Season One: Exploring THE PRINCESS AND THE SINGER
Britrock website copyright EA Woolley
THE PRINCESS AND THE SINGER
Though this is only a first season episode, it is one of two episodes written or co-written (if memory serves me) by Ellen Guon with support from Christy Marx, and both have an overriding literary theme. The other is Treasure Hunt, one of the weaker second year episodes, but this one, Princess and the Singer is potentially one of the strong first year episodes. It is based very loosely on the idea of the Prince and the Pauper - but let me emphasise, VERY loosely. Jem and the Holograms are invited to the (fictional) country of Morvania to play for the Princess Adreana, where they discover a plot against the Princess, and that Adreana and Kimber are very similar to each other in looks...
HOW FAR WILL THE MISFITS GO?
Being a Misfit fan, I consider this one of the very important Misfit scenes/storylines in the first year episodes. Almost as much so as Island of Deception. This is the ONLY episode in the whole of the run where the Misfits actually win at the end of the day. Of course, initially they are in Morvania to try and upstage Jem (nothing unusual there), and, after encountering Adreana's evil cousin Lexa, they get wound up in the plot against the throne. This episode shows a few key Misfit things.
Firstly, that they are an impulsive unit who act before really thinking about the repercussions of their actions. They fall in with Lexa and trap Kimber in the Hotel Victor in order to prevent her getting back to the Holograms and revealing the truth about the plot against the throne. When Lexa's men take Kimber away, Pizzazz's response to Stormer's "what will you do with her?" is "Who cares?". On one level, you might easily read that as her literally not giving a damn whether Kimber lives or dies, so long as the Misfits come out on top.
But then, when Lexa mentions that there will be an explosion at the theatre, and that anyone on the stage will effectively be killed (including Adreana masquerading as Kimber), the Misfits about-face. Suddenly realising what they are involved in, they rush to the theatre to warn the royal guard. Their desperation is such that, not only do they reveal to Corbin that Lexa used them to get Kimber, but they dash inside and up onto the stage itself to pull the Holograms and Adreana off it, regardless of the danger that they know is seconds away. (Screen capture above!). The fact that Eric and the Misfits are willing to jump in and risk their necks here proves one thing beyond all doubt. Though the Misfits are reckless and thoughtless sometimes in their actions, they never go so far as willing actual harm on their opponants. This is significant because it shows that the group are not pitched at being evil (the obvious contrast with this would be Zipper in Hot Time In Hawaii).
THE EASTERN EUROPEAN/ROYALIST CURSE...?
This is something which amuses me about the Jem series. First off, we are never told about where Morvania is, but it is possible to make an educated guess about it's location based on a few clues in the story. The names "Lexa" and "Dimitrios" have clear Greek influence, but the overwhelmingly white population also suggests that we are dealing with an Eastern European country. Perhaps a country somewhere between the Russian/former USSR countries and the mediterranean eastern nations such as Greece. This would also be supported by the similarities in name between "Morvania" and "Romania" - do a little letter reshuffling and you have the same word with an additional *v*. I expect that the episode is not based in any real country as such, but is based on a conglomeration of how those countries were perceived during the nineteen eighties.
This is not the only episode which is based in a European country - but every time a European country is depicted in the cartoon, it is depicted as a nation full of political intrigue and corruption (Homeland Heartland portrays Croatia, formerly part of Yugoslavia like this. Renaissance Woman and Britrock portray Britain in this way, although in a much more subdued way). I have no idea whether this is a conscious thing or if, because Morvania is a fictional country, it has absolutely no relevance whatsoever. But I also wonder if politics of the time had some influence on how Eastern European places were represented.
Of course, returning to Morvania's political situation, the main concept we have to accept here is that Adreana is a minor and therefore a regent is effectively controlling her governance of the country. This is what we get when Adreana talks about "becoming Queen" on her birthday. In truth, since her parents are obviously dead (possibly finished off by Lexa?) Adreana is already Queen, not a princess at all. Being Queen of a country does not require you to have been crowned or to have reached your majority. But in terms of political influence, Lexa has obviously governed in her cousin's place and is loath to give up the reins of power just yet...
In Lexa's defence (and no, I am not a Lexa fan), Adreana is a weak potential Queen. She seems to have no idea of her people or of anything at all outside of the fact that she's a fan of Jem and the Holograms and wants to be able to do as she pleases. You almost wonder if Lexa has it right, that Adreana becomig Queen of Morvania could only spell disaster for the country. Of course, Lexa becoming Queen of Morvania is almost as dangerous a proposition, but considering that she must have governed for the past eighteen or so years, maybe it's not such a crazy idea.
Can Lexa's behaviour be seen, then, only as a greedy chance at grabbing the throne, or as a desperate attempt to protect what she's worked with from destruction in the hands of a weak monarch??
Either way, judging by the fact that secret police seem able to run into people's houses to prevent people using telephones, I think we can safely say that Morvania is a country in turmoil either way :-p.
THE NINE LIVES OF KIMBER
Well, it has to be said. Kimber must be some unknown species of cat, because the number of times in this episode that she should have been killed is amazing. Within a twenty minute Jem episode, we see her jump buildings and landing in laundry baskets, jumping from stone towers into dangerous waters, and, of course, come close to falling from the final prison at the end, till Corbin manages to save her. Of course, it would cast a serious downer on the episode if we were to kill off one of the major characters from the show, but it is possibly the most unrealistic part of the episode, in truth.
And yet, this episode shows a lot of Kimber's characteristics. She's stubborn, determined and a lot more brave than the kid who squeals over a tiny bug in Island of Deception. This is a girl who is determined to get her freedom back, to warn Adreana that she's in danger and to evade Dimitrios and his advisers. Perhaps you can say she has a greater political understanding in those few moments in her cell of Morvania's issues than Adreana does. Could we even say that, in this episode, Adreana is more like Kimber than Kimber is? It's one of those moments when we realise that Kimber is not entirely the flake she often comes across as being. While many of the Holograms (er, namely Jem) have a habit of simply sitting and screaming for help when they are imprisoned or in trouble, Kimber does something about it. It takes real guts to dive from that window into the sea - but then, we already know from the previous episode that Kimber is a phenomenal swimmer, and she must know it too. It takes foolhardy courage to jump off the building and pray that she'll come through it okay, too. Throughout the episode, though she goes to extremes which are not always believable, you have to have a respect for Kimber's will to get herself out of trouble. This is one of those moments when Kimber seems more of a Misfit than a Hologram, for she literally fights for herself, with noone to run to hide behind or fall back on.
ADREANA and JEM'S SECRET
This is something I can't make up my mind on. Does Adreana know or does she not know who Jem is?
After Adreana is back at the hotel with the Holograms, Jerrica comes in to tell her to get up. When Adreana looks away, Jerrica changes to Jem. Adreana is surprised, and Jem says "What do you expect?".
Later in the episode, when Adreana is trying to admit that she's not really Kimber, she says "I find it hard to confess to the famous Jem how awful I have been." Jem goes to change to Jerrica, but before she can do so, Adreana exclaims (in rather urgent tones) that she's not really Kimber, but Princess Adreana. Did she interrupt at that moment because she did not want Jem to change and therefore openly give away her secret in front of her? Is it coincidence? I don't know...jury remains out!
Perhaps a touch farfetched in places, but for that important Misfit scene, it has to rate pretty high in the first season episodes. :) A good episode to to see a little of what Kimber is really made of when the chips are down.
Episode rating: 7/10.
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Britrock website copyright EA Woolley