald Beck in the face, he remembers something.  He remembers his meeting with Maria and how desperate she was to get his statues to her gallery...and he suspects that the reason why is so she can continue the diamond smuggling operation.  Jem and the others are thrilled that they finally know who the real culprit is so they can clear their names.  But when the police come and try to break down the door, they know they have to act fast.

Fitzgerald Beck seems to know where he can get more of his creations to help them out, and he and Jem activate every single one while they are still on the run.  Fitzgerald Beck even has a special one that he hasn't had the chance to debut until now.  I don't know why this is important, but it's time for Operation: Nab Maria to begin.

The first step is to go to the Misfits Music headquarters in New York City (I'm assuming Starlight Music must have office space there as well), and get proof that Maria is the smuggler.  Thanks to Aja and Kimber sneaking into the control room of the recording studio, they record Eric's whole conversation with the Misfits that outs Maria.  Now, technically, the Misfits and Eric would implicate themselves by proxy as being accessories since they knew about it, but we're just going to pretend that conversation never happened.

Next stop is Maria's apartment building where Jem sneaks inside and projects a hologram of Eric Raymond right outside of Maria's door.  When Maria sees Eric, she is absolutely frightened at what he has to say.  Jem makes the Eric hologram tell her that Fitzgerald Beck has been apprehended by the police and that he has told them that he has proof that Maria is the diamond smuggler and that the police are on their way.  Maria is so scared that she runs right through the Eric hologram and out of the building!

Jem and the Holograms follow her to a nightclub on the other side of town, and Fitzgerald Beck announces that Maria owns the club.  And the club is one that seems to attract a lot of - interesting people.  There are punks, ravers, and one person who seems to wear a sandwich board proclaiming that in 1900 the end was near.  How...pessimistic.  And ironic given that Jem has never had the chance to finish her "I Believe in Happy Endings" song.

Maria runs into a room that is entirely covered in mirrors, and she slides open a secret panel revealing even more jewels, diamonds, necklaces, and bracelets.  It's almost as if she has an entire Kay Jewelers store inside of her club. 

Well, Jem is not about to give her any kisses that begin with K.  Nor is Fitzgerald Beck, whose robot sculptures start to attack everyone and anyone in their path, including a burly security guard at the club.  By the time the police infiltrate the club, the security guard is thrown through the glass walls onto the bar.  I have to say, this episode has had its ups and downs, but I'm liking this part.

But Jem's definitely not liking the part where the police arrest her instead of Maria!  Jem insists that they have the wrong person and that Maria is the real culprit, but Maria has closed up her mirrored glass safe which hides all of the evidence.  And without any evidence, Maria can't be charged.  What is a pink haired gal to do?

Fortunately, one of Fitzgerald Beck's statues decides to help out by using the hammer attached to its head to smash the glass walls out revealing the stolen jewels. 

And when Maria tries to escape, it's time for Fitzgerald Beck's latest creation to make its debut...a robot cop armed with stop signs and a rope launcher that ties Maria up tighter than an unruly bull!  Naturally, this all but proves that Fitzgerald Beck and Jem are not responsible, and all charges against them are dropped.  Meanwhile for Maria, orange will become the new black.

Back at Fitzgerald Beck's studio, despite everything that happened, Jem gives him the tough news that not only are they letting him go from the video shoot, but that she is seeing someone else.  Someone else named Rio.  Who also happens to be seeing Jerrica Benton, but that's okay because she and her are one in the same.  Wow, way to break his heart into seventeen pieces, Jem!  But she gives him encouragement to keep creating his wonderful, yet incredibly strange creations...which I guess is as close to a happy ending as we can get.

Speaking of which, we finally get to hear the full version of "I Believe in Happy Endings", and...well, it's fairly anticlimactic.  The melody is great, and Britta Phillips sings it with passion, but I've heard this song so many times already that it just sort of goes flat. 

I got the impression that this episode was much like that song.  There are some really good parts, and some really bad parts.  Averaging it out, I'd give it a C minus - the same grade that Eric gives the Misfits recording session!

Next week is the final episode of the first season of Jem Reviewed.  And, that episode can be summed up with two words.  Glitter and Gold. 

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