Q: It seems to me that this show has continued to be creative and original, despite
many cast changes. Certainly even a lackluster MST3K episode is funnier than most of what's on TV. But occasionally
I see posts from people denouncing it in astonishingly harsh terms. Why are they doing that?
A: Of course, everybody is different and the new MST3K is not to everybody's taste. But when you see the
really harsh, emotional comments, it's important to keep in mind what is noted elsewhere in this FAQ: Although
MSTies are a widely diverse group, one thing nearly all of them seem to have in common is a fierce, sometimes even
blind, loyalty to those they have come to care deeply about. Each of the departed cast members, Joel, Frank and
Trace, had a following who saw him as the sole, or at least principal, reason that MST3K was worth watching. Their
departure has left these people disappointed, sad and sometimes even angry and bitter. It is possible that it is
these emotions that you are seeing vented in the posts you read.
Q: But why all the heartache? After all, the theme song says "It's just a
show." If they don't like it, why not just stop watching, and not bother the people who continue to do so?
A: Yes, from an objective point of view, the choice seems obvious: Find a way to accept the changes and
continue enjoying the series or abandon the series as no longer of interest. And some dissatisfied viewers were
able to do that: Simply give the show up and move on . But those were probably more casual fans. For fans who followed
the show more intensely, giving up MST3K can be a difficult transition that's not as easy as it sounds.
There's something about this show that gets under your skin. It becomes a habit, even, dare we say it, a way of
life. Shaking free of that, for some people, is an unhappy, emotional experience. In an email we got a while back,
one MSTie described it this way: "It's almost as if, after making the decision to give up on the show, you
run up against an invisible wall you didn't know was there. After hitting that wall, some people fall back and
get frustrated and angry (mostly at themselves, if they're willing to admit it). That's when they lash out. Eventually,
they do make it over that wall, but sometimes it takes a while."
Q: If you say so, but it amazes me to see how immature and obsessive some people
can be about this show. Why are they like that?
A: Beats us. We're baffled when we encounter that sort of behavior as well. All we can figure is that we
are witnessing the downside of fandom. But this is really nothing new. Here's an example: In 1990, when Kevin Murphy
took over as the voice of Tom Servo, he received an elaborately printed banner that proclaimed "I hate Tom
Servo's new voice!" People with an unwillingness to accept change and/or a desire to lash out at the TV series
have been part of the MST3K online experience since the beginning. And it's no more explainable now than it was
Q: I read about/remember the massive online flamewar that happened when Joel left.
Was there something similar after the series came to the Sci-Fi Channel?
A: To some extent, but the uproar was not anywhere near as bad as some had feared. Much of the credit for
this should properly go to the cast and writers of the show, who confounded the naysayers and rebuilt a strong
series even after suffering personnel losses that would have doomed other shows. But credit should also go to the
vast majority of discussion forum regulars, who have worked hard for years to create and preserve some of the most
pleasant communities in cyberspace, and who have adroitly recognized and sidestepped the machinations of those
with divisive intentions.
Q: One of the focuses of anger seemed to be Mary Jo Pehl as Pearl. What got these
people so riled up?
A: The character of Pearl Forrester evolved since Pehl created it in season six, and as it evolved, the
responses to it from online fans have changed as well. During season seven, Pehl (somewhat courageously) created
an almost-too-vividly-realized character that seemed to remind just about everybody of their least-liked, most
unpleasant and unwelcome female relative or acquaintance. In response, some viewers came to loathe the character,
and there were some very negative responses to it, along with some mean-spirited attacks on Mary Jo herself. But
as Pehl took a more central role in season eight, her character softened, became less strident and more "likeable,"
in the same way that the evil Dr. F. was perversely likeable. As that change took place, the response from fans
was what one might expect: a growing appreciation of her more amusing aspects of the character, and far fewer negative
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