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Friday, September 23, 2016

Jem Reviewed: Episode 27 - The Talent Search, Part 1

Are you ready for Season 2 of Jem Reviewed?  I know I am...even though season one had a lot of ups and downs such as the Glitter and Gold episode last week. 

And we kick off Season 2 with yet another two-part episode!  This is Episode 27 - The Talent Search, Part 1.

It looks like Shana and Krissie are the first people to appear in the first scene as Shana has designed a dress for her.  Great, first she designs for her band, and now the Starlight Girls.  If Ba Nee asks her to design a dress for her Jem doll, I'm gonna scream.

Fortunately for us, Deirdre interrupts to tell Shana that Jem and the other Holograms request her presence in the rehearsal room, which Shana has completely forgotten about.  Luckily, Jem doesn't kill her or anything.

Shana wishes she could set fire to her drum set though.  Shana likes the drums, but she'd rather play her funky looking triangle guitar instead.  The problem is that Jem, Kimber, and Aja play drums about the same way that a two-year-old plays, so Shana is pretty much left to waste away in her prison of percussion instruments.

Why, hello there, Anthony Julien!  How nice of you to barge in uninvited!  Seriously, he just runs in, tells Shana that he has to take her away to meet someone special, and runs off with her!  They must REALLY be serious!  Or Anthony's a caveman.  Take your pick.

Turns out that the person that Anthony Julien wants Shana to meet is actress Liz Stratton, one of the biggest movie divas in all the world.  Believe me, we'll understand what the word diva really means in this episode thanks to her.  For now though, she's charming and witty with Shana and she has a proposition for her.  She wants Shana to design all of the costumes for her next motion picture!  Okay, so technically Shana and Danielle DuVoisin helped with fashion design for the Starbright Movie, but this is Shana's huge chance to prove herself as a solo designer.  The only problem is her commitment to Jem and the Holograms, and how they have a tour coming up.  But Liz isn't willing to budge and tells her that she either works for her, or not at all.  Charming lady, isn't she?

Of course, this leaves Shana in a bit of a pickle.  She knows that the opportunity is one that she can't pass up...but Jerrica, Kimber, and Aja are like sisters to her.  How can she tell them that she wants to take Liz's offer, and how will they react?

Apparently, Shana is shocked that Jerrica, Kimber, and Aja not only support her ambition, but immediately work on plans to replace her by having a talent search contest.  And they say this right in front of her!  No wonder Shana runs upstairs bawling her eyes out!  In fact, when the time comes for Shana to leave Starlight Mansion to move into Liz's quarters, she essentially gives all three girls the cold shoulder as she takes off into the night.

Of course, Shana is the most sensitive Hologram of the bunch - even moreso than Kimber, believe it or not.  And once Anthony and Shana are on the road, she dissolves into a mental breakdown, confused as to why they didn't fight harder to get her to stay.  Anthony reassures Shana that they do care about her and that they want what's best for her, but it's of little consolation.

But what Shana doesn't realize is that the rest of the Holograms are devastated over what happened and they really didn't want her to go.  But Aja explains it best when she deduces that Shana's loyalty to them would have gotten in the way of pursuing her dream.  Nice to see Aja's common sense and sensibility have remained in Season 2.  Jerrica is also sad to see Shana go, but also looks at it from a business perspective.  And since all the tours they go on bring money to Starlight House, she makes it a mission to try and find a replacement drummer for Shana.

Hence the search for the newest Hologram.  Ashley's posting ads for the contest in store windows, Lindsey Pearce is announcing the contest on her video show.  There's even a story about it in the local newspaper... that Pizzazz just happens to be reading.  And Pizzazz, Roxy, and Stormer are not pleased with the extra attention that Jem and the Holograms are getting.  Leave it to Eric Raymond to come up with a solution of his own.  Since Jem and the Holograms are looking for someone new, he decides that the Misfits trio should now become a quartet!  Roxy immediately gets defensive about the idea, saying that they don't need another Misfit, but Stormer seems to think that Eric's idea is sound, as another person can bring a fuller sound and more complex music to their discography.  See, Stormer gets the music business!  It's a wonder she didn't become the lead singer.  I guess probably because Pizzazz wanted the gig more for the publicity.  And, Pizzazz agrees with Stormer that a fourth Misfit is just what they need to stick it to Jem and the Holograms.

Initially, the search goes dry, as every club that they go to produces one bad artist after another.  After about ten clubs, Pizzazz and Roxy are ready to call it a day, but Stormer hears a killer saxophone sound coming from a building advertising a British band called the Tinkerbillies.  Random fact:  Tinkerbilly is Brit slang for Wannabe.  Oh, I sure hope they don't play Spice Girls songs.

No, instead we see a British gal dressed in black and white attacking the crowd with a giant black saxophone.  I'm guessing she must be a Tinkerbilly.  In actuality, her name is Jetta, but we don't learn that until a little later.  I'm just telling you now so you know.  Anyway, Jetta is so busy attacking the crowd that she doesn't notice that Misfits have hijacked the stage.

Pizzazz immediately tells Jetta that because she's violent and crazy, she already likes her style and encourages her to play along with them.  She agrees in her naturally aggressive manner.

Sweet Jesus, I think Stormer was bang on with her assessment that more band members mean more complex music.  I have absolutely no complaints about "I Like Your Style" at all.  The saxophone really adds to the song composition very well, and it easily sets the tone for the Misfits during season two.  If "Designing Woman" was my favourite Misfits song of season one, this song is a contender for season two for sure.

Pizzazz and Stormer are immediately enchanted by Jetta - Pizzazz because of Jetta's mean streak, and Stormer because of Jetta's natural talent and British accent.  And I may as well lead into Jem Trivia here while we're on the subject.  Jetta's voice actress is the very British Louise Dorsey - who happens to be the daughter of one Arnold Dorsey.  And Arnold Dorsey goes by the stage name of Engelbert Humperdinck (I know...what a name change, huh?)

(Coincidentally, Louise Dorsey isn't the only Brit on this show.  Samantha Newark, who voices Jem, was also born in Britain.  Obviously she uses an American accent for the show, but listen to her whenever Jem or Jerrica say the word "Very".  It's vurry obvious.)

It's also vurry obvious that Roxy and Jetta have no love lost between them, and they nearly get into a fist fight!  But that's the least of Jetta's issues.  Jetta is going to have problems joining the band, as she doesn't have the necessary visa to work in the United States.  Of course, Pizzazz sees this as not a problem, and tells Jetta that her father will take care of that nasty paperwork.  That's enough to convince Jetta to join the band!  Roxy still doesn't like it, but Pizzazz is too busy filling Jetta in on how much Jem sucks for her to take Roxy's feelings to heart.

Meanwhile, Aja is handing out flyers to every single music store to advertise the contest, and at one store she overhears someone playing the drums very well.  It's a blue haired man by the name of Craig Phillips, and immediately Craig is drawn into Aja's orbit.  He compliments her on her name, he compliments her on her beauty, and he actually hits on her!  Yep, Craig is very much smitten.  But just as I'm finally expecting Aja to get a storyline for once, she shuts him down cold, and tells him that they're only looking for serious contestants for their contest.  Ouch!  However, Craig is not about ready to give up on Aja just yet and decides that maybe by becoming a Hologram, he can get closer to his "love at first sight" moment.

And across town at a new location - Alonso Nurseries - we are introduced to a Latino-American family who runs their own flower growing business.  Normally this wouldn't be much of a big deal except that the daughter of the family takes the news about Jem's drummer leaving very seriously.

Introducing our drum playing flower child from Mexico - Carmen Alonso.  But, Carmen doesn't like being called that.  Instead, she goes by her nickname. Raya.  It's a name that her mother doesn't really approve of - but then again, Raya's mother doesn't really like the idea of Raya playing drums in the first place.  Then again, I get the feeling Mama Alonso doesn't like a lot of things like sunshine, or rainbows, or sex.  Thankfully, Papa Alonso is nowhere near the dream crushing harpy that his wife is, and he supports her in her quest to enter the contest!  Take that, Mama Alonso!

So, how is the talent search going?  Well, we have Jem, Kimber, and Aja filling in the roles of Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson...and unfortunately, all of the people who are auditioning suck.  Lowlights include a girl going all butterfingers with her drumsticks and a nerdy guy playing the William Tell Overture on a Fisher-Price drum!  Jem is already wanting her Coca-Cola glass to be spiked with tequila, I'm sure.

One person who won't be at the auditions any time soon is Raya, who sees that the line is so long that she thinks she'd be wasting her time, and goes back home.  What was the point of that?

Seems like Raya isn't the only one who has become disenchanted with their recent choices.  It appears as though Shana is undergoing a "Devil Wears Prada" moment with Liz Stratton who completely trashes her and her designs.  Little Miss "Orange Is My Unlucky Colour" Stratton is being impossible with Little Miss Lavender-Haired Designer Shana, and Anthony Julien is noticing the tension in the air.  He suggests that maybe Shana should leave and go back to Jem, but Shana is insisting that she made the right choice despite the feelings of doubt that she has.  I guess we'll just have to see what happens.

Back at the Alonso nurseries, Papa Alonso is shocked that Raya just gave up on the audition, and Raya tells him that when she saw all the people in the line, she figured that she didn't have a chance.  It takes a pep talk from Papa Alonso to change Raya's mind, and together they go back to Starlight Music for Raya to audition properly.

Unfortunately they arrive just as the security at Starlight Music closes the doors of the record company.  Day one of tryouts are over, and Raya is upset that she is too late.  But wait!  Papa Alonso has an idea!  He grabs a couple of orchid plants from the back of his van, instructs Raya to carry one, and tells the person sitting at the desk that the flowers are for Jem!  I have to say, I like Papa Alonso's style, and I think he's one of the few male characters who seems to have a backbone and a brain! 

The plan works, and Papa Alonso and Raya arrive just as Jem, Kimber, and Aja are ready to pack up.  At first, Jem tells Raya to come back tomorrow, but Papa Alonso steps in to say that it took everything in him to get her to come back to the auditions because of Raya's shyness, and pleads with Jem to let her audition!  Charmed by Papa Alonso's personality, Jem relents and says that they have time for one more.

This in turn leads to a song called "Believe in Yourself" - a song that ties into Papa Alonso's advice to Raya beautifully!  As we can see, Raya really is a talented drummer, and the song is absolutely fantastic!  I see Jem has really stepped up her songs as well, as this one might be an instant favourite for Season 2 thus far!

Once Raya's audition is finished, Jem and Kimber tell her that she was vurry terrific, and Aja formally invites her to be one of the semi-finalists for the contest!  Outrageous!  Raya is blown away by the news and she and her father go off to celebrate - at least that is until her father realizes that they left behind his orchid plants.  This prompts Raya to tell her father to wait in the lobby while she retrieves them...

...which allows Raya to discover Jem's SECRET!!!  She has a great view of Jem using her JemStar earrings to transform into Jerrica Benton.  Uh-oh!

Furthermore, Raya happens to catch Jerrica talking with Synergy - Synergy of course telling Jerrica that she needs to be careful when revealing her identity to outsiders (because we all know how well that worked in Morvania), and Jerrica reassures Synergy that before they reveal who she is to a new band member that they have to trust them one hundred per cent.  What an interesting conflict this presents in Raya, who now knows everything, but the other Holograms aren't aware that Raya knows Jem's secret identity.  Whatever is she going to do?

She gets some time to sleep on it, as Day #2 of auditions take place, and who should happen to appear in the next batch of percussion hopefuls than Craig Phillips - the very person who tried to hit on Aja at the record store.  Once Aja recognizes him, Craig informs her that he never plays drums alone and asks for backup, to which Aja happily obliges.

Now, one thing I should note about Season 2 is that many of the episodes reuse old songs from Season 1, but puts different music videos to them, such as the case with "I Got My Eye On You" originally heard in Episode 3.  But instead of focusing on Jem and Rio, this video features the building attraction between Craig and Aja.  Both situations work great, and I'm not annoyed as I listed this song as one of my favourites from Season 1.  Another episode with solid music choices!

I can only assume that Craig was also picked to be a semi-finalist, as he, Raya, and six others are at a party at Starlight Mansion with the Holograms and Starlight Girls.  As Jem, Kimber, and Aja explain to Lindsey Pearce, they feel personal chemistry is as important as musical chemistry, and this was the best way to see who fit into their social circles the best.  You know, I've got to hand it to them...they're doing this talent search exactly right, and I'm very impressed!

One person who isn't impressed with Raya being there is some freakish looking punk girl who more or less insults Raya to the point where Raya runs off crying in the corner.  Fortunately for Raya, Kimber and Aja throw the punk off the property and kick her out of the contest!  Nice job, ladies!

Meanwhile, Jem approaches Raya and tells her that woman was just insecure and jealous and that Raya is there because she has the talent without the conceit, which makes Raya feel better.  And you know, I've given Jem a lot of grief in the past about her personality, but this episode really shows Jem's best side, and it's so great to see her interactions with Raya here.

Raya even decides to bring a present to the Starlight Girls in the form of a pinata, which Ba Nee smashes open to smithereens!  Raya explains to Kimber that she wanted to do something nice for the Starlight Girls because growing up in a house filled with brothers and a dream crushing mother had left her longing for sisters and positive female role models.

Of course, one of the semi-finalists comes to the conclusion that Raya is just doing this to make herself look good and is trying to score brownie points.  However, semi-finalist Craig stands up for Raya and tells the guy off.  This in turn makes Aja fall even more head over heels in love with Craig.  Aw!

While all of this is going on, Eric formally introduces Jetta as the newest Misfit, and Jetta is more than happy to answer any and all questions that the press may have.  Now, the one thing that you need to know about Jetta is that she is a pathological liar who gets off telling embellished stories about her upbringing, even telling the press that she is a descendant of British royalty and name drops celebrities.  Pizzazz and Stormer are instantly impressed by Jetta's stories, but Roxy sees right through Jetta and warns the rest of the band that they shouldn't trust her.  You know, this is a new side of personality that we're seeing from Roxy.  Seems like she might just be the most street smart of all the Misfits, which is a quality that should be embraced.

But even bigger than Jetta joining the Misfits is the announcement of the two finalists for the "Search for a Hologram" contest.  To nobody's surprise, the finalists are Craig and Raya, and as the two celebrate making it further, Papa Alonso happily cheers Raya on, telling the crowd "That's my daughter!".  Seriously, can we keep Papa Alonso as a permanent character?  Please?

Of course, Pizzazz is more upset that when the news breaks about the new Misfit, it's buried on page 18 next to an underwear ad while Jem's contest took the whole front cover.  Jetta's also standing right next to Pizzazz at the time, but says nothing.  I get the feeling she's too busy ogling Jim Palmer in his tighty-whities to really care at this point.

But once Stormer checks out the front cover of the magazine which has Craig and Raya on it, she starts to freak out - particularly when she sees Craig's photo.  She gets so freaked out by Craig's image that she runs out of the room, leaving the other three Misfits to wonder what the heck just happened.  But Eric's not concerned.  The wheels of evil schemes are turning inside his head and he feels that he can use Jem's talent search to take back control of Starlight Music once and for all.  His theory is that because Craig and Raya are the finalists, they must know who Jem's real identity is.  His plan is to give them a recording contract with Misfits Music in exchange for that juicy info.

And he decides to start with Raya by taking her to a Japanese restaurant, informing her that Jem doesn't really think she has talent and actually feels sorry for her, and bribes her with the recording contract if Raya will tell Eric who Jem is.  The really twisted thing is that Raya is the only one of the finalists who truly does know Jem's identity!  The question is...what will she do?

Of course, this is merely part one, and a TO BE CONTINUED sign appears over Raya's face.  But tune into Part 2 to see if Raya reveals all...and then some.


  1. Love Raya to bits (well I did name my horse after her... and had one called Roxy too!)...
    Too bad Raya didn't have more storylines down the track... they all seemed to go to either Jem, Kimber, Shana, the crappy Stingers, or just secondary characters.

  2. I haven't even gotten to the Stingers episodes yet...but I've heard they're a handful.