Jem and the Holograms [1985-1988] 65 Episodes

Jem_Earrings_Banner_4

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!

Jem_04_Rio_Jem_bridge_3

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?)

Jem_Rio_kiss

“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).

-

 

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.

Jem_pink_gown

Special thanks to Zhanneel for the additional caps.


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21 thoughts on “Jem and the Holograms [1985-1988] 65 Episodes

  1. Oh bravo! Christie Marx would be impressed by such a crafty take. And you have made some splendidly appropriate animations to boot. Thank you for the honorable mention too–that was completely unexpected. :)

    Jem and the Holograms sits mighty high with me and I really enjoyed the Fortress spin on the tribulations and successes of the show. As I exited my trippy trance upon seeing the Shangri La animation, I realized just how much went into this show. The characters really were fantastically constructed, the outfits were a creative eye-full, and the plot (when consistent) captured my attention.

    That was indeed a good point about the ratio of good to bad happenings during the length of the series. And there was an issue with the Misfits being allowed a carte blanche on numerous occasions. I really wanted to see them get what should have been coming to them after they gave the Holograms so much heck.

    The music really set this show apart from other flashy animations of its time. I loved the colors and the styles, but combined with the professional-like music videos this show really turned heads. Well, my head anyway. It seemed the producers and Britta Phillips (singing voice of Jem) put a lot of effort into capturing the sound of the 80s without adding too much to the hokey cornball factor. The songs were catchy enough that I still find myself singing them unaware.

    “Remember, you cannot spell “Riot” without “Rio”.” Ha! I had always wondered at the similarity of their names. So true. Under those fine(?) goldy locks there is only hot air Jerrica.

    “The Misfits narrowly avoided manslaughter or even 2nd degree murder on a regular basis!” You summed that up well enough! The Misfits had several second chances. Too many. Celebs, cripe. How much can they get away with?

    I always had one grievance–that the love triangle would somehow be put to rest. What a shame that the show could not continue. And since I am just now learning about Riot’s power, I would say I also yearn for the show to expound upon this fantastical mind control ability. So why not a Jem and the Holograms movie 2010 to sum everything up? ;) (And thanks for that piece of trivia many fans did not know about.)

    Well stated on everything Fortress members. I even laughed at the 1.5 girlfriends jab–don’t worry, we are not all duplicitous in the realm of females. If only Jerrica could have just come out with it though… :( Thank you for the many laughs and the well-put thoughts. An outrageous show deserves an outrageously nice tribute. (You knew that pun was coming.)

    • We hope Christie Marx does read this take. It would not have looked as good without your help.

      Regarding the videos – three every show – it is easy for some to dismiss them as cheesy. However few understand the amount of effort that goes into producing all the songs and animation to fill them.

      We would feel better about Jerrica & Rio’s future if not for the couple continuity errors. However they seemed to have sealed their relationship in Greece near the end and that will have to suffice unless they do make a movie to wrap it.

      We would enjoy such a film but suspect it would be a reboot from the start. That is the way of things these days. Entice a new generation with a retelling. Blah blah. But who believes in holograms anymore? ;)

  2. hey!! it’s like going back to my childhood in here =) and i really love that witch silhouette pic!!

    Very very nice =) I like I like I like ^_^

  3. What a wonderful retrospect of Jem!
    I was a young child when it was on… and I felt the way about Rio that you seem to feel about Riot. I knew it wasn’t right for him to like both Jerrica and Jem :) And well I guess Riot was like magic David Lee Roth or something….

  4. BWA @ the picture of Jem and Rio with the caption “Just look at her!…” Just look at her is right — she looks like a blow-up doll. I don’t remember Riot, but he looks nothing but awesome. The Misfits were such annoying douches; I couldn’t stand their nasty little singing voices.

    So what’s the deal with holograms? Aren’t you not supposed to touch them? Did anyone do any touching of Jem? (Rio[t], I’m looking at you.)

    • Thanks for the candid feedback. Well, many of the characters with their garish color schemes looked a little doll-like. Then again, they were trying to sell dolls as well as entertain.

      We also did not care for the Misfits songs, but some people liked them. (Who are those people?)

      We thought of the contact issues and holograms too. With Jerrica underneath they did not care. We know, what if Rio tried to touch Jem’s huge hair? However they were more-or-less cognizant and careful about holograms projected into empty space.

  5. This is a great post, as I adored Jem back in the 80s, and still do now. I think that out of all the 80s cartoon, this is the one that has aged the best. My favorite part of the crazy love triangle was Jerrica getting all jealous and mopey that Rio liked Jem, who was herself! Then, on the other hand, getting all pissed if Rio said anything bad about Jem. Hilarious. I have the dvds that have been released, but they drop off mid-season 3. Do you know how where it is possible to view the second half of season 3? I don’t remember any of that Riot stuff, and am intrigued.

    • Hey welcome and thanks for the compliment. The DVD’s were being distributed by Rhino, but they lost the rights before release of the full run. Hasbro has them now. With all the interest in 80′s properties it is likely we will see another DVD release sooner or later.

      You need to see season 3 in its entirety to get the full circle on Jerrica and Rio getting past a lot of their issues. Especially in the Greece episode. Yeah, there were still some continuity issues afterward, mostly involving Riot. Perhaps old scripts already in production? You will laugh at the last episode though. It is impossible to buy Pizzaz being so happy about “Ba Nee’s” reunion with her father.

      Kinder gentler pizzazz?

    • Hey thanks. We aim to entertain.

      As for one of our animated gifs, we know that Jem generally gets the lion share of the spotlight. However we might be inclined to add a Stormer if the right scene comes to our attention.

      Courtesy AtomizerCrossfire on DeviantArt

  6. After reading this take, I found few episodes of Jem on YouTube. Unfortunately I only lasted for 5 episodes, due to many points that made the show a bit frustrating.

    My favourite part of Jem and the Holograms were clashes between the Holograms and Misfits, although that wasn’t much. The Misfits were… Well, highly destructive. Since they are no match for security guards (Jem should hire a few of those) one might think that they would use their brains and cook up something nasty for Jem. Instead, they prefer to crash parties and such. As villains they were sad, with not much variety to their actions.
    Another issue I had was the first episode, I think the introduction to the characters was too fast to grasp the action or the plot. These things could have been toned down or completely erased from my mind by the visuals. They weren’t. The colour scheme was too much, sometimes the characters didn’t stand out from the background. Sometimes even the good characters had nightmarish colour palette. (personally I’m not a fan of purple- coloured hair)

    Nevertheless, I enjoyed the variety of outfits, and the interesting events that sometimes happened. I also liked the character design, much better from either strangely deformed, big headed (not counting the hair of course) anime-ish, or done entirely on computer characters. The music was a bit rushed, the show could have used less of them songs, but of better quality.

    I feel bad for disagreeing with the Fortress, but Jem and the Holograms just didn’t do it for me. It had it’s good points, but overall I didn’t enjoy it.

    • Intelligent differences of opinion and taste are welcome. Yours M are well put. And we do see some agreement in what you say.

      The outfits were sometimes garish and less attractive (when they were not supposed to be). Eh, you hit some and you miss some. However no one can say they did not push the envelope a little in that regard. Also, some of the colour palette has to be chalked up to 1980s fashion and animation.

      We agree about the Misfits. They were more impulsive vandals than scheming enemies. The scheming was Eric Raymond’s department. We thought him a strong character. Like we mentioned, the Misfits never seemed to quite get the legal ramifications of their attempted manslaughter.

      We agree that the music went downhill over the course of the three seasons, although we found most of the tunes in the first 5-episode arc good. Your suggestion about less but better music is a good one.

      The 1980s were a great and special time. Looking too critically at Jem outside of that period does not do it full justice. Some media is more timeless than others. We do not think Christie Marx was trying to be timeless, but fun and trendy. Although the themes of romance, deception, and striving for success still of course resonate. Thanks for your thoughtful comment and discussion.

      The 80s!

  7. I understand that I was harsh on Jem and the Holograms. It came from the fact that I compared it with another 80′s cartoon. It’s called “Beverly Hills Teens”, and was made few years after Jem, and was more easy on the eyes. Of course Jem’s storyline was much more challenging to execute, considering the music videos, whereas “Beverly Hill’s Teens” didn’t have an actual plot.

    Also, I really like that picture.

  8. So sweet.. Loves it. The animation was great, the light and glittery earring effect, better than cgi rbbsh. And the colours of this show, amazing.

    • We hear you Sheina. Some of today’s CGI stuff just seems churned out, celebrity voiced schlock. Jem had originality. And yes, those colours were intense! (Uh, not including the psychedelic Shanghai-La episode. Ha.)

      Intense Colour by Luly Sugar

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