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Friday, December 02, 2016

Jem Reviewed: Episode 37 - The Jazz Player

Hello, everybody!  This is not only the 37th episode review for the cartoon series, Jem, but it's also Day #2 of the POP CULTURE ADDICT'S ADVENT CALENDAR!

Last week, we watched Jem and the Holograms thwart the plans of a magician who wanted to take over a show.  I wonder what will be in store this week?

Let's find out in Episode 37: The Jazz Player!

It's nighttime at Starlight Mansion, and you know what that means!  Lindsey Pearce's video show is on.  And as a bit of a switch, Lindsey has decided to invite the leader of a popular jazz band of the 1940s, Taps Tucker, for an interview and a performance.  Most of the girls in the room are thrilled to watch the show, but Kimber feels as though it's too old-fashioned.  Kimber, have you learned nothing from the Bobby Bailey thing?  Sheesh?

However, after 40 years, Taps Tucker still has it.  He plays his lucky trumpet - the one he never leaves home without, and plays a fantastic jazz solo.  It's enough to make Kimber eat her words and the rest of the Starlight girls to become mesmerized by the sweet sound.  Unfortunately, that performance is interrupted by four rude women who think that jazz is out and they are in.  Can you guess who they might be?

Ah, yes.  The Misfits.  Ironically, they're playing the same song that they played when they were trying to evict Bobby Bailey from his home!  And once again, I'll state that if they were singing about an ex-boyfriend, "Jack, Take a Hike" would be a killer tune.  Used in this context, it's tasteless and rude.

Lindsey seems to agree with my perspective, telling the Misfits that they've once again blown the chance to be interviewed on her show, and that's enough for Jerrica to shut the television off in disgust.  However, the Holograms come up with a brilliant idea.  Since Taps Tucker still sounds great, why not reunite the old band together for one more album.  After all, Shana makes the remark that jazz was making a comeback in the late 1980s (something that was actually true at the time), and it might be a great surprise to bring Taps Tucker back with his band for one more jam session.

But when Jem and the Holograms track down Taps Tucker, they find that his life isn't really all that fantastic.  He's living in a crummy old apartment with holes in the walls and dingy furniture.  Which to me, I call shenanigans on, because you'd think that he would at least get some royalties from his songs.  He must have not had a great record company backing him.  At first, Taps isn't sure he wants to go ahead with the reunion mainly because it's been 40 years since they were last together.  But Jem can be quite the persistent devil and tells him that she knows a man who owns a jazz recording label and that if he agrees to reunite the band for a comeback album, it might change his fortunes around.  Eventually, Taps accepts Jem's offer, and Jem gives Mark Rockwell a call.

As it so happens, Jem calls right in the middle of a business deal between Mark and Eric Raymond, who is making his own pitch for a jazz record collection.  It seems as though Eric has been working on this pitch for a while, so naturally he'd be upset that Jem is trying to butt in.  Mark explains that he only has enough resources to support one project, so he makes Jem a deal.  If they can get the Taps Tucker Band together in 24 hours time, he'll go with them.  Should they fail, Eric will get the deal.  That's not a whole lot of time for Jem to work.  It seems slightly unfair - but keep in mind that Eric did get to Mark first.

Of course, Eric and the Misfits aren't worried.  They plan to use Techrat to find out where each of the members of the band are so they can make them disappear.  Nice, hacking into the database system to locate people.  I'm pretty sure that's a crime.

But I guess Jem and the Holograms don't seem to worry about getting arrested either because they make Synergy do the same exact thing!  I'm thinking that there really should have been an episode where Techrat tries to hack into Synergy.  That would have been epic.  But instead, we get the addresses and workplaces of the three members of the Taps Tucker Band.  Ace O'Toole, the saxophonist, isn't too far away.  He lives in a small place called Duke's Landing, so Jem sends Shana out to retrieve him.  Bassist Dave Wilson is in Houston, Texas, so she books a flight for Kimber to retrieve him.  And Aja's going to Seattle, Washington to meet up with Joey London, the drummer of the band.

But as the girls are prepared to leave for their respective destinations, Ba Nee arrives with the telephone.  Taps Tucker is on the line and he has bad news.  Someone broke into his apartment and stole his trumpet!  Gee, I wonder who was responsible for that?  Whatever the case, Jem decides to stay in town to locate Taps' horn, and she keeps Raya with her in case she needs back up.

Now, flying out to these locations is one thing, but the hard part is convincing the band members that a reunion would be fun.  But in Aja's case, she needs not try too hard because Joey gives her an emphatic yes!  Seems as though Joey's life has gone downhill and he owes a lot of money to a lot of loan sharks.  The reunion could be what he needs to pay back the money he owes.

But Eric's already sent the Misfits out to wreak havoc...and Stormer is busy sabotaging Aja's car so that they'll be stranded.  But Stormer also notices a couple of creepy men entering the apartment and wonders what's going on.

You know those loan sharks that Joey owed money to?  They're here to collect.  Fortunately, Aja kicks them both in the no-no spot and it allows her and Joey to escape.  But with Stormer sabotaging the car, they're forced to hide in Seattle's underground city to avoid getting caught.  This doesn't look good for Aja and Joey.

Over at Duke's Landing, Shana is surprised to learn that Ace O'Toole has done very well for himself and is legitimately happy in what he's doing.  He's opened up a bar in the tiny coastal town and his pride is his boat which he takes out every day.  He's so happy that he doesn't feel the need to reunite with his old band, and tells Shana this to her disappointment.  But Shana does agree to go out on a tour in his boat, hoping that she can somehow convince Ace to change his mind.

Roxy and Jetta are upset that they went there for nothing, but they decide that while they're in town, they'll empty out the fuel in his boat and disable radio communications.  What harm could come from that?

Well, when Ace and Shana are out on the boat, they are unable to hear the storm warnings, and soon both of them find themselves in the middle of what could be called a mini-hurricane!  Boy, those Misfits know how to cause trouble!

In Houston, Kimber meets up with Dave Wilson at the Astrodome, where he cleans the stadium after every game or concert.  Not surprisingly, Dave decides that ANYTHING would be better than cleaning the hundreds of toilets at the Astrodome, and he happily accepts Kimber's invitation to reunite with his old band.  

But before they can leave, they discover that every single door is locked and it doesn't take a genius to figure out how that happened, as Pizzazz appears on the jumbotron to let them know that they are trapped like rats.

And in this edition of Jem Trivia, I'll let you know that this is only one of TWO episodes that features two songs by the Misfits (the other one was the very first episode).  I do have to admit that "Trapped" is a great song...but I question how all four Misfits could appear at the same time when they're scattered all over the place.  They must have stolen a copy of their video when they were thrown off Lindsey's show.  And with Techrat tagging along with Pizzazz, we know how they assumed control of the electrical panels.

Back in Duke's Landing, the storm is violently shaking the boat, and it causes Ace to fly over the side!  Fortunately, Shana is a strong swimmer, and swims out to save Ace's life.  She seems to have enough strength to drag Ace back to the boat.  If this isn't enough for Ace to change his mind about going back to the reunion, he must have a heart of stone.

The loan sharks have Aja and Joey surrounded, and they appear ready to turn both of them into hamburger.  But Stormer's in the area too, and she is feeling might guilty for her role that she played.  She just wanted to keep them from coming back in time, but she never wanted them to get hurt.  So she causes a distraction by breaking a window in the opposite direction which causes the loan sharks to flee.  This gives Aja and Joey time to catch a cab and get to the airport.  Stormer looks on, knowing that Eric will give her a hard time...but in the end, her good side won out.  Nicely played, Stormer.

And in Houston, Dave seems to have an idea as to how they can get out as well.  It's true that all the doors are sealed with electric locks...but if they can cut off the power, then maybe the doors will open back up.  Dave finds the circuit breaker, shuts it off, and the whole place goes dark.  Techrat and Pizzazz are left confused wondering what was going on, while Dave and Kimber make their great escape!

Back home, Jem and Raya are with Taps trying to figure out who would steal Taps' horn.  Jem seems to have the idea that the other person who was trying to get the deal with Mark might have tried to sabotage the reunion on purpose, so she gives Mark a call to find out who the other person is.  When Mark tells her that Eric Raymond is the second party, Jem and Raya quickly deduce that Eric stole Taps' horn.  Well, d-uh!!!

Of course, Jem and Raya can't very well go into Misfits Music and ask Eric for the horn back, so they need to resort to some trickery.  They have Synergy disguise them as exterminators, and they tell Eric that the building is infested with termites and that he needs to leave the office immediately.  Of course, Eric tells them to bug off, but Raya does a fantastic job yelling at him and making him feel guilty until he agrees to leave.

Once he's gone, Jem and Raya look around the office and discover that Eric has Taps' horn stashed away in a cupboard.  But as soon as they grab the horn and put it in their bag, Eric returns and accuses the exterminators of stealing from him!  Well if that isn't the pot calling the kettle black!  

Jem quickly manages to create a hologram of Taps' horn to fool Eric and Raya can't resist yelling at Eric again for his false accusation!  But Jem reminds Raya that as soon as they leave, the hologram of the horn will disappear, so they need to get out fast!

Sure enough, the hologram of the horn vanishes, and a furious Eric runs out into the hallway to try and catch the thieves.  He passes by a couple of weird looking potted plants that seem to be completely out of place in his search.  

Oh, that's because those plants are really Jem and Raya.  Synergy's disguises are getting better!

Jem and Raya arrive back at Taps' apartment where Kimber, Aja, Joey, and Dave have already arrived.  And while Taps is happily getting reacquainted with his former bandmates, Jem is worried that Shana and Ace haven't arrived yet.  They decide to go down to Mark's office, hoping that they will be meeting him there.

Of course, we know that Shana and Ace are stuck in the middle of the ocean.  The storm is over, but they have no way of getting back to shore.  Ace is extremely grateful to Shana for saving him, and Shana remarks that he can thank her by agreeing to the reunion.  Thankfully, the coast guard spots Ace's boat and tows them to safety.  The question is...can Ace and Shana make it back to Los Angeles in time to stop the deal between Mark and Eric from going through?  I guess it all depends on how far away Duke's Landing is from Los Angeles.

I imagine it must be somewhat far, as when four-fifths Jem and the Holograms and three-quarters of the Taps Tucker Band arrive at Mark's office, they see one whole Eric Raymond smiling with glee that not everyone is there.  Jem begs Mark to give them more time, but Mark is a man of his word, and even though he believes that the Taps Tucker Band would be a bigger draw for him, Eric legitimately did get to him first, so he has to do what he feels is right.

But before Mark can finish signing the contract, Shana and Ace arrive just in time, and the Taps Tucker Band is reunited once more!  Isn't it grand that Jem believes in happy endings?  Of course, Eric is pissed and tries to justify that Mark signed his contract...but Mark simply states that he never finished signing it, and shreds the contract that he had with Eric to pieces right in front of his smug face.  Tough luck, Eric.

Mark immediately signs the Taps Tucker Band to a new contract, and with that, the first single is released - with a very special collaboration with a very special band.

The song "Jazz Has" is a song that I kind of like.  It blends the old with the new, and it's definitely a new sound for Jem and the Holograms, but Britta Phillips' voice is the main attraction of this single.

And to thank Jem for all her hard work, Taps Tucker reveals that he's going to dedicate their comeback album to all of the Holograms.  How nice!

I have to admit, I love this episode.  And in a way, it's a nice episode for the Christmas season.  After all, isn't bringing back family and friends for a celebration what the holidays are really all about?  Of course, there's no Christmas lights or egg nog in this episode, but it's still a nice one.

Coming up next week, the Holograms are filming a video for a contest hosted by Xanthos about goodwill and friendship.  But when one of their pivotal team members gets seriously injured during the filming, can she recover in time to get the job done?

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Scrooged: The Terror of Tinsel

Hello, everyone!  Gather round!  This is what I believe to be the fifth annual POP CULTURE ADDICT'S ADVENT CALENDAR!  I know, it seems hard to believe, isn't it?  

This is Day #1 of the calendar, and the theme for this year is wrapping paper!  The designs are from actual rolls of wrapping paper that I have in my house right now!  I can't guarantee that I have 25 different rolls, but at least I can get off to a good start!  I'm trying to be creative here.

And sometimes when it comes to creativity, it might mean that you talk about things that might not be all that positive.

I came up with the idea to feature an entry each week for the month of December about things that we might not enjoy about the holidays.  Because let's face it...for all the wonderful things that Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa can bring...there's just as many things that we don't like. 

Hence the reason for the creation of SCROOGED THURSDAYS!

(Don't worry!  The rest of the month will be filled with love, joy, peace, and happiness...I hope anyway.)

So, how do I kick off this event?  Well, let's talk about trimming the tree.

Now, when it comes to actually decorating the tree, I absolutely love it for the most part.  Sure, the occasional glass bulb gets smashed to smithereens, but many of the ornaments on my tree have a special story behind them, and it's really a tree filled with memories.  The stringing of the lights can be a little bit stressful, especially when they won't turn on.  But it's a necessary evil and the end result is a thing of beauty.  At least it's better than candles, and much safer!

No, my only issue with tree trimming is a decoration that is completely optional.  A decoration that until recently was a family staple for generations.  A decoration that I absolutely despise to this day.

Can you say, death to TINSEL?  Because I hate it.  I hate tinsel, garland, sparkle strings, or whatever you call it.  It's tacky, messy, and difficult to use.

Seriously, the idea of tinsel on a Christmas tree just screams 100% tacky.  I'd rather do what our ancestors did and make popcorn strings or construction paper chains to drape on the tree.  It would at least look more homey and less like you wrapped aluminum foil over the branches!

I think my main reason for disliking tinsel when I was younger was because it was just one more thing you had to wait for before you could even so much as put one ornament up.  Obviously we couldn't start decorating the tree until the lights were up and the angel was placed on the top of the tree.  It would be silly to put ornaments up before the lights.  But then after the lights went up, we had to wait even longer because we had to put the tinsel on the tree.  I mean, seriously, we had enough ornaments to put on the tree that we really didn't need the tinsel at all.  But my parents insisted that the tree would look better with the tinsel.

What it looked like was what might have happened had Diana Ross and the Supremes shredded their dresses and poured the remains all over the tree.  There was so much tinsel on it that it was almost as if we had gone down to Las Vegas to buy the tree!

Never mind the fact that if we happened to brush up against the tree that we'd get tinsel all over ourselves.  Tinsel in the hair.  Tinsel on our ugly Christmas sweaters.  Tinsel on our shoes.  I equate tinsel to be just as annoying as excessive glitter on Christmas cards.

And when Christmas is over and it's time to take the tree down, does that mean that our tinsel problems are over?  Nope.  If anything, they just get worse.  For starters, my parents were very thrifty when it came to Christmas decorations and they saved the same blue and silver strands of tinsel year after year for what seemed like twenty years.  And to make matters worse, we were still finding pieces of tinsel all over the house four months after Christmas was over!  And forget about trying to suck up the tinsel that had fallen on the floor with the vacuum cleaner.  Once tinsel falls on the floor, it NEVER LEAVES.

I think over the years though, my parents realized that putting the tinsel on the tree was hard work, and taking it off the tree was even harder.  So, once the strands of tinsel that they had eventually broke, they never bothered to replace it.  I don't think I've put tinsel on a Christmas tree in about fifteen years.  I don't miss it at all, and I think that I have enough gold and silver ornaments to put on the tree to make it shine without tinsel.

It may be Christmastime in Tinseltown again...but I don't care if I ever see any tinsel ever again!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Pop Culture Addict Advent Calendar 2016 Schedule!

Tomorrow I will be beginning the POP CULTURE ADDICT'S ADVENT CALENDAR.  This year I'll be doing it a little differently.  Don't worry though...I'll still have lots of Christmas fun.  It's just that with the lack of time I have and the fact that over five years, I've blogged about almost everything Christmas, I'm going to make this more personal.

Here's the tentative schedule for the next 25 days.

SUNDAYS - Christmas Carol Sunday
MONDAYS - Christmas at School
TUESDAYS - Tuesday Timeline
WEDNESDAYS - Wednesday Wishes
FRIDAYS - Jem Reviewed!
SATURDAYS - Holiday Programming

To explain a couple of them - Christmas at School deals with various art projects, Christmas activities, and all the stuff we did when we were kids.  Wednesday Wishes are about some of things that I wanted for Christmas, as well as traditions associated with the holidays.  Thursdays are going to be a fun day as I point out that not everything about the holidays is enjoyable, and I select some items that I would be happy if they got rid of permanently.  And Saturdays, I'll talk about Christmas specials and Christmas movies.

The Tuesday and Friday entries won't change much.  And I'm actually kind of relieved that I can attempt to put a Christmas spin on three of the Jem Reviewed entries.  When we get to December 23, I'm going to have a LOT of issues, but I'll try to figure something out. 

So, that's the schedule.  And then once Christmas is over, I'll be doing a week long review on the Good and the Bad of 2016...or, in this case...maybe just the bad...

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

November 29, 1972

This is the last Tuesday Timeline for November...and I realize that November hasn't been that busy of a month here in this blog.  I promise that I will rectify that when December arrives - and I'll give you a heads up on what to expect in tomorrow's blog entry.  I think it's something that a lot of you will like.  At least, I hope so.

For now, let's see what happened on November 29 through the history pages.

1612 - The Battle of Swally takes place

1776 - The Battle of Fort Cumberland, Nova Scotia concludes

1777 - The city of San Jose, California is founded by Jose Joaquin Moraga

1781 - A disturbing crime takes place when the crew of the Zong - a British slave ship - murders 133 African slaves by dumping them into the sea in order to claim insurance

1830 - An armed rebellion against Russia's rule in Poland begins, setting forth the November Uprising

1832 - Poet/novelist Louisa May Alcott (d. 1888) is born in Germantown, Pennsylvania

1847 - The Whitman Massacre takes place, which serves as the catalyst for the Cayuse War

1877 - Thomas Edison demonstrates his newest invention - the phonograph

1929 - Richard E. Byrd - an American admiral - leads the expedition to fly over the South Pole for the first time

1940 - Singer/songwriter Denny Doherty (d. 2007) is born in Halifax, Nova Scotia

1944 - The first human surgery to correct blue baby syndrome is performed by Alfred Blalock and Vivien Thomas

1949 - Comedian/actor Garry Shandling (d. 2016) is born in Chicago, Illinois

1950 - The United Nations forces are left with no choice but to retreat from North Korea after being forced to leave by North Korean and Chinese soldiers during the Korean War

1961 - Enos, a chimpanzee - is launched into space

1963 - The Warren Commission is established by Lyndon B. Johnson to investigate the assassination of John F. Kennedy one week earlier

1965 - Alouette 2 is launched by the Canadian Space Agency

1975 - The Silver Connection single "Fly, Robin, Fly" reaches #1 on the Billboard charts

1981 - Actress Natalie Wood drowns under mysterious circumstances at the age of 43

1986 - Actor Cary Grant passes away, aged 82

1991 - Actor Ralph Bellamy dies at the age of 87

2001 - George Harrison, singer, songwriter, musician, and Beatle, passes away at the age of 58

2004 - Actor John Drew Barrymore passes away at the age of 72

2005 - Actress Wendie Jo Sperber loses her battle with breast cancer, aged 47 years of age

2009 - Four police officers are gunned down inside of a coffee shop in Lakewood, Washington - the shooter was shot and killed two days later

And for celebrity birthdays, let me send out some birthday greetings to the following people; Vin Scully, Diane Ladd, Meco, Suzy Chaffee, Jeff Fahey, Joel Coen, Howie Mandel, Hinton Battle, Cathy Moriarty, Kim Delaney, Tom Sizemore, Andrew McCarthy, Don Cheadle, Cork Graham, Ellen Cleghorne, Jonathan Knight, Larry Joe Campbell, Brian Baumgartner, Sarah Jones, Anna Faris, Lauren German, Simon Amstell, The Game, Lucas Black, and Imogen Thomas.

So, quite a lot has happened on this date.  I definitely had no shortage of topics to choose from.  But since Christmas is coming soon, I thought that I would make today's Tuesday Timeline subject toy related.  Why not, right?

That's the reason behind why I chose the date of November 29, 1972 as today's destination.  Because it was on this date 44 years ago today that kicked off what could be considered a multimillion dollar industry.  And it forever changed the way you looked at a specific game.

The industry, of course, is video games.  Ever since 1972, video games have been through a lot.  We saw 8-bit graphics turn into 3D graphics.  We saw Mario change his look about a couple of dozen times.  And we even survived the video game crash of 1983 which very nearly crippled the industry beyond repair.

And I can imagine that quite a few of you that might be reading this entry have probably asked for at least one video game related item for Christmas this year.

Trust me.  I know.  This Christmas, I want the Classic Mini NES that has thirty games preloaded onto it.  I also know that I am NOT going to be getting it because you cannot find it in stores and people have the gall to charge up to fifteen hundred dollars for it on eBay.

Yeah, like I really want to pay $1,500 for a video game system that only costs $90 here in Canada.  Capitalism can be a good thing for economic stimulation, but I'd classify that to be electronic extortion!

Not even the video game system that featured today's Tuesday Timeline subject - The Magnavox Odyssey - cost that much!  Adjusting for inflation, it only cost $560 in 2016 bucks to buy it (It was worth $99 in 1972 - the year it was released).

And yes...believe it or not, they did have video games back in 1972.

Okay, so the video game "Pong" was extremely basic in presentation and gameplay.  It was more or less a crude way to play electronic tennis.  But would you believe that it was 44 years ago today that "Pong" made its appearance in video arcades all over the United States?  And that it is easily considered the video game that started the entire gaming industry?

Now, as I mentioned before, the game appeared as part of the Magnavox Odyssey console (though it wasn't called Pong).  But the actual arcade game was developed by Atari (which once served as the most successful company in gaming consoles before Nintendo dethroned them in the mid-1980s).  And, it was largely inspired by the table tennis game that was included with the Magnavox Odyssey - which would spark a lawsuit between Magnavox and Atari a few years later.

But, I'm getting ahead of myself.

We can thank Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell and Allan Alcorn for the creation of Pong.  Although Alcorn had zero experience with creating electronic simulation games, Bushnell believed in his abilities enough to assign him a special project of sorts - a project meant to be a warm-up exercise for the finished project.  What Alcorn ended up creating was the video game "Pong".  Though the story of how Pong came to be varies depending on who you talk with.  If you believe Bushnell's story, the game idea was based on a game he played on a PDP-1 computer all the way back in 1964.  However, Alcorn maintains that Bushnell only got the idea after playing the tennis game on the Magnavox Odyssey, and assigned the project to Alcorn in the hopes of creating a better looking product.

It wasn't long after Atari released "Pong" that Magnavox filed the lawsuit against them, citing infringement against the patents that Ralph Baer (the creator of the Magnavox Odyssey) had in his possession.  Bushnell ended up settling with Magnavox out of court - largely due to the fact that the legal fees to keep the court case going would have likely bankrupted Atari.  Magnavox offered Atari an agreement to become a licensee for the price tag of $700,000, and other companies that would produce Pong (Colecovision, Intellivision, etc) would have to pay royalties.  Magnavox would also obtain the rights to any and all products that Atari developed within a year after the case was settled - a clause that Atari successfully managed to avoid by postponing all major releases until after the year deadline expired.

All that trouble for what could be considered the simplest video game every played.

Seriously, it's tennis.  You move the white bars around to bounce a moving ball across the court.  If you end up missing the ball, your opponent scores a point.  It's really simple - and I'm fairly sure that if you allowed a millennial to play the game, they'd probably get bored after thirty seconds.

But back in '72, it was the game to own...and we wouldn't have modern day video games without Pong!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Jem Reviewed: Episode 36 - Music is Magic

All's a new week of Jem Reviewed.  And considering that last week's edition was so bad that I sort of gave up at the end, I'm hoping that Episode 36: Music is Magic is a lot better.  After all, the show's title is named after one of the Jem songs I liked during season one.  And, I'm going to wager dollars to donuts that the song will be making a reappearance at some point.

For now, let's watch as The Great Kimberini makes a huge fool of herself in front of all the Starlight Girls.  Apparently, Kimber has a side hobby of practicing magic tricks, and she's decided to practice on the girls.  So, if you happen to see Deirdre, Krissie, and Lela dead on the floor, you'll know Kimber tried to saw them in half.  But I don't think Jerrica would even let Kimber do that.

Besides, it doesn't look like Kimber is even that skilled with trying basic tricks such as getting out of a locked chest.  Ba Nee has to rescue her with the skeleton key that Kimber had her hold.  Some magician you turned out to be!

Well, maybe Kimber can learn some things from the actual magicians that will be appearing at the place the band will be performing.  It's a place called Magic Island (how original), and they will be performing alongside real magicians and illusionists for a primetime "Music and Magic" television special.  Sounds like a really cool idea, and I'm sure it's going to be a big hit.

Well, looks like someone wants to sabotage the event because we see them tearing apart the poster.  My money's on Eric, but we'll see.

By the way...have you noticed that the animation for this episode isn't all that great?  It's very different from the 35 episodes that we previously watched.  Well, in this week's Jem Trivia, I can tell you why.  Of the 65 episodes that were made, 59 of them were animated in Japan.  The other six were animated in South Korea - whose animation budget clearly wasn't as high as Japan's.  But it did save them some money overall.  One way you can tell that it's a Korean production (aside from the bad animation) is the fact that in these episodes, Raya has been made Caucasian.  Whitewashing at its lamest.  For future reference, the episodes made in South Korea are 36, 43, 46, 48, 56, and 58.

It's time for the Holograms to meet up with the rest of the illusionists.  First, they are greeted by magician Devon Silverstone.  I'm guessing that they couldn't legally use the name David Copperfield because of the fact that he didn't give them permission - or they couldn't use it because of the character from the Charles Dickens novel.  Either way, Copperfield might have been too busy chasing Claudia Schiffer to really care.  Silverstone's eyes seem to be focused entirely on Jem, and he magically makes flowers appear.

But then we're introduced to Marla "Get Your Hands Off My Man, Bitch" Martell, who clearly is disgusted by the attraction between Devon and Jem - mainly because she makes it painfully obvious that she wants to be in control of his...magic wand, so to speak.

And to prove it, she makes a snake appear in the flowers that Devon just gave Jem.  My, Marla must be really fun at parties.

Fortunately, another pair of magicians come along to lend a hand by taking care of the snake.  Yeah, I suppose having Jem hospitalized for getting bit by a poisonous snake would be considered bad for ratings.  The man who made the snake disappear is named Frick, and his homely looking sidekick is Frack, his assistant.  But before you think that Jem has found an ally, think again.  Frick is not happy with Jem and the Holograms being there because he doesn't like sharing the stage with non-magicians.  Sorry, Kimber.  I guess you have to go home.  And Frick also complains about the other band that is set to perform alongside them.  Uh I even want to know who this other band is?

Oh look...when the moon hits your eye like a huge Misfit pie, that's anything BUT amore.

But you want to know what IS amore?  The song "Abracadabra".  This ain't the Steve Miller version either.  It's a brand new Misfits song, and it is absolutely phenomenal.  The visuals, the music, the lyrics.  I was worried that the Misfits had used up all their great song stylings, but this one is a keeper.  Easily a contender for favourite Misfits Season 2 song.

Oh, and of course, the Misfits are trying to make THEMSELVES the main performers so that they can force Jem and the Holograms out.  Of course they are.  That's their whole purpose of existing!

Fortunately, Devon interrupts the action to ask Jem to marry him.  No, wait.  He just wants her to be his guinea pig for a new magic trick.  Either way, Jem agrees to the trick, provided that it doesn't take too much time.  I'm guessing just based on the giant box on stage, it's one of those classic disappearing rock star tricks where Jem escapes from the box and reappears behind a curtain on stage.

At least, that's what is SUPPOSED to happen.  As soon as Jem enters the box and Devon starts doing his magic spiel, the box explodes in a gigantic fireball and Jem is nowhere to be found!


The strange thing is that there is no body present, so I'm thinking that the trick worked like a charm.  I'm also thinking that the trick was actually sabotaged on purpose and that the perpetrator has Jem locked up in a different location. 

The number of suspects is quite high, and my first instinct is that for someone to get away with it, they would have to know magic themselves.  So, Kimber's out as a suspect.  And I'm thinking Devon is out as well, since he genuinely looked shocked at Jem's disappearing act - unless he's a really great actor.  If I were the Holograms, I'd suspect Marla or the Frick/Frack combo, as both expressed dislike for her.

But no, the Holograms have suspected the Misfits because they seem to be all on stupid pills.  Though, it does lead in nicely to the Jem and the Holograms song "It Could Be You" - which again is a fantastic song.  Say what you will about the animation of this episode - the music is incredible this time around.

The Misfits, of course, deny the accusations, and it is decided that the three groups (magicians, Holograms, Misfits) split up so they can cover more ground in locating Jem.  Seems reasonable.

Group #1 contains Pizzazz, Marla, and Kimber, who seem to be on a side stage away from the main stage.  The stage is loaded with dozens of magic props as well as musical instruments.  And almost immediately, Kimber and Pizzazz are frightened by the suddenly appearing image of a frightening monster. 

Marla is quick to point out that the image is nothing more than a hologram being projected via a machine.  See, of all people should recognize a hologram when you see one!  See?  Stupid pills.  Of course, most Holograms don't shoot laser beams at random women, and poor Kimber gets locked in a giant sarcophagus as laser beams seemingly make Marla disintegrate!  

And to make matters worse, the creepy orange monster grabs a hold of a shrieking Pizzazz and both of them disappear in a cloud of smoke!  It's official.  Someone DEFINITELY doesn't want the show to go on.

Luckily for Kimber, Aja's group arrives in time to help her out of the sarcophagus.  But because Kimber didn't see the moment in which Pizzazz and Marla disappeared, she's unable to know where they could have gone.  The groups decide that splitting up is not the way to go, and they regroup.

They soon find themselves in a basement of the theatre, where thanks to some quick thinking by Devon, they have enough light to see.  And Raya thinks that she sees Jem locked up in a cage in the corner.  Oh, that's just too obvious.  You know there has to be a catch.

Sure enough, when Raya enters the cage, she finds that "Jem" is really a cardboard cutout.  And when Raya tries to leave the cage, it locks behind her and spins her around in a cloud of thick smoke.  It seems that Raya is our next person to pull a disappearing act...

...or she turns into a tiger that is set on making Stormer her next meal.  Funny...I would think that if the tiger really was Raya, she'd want to bite off Jetta's face before attacking Stormer.  Either way, more quick thinking from Devon blinds the tiger long enough for them to get away, and for Devon to lock the tiger back into the cage it came from.  So, I'm officially crossing Devon off the suspect list too, meaning that Frick and Frack are looking mighty guilty to me - well, unless Marla staged her own disappearing act.

But before the group can approach them, Frick decides to pull out a tarp to hold them off, loses his grip on the tarp, and somehow finds a way to make Devon, Roxy, and Aja disappear!  Oh, sure...that's a great way to prove your innocence!

For the remaining people left - Kimber, Stormer, Shana, and Jetta, it's all the proof that they need to suspect that Frick is the one who masterminded the whole plan and kidnapped all of their friends.  They immediately chase after them, and plan to make them reveal where their friends are.

But just as the girls have the magicians cornered, they're ambushed by a gigantic cannon that shoots balloons and confetti all over them!

It shoots them with such force that all of them end up sliding down a hidden trapdoor where they all land in individual cages that are sealed up tight!  

Kimber looks around and sees Jem, Aja, Raya, and the others have all suffered the same fate as them.  Well, okay, Pizzazz is locked in a coffin and Roxy is dangling upside down in a straitjacket.  But with everybody locked away in the catacombs of the theatre, it seems as though none of them could be guilty.

That is, until Frack opens up his door and announces his evil scheme.  It seems as though Frack was getting a little tired of being Frick's second banana, and he decided that he would use his own magic skills to take over the whole Music and Magic show!  Oh, and he locked up the Holograms and the Misfits as well, because he refuses to share the stage with anyone.  So this whole plot was to make him a star, was it?  Well, Jem is determined to stop him.  Of course, it's pretty hard for Jem to do anything locked up.

But as soon as Frack leaves to start the show, Kimber remembers that she still has her skeleton key on her.  You know, the key that can open up any lock?  Kimber tries the key on the lock of her cage and successfully gets out!  Thinking she's onto something, she runs over to Jem's cage and frees her!  Kimber saves the day yet again!

As Kimber runs around the area unlocking Holograms, Misfits, and magicians, Marla approaches Jem and apologizes for treating her so badly at the start, which Jem accepts.  I think Frick also apologizes for having a psycho assistant, but I can't remember that part.

Unfortunately for Pizzazz, she's the last one to be rescued, and Kimber's skeleton key breaks in the lock.  Since they have no time to waste, the Holograms and the magicians go on ahead to try and stop Frack from destroying the show...leaving Roxy and Stormer to try and get Pizzazz out with a handsaw!  Oh, why do I get the feeling that this isn't going to end well?  Though kudos to Paul Dini for including so many sight gags!

On stage, Frack is definitely enjoying the limelight of being the sole performer of the show, and he truly believes that he has gotten away with the perfect crime.  Well, that is until the curtain opens up behind him, and Jem and the Holograms are standing there along with Frick, Marla, and Devon.

Stunned, but surprisingly prepared, Frack uses his powers of magic to make the magicians fall on stage thanks to a game of 52 Pick-Up!  But what Frack doesn't know is that Jem has her own book of tricks - or rather, an earring of tricks.

With help from Synergy, Jem clones all the members of her band six or seven times to really confuse Frack.  Then when Frack uses his magic wand to attack one of the groups, he turns Jem into an ugly green monster that makes him retreat! 

He backs up so much that it allows the Misfits who are backstage to kidnap him and tie him up in a straitjacket!  You know, when the Holograms and the Misfits work together, they actually become stronger.  I just wish their silly feud didn't get in the way all the time.

With Frack now tied up, the show can go on.  But Devon approaches Jem and is blown away by how she made those illusions appear!  He tries to get her to reveal her secrets, but Jem doesn't take the bait.  Instead, she and the Holograms perform a song.

And that song is - of course - "Music is Magic".  It was originally performed in Episode 5, and I named it one of my favourite songs from Season 1.  I'm really glad they reused it for this show, and I'm really glad that it received a better music video than the one used in Episode 5.  All in all, this episode - in spite of its flawed animation - is one of the better ones of Season 2.  Actually, on the whole, the first part of season 2 (with a couple of exceptions) has started off really strong.  I like it!

But as the show ends and the Holograms prepare to go home, they wonder whatever happened to the Misfits.

Uh-oh...looks like Frack escaped and took his revenge by tying the Misfits up and making them miss the whole show!  But again, kudos to Paul Dini for creating great sight gags - as well as a fantastic episode!

The next episode of Jem Reviewed helps kick off our POP CULTURE ADDICT'S ADVENT CALENDAR!  And in that episode, Jem tries to perform a Christmas miracle by bringing the members of a 1940s jazz band back together for one more record!