(Listen to the episode here.)
Kit: Who was that?
Kit: Charming, Annie. Really charming. Watch as I make that the cold open for this episode.
Annie: Hey there, I'm Annie.
Kit: I'm Kit.
Maq: And I'm Maq.
Annie: And this is The Jem Jam, where we do an episode-by-episode recap of the 1980s cartoon Jem and the Holograms, because we have awful taste and we need to inflict it on you, the internet. Last time, we did episode one: "The Beginning." This time, this is episode two: "Disaster," still written by Christy Marx, as this is part of our little intro. Our shockingly low-budget intro to a glam rock series that is full of drama. And I'm very excited to get started.
Kit: I started watching this episode on Netflix, and it fires up with the "last time on Jem" recap, and my immediate reaction was, "Who the frick is this recap narrator? I've never heard her voice before in my life." Is she in the show?
Annie: The entire time I've watched this--I've watched the show like four times all the way through, and I have no idea. Either way, whoever this is, she's in love with the word "starlight."
Kit: Yeah, she says "starlight" like five times in one sentence. "She needs money from Starlight Records to fund Starlight House and ends up going to the Starlight Drive-in in the Starlight Express," and I was like, "You can stop saying it after awhile."
Annie: She's really trying to drive home her #brand.
So Starlight House is super on fire when we come back, which is exactly where we left off, so that's great. Yeah. The firemen are like, "Is that everyone?" and she's like, "Where's Ashley?"
Kit: She doesn't even say, "Where's Ashley?" She just says, in normal speaking tone, the name "Ashley," and then Ashley comes running out of the building. And then Jerrica acts all concerned.
Annie: Ashley went back in to grab the honor jar, because... I don't know, I don't know. I mean, if you look at that thing, there's got to be, like, three dollars in quarters in there. And, like, a two-dollar bill.
Kit: And then Jerrica's like, "No, no, no, your life is worth more than all the money in the world," which--I refute that.
Annie: It's this super hammy, overdramatic reading, too.
Kit: It is, it's super dramatic. And, you know, I'm trying to evaluate what the life insurance would be on a kid that age who has no parents and it's actually quite low. You're basically covering the funeral and that's it.
Annie: So it's actually dawn before Rio shows up. Everybody's in trauma blankets and Rio's like, "I don't know what would happen."
Kit: Plus this house, which is supposedly brick, has been utterly reduced to rubble by this fire. Somehow. And then Rio is like, "You're going to be okay," but it's in the most sinister voice I've ever heard come out of a human being.
Annie: But that doesn't really matter to Jerrica, because we get our first of--I swear--is a series of, "Oh, Rio!" It's like, if you can't think of anything to say to his weird quasi-sinister vibes, it's just, "Oh, Rio."
Maq: "Oh, Rio."
Annie: "Oh, Rio!"
Maq: Please repeat throughout the series.
Annie: Okay, so... also coming to see the fire are the Misfits, who showed up at their house for some reason?
Kit: They just like to watch stuff burn and they only found out afterwards that it was Jerrica's house. That's my theory.
Maq: That's how it comes across, honestly.
Annie: Can we just focus for second on the Misfits' van? Like, the greatest thing I've ever seen? It's like Mad Max 2: Beyond the Thunderdome? I mean, it's got flames on the side, it's got spikes on the front, there's floodlights, and someone just sort of haphazardly wrote "Misfits" on there. Like, this thing was a walking death tank beforehand.
Kit: Who did they buy this van from, is my question.
Maq: The army.
Maq: I could see it.
Annie: It's like the polar opposite of the Mystery Machine. This thing is evil.
Kit: The kids are like, "House burned down, where are we gonna go?" and then Jerrica, for some reason, is like, "I know where we can go! How would you like to help us put on a concert?" Which seems like a perfectly logical response, like, your house burned down? Yeah, sure, put on a concert in your pajamas using child labor. On a lawn.
Annie: But, in order to get there, first... I believe this is the point when we have our first song of the episode: "Like a Dream."
Maq: Yep. Which is going to be repeating several times throughout the series.
Annie: "Like a dream, we're gonna ride on a magic carpet through, like, a candy house! Like a dream, we're gonna ride some unicorns because I guess Rio's a virgin! Like a dream!" I just summarized it for you.
Kit: Did we skip the low speed chase?
Annie: Right! There was a low speed chase. Right. That's right, that's right. Before we get to our song, we go for a low speed chase in a couple of vans that probably can't handle more than, like, forty miles an hour. The Misfits give chase in their deathmobile, while they're in their clunky van, which they hide by pretending to be a Dumpster.
Kit: Which I feel is the perfect metaphor for this show, really.
Annie: Aw, low blow!
Kit: Look, they softballed it right in.
Annie: So, like, because they pretend to be garbage, the Misfits decide to follow Rio instead. Which means that they arrive at their destination, like, ten minutes later than Rio, which is weird.
Maq: But let's be honest: in a world where you can set up a stage and start your own concert directly across from another stage and another concert and nobody notices...?
Annie: Holograms. HOLOGRAMS.
Annie: All right. By the time they finish their song, it turns out that we have gone to the mysterious wandering millionaire from the last episode. We've come to hang out on his lawn, because he carries around a picture of a mansion. And we want that mansion.
Maq: So, basically. he comes out and he's like, "Yeah, sure, you guys can live on it," and--of course--immediately we've got the Misfits angry about this. And he's like, "Until the contest is over, this mansion is still mine."
Annie: Ah, but let's not forget that, first, the Misfits come up with this amazing critique, which is: "Boo! Don't quit your daytime job!"
Kit: That line sounds like it was written from the inside of a sensory deprivation tank.
Annie: Everything the Misfits say in this episode ends up being really weird and awkward. Which is great, because all hell is about to break loose and it is all weird and awkward. Howard Sands is like, "You can live in my mansion," and Pizzazz responds appropriately. She gives him a light shove which sends him careening, like, ten feet into the air, into a pool that--let's face it--is probably about a depth of, like, three feet.
Annie: And he's drowning. Meanwhile, Roxy stole a bulldozer!
Maq: She did! And she drives it!
Annie: Roxy is illiterate and she knows how to operate heavy machinery.
Kit: Well, she clearly doesn't, 'cause she falls right out of it afterwards.
Annie: That's true.
Kit: And meanwhile, Jerrica's trying to help the millionaire out of the pool. And then she slips and, like, flies ten feet backwards, directly into the path of the bulldozer, which--she needs to get that inner ear condition looked at. That's not supposed to happen.
Kit: Anyway, that's where the commercial break ends, is "Jerrica's about to be run over by a bulldozer."
Annie: Which is, again, another fantastic commercial break. Especially if they were airing these in chunks between commercial breaks. That's how this minisode ends: Jerrica is about to be legit crushed.
Unfortunately, the Angel of Glam Rock Death still does not come for Jerrica, because Rio scoops her out of the way.
Kit: Rio scoops her out of the way despite the fact that the bulldozer is so close to the camera, at this point, that it's taking up the entire field of view. Either that's a really big bulldozer, Jerrica and Rio are about three feet tall, or they're both dead now.
Annie: Or, or, or: Rio has superpowers. He has jealous boyfriend-related superpowers, and for a second he viewed the bulldozer as a male threat against her. I'm pretty sure we have another "Oh, Rio" here, because he's like, "I don't know what I would do if anything happened to you, Jerrica." This bulldozer is still trundling across the lawn.
Kit: That thing is still going.
Annie: I believe it takes Aja to actually run up to the damn thing, in heels, and take the key. Aja is basically the only level-headed person in this entire show right now.
Kit: Aja's the only one getting things done. If Aja were the main character, the contest would be won by now.
During this next sequence I was thinking, "Do the Misfits really think this is going to win them any points in the contest? There's no way this could possibly--" and then the millionaire says, "If you win the contest, the mansion will be yours. Until then, the girls can stay here." You're still going to give them the mansion after they tried to murder you?
Maq: He entered a verbal contract. You can't break verbal contracts.
Annie: So, it's amazing that Howard Sands is just like, "Well, if they win the contest, they get the mansion. I can't do anything about that." Because the only time we have any kind of reference to litigation comes in the next scene, where Eric Raymond is debriefing the Misfits. And he's like, "It'll take all my pull to keep Howard Sands from suing us." What pull does he have? He owns a music company with one band.
The Misfits, like, kick over a potted plant because he tells them to stop trying to rack up charges of reckless endangerment.
Kit: Meanwhile, back at the mansion, all the tragic 80s haircut Starlight Girls are jumping into the pool fully clothed. That's a normal thing to do. Although my favorite part of this scene is when Jerrica's baffled by the concept of a door buzzer. She's like, "What's this gadget?"
Annie: Which is so, like--she may as well have just turned directly to the camera and been like, "Buy our playset." And Rio has also tracked her down and brought... everybody? Their house just burned down last night, and Rio is like, "I brought photographers! We're gonna do a shoot about Jem and the Holograms! Today!"
Kit: "You know, while we're still covered in the ashes of our burned down house. Yeah, sure, let's do this."
Annie: "We lost almost everything, except a jar full of quarters."
Maq: “Thank you, Ashley.”
Annie: Which is great, because speaking about that jar full of quarters? Ashley still owes...
Maq: Thirty dollars.
Annie: Thirty 1980s dollars to the honor jar.
Maq: Which is, like... what did I say? It was like $85, $95, something like that.
Annie: About eighty dollars, yeah. And she finds a way to get the money.
Maq: She goes to the Misfits.
Annie: Who've arrived outside the gate and are pressing up against bars they could easily fit through. And Ashley is like, "Give me thirty dollars and I'll let you in." First off, they try to barter with her. I have a note in here: "A ten-year-old swindles three adults."
Kit: Well, considering the average level of intelligence that the Misfits have displayed so far, I am not surprised that Ashley managed to out-haggle them for this.
Annie: It's pretty awesome. Especially considering that Pizzazz is a millionaire.
Kit: Is she really?
Kit: I haven't figured out what these people have been doing for an income. I can't even imagine them having childhoods. I think they just sprang fully formed out of a birthing matrix in Eric Raymond's basement.
Annie: We do, at least, see Pizzazz as a child at some point, so...
Maq: And we constantly see her going to her daddy and telling him to pay for things for her.
Annie: Right, spoilers: he's rich. Meanwhile, Eric Raymond has hired Zipper from the last episode. You may remember him as the guy that burned the house down. White Terminator Geordi LaForge is back. He's planted a bomb.
Maq: Yep! Under the couch.
Annie: Under this huge couch.
Maq: He basically just lifts up the cushion, stuffs the bomb right there, and just leaves it there. It looks kind of like an awful sandwich, honestly.
Annie: Yeah. I mean, it's not even hiding.
Annie: While this is happening, we have our second musical number: "Click/Clash." Which is actually our first Holograms/Misfits song. And those are legit the best.
Kit: The thing that really struck me about this video the most, is that you've got Jem on stage, walking past a line of, like--there's lights flashing, they're supposed to be camera flashes, but she's walking past a line of video cameras. Listeners, if you're not aware of this: video cameras don't have flashes.
Maq: I think one of my favorite parts is, after Jem lands on the magazine, we continue with the Misfits riding absurd things, as they ride in on lightning bolts, talking about how they're going to cause problems. And it's beautiful.
Annie: I do think--honestly, “Click/Clash” is one of the better songs in the first couple of episodes. There's only a couple of times where the Holograms and the Misfits actually do duo songs, and they're always the best. They're straight up great songs. They excite me.
Maq: At this point, after the bomb's been all set up and everything, Eric drives up--
Annie: Just to see the place explode?
Maq: Just to see the place explode, I guess. And he notices that the Misfits are actually within the mansion's... line, I guess, the fence line. And he's like, "No! Misfits! There's a bomb!”
Annie: And he's, like, pawing through the thing. It's great. So, everything explodes right? Is that another one of our commercial breaks?
Maq: Yeah. After we come back from the break, when we see Eric's face, it's kind of distorted and looks absurd.
Annie: Yeah, this part of the episode is where we get the weirdest animation errors.
Maq: They're beautiful. People are completely off-model. Jerrica, at some points, goes kind of cross-eyed and her head kind of falls off her neck.
Annie: Characters start speaking with other characters' voices. And after--everyone is fine after this explosion. We've got the press there, of course, so, you know... super great. But the important thing is: we already have one millionaire who's already hanging out, so now we're going to bring in another one.
Maq: Called "the Countess."
Annie: So the Countess du Voisin immediately loves Jem and the Holograms--
Maq: Of course she does.
Annie: --and immediately hates the Misfits. And she invites the Holograms to her party on a yacht, because why not, and basically uninvites the Misfits (if she can do that by not inviting them at all). And there's this weird moment where they get the Misfits to leave the property by being like, "Help us clean up," and they're like, "Frick no." And then this strange thing happens. Pizzazz is like, "And you better not get comfortable, because--" and then all three of them turn in unison, put their hands on their hips, all of their mouths open, but only Pizzazz's voice comes out. They say, "We're going to win the contest." What happened? Was that some kind of a hivemind thing? Was there originally audio recorded for Roxy and Stormer that they didn't put in there? They all open their mouths and only Pizzazz comes out! I don't know what's happening!
Kit: Considering that, most of the time, all they say is "yeah," I'm pretty convinced that they're just extensions of Pizzazz's self somehow. Like, projections into the third dimension of different elements of her personality.
Annie: Mackenzie, I'd like you to put your post-apocalyptic theory back on the table.
Maq: I would like to put my post-apocalyptic theory back on the table. Because, honestly, this episode kind of shows it. A mansion kind of explodes in one portion and there's only kind of, like, mild hubbub about it. We've got people literally going to the death over a band contest. It's obviously in the far-flung future where only bands matter. As we can see on this boat, where we've got fashion designers and we've got people who are pop writers for magazines. They're the only people who matter in this post-apocalyptic future.
Annie: Straight up, though, if your post-apocalyptic theory is correct, then... I mean, this show is basically four flying robots away from Macross.
Three great things happen on the yacht, and then another amazing thing happens.
Maq: First we're introduced to Lin-Z, who actually pops up now and again later on.
Annie: She hosts a music video show, which, for those of you who don't remember the 1980s, is a thing that used to run on MTV, a.k.a. Music Television. As far as I can tell, she's a VJ who kind of hosts her own, like, talk show as well. And there's a line in here that I want to point out to you guys. Because she introduces them to another character, and she says, "You remember that tape that so-and-so has been playing on the radio?" And... let me point out to you guys, it has been about 24 hours, at this point, since the Holograms first appeared opposite the Misfits. They don't have a tape.
Maq: And then they're introduced to... what's-his-face, the guy who's going to become Shana's boyfriend because he's black and she's black, so obviously they have to get together.
Annie: Jem immediately shoves Shana into him, it's like, "Shana has some ideas! Shana, you should go hang out with this guy. You're both black, you have so much to talk about!"
Maq: That's all it takes. I see another white man and suddenly I'm head over heels.
Annie: It happens a lot. There is a lot of romantic tension between Mackenzie and every single white guy in Seattle.
Maq: It's true.
Annie: It just keeps happening! You go around a corner, there's another white guy! (heartbeat noises)
Maq: "Oh, I love him so!"
Annie: And this is also the episode that starts the really weird Jem/Jerrica dynamic with Rio. Which... there is a lot to talk about with the Jem/Jerrica/Rio... triangle?
Kit: Why--why--why--why--why is Rio not in on this? Like, the only reason he doesn't know yet is because he wasn't in the van when they went to the drive-in. There's no reason for them not to tell him.
Annie: The weird part is that Jerrica, like... Jem starts flirting with Rio, and it's like, "Hey, let's hang out. Jerrica wants me to make sure you have a good time." And she, like, throws herself at him. And he's like, "Uuuuuuhhhh?" So, like, she's not trying to hide her identity here. Or, if she is, she's just trying to confuse him or something? There's blame on both sides, frankly. We could spend an entire episode talking about Jem, Jerrica, and Rio. But it's a weird start, here. And we are super distracted by it, which I am so happy about, because "Makin' Mischief" happens.
Maq: "Makin' Mischief" is amazing.
Annie: It is our third song. It is the Misfits song of the episode, the solo Misfits song. And it's basically their theme for, like, the rest of the show.
Maq: They just, basically, cause problems with food and it's delightful.
Annie: There's this point where they start this food fight, and there's this super weird animation error. It's a pan across this food fight that's going on, with all these rich people. And there's this point where somebody throws a cake on a guy, and then he gets hit in the face with cake, and then, boop! He's gone. He disappears. He's gone from existence. There's not even, like, a thing he did--boop! I think it was something where the animation had expected to pan across that? Like, they'd expected him to be, like, on the other side of the pan at that point? But he's super not. He's right there. That is how much mischief they are making: they are undoing people.
So the Countess, of course, is not a fan of this. She asks the captain of the boat and the first mate to come be bouncers. "Stop driving the boat! There's some glam rockers to deal with!"
Kit: Wouldn't she have bouncers already?
Maq: You'd think.
Maq: Especially at a fancy party where there are a ton of fancy people. But she calls, like, the pilot back to be a bouncer or whatever. Meanwhile, the Misfits go forward to start driving the yacht towards a giant boat?
Kit: Yeah, who decides-- like, Pizzazz decides she's going to try to drive this boat on a dare.
Annie: Honestly, if she's rich, she probably has at least had some sailing lessons. But I guess that doesn't matter. Because she drives the yacht straight into, like... what is that, a tanker?
Kit: It's like an oil tanker, yeah. The implication is that Pizzazz probably caused the Exxon Valdez spill.
Annie: Jerrica is out with Rio on the dock. She's like "Rio, do you like me?" and Rio responds with the most appropriate line: "I don't even know you!"
Kit: I like Rio the most in this conversation, because he's basically the voice of the audience.
Annie: And she's like, "Well maybe I should tell you who I am. Rio, I'm--"
"THE BOAT'S ABOUT TO HIT AN OIL TANKER!" (klaxon)
Kit: And that's the end of the episode.
Maq: To be continued.
Annie: Again, Jerrica/Jem is about to die, probably in an explosion, or in a really grisly fashion. Have you noticed a pattern? "Buy our Jem toy, you don't know how much longer she's going to be around!"
Kit: "She could die at any minute! You need to get in on the ground floor of this one!"
Annie: I think that's actually our theme here. "Jerrica could die at any second. Every moment you spend with your Jem doll is precious."
All right, I think that about wraps it up for us for episode two. So, in episode three, we'll be continuing Jem almost hitting an oil tanker. So until next week, when we continue this "to be continued," I'm Annie.
Kit: I'm Kit.
Maq: And I'm Maq.
Annie: And outrageous is as outrageous does.