This essay was original published at Roxy Reviews and is reprinted here with permission.
Trick or Techrat
SUMMARY: Jem and the Holograms arrange a Halloween benefit concert to try to save an old opera house. They are also trying to calm down a skittish Starlight Girl named Terri and convince her there's no such thing as ghosts. Their efforts are challenged by a developer who wants to demolish the building, Eric Raymond, who has an interest in the development, and Techrat, who appears to make the building "haunted." Meanwhile, the Misfits decide to throw their own Halloween concert across the street.
I think it's a silly episode, but it's so silly it's good.
For starters, there are the clever references to The Phantom of the Opera. There's the creepy Mr. Vincent (a homage to Price?) who lives in the opera house, which happens to be a labyrinth of trap doors and hidden passages. There's a falling chandelier, and a black cat named...Phantom (two references in one, there--in the book, Erik had a cat named Aisha).
This episode also rather reminds me of Scooby Doo, with those meddling kids discovering who the culprits are at the end with an unmasking. Let's not get started on Techrat's costume, which has only one eye...
Speaking of costumes, why is Ashley dressed like a male pirate? And why can't the Misfits do more than the superhero look? And why is Rio suddenly a Fine Upstanding Citizen on the community board?
This episode seems to be one of those like KJEM, where the Misfits get their come-uppance without having really done anything. The Misfits' video "Don't Look Now" is actually warning the Holograms to get out of danger. Although she did try to get the building condemned, Pizzazz does make it clear she had no idea what Eric was up to with the kidnappings and hauntings. And yet, at the end of the episode, a bolt of lightning strikes the Misfits' concert tent and ruins the show. Not fair, say I.
1. Jem and the Holograms: "It's Fun to Be Scared." I once saw this piece referred to as the Worst Jem Song Ever. I don't know, I think I'd reserve that for "Dear Diary," "Freedom" or a few others, but this one is right up there with the Worst of the Worst, no question. Jem sings to a skittish little girl, telling her all about the nice monsters that are just waiting to scare her. Oh no, the kid's not going to have nightmares about that. Nah.
2. Misfits: "Don't Look Now." The animation for this video is killer, pardon the pun. As "It's Fun to Be Scared," this is another Let's Torment Terri the Starlight Girl video. Poor kid just doesn't get a break. I love the screen where the entire cast is shown in the shadows, their eyes glowing brightly.
3. Jem and the Holograms: "We Can Change It." Here are the Holograms in Halloween garb, and Terri, who has finally learned not to go into conniptions about everything. It's another repeated song, and as usual, I don't think justice is done to it. The original, in "The Rock Fashion Book" was such a good darkroom song. Here, it seems out of place.
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