Glamour and glitter, fashion and fame…if you grew up in the eighties and happen to be down a Y chromosome, you probably can sing the rest of that song, the theme song to Jem. The folks out at Shout Factory sent out a little something impressive for us to review for you, namely, the first season of Jem, more recently retitled Jem And The Holograms. And if you’re in the market for a shot of retro animation, then man, are you in the right place.
Jem follows Jerrica Benton, the operator of the Starlight House, a home for orphaned girls, and daughter of the current head of Starlight Records. And when said head dies, he leaves his estate to his daughter. But the rest of the board of Starlight Records, represented by Eric Raymond, a man who not only makes Carter Burke from Aliens look like a god among philanthropists, but on a personal note, makes my skin crawl. Raymond, meanwhile, is not only out to take over Starlight Records and leaves Jerrica out in the cold, he’s out to do it by the most bizarre method possible: by backing a punk band full of big-haired lunatics called The Misfits. Jerrica, meanwhile, has discovered the full extent of her father’s estate, including a computer that specializes in hard-light holography called Synergy. Jerrica uses Synergy to give her and her friends alter egos, which they form into the titular band Jem and the Holograms to secure Starlight Records from The Misfits and Eric Raymond.
Admittedly, I didn’t follow Jem much. As a boy of eight I recall being distinctly annoyed that this “girls’ show” got between me and Robotix. And watching it now hasn’t been much help; Jem and her ilk have not aged well. Looking at this rationally doesn’t help either, with the discovery that The Misfits are actually some kind of insane cult of musical evil. Because come on…how many times have these four nimrods almost killed Jem and the Holograms? And I can’t help but think that all of Jem’s problems would be taken care of–and most of Jerrica’s too–if they’d just press charges on The Misfits for attempted murder. These big-haired wackadoos almost kill that woman more times than I care to count. And for a show geared toward girls age four to ten, roughly, there sure was an awful lot of attempted homicide. And why the hell didn’t Kimber, Jerrica’s sister, put up more of a fight? She’s just as much a Benton as Jerrica, but daddy keels over and where’s her inheritance? I can see that part of the will–”I leave my record company, the charity it’s named after, my holographic supercomputer, my costumes and my antique roadster to my daughter Jerrica. To my other, lesser, daughter Kimber, I leave a raised middle finger because she kept dating that greaseball biker through the tenth grade.”
But despite the sheer lunacy of the show in retrospect, it no doubt has plenty of great memories for those who grew up with Jem, and they likely won’t care how many holes the plot has.
Thus, the Screenhead Ten Scale gives Jem and the Holograms Season One a seven out of ten, as it does so often with niche products, knowing that for some this will be a dream come true, but for those not living the dream, it will still be a worthwhile watch but with plenty of holes.