Jem and the Holograms [1985-1988] 65 Episodes

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In the height of the 1980’s animation boom, the people who brought you G.I. Joe and Transformers debuted Jem.  A very different show, it proclaimed to be about “glamor and glitter, fashion and fame” – yet despite that it garnered surprising popularity and a decent run.

Everyone can enjoy cool looking clothes and the show took chances with all types.

Everyone can enjoy cool looking clothes and the show took chances with all types.

So much of the 80's fashion was fun, daring, and easy on the eyes.  The three outfits depicted above are none of those.

However chance is, er — chancey.  So much of the 80’s fashion was fun, tailored, and easy on the eyes. The three outfits depicted above are none of those.  Ewwww.

The 80's: Holograms were the rage!  The technology of the future!  It is 20 years later...  where are our holograms?

Ahh the 80’s: Holograms were the rage! The technology of the future! It’s decades later… where are our holograms?

This one sentence synopsis will test even the Fortresses’ skills:

Her father dead Jerrica learns of his secret supercomputer Synergy capable of remotely projecting holograms though her jemstar earrings thus allowing her to take on the guise of Jem and lead a rock group with her sister and friends called the Holograms and a double life which in turn leads to rivalries with other bands and a strange love triangle between Jerrica, her goodhearted boyfriend/manager Rio, –and Jem!

look at that computer!

Just look at those lights… and the piano keys?  Synergy is truly “space age”!

All three seasons had distinct tones.  Christie Marx, the show runner wrote many of the episodes and in season one concentrated on the fight to the top of the music world.  While Jerrica’s decision to not share her double life secret with Rio made for more interesting plots, it also led to frustration.  Rio was always portrayed as upstanding, and you sympathized for him as he was attracted to Jem — his own girlfriend unknowingly glitzed up with holograms!

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Just look at her! Can you blame him? She also carried her Jerrica feelings over into many of her interactions with Rio as Jem. Take it from us at the Fortress, two girlfriends is 1.5 too many.

Just look at her! Can you blame him? She also carried her Jerrica feelings over into many of her interactions with Rio as Jem. Take it from us at the Fortress, two girlfriends is 1.5 too many.

The second season spiced things up with a new member for both the Holograms and the rival Misfits.  This season also contained some of the strangest, kookiest, and fantastically implausible episodes.  It was as if Christie looked away for a moment and somebody put into production all the rightly rejected ideas from season one.

Beware the psychedelic Shangri La episode - you WILL believe (perhaps rightly so) that you have stumbled into someone's LSD trip.

Beware the psychedelic Shangri La episode – you WILL believe (perhaps rightly so) that you have stumbled into someone’s LSD trip.  For sanity’s sake, do not stare at this image!

What are your eyes (if they still work after the last picture) beholding? In one of the most improbable twists of all time, Jerrica shares a group hug (and her dual identity secret) with the holographic AI Synergy, -- and the President of the United States! (Gadzooks is second season over yet?)

What are your eyes beholding? (If they still work after the last picture.) In one of the most improbable twists of all time, Jerrica shares a group hug (and her dual identity secret) with the holographic AI Synergy, — and the President of the United States! (Gadzooks is second season over yet?)

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“Next ‘Cheaters': Rio caught on tape!”

Third season saw the quality controls back in place – more-or-less.  It introduced a new rival band, the Stingers, and a love interest for nearly every female on the show, Riot.

Yes, even Jem felt an attraction for him and they kissed in one episode causing some controversy.  Many viewers could not help but feel Rio had been betrayed (ignore the fact that Rio thought he liked two girls – but we knew it was only one with a minor duplicitous streak).

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I said she was a littel duplicitous, not a witch.  Although Rio did once criticize Jem to Jerrica - - Dude!  Never step on THAT landmine again.

We said she was a little duplicitous, not a witch. Although Rio did once criticize Jem to Jerrica – – Dude! Never step on THAT landmine again.  But she sure made this outfit sing…

Riot: Only his hair was bigger than his head.

Riot: Only his hair was bigger than his head.

Jerrica/Jem eventually got over her infatuation with Riot (despite a later continuity error or two) and reaffirmed her feelings for Rio, but that kiss always bothered us.

We once communicated with Christie Marx on this subject and she informed us that Riot actually had a “power” over minds of women.  Supernatural?  Psychic?  Mutant?  We do not know.  Christie stated that she never had a chance to clarify and follow up on Riot’s ability as the show ended prematurely.

Please Jerrica, are you really having this debate?  True hearted Rio or that dipstick in hair mouse Riot?  (Remember, you cannot spell "Riot" with "Rio".)

Please Jerrica, are you really having this debate? True-hearted Rio or that dipstick in hair mousse Riot? (Remember, you cannot spell “Riot” without “Rio”.)

Looking at the third series again after that revelation, the power really is noticeable, and the relevant events make more sense.  With that in mind we can go a little easier on Jerrica now.

If someone wears it in some part of the world, it is sure to find its way onto Jem.  Here a French inspired outfit.  I guess when fashion costs as much as the electricity to power Synergy it is not an issue.  Then again at today's energy prices...

If someone wears it in some part of the world, it is sure to find its way onto Jem. Here a French inspired outfit. I guess when fashion costs as much as the electricity to power Synergy it is not an issue. Then again at today’s energy prices…

Perhaps you prefer cowboy togs.

Perhaps you prefer cowboy togs.

And just to show that she is equal opportunity, here in Native American wear.  (Groowwl.  One of our personal favorites.)

And just to show that she is equal opportunity, here in Native American wear. (Groowwl. One of our personal favorites.)

The Sunbow family of shows had large casts and recurring characters.  Jem stood out even amongst these though with more in-depth characterizations of the stars and even recurring secondaries.  Unlike the others it was more arc driven as well, something that we all take for granted in today’s anime inspired world.

Snot green hair color?  Yup, she's bad.  Criminal even.  The Misfits narrowly avoided manslaughter or even 2nd degree murder on a regular basis!

Snot green hair color? Yup, she’s bad. Criminal even. The Misfits narrowly avoided manslaughter or even 2nd degree murder on a regular basis!

The format was not perfect though.  We felt that many episodes were too dominated with nasty things constantly happening to the good guys.  It got frustrating.  There was all the bad build up and not enough release or comeuppance.  98% abuse and 2% resolution is not a good ratio.

Okay, we in the Fortress like happy endings.  So sue us.

Okay, we in the Fortress like happy endings. So sue us.

Jem holds up compared to many shows of that era due to its arc and characterizations.  The fashions and tunes are hit or miss depending on your tastes, but they are interesting none-the-less.  We recommend Jem for all those who want to experience a unique, quality show from that famed animation boom era.

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Special thanks to Zhanneel for the additional caps.


The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning [2008]

Ariel's mother and King Triton's wife, Queen Athena.  (Nice eyes.  Contacts?)

Ariel's mother and King Triton's wife, Queen Athena. (Nice eyes. Contacts?)

We enjoyed the original Little Mermaid in 1989.  So much so that we refused to watch the direct to video sequel Return to the Sea in 2000.  That was a time when Disney was cashing on on all their franchises and even classics by cranking out such releases.  (Come on, Sleeping Beauty 2!  Do not do that to our favorite classic.)  However it seemed that The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning was a genuine attempt to relaunch Ariel for a new generation, so we gave it a whirl.

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Jodi Benson continued to voice Ariel and as the song goes, her voice is like a bell.  But she really does not sing too much as music has been banned in mer-city after the first few 5 year-old Ariel scenes.

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Yup.  So that is the biggest hump to get over after 10 years have gone by; mer-city has been pretty much turned into a police state.  King Trition overcome with sadness has swordfish enforcers on the hunt for any music.  Those who love it must resort to secret underground clubs.  If it all sounds a little like prohibition, we think that was the feel they were going for.

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The antagonist never filled out in my opinion.  She, like Ursula used electric eels as her personal enforcers.  We think some sort of reference to the sea witch would have helped fill out the franchise lore a bit, but there was none.  For the most part, until Triton’s heart warms at the end, the colors are subdued.

It was nice to see Aerial's mother in the early scenes.  Obviously good looks run in the family.

It was nice to see Ariel's mother in the early scenes. Obviously good looks run in the family. Getting hit by ships is apparently a major hazard in this universe. Just ask Ursula.

As mentioned there is not a ton of music in the film, and what there is does not approach the quality of the original’s songs.  We know that is a high bar, but we think they could have got closer than they did.  And while we are nitpicking we will say that the film could have tranmitted a greater feeling of “travel”.  We feel as though too much of the movie takes place on roughly 3 sets.

Queen Athena shown here passed on her striking looks and voice it seems to her daughter Arial.

Queen Athena (shown here) passed down to Ariel similar fin coloring, hair and of course her melodious voice. Kids these days. They think it all started with them. ;)

On the brighter side it was good to fill out the personalities of Ariel’s sisters.  Not a lot mind you, but enough to give each a distinguishing characteristic.  We especially liked the depiction of Atina, the eldest.

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Genetic diversity is an amazing thing. Is it even possible for any additional hair colors to be represented by this family?

The antagonist’s drool sidekick did not annoy like that character stereotype sometimes can.  The pacing, while not peppy enough was consistent.  The content was suitable for even the youngest kids as any violence or injury is only implied.

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Less horns, more singing.

Overall we are not disappointed with Ariel’s Beginning.  They treated the characters and for the most part the franchise with respect.  We would not go into this movie with expectations high, however it will definitely do the job of endearing a new generation of kids to Ariel.  It would have done more so if there was some “Part of Your World” like solo song.  We mean come on, you hired Jodi Benson.  Take advantage of those soothing pipes.

Arial's eldest sister Atina.  Even under the sea, elder sisters act responsibly.

Arial's eldest sister Atina. Even under the sea, elder sisters act responsibly. (And are a little bossy. Cute, but bossy.)

See another  pic of Queen Athena in Top Ten Pretty Animated Shots Vol 2.