Season One: Exploring THE WORLD HUNGER SHINDIG
Britrock website copyright EA Woolley
THE WORLD HUNGER SHINDIG
Technically speaking, this is the first episode after Truly Outrageous and Starbright. We're really early in Misfit and Hologram history here - maybe about a year in - and the dynamic is still being figured out. But there are some distinct differences in characterising, even this early on. We're in Texas, giving a charity showdown for starving kids in Africa. Read on...
PIZZAZZ and SEAN HARRISON
People have a lot of fun with this one. In fact, recently the question was put to Christy herself - what was the deal with Pizzazz and Sean Harrison? Christy's response was simple - she did not create the "Sean" character, and could provide no further insight. That being the case, let's get down to speculation.
Though already by this time we've seen Pizzazz in the role of flirt and wannabe womaniser, her attentions have almost always been directed at Rio (or in Starbright, also Nick Mann). Here, however, is the first swing away from that tedious and very unbelievable romantic curve. At the Shindig, Pizzazz accosts Sean and she knows him by name immediately. What's more important, though, is that he also knows HER - and he knows her by the name "Pizzazz", not Phyllis. This tells us a few things - most significantly that he knew her AFTER the band began. (Either that or the name Pizzazz is somehow an incorporated childhood nickname and not a stage name at all. This isn't impossible, since there are occasions where even Harvey calls her Pizzazz. But for now, we'll stick to theory one.) Since Sean is in the public eye and is some kind of teen heart-throb, it's possible that he and Pizzazz met either while he was in the States or while the Misfits were in England, at some point between inception and the Starbright movie fiasco.
Pizzazz's behaviour towards Sean is flirtatious and almost coy. Unlike with many of her love interests, she goes to great direct lengths to get his attention on her and away from Kimber. This isn't a strategic flirting moment like in Hot Time In Hawaii. She and Sean have some kind of "past". What that past entails is really up to the viewer, but I'd hazard a guess that it was a one night stand and that Sean really regrets it ever happening. Pizzazz is not the relationship kind of girl, but it seems perfectly plausible to me that she'd target and seduce a man who was everyone else's heart-throb. It's also worth noting that Sean has gone through some kind of character overhaul since the last time they met. Pizzazz says to him that he used to know how to have fun...and Sean tells her to grow up. This is clear indication to me that Sean was once as wild as the Misfits, but something happened to clean up his act. And now he's settled down, he has his sights set on Kimber Benton instead, which just incites Pizzazz to more rage. I really do think that this is more than just another Pizzazz vs Kimber love stake. Sean was Pizzazz's first and - as Rio observes in an earlier episode - she doesn't take rejection well. But stalking him behind a tree and forcibly taking him to a club where the Misfits drum up a storm are beyond her usual tactics. I don't know that she's in love with him...but she's clearly not happy with being pushed aside.
KIMBER and SEAN HARRISON
So, onto Kimber. It has to be said - and I have discussed this when reviewing Scandal also - that I do not like Sean's behaviour a whole lot. We know he was some wild child and he's reformed - perhaps not entirely. He likes Kimber, true enough, but there's a tragic mixture in both this episode and that one of her naivety coupled with his bad excuses. When Kimber sees him driving with Pizzazz, after the accident with the hay wagon, she says that she'll never trust him again. Yet, ten seconds later, when all he's said to her is "Pizzazz lied", she's all over him. In Sean's defence, he was conned by Pizzazz into going to the club. But then, he had the choice not to go and he must've realised pretty quickly that Kimber was not involved in the trip. In fact, he tells Pizzazz straight that he wants to "go back to the lodge and find Kimber". That intimates to me that he knew all along she wouldn't be there - but he took the ride anyhow, just to see if anything had changed. It's called keeping your options open, I guess - but it's not very gentlemanly behaviour.
There's probably not enough room on my website to discuss Sean and his abysmal English accent, either. What the voice coaches were trying to do with him I've no idea, but you only know that he actually is British by the fact it's announced at the start. His vocabulary is just as bad, if not worse, because many of his epithets would not look out of place in a pre-war novel. So aside from being a smarmy creep - he effectively talks like his own grandfather.
And what does Kimber see in him again?
ERIC and THE HUNGER SHINDIG
Well, what would an early episode be without Eric scheming behind the scenes of some big deal show while his Misfits quite literally run riot?
Eric's plan is simple - knock Jem and co out of the bill for the performance and slip his act in in their place, giving them a slot on an album that's going to be released all over the world. Of course, Pizzazz's driving and the girls' lack of willingness to share rooms are things he doesn't take into account, but then, the Misfits are fairly naive in this episode. They're still at the stage where they let Eric and his henchmen do the dirty work for them, without really knowing or caring what's happening behind the scenes. This is one of the episodes involving the infamous Zipper, and, like in Hot Time In Hawaii and in Truly Outrageous, it's essentially him getting his hands dirty. It's Zipper who organises the kidnap of the Holograms in the ravine, and it's Zipper who is stealing money from customers at the Shindig ticket office in order to give Eric a tidy profit. Of course, we know Zipper isn't entirely loyal to Eric, but to his own greed - and we see it when he tries to steal Eric's case of money after his boss leaves the office. Maybe he doesn't like Eric's statement that he's paying Zipper "a flat fee", and not on commission.
Knowing all of that, then, and knowing that Eric is a really bad man to do business with, it's surprising to find that he's actually a legit part of the Shindig set-up. He's been hired by the organiser, even though she knows he's a rat...and that doesn't make clear sense to me. Why play with fire when you know you're just going to get burned? Is there something else to this tale that we don't know...?
Overall, it's very important to note that Eric is the one doing all the wheeler dealing in this episode. Though the Misfits undoubtedly expect it to be done, they play no part in it, and though they do cause some chaos of their own - they are certainly not in on the embezzling act. In fact, when this is discovered, Pizzazz comments on the fact he told them that there was "nothing in it" for him. Clear early episode example of Eric using the Misfits to forward his own ends!
Ah, I do love Synergy. It's hard to believe, watching many of these episodes, that anyone could believe that this computer operates only to orders and her given programming. Synergy is a sentient being, capable of understanding and protecting the Holograms without Jerrica even needing to give the word. In the ravine, while kidnapped by Zipper's men, Jerrica only has to say "showtime, Synergy!" and suddenly there is rain and water and craziness in all direction. How did Synergy know what to project? Was it Jerrica's plan or was Synergy listening to the warning that it was flash flood season, deciding to put this to her own good use?
And then again at the end of the episode, Synergy has her moment of glory. While Jem is trapped up on a ledge high above the stage, the announcers are about to give the Misfits' names, when Synergy overrides what he's going to say and announces herself, "The Truly Outrageous Jem and the Holograms!"
This might seem like a simple hero ploy, but I don't think so. We know from other episodes that Synergy is nuts about keeping herself a secret. Yet, here and now she's risked herself by making an announcement in a public place, just to defend her "children". It's what Emmet asked of her, no doubt about that, but had there been investigation after the show into the unfamiliar female voice making the announcement, well, potentially it could have been the worse for her.
So, one thing is more important to Synergy than her own safety - and that is the safety of her girls. Aww.
The Holograms' music in this episode is all kind of nauseating. Aside from a very high note in "We Can Make A Difference", there are several "interesting" observations to be made on their (effective) two performances. At one point, Jerrica is shown atop the cart singing (not as Jem, but in her true identity). This could mean several things. It may mean that it's Jerrica who cares about the cause and that she's using Jem to front it. It may mean that the animators had a mental breakdown that day and forgot to draw her with pink hair. It may show us that Jerrica is still the dominant personality. Or it may just be what it seems - Jerrica taking part in something with her friends, and just happening to have the microphone.
This is all well and good, of course, but then we reach the other end of the spectrum. At the very start of the episode, Eric makes a deal with the organiser, saying his girls want to be in the Shindig. The organiser agrees, but says that they can't be on the live album unless one of the other bands drop out (kicking off the entire sabotage-the-hologram predicted plot). So, we already have it that the Misfits can be part of the Shindig, regardless. What we don't know for sure is whether they'll get their live album slot.
So, we come to the end of the episode. The Holograms are, naturally, quite ticked off about the fact Aja, Jem and Shana have been trapped in a room intended to hold them till after the performance. And they're also a little ticked off that someone was trying to steal a bunch of money from the office along the way. All this is well and good. But as is so often the case in these episodes, aside from telling tales on Eric (which he probably deserved!) they take it out on the Misfits.
I reiterate the fact that the Misfits *were* allowed to play in the Shindig, even if they were not allowed on the live album. And Jem's final song is called "Share a Little Bit." So why is it then that, with the utmost hypocritical irony, all through this song about "sharing", Jem and co are basically refusing to share the stage with their rivals?
If there ever was an ugly bit of stage management that showed the Holograms up, this would be it!
The first glimpse of the Kimber vs Pizzazz rivalry and the intriguing additional fact of Sean Harrison's first performance in the Jem cartoon. In many ways, though, this episode is formulaic, and doesn't really challenge in terms of plot.
Episode rating: 7/10.
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Britrock website copyright EA Woolley