The Oxford definition of the word "outrageous" lists two meanings: "shockingly bad or excessive" and "wildly exaggerated or improbable." I'd say both of those apply to the Jem and the Holograms episode "Journey to Shangri-La," in which Jem nearly kills both the Holograms and the Misfits — all for the sake of a magic set of bongos.

Jem is having a fancy dinner party with the Holograms and Andrew, a professor/explorer/musicologist who regales them with a story about how he avoided being killed by club-wielding savages by invading their sacred burial grounds. Jem, who is somehow delighted by this story and not appalled, asks Andrew for some music advice, because she's bored with the Holograms' sound.


The disturbingly mustachioed Andrew immediately mentions Shangri-La, in which he claims "all the music, art and poetry the world has ever known" is kept, despite the fact that the city is mythological, has no contact with the modern world and thus can't possibly have any modern music, art or poetry, and supposedly no one ever returns from it so how the hell would it do Jem any good anyways. Jem, of course, will happily sacrifice her friends' lives to improve her music, and books the ticket.

This sends the ‘80s equivalent of a Google Alert to Techrat, the Misfits' weird engineering guy, who alerts Eric, the comically evil manager of the Misfits. Certain that the Holograms are going to Tibet for some music-related purpose, he flies himself and the Misfits to Tibet too, in order to do whatever Jem is doing first, even though they have no idea what the hell that is.

Andrew and the girls land, meet Andrew's Sherpa pal Moki, and begin the long hike to a village that supposedly knows the way to Shangri-La with a song titled, coincidentally enough, "Shangri-La." Sample lyrics:

Shangri-La (Shangri-La)
Where are you hiding?
Shangri-La (Shangri-La)
Where can you be?
If I keep searching, I will find you
Shangri-La, show yourself to me

Are you just a fantasy?
So it would seem
But somethin' in my heart says
You are more than just a dream


Oddly enough, they actually find Shangri-La on the way to the village that's supposed to lead them to Shangri-La, but it disappears before they can reach it, because Shangri-La is kind of a dick.

The Misfits, wearing their best hiking high heels, arrive in Tibet. Eric has hired an evil Sherpa — because the Misfits are evil, you see — to take them to follow Jem, because, again, they have no clue what is happening.


Meanwhile, Jem's team is lost, and then meets a goddamned Yeti. Despite the fact the Yeti is screaming and waving its arms angrily, Jem somehow susses out that the creature is friendly and merely curious, and manages to hug the beast while it touches her butt. But when Andrew tries to touch the Yeti it runs off, frightened, becoming the Abominably Homophobic Snowman (in the Yeti's defense, Andrew's mustache is super-creepy).


The Sherpa says legend has it that the Yeti can lead them to the very real, presumably cartographically established village that will supposedly lead them to Shangri-La. This stupid, exceedingly specific legend cannot be tested because the Yeti has gone to watch the Misfits try to climb a 200-foot sheer cliff wall. Unsurprisingly, the Misfits fail and end up dangling precariously; the Yeti, who seems to be sexually attracted to Misfits band leader Pizzazz, runs back to Jem and leads them to the Misfits.


Jem and her pals obviously help save the Misfits, but in a way that leaves them dangling on the cliff instead, while the Misfits run off to the village. They cackle triumphantly, even though they still have no idea why Jem wanted to go here in the first place. They are surprised, however, to learn theisremote village on top of the Himalayan mountains has no electrical outlets to plug in their recording equipment.

A grumpy old woman, accompanied by her great-granddaughter, are seemingly the village's only occupants; the old woman basically asks the Misfits what the fuck they're doing up here. Pizzazz very cunningly asks to hear the old lady's music, because she's pretty sure this whole thing has something to do with music, and the old lady finally clues them in that they're looking for - the music of Shangri-La. But the grumpy old woman refuses to show them the way to Shangri-La because they are "unworthy."


But the granddaughter Ly-san, who has no idea where Shangri-La is, decides a bit foolishly to try and lead them there anyways while they sing "You Oughta See The View From Here." Sample lyrics:

You oughta see how things appear
When you are up in the stratosphere
You oughta hear how the people cheer
When you are fabulous (Like us)

We feel right at home
Looking down on those below
All you little people
With your dreams so small
(We are totally above it all)


This ends up with Pizzazz and Roxxy poisoned by snow briars and about to die. Somewhat luckily, the yeti has been stalking the girls, and he picks up the two unconscious women and brings them back to the village, where Jem and the Holograms have arrived, only for the old lady to refuse to show Jem the way, claiming she's "false."


Alas, the snowbriar poison can only be cured by the music of Shangri-La, and the Grumpy Old Lady does not give a shit. She's completely okay with letting them die, because she is absolutely not showing the "false" Jem the way. In desperation, Jem takes off her magic earrings (only in front to the old lady, obviously) revealing her true identity as Jerrica. Despite the fact that revealing her lie doesn't mitigate her having lied in any way, the Grumpy Old Lady becomes Impressed Old Lady and hands Jerrica a very unconvincing map.

After turning back into Jem and becoming exactly as "false" as she was previously, she and the Holograms take the poison snowbriar-less path to Shangri-La. As it turns out the people of Shangri-La are super happy, despite their city being completely bizarre. Apparently Shangri-La grants people who stay there immortality, but kills them after they leave. Somehow, guests like Jem are exempt from this; it's only the people who decide to stay that get the immortality thing, although how the city knows when people decide is unknown. As for Andrew's previous assertion that no one ever comes back from Shangri-La, it's bullshit, because they end up leaving without incident.

But first, the High Lama is more than happy to teach a random white woman their magic music. Now, this is a bit hard to convey in words, so I invite you to watch the nearby YouTube video to experience the scene. But what it boils down to is this: The magic music of Shangri-La — which is the sum of all musical knowledge in the entire world and also somehow an antidote to a specific poison — consists of one chord played on a sitar and some light bongo tapping.


I'm just assuming the instruments are magic because 1) somewhere a background chorus starts singing "Shangri-La" over and over again (the word, not the Jem song), 2) there's no other way this music could heal a papercut, let alone poison, and 3) the Lama gives Jem the bongos and sitar, which indicates to me they have some special properties. When the bongo-laden Jem finds the rest of the Holograms, they've decided to stay and let Pizzazz and Roxxy die. Jem points out this would be bad, and the Holograms reluctantly leave.

At the village, Jem plays the same damn chord (with Raya on the bongos), which somehow turns into another song, "Let the Music Play" with a faux-psychedelic video. Sample lyrics:

(Let the music play)
The music will soothe you
(Let the music play)
It'll help to make you whole
(Let the music play)
The music will help restore your soul


Pizzazz and Roxxy spring back to life, and the Misfits immediately run off to find Shangri-La for themselves, despite the fact that Jem has brought the music of Shangri-La with her, meaning there's no fucking reason to go. Here's the kicker... the Misfits actually find Shangri-La. No map, no yeti, no nonsense, they just walk right up to it… and then it disappears, because the Misfits are bad people and because Shangri-La is a dick.

And Jem never used, played or even mentioned the music of Shangri=La ever again.

What Did We Learn?


• Very, very little.

• Seriously, the Holograms were lost in the Himalayas and could have frozen to death; the Misfits nearly fell from a cliff and were poisoned. All so Jem could get a new set of bongos.


• The Misfits' desire to beat the Holograms far exceeds their common sense.

• Yeti are helpful and friendly, possibly because they want to have sex with our women.


• This episode would have been a lot goddamn shorter if everybody had just rented a goddamned helicopter.

• Jem had an entire episode about Shangri-La without mentioning the band The Shangri-Las once.


• At one point, Pizzazz calls the Holograms "Wimpograms." It's kind of sad. "Whore-ograms" would be more cutting, I think.

• If the Misfits were smarter, they could have just waited at the airport with a baseball bat and taken the bongos from Jem after she landed. Would have been a lot easier.


• The ultimate result of the sum total of all the world's music from the beginning of time sucks ass.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter