?All right, cards on the table, I enjoy watching Jem and the Holograms for a handful of reasons: it’s the absolute epitome of the ’80s zeitgeist, the plots of some episodes are so bad that they’re good, and already being a fan of Transformers and G.I. Joe, it doesn’t hurt to watch another one of Sunbow Productions’ more culturally defining series. Having said that, one wouldn’t believe that Jem and the Holograms’ musical rivals The Misfits — and their unscrupulous manager Eric Raymond — have a place among the likes of Cobra Commander and Megatron when on the subject of random acts of evil. While some of their actions to make it the top of the charts were of the run-of-the-mill variety, there were others that were, quite literally truly outrageous. Or more appropriately, truly heinous! Whether The Misfits and Eric were vying to gain market share, scratch a vindictive itch, or sate their own material appetites, their means to an end ran the gamut of every criminal offense imaginable, which collectively creates a rap sheet longer than their arms combined. And the kicker here: good ol’ Johnny Law turned a blind eye to it all! A daily list perfect for those double majoring in Criminal Justice and ’80s Cartoon Pop Culture, study up on 10 moments when Eric Raymond and The Misfits should’ve been jailed! Think of them as case studies.
10) The World Hunger Shindig
There are plenty of colorful words to describe The Misfits’ manager Eric Raymond: greedy, egomaniacal, tool, all-around scumbag — I could go on. And of them, charitable and compassionate aren’t on the list; Eric would sooner tell off a homeless derelict to get a job than drop a quarter in his filthy coffee cup. So when he agreed to be the promoter behind the “World Hunger Shindig” charity event, it goes without saying that it raised a few eyebrows, and made a stress-induced vein throb on Jem’s forehead. With the help of his personal agent saboteur and professional thief-for-hire Zipper, Eric skimmed a few dollars — a cool $250,000 — off the event’s proceeds, most likely to sate his appetites, which I assume are every bit as disgusting as the man himself. But does becoming the complete antithesis to Bono gnaw away at Eric’s black heart? Why should it when the only thing he’s concerned about is making it rain?
9) Battle of the Bands
Children everywhere learned something about Eric early on in the series: guy’s a misogynist. And when Jerrica Benton (Jem’s true identity) — having just wrested back control of her dead father’s record label, Starlight Music, from his sinister clutches — gets in his way, she learns for herself that Eric’s the type of guy who doesn’t like to leave without giving, for lack of a better word, a going-away present: backhand! Does she call the proper authorities? Nope. Does she — for a bit of justifiable revenge — have Synergy create a horrifying, ghostly image of her dead father to haunt Eric until he snaps from the psychological onslaught? Of course not. Jerrica simply has her purple-haired boyfriend Rio force feed him a knuckle sandwich and call it a day. But while Eric wasn’t above slapping Jerrica around, he wouldn’t dare do the same to Pizzazz no matter how many times the thought has entered his mind. Because you know as well as I do that she could easily break his wrist with all that pent-up anger of hers.
8) Old Meets New
?Crimes: Unlicensed Operation of a Wrecking Ball & Near Negligent Manslaughter
In the episode “Old Meets New,” Jem and the Holograms, after having their music practically called auditory diarrhea, befriend a crotchety, washed-up 1950’s rocker named Bobby Bailey — whom of which sounds like he gargles with shards of jagged glass. The Holograms all soon learn that the block Bobby’s apartment/erstwhile recording studio is located on is scheduled to be demolished by (surprise, surprise) Eric and The Misfits in order to start building a record manufacturing facility. Always the ones to make a grandiose entrance, the four pull up the street in a massive wrecking crane and start smashing condemned buildings without so much as giving those living in the area a heads-up, or notifying the city that their impromptu demolition will be causing traffic obstruction. As per usual, Pizzazz of The Misfits grows impatient with Eric’s progress and takes control of the wrecking ball like a mad woman, nearly tearing up the street and killing everyone living inside Bobby’s apartment complex. We all know that being a music mogul, Eric knows next to nothing about operating heavy machinery, so that’s already one infraction. But Pizzazz’s penchant for inciting disaster almost turned a slap on the wrist into negligent manslaughter granted if someone actually got swiped by the wrecking ball.
7) Colliding Stars
?Crime: Intent for Grievous Bodily Harm
There are many hard lessons to be learned on Jem and the Holograms, with this one particularly imperative to techies everywhere: if you leave state-of-the-art, delicate equipment unattended — even for a second — within the vicinity of The Misfits, you can bet that they’ll tamper with it, causing untold mayhem and destruction, all the while never truly held culpable for their actions. Such was the case when The Holograms were filming a real winner of a movie that called for Kimber to be in a motorcycle stunt scene (she absolutely screams action hero, yes?). While leaving to let the stuntwoman takeover, Roxy of The Misfits and Misfit-wannabe Clash double team the explosives technician and fiddle around with the console causing the charges to detonate early on Kimber — pretty much turning the entire movie set into an Eastern European minefield. This is a children’s show, so the network censors weren’t going to let a Hologram walk away with third degree burns and a missing lower jaw — you can even say Kimburned — but it’s totally fine to let The Misfits be relieved of responsibility from the whole incident. Hey, just like the real world!
6) Hot Time in Hawaii
?Crimes: Kidnapping & Near Involuntary Manslaughter
It may not be the most well thought out tactic, let alone a little rough around the edges, but kidnapping is an undeniable classic in the Saturday morning villain playbook. In one episode, The Holograms and The Misfits are invited to attend “Battle of the Music Stars”: an olympic-like event that pits the two bands against each other through a series of sporting events; because we all know that on top of being popular musicians, they’re world-class athletes. A common trope that’s been used in practically every episode of Jem is the removal of one of The Holograms to sabotage a performance or event that requires the entire band to be in attendance, and — more often than not — Zipper is typically ordered by Eric or The Misfits to do the dirty deed. Removing Kimber the Perennial Victim from the field, Zipper leaves her tied up and gagged in an active volcano — and on the weakest rock ledge imaginable hanging over a raging river of lava. It was originally his intention to simply leave Kimber out of reach — and screaming distance — of her friends, but Zipper never took into account the volatile nature of a volcano, let alone that she’d pass out and die from the blistering heat (he’s a henchman, they’re not paid to think). Thus this crime would’ve gone from kidnapping to involuntary manslaughter, had it not been for The Holograms timely derailment of The Misfits’ plans.
5) Battle of the Bands
?Crimes: Child Abduction, Child Endangerment & Near Involuntary Manslaughter
Not a day goes by for Jem and The Holograms where one of their Starlight Girls — the name given to orphan girls under the band’s legal custody — runs away from their cushy and nurturing existence, giving all of The Holograms ulcers and getting caught in some kind of disaster or another. After striking a deal with The Misfits to make a quick 30 bucks (it’s a long story, believe me), Starlight Girl Ashley finally sees the error of her ways and marches into Eric Raymond’s office to return the money after deciding to earn it through more legitimate means. Always seizing an opportunity, Eric schemes to hold Ashely for ransom and force The Holograms to come and get her back — keeping them out of a music competition he intends on having The Misfits win (something that also happens a lot in the series). The Misfits take it upon themselves to hide away Ashely, but rather than just toss her in a broom closet, they decide the best place to keep an uncooperative abductee is in an airtight trunk with no means of getting oxygen. Naturally, Rio arrives to save the day, coming to her rescue seconds before a forklift dumps the trunk in a garbage truck. Had he been just a few more seconds late it would’ve been a bloody mess for sure.
4) Intrigue at the Indy 500
?Crime: Attempted Vehicular Homicide
Just so we’re clear, The Holograms and The Misfits are both equally adept at more than one skill; other than being musically inclined. Right now we’ve seen them as athletes and movie stars, but little did you know that these jackies of all trades also add indy car expertise to their overwhelming repertoire of innate skills. Covering for an injured driver sponsored by Starlight Music, Jem agrees to take the wheel and drive in his place, ruining Eric’s chances at winning a bet (gambling isn’t one of his strengths, mind you) and The Misfits’ chances of performing at the Indy 500. Taking matters into her own hands, Pizzazz hits the track and immediately proceeds to run Jem off the road, and if you’ve ever watched the Indy 500, you know that so much as a nudge sends the car screaming off the track in a heap of flaming twisted metal. Miraculously, Jem survives the ordeal and manages to even win the race with viewers at home not particularly surprised. Not even disqualified for her actions or arrested for attempted vehicular homicide, Pizzazz drives away a free woman, venting her violent frustrations on Eric. But if she did kill her manager, would anyone actually care?
3) Kimber’s Rebellion
?Crime: Attempted Murder
A trip to Paris, France nearly turned into one of the greatest tragedies in music history when Eric sent Zipper to sabotage the filming of one of Jem and the Hologram’s music videos. But this is Eric Raymond we’re talking about, so when he says things like “take care of them,” he really means flat out kill them in the most brutal way possible. And with so many stone gargoyles adorning the buildings of Paris, it’s hard not to resist the urge to give one a good push and let your targets below get up close and personal with the city’s vernacular architecture. In standard fashion, The Holograms are seconds away from certain death if not for Jerrica’s boyfriend Rio swooping in to save the day. But rather than press charges on Eric and his accomplice Zipper, The Holograms decide that the best course of action is completing their music video, since bringing the orchestrator of their deaths to justice is a frivolous waste of time.
?Crime: Attempted Mass Murder
Having already destroyed the original Starlight House — Starlight Music’s foster home for orphan girls — The Holograms and their charges are allowed to stay at the mansion of “Battle of the Bands” contest promoter Howard Sands (which was meant as a prize for the contest winners). Wanting to make sure that The Holograms stay out of the competition for good by any means necessary, Eric goes to some serious extremes this time around by doing what political extremists do when they wish to get their way: he has Zipper plant a bomb in the mansion. Whether it was meant to simply cause structural damage or take out a few Starlight Girls and a Hologram or two, you have to admit that Eric is certainly Satan incarnate. The plan backfired when The Misfits showed up, and he was able to cover up his tracks, but it’s crap like this that lands someone in Gitmo indefinitely. And just by looking at Eric, the man wouldn’t last a day behind bars…
1) The Fan
?Crime: Kidnapping & Psychological Torture
For eons, there have been three questions that have vexed some of history’s greatest philosophers and theorists alike: what is the meaning of life? Does God truly exist? And, most important of all, what is Jem’s true identity? A wealthy and eccentric man-child obsessed with the pink-haired pop singer asked the same question, and, ever so desperate for closure, paid The Misfits to find out for him. While this crime didn’t involve anyone getting hurt or killed, it makes the top spot for being the most elaborate and showcases the worst kind of torture of all: that of the mind. Kidnapping an unwitting Jem, she is taken to a complete reproduction of Starlight Mansion with bitter and money hungry actors playing the roles of her closest friends. Throughout the episode, Jem nearly suffers multiple mental breakdowns as the actors try to get her to divulge her true identity — with The Misfits watching everything unfold with rapturous, demonic glee. In sum, the episode played out like a watered down version of Saw, sans stabby things and blood. But what you call psychological torture, The Misfits call mischief. After all, it’s what they do and, boy, do they love making it!