RNG Cartoon Review: “Jem” She’s Truly… WTF!!!

By Ana Bruja-Khayos from Living With A Toy Collector

With the up and coming hype behind the live action Jem movie, I finally broke down and watched the classic animated show.  You might laugh but I really didn’t get to watch Jem as a kid.  1) I lived in a very strict pentecostal home, and 2) I was simply too young to enjoy the show.  When Jem came out back in 1985 I was 4 years old and living in Puerto Rico.  By the time I was 7 years old in 1988 the series was off the TV screens.  However, I did remember catching the theme song here and there in Spanish and all that I have to say is that the singers who dubbed the Spanish version really needed a Prozac or two  to cheer them up as they sang they upbeat song. It was sad to listen too just like many horribly dubbed Spanish shows.

Now In my early 30’s I decided “Why the Hell Not”,  I’ll totally watch Jem to see why so many hard core fans love this show.  Plus is on Netflix so I have nothing to lose. 

The Show:

The first episode in the series opens with the horrible news that Jerrica Benton father has just died and she was in the middle of a legal battle with her father’s partner, Eric Raymond, to retain the rights to manage her inheritance along with a record company called Starlight Music her father left to her.  In the middle of the conflict she meets up with a holographic computer created by her father called Synergy which allows Jerrica to create her rock star alter ego called Jem. Because the fate of her inheritance was riding on a bet surrounding a Battle of the Bands by Eric and Jerrica, Jerrica use her alter ego Jem to create the band called  “Jem and the Holograms” to compete against Eric’s Band the Misfits.  Jem and the Holograms won the bet  and that’s how the story began.

To the left the Misfits (Roxy, Pizzazz,Stormer,and Jetta) and the right Jem and The Holograms(Jem, Raya,Aja,Shanna, and Kimber) as of season 3.

The show has a handful of main cast including;  Jerrica Benton who is the owner of Starlight records and Starlight Home Orphanage; Rio who is Jem and The Holograms manager and Jerrica or Jem’s boy friend.. I think ;  Jem  lead singer of the band and Jerrica’s holographic alter ego;  Senergy who is magical computer in which the band could not be possible if it didn’t exist; Kimber Benton is Jerrica’s youngest sister who plays the keyboard in the bad and writes the songs; and Aja Leigth is the guitarist and Shanna Elmsford is the drummer who are Jerrica’s and Kimbers adopted sisters. Later on the series they added Carmen “Raya” Alonso as the new drummer while Shanna went on to play guitar. All five girls represented the magical marketing word called “diversity” by having a  main cast that is white, black, asian, and hispanic cultures represented in one show.  All tho I have no idea what Rio is supposed to be… maybe Brazilian, Italian, Hispanic, Hawaiian, Native American,… Who Knows????

The Stingers (Rapture, Riot, and Minx) from Season 3

 As a supporting cast they have the bad guys who are Eric Raymond  who is trying to steal the company away from Jerrica, and the Misfits which has Pizzazz as a lead singer and guitarist who is also incredibly rich and is a horrible stereotype of what happens when rich people spoiled their kids and never say no to them, Roxy as the second guitar player who I’m not quite sure why she is in the Misfits because she’s really a good guy in disguise, Stormer plays the  keytar… yes a KEYTAR… Google it up…  and she’s just angry and illiterate, and down the line they added British Saxophonist called Jetta who is  a con artist and a royal piece of work.  As the season expanded into season 3, they added another rival band called the Stingers but to be honest by this point I think most of us lost track of all the crazy drama and it seem they were trying to hard. Oh by the way you also have 3rd rate banana characters that included Dance, Video, Clash, Erics heacham  #1 and #2, and the girls from the orphanage.  These characters appeared randomly and some were allies of Jem and the Holograms but they were not featured in every episode.

What I think of the show

To be honest the show totally took me by surprise.  All these years I thought he show was a very Barbie Bimbo type of show but in reality the show had some very complicated relationships, morbid moments, and dark situations that really keeps you watching. Best way to describe it is “My first Soap Opera”. The main complicated situation is how Jerrica continues to mess with Rio (her long time boyfriend) by constantly cockteasing him with Jem.  Rio was trying to stay loyal to Jerrican but Jem (who is really Jerrica) constantly throws herself at him as her holographic self  Jem and confusing the crap out of the poor guy who doesn’t realize he’s really not cheating because she is really the same girl.  What gets even more screwed up is how Jerrica gets mad at him because she is Jealous of her self as Jem, and doesn’t know if Rio loves her as Jerrica or as Jem.  You follow me yet???? Yea!!! Totally screwed up.  Plus Jerrica/Jem refuses to tell Rio they are both the same person and the complications in their relationship(s) continue to degrade more and more through the series due to Jem secrezy of her true identity and how Jerrica is always too busy to spend time with Rio as herself.

Rio and Jerrica’s/Jem’s Screwed up relationship(s).

The bad guys on this show are as screwed up as the main cast.  I’m convinced that the Misfits are the main reason why guys think all women are crazy. Just within the first few episodes they could legally be charge with destruction of private property, theft, attempted murder, reckless driving just to name a few.  Their manager Eric Benson is no better and can be charged with kidnaping, fraud, and the list of charges goes on and on.  The other band, The Stingers, weren’t any better.  In the entire series I think there was only one episode in which the bad guys were arrested for doing something wrong.  The rest of the series no cops to be found. Go figure.

The show has some inconsistencies that sometimes I had a hard time tracking.  For example on the first episode Jerrica was supposedly a girl in her teens, but with in the first few episodes it seem that was thrown out the window and all of the sudden Jerrica/Jem and the Holograms were treated as if they were in their early 20’s witch to be honest allowed them to get away with more stuff. I already talked about how screwed up Jerrica/Jem situations is towards Rio and Rio swinging back on forth on that.  Jerrica’s young sisters Kimber had several guys she was fooling with and she seem to trade them up like man candy  and switch between them like a pair of dressing shoes until later on in the series.   Then there’s the strange crazy kind of sort of relationship Jem had with the lead singer of the Stingers Riot.  She never liked him but in some episodes she kind of did but in other episode she’s trying to get away from him.  I don’t know… it all makes great school girl TV. 

All in an all the show is very addictive.  Between all the screwed up situations, sad tear jerkers, and all the songs they played per episode this series is A-OK!! I highly recommend re watching it before the movie is released next year.

About the Show:

Jem ran from 1985 to 1988 and it has 3 seasons equaling a total of 65 episodes.  Jem was created by Hasbro and the animation was produced by Sunbow Productions animation studios.  Sunbow Production is also well known for creating other popular animated shows in the 80’s such as the original My Little Pony, G I Joe, Transformers, Jem, Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars, The Tick, just to name a few.  Just like many of our loved cartoon characters, Jem actually had two personalities playing her on the show. Samantha Newak as the voice of Jem/Jerrica and Britta Phillips sang the intro song along with the rest of songs in the series but she also was the voice of Kimber and Aja.  Other casting voices were Cindy McGee as the voice of Shanna, and Linda Dangcil as the voice of Raya.

Each episode feature 3 songs, one which was a full music video.  This included the two variations of the intro song, the music video in the episode and the end credits which was always “Jem- Truly, Truly, Outrageous”.  The show made it a point to make sure the music videos had a look that was easily associated with the rock videos seen on MTV in that time period.  The show did a very good job giving each band a very unique sound to their music.  Jem and The Holograms had more a pop sound to their music, The Misfits had underground punk rock sound, and for the Stingers they had a seductive sexy rock groove to them.


While on the air the show averaged around 2.5 million viewers weekly and it aired in countries like US, Australia, Canada, UK, Germany, Netherlands, Italy and France.  The show received several awards and also had it’s own toy line.  Sadly Hasbro’s Jem and the Holograms dolls were competing with Mattel’s Barbie and the Rockers dolls.  Due to poor sales they were sold at a discounted price but they continued production with the show until 1988. If you din’t get your Jem doll back then don’t worry, Hasbro along with Integrity toys decided back in 2011 that they will release a new collectible version of the Jem dolls that retailed on their released date in 2012 at a whopping price of $135 each.  They are truly OUTRAGEOUS but beautiful dolls and an amazing quality that stay true to the original show.


Live action Movie

To be quite honest I don’t’ know much about the live action movie except that they just started production in April of 2014.  I personally don’t recognize any of the movie stars they casted as the Jem and the Holograms but I’m willing to give it a chance.  The movie will be directed by Jon M Chu witch has directed  Step Up 2, Step Up 3D, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, and the G I Joe Retaliation movie.  So far the G I Joe movie is the only cool movie listed under his resume. LOL To me so far the poster for the Jem Live Action Movie looks cool so I’m crossing my fingers on this one.

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Hidden Gem known as “Dan Vs.” Animated TV Show

By Ana Bruja-Khayos

 

If you are like me you probably no longer have cable service and have switch to mainly online streaming sites like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon.  So unless it gets a lot of internet over hype you have no idea what is going on in the world of Cable TV.  This is what happened to me when it came to show “Dan Vs.” .  Normally I have a very good idea of past cartoon shows and upcoming cartoons shows since I’ve had to work in the world of animation and graphics for almost a decade now. However “Dan Vs”. must have fallen between the cracks because I never heard anybody talk about the show nor did I know that many people that watch the HUB except for people that loved “My Little Pony” or “Transformers Prime”.

I stumbled upon the show as I was wondering the isle of Movie Stop box set sections. Shove between top well know show was “Dan Vs.”  The case was a nice silvery color with a picture of a very angry looking character I could assume was Dan.  I asked the store employee if he knew anything about the show and sadly he did not.  It was a big risk to take by buying a box set nobody knew anything about but for $4 for the entire season 1 I had nothing to lose.

About the show.

The show follows a short guy called Dan. Dan suffers from severe anger issues to say the least. He’s very intelligent but his intelligence is shadowed by his paranoia and obsession with basic and mundane things that don’t make any sense to most ordinary people.  His anger is mainly triggered by some mesele personal experiences, or if something was done to his pinto car.

Dan is accompanied by his childhood friend Chris who is not stupid but he simply a laid back guy who likes to eat.  At this point in Chris life he is married to woman name Elise that is the total opposite of Chris. She’s very very smart but comes with a secret live as an undercover government field agent.  There’s always this strange dynamic and multiple relationships layers that comes with this trio.  Dan just want to have Chris do everything he says regardless of how absurd it is and to leave Elise; Elise loves Chris regardless of how simple he is and really wishes he get’s a new best friends; and Chris just wants everybody to get along, on top of enjoying time with Elise and food.

The Flash or Toon Boom base show will have you at times scratching your head but it does come with many witty moments that will make you grin eye to eye.  So far my favorite episode is Dan Vs. Stupidity.  If you love Idiocracy you will love this episode as well. Through the show, Dan has crazy rivals like Dan Vs.: New Mexico, The Wolf-Man, The Dentist, The Ninja, Animal Shelter, Canada, Traffic, Dinner Theater, Baseball, Salvation Armed Forces, Beach, George Washington, Technology, Barber, Art, Elise’s Parents, Fancy Restaurant, Dan, Family Camping Trip, Brugerphile, Magicians, Lemonade Stand Gang, Thanksgiving, Mall Santa, Neighbors, Dancing, Bank, Monster Under the Bed, Golf, … the list goes on for another season and half.

The show also comes with a great secondary cast that makes the show even funnier and even more relatable at times.  Characters like Mr. Mubels, Elise’s Parents, Crunchy, and Ninja Dave that remind you of people  in your life or people you have meet in your life.


The Production, Cast and Crew.

The show was created by Dan Mandel and Chris Pearson. At the moment they are not very well known for their work but in time I’m sure they will do fine.  The show was produce by Film Roman Productions – “a starz company” (that worked on 2D and 3D shows like the Simpsons, King of the Hill, Avengers, Beavis and Butthead, Kugn Fu Panda), The Hatchery (that worked on Young Blades, Care Bares, and R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour), and was distributed by the Anchor Bay Entertainment and The HUB.

Their main cast include voice actors like Curtis Armstrong who worked on projects such as Locker 13, Supernatural, American Dad, New Girl, Bones, Reaper, Smokin’ Aces, and Ray to name a few.  Dave Foley as Chris who worked on projects such as Monster University, Robot Chicken, Eureka, Monster Brawl, The Batman, Cars, Employee of the Month, Monkeybone, Toy Story 2, Bug’s Life.. the list goes on. Finally Elise is played by Paget Brewster who worked on projects such as Criminal Minds, Venture Brothers, Modern Family, American Dad, King of the Hill, Harvey Birdman, and yes even 1998 Ghost Cop.

Final Thoughts.

Dan Vs. is one of those show that should be experience at least once.  I personally love watching the show several times over because they touch on subject matters that I at times encounter and Dan simply yells out loud what I wish I could say my self. Believe it or now the show has ran for 3 seasons now, so someone out there is watching it but for whatever reason is not picking up enough buzz behind it.  The show was rated PG and was aimed at kids to tween demographic by airing on the HUB when it should be aimed at the teen to young adult demographic like Adult Swim. I personally think that the fall of the show is simply that they miss their demographic and they are not streaming the show on Netflix which is still very popular with younger and more modern adults looking to trend away from high cost of cable. But you can catch season 01 and 02 on Hulu Plus if you can withstand the all the adds they shove in your paid subscription.  But that is just my opinion take it as you will.

But all in all I give they show 4 out of 5 stars. I love it but it will have make a banging 4th season to beat Gargoyles, Exo Squad, and Batman the Animated series out of my top 3 animated series.

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