Sunday, March 31, 2013

Jem and the Holograms Season 1

Jem (otherwise known as Jem and the Holograms) was a beloved children's show that ran from 1985-88. its titular character, Jem, is the alter-ego of Jerrica Benton, owner and operator of her late parents' company, Starlight Music. a collaboration between Hasbro, Marvel, and Sunbow Productions, the series was shown alongside sales of the Jem line of toys, not unlike sister series GI Joe and Transformers. Despite not inspiring comebacks as the other two did, Jem remains in the hearts of 80's girls (and boys!) as a classic cartoon of the era, worthy of much nostalgia.
 
"Come to me, My Pretties..."
 
the season starts off with a flashback, taking us to the start of the series and the band, introducing Jerrica Benton, her sister Kimber, and their adoptive sisters Aja and Shana, at the funeral of their father, Emmett Benton. Jerrica takes over duties at her late parents' charity organization, Starlight House for Foster Girls. lacking necessary operating funds, however, Jerrica turns to her parents' music company, Starlight Music, of which she is partial owner. the other owner, her father's former assistant, Eric Raymond, wants nothing to do with Jerrica, Starlight House or giving over any money, instead looking to embezzle away the corporation while simultaneously promoting his newly-found band, The Misfits. not one to be outfoxed by a slime like Raymond, Jerrica challenges him and The Misfits to a Battle of the Bands to determine ownership of the company.
 
Eric may be a creep, but at least Rio takes care of his girl.
 
stories like this, in which the girls have to overcome some sort of challenge thrown up for them by Raymond, getting past it with their unique brand of Glamour, Glitter, Fashion, and Fame (yes, the whole series, including the box, is very shiny) each episode. through it all we see some mild character development, even of many of the starlight girls. very central to the plot is Jerrica's relationship with her boyfriend Rio, and where Jem comes into play in all of this, considering Rio is unaware of Jerrica's secret.
 
Jem and Rio ride Unicorns up a Sunbeam and onto a Rainbow. Your Arguement is Invalid
 
as such, this series falls into several 80's tropes, such as the "everyman" (or girl in this case) cast and the episodes centering around some event that is at once girl-friendly and "hip" with the times (such as a fashion show, a special concert in another countrie, and putting on a broadway play). the music is always synth-heavy and catchy (Jem and the Holograms' "Like a Dream" and The Misfits' "Universal Appeal" happen to be two of my favourites), the colours widely varied, and the makeup and outfits very glam-rock. that's not to say any of this is a bad thing, in fact, i'm willing to bet most of the clothes and music would fly today (though the feel-good message of some of the tunes might not be as popular as it once was), but for some reason this series remains firmly rooted in the past. part of it is legal reasons, with creator Christy Marx citing a tangle of lawsuits/licensing issues that keep it from making a comeback, but perhaps it is also due to the series being more for girls than boys, despite the frequent action scenes and commercial cliffhangers that say otherwise. time and again we see men who reminisce about their childhoods and favourite things from their childhoods, thus sparking the market for revivals. maybe if the female population were more willing to remember, or marketing execs more willing to look upon the fairer sex, we'd see more girly stuff making a comeback.
 
Seems we have detected a Saiyan in our midst.
 
however, that's neither here nor there, and Jem remains a delightful series, despite falling into some common tropes (in fact, sometimes you can make a game out of finding them!). this is just part of its charm, providing laughs for its cute follies. the theme song is catchy enough that i caught myself singing along each time (i do that anyway, but still), and while some moments made me want to smack my head into a wall (DAMMIT JERRICA, JUST TELL RIO ALREADY), it wasn't enough to hinder me watching this series. bonus fun can be had by pointing out all of the things cartoons could get away with back then that they can't now (short skirts, frequent on-screen kissing, the phrase "making love" in some song lyrics), and all of the things The Misfits can get away with (they nearly kill an entire boatload of people, and yet none of them sees jailtime......alright...).
 
Stripper Moves!
 
a major roadblock in this series gaining ground again is access. good luck finding a working Jem torrent, because there aren't any. (i welcome any corrections to this statement. it is fucking IMPOSSIBLE to find one, even on the likes of high-profile torrent sites.) there have been various VHS releases over the years, but the entire series was recently re-released in one Truly Outrageous boxset, with all 3 seasons and a pile of bonus content. i noticed what was likely a fluke in that the intro audio was unsynced in some of the episodes, but otherwise the series is nicely done, even if it DOES show its age a bit in places. ^^;
 
Sometimes, the Anime styling of the animation company bleeds through.
 
3.5-4/5
They Like to Watch.

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