Directed by Ray Lee
Starring Samantha Newark, Cathianna Blair, Cindy McGee, Britta Phillips
Jem! Jem is excitement! Ooooo, Jem! Jem is adventure! Glamour and glitter fashion and fame! Jem is outrageous! Truly, truly, truly outrageous!
Where to begin on this one? I have to say that I was (and still am) a fan of this cartoon. If you’ve been following my recent Retro Active articles here at Cinegeek then you know I’ve talked about a couple of the cartoons (Inhumanoids, Robotix) that got their start on the Super Sunday cartoon show. Jem and the Holograms was a part of this anthology show and went on to have the most success. And as well it should. Jem is a good little show with great music and some truly outrageous storylines!
For those who have never seen the show, Jem is really Jerrica Benton who uses a holographic computer called Synergy to transform herself into the Jem persona. Her younger sister Kimber along with her adopted foster sisters Aja and Shana (and later Raya) form the Holograms and together they go on adventures. They also have a rival band named The Misfits (NOT Glen Danzig’s former band) whom they compete with. Jerrica is the owner and operator of Starlight Records as well as Starlight House which is a foster program for girls. Jerrica also has a boyfriend named Rio who seems to want to get into Jem’s pants a little more than Jerrica’s. With so much drama how can a girl keep her music career on track and Starlight Records operating?
I have to say the best part of this series is the music. It’s true the songs are very dated and more times than not slip into the realm of sugary and corny but overall it still holds up. And who can’t sing the theme song for Jem? I had forgotten that in later episodes the theme song was changed to “Jem Girls.” I like the original better. Speaking of music, every episode features several mini videos from both Jem and the Holograms as well as The Misfits and all of these are collected in the bonus features. This was the era of MTV and these videos reflect the era.
It’s no secret that the cartoons of the 80’s were glorified commercials for corresponding toy lines and Jem is no different. The most telling sign of this is the Hasbro logo that appears immediately on the Shout Factory logo at the beginning of each disc. Jem was so popular in the late 80’s that Mattel created yet another persona for Barbie this time as a rock star with her band the Rockers. But Barbie just isn’t cool and Jem easily beat her in popularity.
I have no problem saying that I used to watch this show when I was a young teenager. I even remembered some of the plots for certain episodes and was more than a little excited to review this set. And I wasn’t disappointed. I have a six year old daughter now and she has never heard of Jem and the Holograms. But she soon will and I have Shout Factory to thank for that.
The video is presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio. I have to say the transfer here isn’t great. The colors look faded and it seems not much was put into restoration for digital transfer. Granted, this is Shout Factory and their releases are usually pretty pared down. Still, it wouldn’t have killed them to put in a little extra work here.
I couldn’t find any info on the audio format but I am assuming that it is Dolby. All in all the audio does sound really good. And of course that makes it easier to hear the great cheesy late 80’s pop songs.
The Packaging and Special Features
The Truly Outrageous Complete Series comes in a great package. The box has more pastel colors than Sonny Crockett’s closet and a reflective sheen that screams “truly outrageous!” The eleven discs inside not only house all sixty-five episodes but also some truly outrageous bonus material.
Every season has a “video jukebox” that highlights all the musical montages from the show. I think this was smart because at the heart of this show is the music and the music is Jem’s strongest aspect. Also included is a bonus disc full of extras including storyboards, original commercials and three featurettes. The best of these is Showtime Synergy: The Truly Outrageous Creation of an 80’s Icon. And let me tell ya, it is very interesting. Two things that jumped out at me was the fact that Jem was originally called M and that main writer Christy Marx was told use a computer to write and to post the finished product on a message board via modem. This was years before the internet and email. Once again truly outrageous!!
This was a great flashback to the 80’s. I loved re-watching these old shows and the heart of this show is still beating pretty heavily. This was well worth my time and I look forward to sharing this great little “Jem” with my daughter.
Show’s over Synergy!!
Overall (Not an Average) 9/10
The Movie 9/10
The Video 5/10
The Audio 6/10
The Packaging and Special Features 9/10
Overall (Not an Average) 9/10