Season One: Exploring THE MUSIC AWARDS PART 1 & 2
Britrock website copyright EA Woolley
THE MUSIC AWARDS
(Parts 1 and 2)
I always feel that The Music Awards plays to some degree out of sequence. Logically it should slot in right after Starbright finishes, because one of the first things that the Misfits mention as a concern is that they don't have a music company to promote them. Yet this does not seem to be a problem for any of the episodes BETWEEN Starbright and Music Awards, so although it numbers as #13 in Sunbow's sequence, the plot events probably should come before those of Hunger Shindig et al. To back this up further, the award being given at the end of the show is for "Best New Rock Act." After the six months of Truly Outrageous and the same kind of length of time is allowed for Starbright, both bands have been around for approximately a year. If you add the other episodes inbetween, this takes it past that time frame - unlikely they would therefore be up for a "Best New Rock Act." My explanation for the inconsistency here lies in the writing order - Christy Marx, as series creator wrote Starbright and then wrote Music Awards but did not write any inbetween. It would be a logical assumption to make that she wrote Music Awards with Starbright's finish in mind, but the other episodes, written as they are by other writers, got slotted in the middle. I do not know this for sure and it is all speculation, but I think it unlikely that the Misfits would be touring China, taking part in a Rock Fashion Video or gatecrashing a World Hunger Shindig as a bonafide act without Music Company backing!!
Now to the issues the episode throws up. Music Awards (1 and 2) deals not very subtly, but pretty effectively with the issue of kids running away and the dangers they can get themselves into. On another level, though, it deals with Jerrica's battle between her two lives - stardom and guardian to the Starlight Girls - and also Pizzazz and that attention issue ;) Read on :)
THE STARLIGHT PROBLEM (Again!)
I have to say I'm not sure I can think of an episode which involves Starlight Girls where one or more of them do not get themselves into something of a pickle. In this episode it's essentially Dierdre, the hothead who is the instigator, but blame must also fall on Jerrica and Jem's shoulders as well for what happens next. After Dierdre feels neither Jem nor Jerrica care about what she's doing she decides to runaway, taking naive BaNee and level-headed Krissie with her. This is the crux of the whole plot - it gives us a chance for the first time to really see other Starlight Girls than Ashley (though of course BaNee had her cameo in Starbright with her eye surgery...a fact she seems to have forgotten cost Jerrica an awful lot of money.) Deirdre claims to be Jem's number one fan, which is ironic since in her behaviour she plays far more the "misfit" Starlight girl (better even than Ashley in Truly Outrageous). The parallels between Deirdre and Pizzazz are surprising, aside from the obvious link of voice artist, but when you start to do the comparisons, they begin to emerge. Deirdre wants to be a big star, but doesn't want to practice her instrument. She wants attention from Jem or Jerrica, and when that fails she turns to the Misfits - clearly proving that what she's looking for is simply someone to pay attention to her. Pizzazz's little scene with her father at the start and her behaviour with the award at the end show that she thinks in a similar way. For Jem's number one fan, she seems inordinately keen to attend the Misfits concert, and to see what's going on on the stage. And, of course, Deirdre's thoughtless and impulsive behaviour almost draws a huge amount of trouble onto the whole Starlight Foundation, when Pizzazz alerts the authorities that the girls have run away.
Of course, the biggest repercussion of Dierdre's behaviour is the impact it has on Jerrica and Jerrica's conscience. I mentioned a couple of times in earlier episode reviews (I think for Truly Outrageous and for Starbright, possibly) that Jerrica is starting to pay more attention to work than she is to her girls. This episode is the climax of that in many ways where she realises with a hard, resounding bump that she is not doing as good a job as she thinks she is. Maybe that's the other message from the Music Awards - that working two jobs does not necessarily mean providing for the kiddies. (Can we even draw a parallel here between Mr Gabor and Jerrica, in that Jerrica is spending more and more time as Jem or doing work for Jem, ignoring her waifs' needs, whilst Harvey long ago chose business over Pizzazz and listening to her needs?)
On a slightly off topic note - did anyone else notice that BaNee is playing with a Jem doll in the early scene, when Deirdre is talking about how wonderful Jem is? Talk about covert advertising - or is this a sign of the ever-growing ego of Miss Pink Hair? (Hides from the rotten fruit!)
MISFITS and PHOBIAS
Of course, there has to be an entry on any review that I do for the Misfits. Pizzazz and Deirdre's correlation aside, there are other Misfit things to look at. Roxy is a good place to begin - there are two occasions where we get a glimpse deeper into this most neglected of Misfit characters (neglected because it is not really till halfway through 1987 and Roxy Rumbles that we get any kind of episode focus on her). The first incident involves the Starlight Girls - I mention it also in her character biography - where she tells them that they have a place to stay and a roof over their heads, so they should quit complaining. To me this is significant. There are a few hints that Roxy has grown up with a spell of living rough and may even have been a runaway. Going back to my fun game of drawing parallels in this episode, here is another one. Roxy honestly does not seem to understand their complaints - perhaps when she was younger, a roof over her head was a luxury.
The second Roxy moment is atop the Misfit Music building, strapped to a hangglider. Up till now Roxy has been painted as the tough Misfit - mostly quick with her fists and certainly not afraid of anything. Yet here we learn that she is frightened of heights - to the point where she protests about the stunt and, even though she is goaded into doing it, her first concern when she lands is not to be praised by Eric (which they are) but to get out of the hangglider as fast as possible. For Roxy, for whom gadgets, vehicles and machinery seem almost second nature, this is quite important.
Pizzazz's biggest fear is also shown - or rather implied - during this episode. Let's look at the I Am A Giant video, played to a sellout crowd, a full arena of thousands upon thousands of screaming fans. Then we have the Music Awards Ceremony, where Pizzazz grabs the award (shoving Roxy aside to do so!) and makes her acceptance speech. These are both high points for her - she is centre of attention and lapping it all up. But at the end, when the Misfits reach the benefit and she realises that they're all having a great time, then her mood changes. For Pizzazz, being insignificant or unnoticed is probably the biggest phobia she has, and this last scene at the end of part two encapsulates that beautifully. The Award which at one point meant everything to her means nothing when she sees that yet again Jem has stolen the one thing more important to her than winning - the attention of the people around her. What makes it even more evident that she's feeling wretched and unhappy about the whole business is the contrast between her behaviour and Roxy's. Roxy is simply annoyed - whereas Pizzazz's expression and uncharacteristic silence suggests she is devastated.
Since we've covered Roxy and Pizzazz, let's take a peek at Stormer. Surprisingly Stormer is the Misfit who has no clear fear of anything in this episode. She makes no comment or complaint about the hangglider, there is no "are you sure we should do this?" or "Look out!" remarks. Stormer has a clear objective in this episode (and in many others, too) - and that is her musical career. She is the one who reminds Eric that he said the award could make their careers. She is the one jumping up and down on the stage when they win it. If there was any doubt about Stormer being in it for the music - or that because she has a conscience the sweetheart Misfit has no ambition - this episode would go some way to dispelling it.
Stormer also makes an interesting observation. She knows that Krissie, Ashley and BaNee are Starlight Girls, even though at no clear point in any prior episode have they met or exchanged words. Stormer has befriended Ashley in Truly Outrageous, but Ashley is not there. In order for Stormer to know these are Starlight Girls, she must have paid an inordinate amount of attention to Jerrica and her girls at some point. Perhaps secretly she'd like to do something to help them out a little more - but we can only speculate.
TECHRAT vs SYNERGY
Here's an interesting rivalry. The barely human vs the holographic human. Techrat is introduced to us in this episode - presumably as a foil for Synergy and her many technological assets, so that the Misfits have some recourse to machinery as well. The clash at the Starlight Mansion where Techrat successfully sends Synergy and the whole estate into an electrical spin is proof that his creations are as powerful if used correctly as she is herself, and that Techrat, for all his oddities, is a pretty fearsome opponant. It is perhaps as well for Synergy that Techrat is foiled at every turn by Pizzazz and the combination of her "gimme" mentality versus her ability to break something almost by just looking at it. Surprisingly this is one of the few episodes in which Techrat creates something which impacts on Synergy directly. It is surprising to me that Eric does not use Techrat to discover or even try and replicate Synergy after the information given him in Truly Outrageous, but The Music Awards does mark the beginning of a clash of technologies all the same :)
DANSE, DANNY and HAVEN HOUSE
The Music Awards introduces us to Danse, who appears by implication to be a friend or contact of Video's. How they met is speculation, but it is Video who introduces the Holograms to Danse in the first place. Danse is an employee (part time) at Haven House as a "volunteer" (We presume the rest of the time she is a professional dancer, since she is working on a routine when the Holograms are there). Maybe she does work there simply part time, but we never see any other assistant or employee at the place, and you wonder who runs it when she's not around.
The introduction of Haven House allows us to find a place for Danny, the runaway boy that Dierdre and the others befriend at the Misfit concert. The fact Danny stole Misfit tickets is some evidence that he is not a Hologram fan but a Misfit one - in fact he looks quite stunned at the idea of going to see the Holograms at the benefit for runaways, even though his companions get all excited. This aside, you can only presume that Danny winds up at Haven House after the end of the episode, because we never see him again in another episode after that. Danse seems to understand without asking too many questions that the kids need help, and it is thanks to Danse that Jerrica and her waifs are reunited. But Danny is something more of a problem. Kicked out by an abusive father and determined that he can 'take care of himself', he blatantly proves on several occasions that he can't, and it's only due to the urging of Krissie and the advice of a waiter in a restaurant that he seeks any type of support at all. Yet Danny repays the kindness shown him, even if he is not a Hologram fan. He is the one who stops Techrat's jammer by snatching it out of Techrat's hands, and in the music video to Friend or Stranger we see Rio hold out a hand to Danny in support - sadly we never get to see anything of this after Music Awards, because I feel that Rio could have played mentor to Danny in the same way as Jem or Jerrica does to some of her Starlights.
Interesting social point here - Danny perpetually says he'll be okay because he's a guy, and that the girls need a guy around to protect them, even though he's getting them more into trouble than they are themselves. None of the girls really challenge his point of view on this topic - I wonder if now, twenty or so years on, the same would be true??
JEM and JERRICA on DOING THE RIGHT THING
Well, this boils down to two things. Neglect of the Starlight Girls driving them to run away, and compounding said neglect by putting their professional pride (the award ceremony, perhaps also putting the Misfit rivalry first here too?) before their promise and obligation to Danse. The fact that it takes three of their girls running away before the Holograms decide to do the benefit is alarming enough, but Jerrica really does not learn from her own mistakes. I believe that the searches for the three girls are carried out largely by Kimber, Shana, Mrs Bailey and other Starlight Girls, and at one point after the social worker has been, Jerrica urges the Starlight Girls to "keep looking" and to "call us at Starlight Music" if they are found. Despite the fact that Deirdre and company could have been abducted or killed in the meantime, she is still giving priority to the music company over spending time herself looking for them. And although Pizzazz alerted the authorities out of spite, she actually had a valid point in doing so. The above evidence does make Jerrica appear to be a pretty unfit carer for a bunch of wilful foster girls!
In Jerrica's defence, it must be remembered how young she still is to have all this responsibility, and of course she will make mistakes. But it makes you wonder how many such mistakes it will take before she learns to put the important things - her Starlight girls, who are effectively her family - before anything else in her life.
Another one of those questions that needs to be raised regarding "the right thing" is the Jem/Jerrica/Rio monotony that calls itself a relationship (after sixtyfive episodes you begin to wish he would elope with Minx and whichever of Jerrica's personalities is dominant should go into a convent or something). By this stage there is some element of confusion in whether Rio should be with Jem or with Jerrica. Their lover's tiff over the lighting should not even be a lover's tiff at all, but Rio is objecting to Jem being secretive, and it sounds very much like a lover's row to me :) And yet, it's Rio Jerrica turns to for comfort when things are rough with the missing Starlight girls. Who is the dominant personality now? It's a good question and one I don't know the answer to - but Kimber makes the interesting comment "Jem, you're back to normal!" when Techrat's jammer is stopped and Synergy is able to resume the Jem hologram. It seems that over the course of the year Jem has started to establish herself as a real person in her own right. Jerrica even has to face herself on occasion - once in this episode when she 'introduces' Jem to Danse - and that must be strain on an already busy brain. I think it fairly safe to say that the rot starts here.
There is also the little matter of Jerrica's eagle projection in front of Pizzazz. This gets argued to death and I won't spend hours on it here, but whilst Jerrica's reason for projecting the eagle is revenge on Pizzazz, her justification for doing something so reckless that could have cost Pizzazz her very life is nonexistant. This is one of those times when Jerrica forgets that she is supposed to be the good guy and do things the right way...had Pizzazz not had a convenient cartoon lake to fall into, I wonder if Jerrica would have liked pleading guilty to Misfitslaughter?
After Starbright, the Music Awards does rather fall into the trap of a "message" episode rather than just a good storyline that happens to include important messages in the plot. The Starlight Girls are never the most inspiring of cast to work with, and Jerrica's eagle still shocks me even now.
Having said that, the episode does include some decent songs and introduce us to the lovely Danse.
Episode rating: 6.5/10.
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