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Jem and the Holograms: The Truly Outrageous Complete Series! (DVD Review)

6 Oct, 2011 By: John Latchem

Street 10/11/11
Shout! Factory
$89.99 11-DVD set, $29.93 Season One four-DVD set
Not rated.

A sci-fi soap opera about musicians raising money for an orphanage always struck me as an unusual choice for a matinee cartoon based on a toy.

“Jem” tells the story of Jerrica Benton, who takes over her father’s music empire after he dies. She and her friends use a supercomputer he developed, Synergy, to become the rock group Jem and the Holograms to support the foster house they run, all while fending off the antics of their punk rocker rivals, The Misfits. Episodes are built around MTV-style music videos as performances are integrated into the storylines.

Its catchy title tune and sex appeal made “Jem” one of the more memorable animated series to come out of the 1980s, when it aired alongside the likes of Hasbro stablemates “G.I. Joe” and “The Transformers.” “Jem” basically offered a feminized version of the usual “good vs. evil” formula of those other shows. Not surprising, since the original concept was for a boy band whose members posed as superheroes, before it evolved into an alternative to Barbie dolls.

The focus on music is almost a forerunner to soapish live-action teen sitcoms of the 1990s such as “California Dreams” (another series on DVD from Shout! Factory) and the dual-identity of the lead brings to mind Disney’s “Hannah Montana.”

The show is perfectly preserved by another top-notch Shout! Factory DVD set that should have no trouble appealing to the nostalgia of older viewers while capturing the imaginations of their children.

The discs offer a “Video Jukebox” mode to watch the songs on their own, and a bonus disc included with the third and final season includes an excellent 48-minute retrospective featurette about the development of the show, a look-back with the cast, and interviews with fans who grew up on the show.

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