Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Animated Goods: Jem and The Holograms

And now, in typical Dammaged Goods non sequitur fashion, let's talk about 80's cartoon Jem and The Holograms.  Why?  Because I just went to BotCon and saw the voice of Jem herself, Samantha Newark on a panel then all 3 seasons are on Netflix.  You mind?  I was only 3 years old when the show first aired in 1985 so I honestly don't remember much except for pastel hair.  Produced by Sunbow Productions, the same studio that gave us 80's animated classics like G.I. Joe, The Transformers, My Little Pony and Visionaries, Jem was a powerhouse in the syndicated cartoon and toy doll market.

In the first episodes we meet Jerrica Benton, a young singer whose father dies and leaves half of his record company empire, Starlight Music, to her.  But an evil corporate guy in a leisure suit is determined to have the company to himself and plots to push Jerrica out.  I don't recall what kind of music Starlight is known for but Evil Leisure Suit Guy introduces us to The Misfits, "tough" chicks who ride motorcycles and sneer at everything led by Pizzazz.  Fighting a losing battle, Jerrica is visited by a hologram, Synergy, who was designed by her father to be the ultimate audio visual synthesizer and can project realistic holograms that change the appearance of her target.  Jerrica learns more about her father's private life as Synergy is based out of a secret lair where elaborate costumes and music equipment await Jem and her band mates, The Holograms.

Evil Leisure Suit Guy organizes a Battle of the Bands but only invites horrible acts so The Misfits will win and ride the hype to become the next big thing.  But Jem and her Holograms set up their own stage and rock out, wowing the crowd and winning the rigged competition.  This leads to some weird ass shit and musical cues as each episode contains at least 2 songs/music videos that play out like nightmares with the bands riding around on musical bars, playing on a star in outer space, being chased by sledge hammers, flying into a castle in the clouds and navigating booby traps.  You heard me.  Anyways, Evil Leisure Suit Guy bets Jem that The Misfits will be a bigger deal in 6 months and whoever wins will get the record company.  Then, movie producer Howard Sands happens to be there and offers a movie deal and mansion(?!) to the winner to up the stakes.  Oh yeah, forgot to mention that Jem's boyfriend Rio is always around to help out.  He seems cool and has beautifully styled long purple hair.  Wish I had purple hair.  Or a long green ponytail a la Doc Samson...

I don't know what today's cartoons entail but Jem is surprisingly open about death as her father's passing sets up the whole series.  We also used to eat dirt and didn't die so grow up, America.  Jem was a hit with 2.5 million viewers a week after school and selling 3 million dolls that came with cassettes which is the equivalent of being a Triple Platinum selling artist.  The show was canceled after Mattel used the show's advertising time to sell Barbie to viewers but has lived on like her Transformer, G.I. Joe and My Little Pony siblings.  A new low-budget movie is in the works from G.I. Joe: Retaliation director Jon M. Chu and if it's anything like Josie and The Pussycats, should be a good time.  Voice of Jem Samantha Newark was only 15 when she landed the part and has enjoyed a successful voiceover and recording artist career that started when she signed her first record deal at 7 years old.  Newark has contributed to multiple video game and television show soundtracks and has released 2 albums of original tunes.

1 comment:

  1. Haha I love that you did a post about Jem. Did you know there's a Jem Con?! Because of course there is: http://www.jemcon.org/