Satellite News - Our Day at BBI - Page 2


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Our Day at BBI - Part 2

I asked Jim how relations with the Sci-Fi Channel were going and what the chances were of them getting picked up. Jim said TV "is a bottom-line business" and that a lot of the future depends on the ratings the show gets. But he added that the relationship with Sci-Fi has been getting more and more comfortable now that each side has gotten to know the other one better.

Unavoidably, the topic of the show's fans and how they have reacted to the many changes the show has been through, came up. In fact, this was an area when they seemed interested to hear what WE knew about what the fans were saying. Jim asked if there were still "Joel vs Mike" arguments and Brian and I conceded that occasionally there are. Mike, Bill and Kevin laughed heartily, but Mary Jo was simply stunned. "No way!!" she shouted, looking to Brian and me for confirmation. Brian and I ruefully nodded. "What I was told is that you just don't talk about it, because it brings up too many personal issues for people," Mike explained to Jim. Everyone seemed genuinely perplexed that some fans seem unwilling to let the show change and go in new directions. "That's not a very gracious attitude," Jim noted. "To push on to the show--and the people that write the show--this baggage that 'it must be as it is to my liking and never evolve,' I think you have to turn around and look at the person that's leveling that charge and wonder why."

To which Kevin added: "Rick Nelson said it all: 'It's all right now. I've learned my lesson well. You can't please everyone, and so you've got to please yourself.'"

Paul then made the sound of an explosion. (Rick Nelson joke, ya see.)

Mike added: "You know, just recently I watched some of the season one episodes, just to make sure we weren't repeating ourselves. And I'll just flat out say it: what we are doing now is much better than season one. Some people didn't want us to change from season one--"

"Hell, people didn't want us to change from KTMA..." Jim interjected.

Paul added: "Yeah, a guy once said to me: 'You know, the show was better before it had writers.'" The room exploded with laughter and Mary Jo joked, over the din, "I'd like to tender my resignation."

I asked Mary Jo about her character and if it had changed at all as a result of what has been sometimes withering disapproval online. She said she doesn't go online and never ever reads the fan mail, so fan reaction had nothing to do with any changes in the role. One of the things that became very clear as we talked, and Mary Jo's cheeks flushed red with emotion and at one point tears seemed to well in her eyes, is that she is very sensitive to negative criticism. She said she was genuinely taken aback during a recent Sci-Fi Channel-sponsored chat, when she was asked how she felt about fans who had said she should not be taking Trace's place. I got a real sense that Mary Jo is baffled and a trifle irked to know that there are people out there spending time and energy thinking about and discussing whether she ought to be doing her job.

As for her character, she said that the main change was that she will no longer be focused on "trying to help Clayton" and instead she will just be trying to "just take over everything." "I'm hoping, through the season, that she's not completely one-dimensional. I'm hoping to add at least one other dimension. Hopefully she won't always be yelling at everything all the time and that she's not always assaultive or confrontive."

We then turned to Bill, who was aghast to learn that there was already a "Trace vs. Bill" thread on the newsgroup.

"Part of me cares too much, I'm sure, but I'm just not going to expose myself to that. 'Cause, frankly, the bedrock part of the show has not changed at all--the movie and the good writing. If it takes me a season to get on my feet, I'm willing to allow myself that. Or never! I really do think Trace was pretty ingenious with the puppet. I mean, he invented it. . ."

"Careful, now," Jim interrupted. "Don't say that because then the Joel fans will get mad. . ."

There was nervous chuckling around the table and Bill just replied "Whatever...I don't think of it as me versus him at all."

I asked Kevin about Tom Servo's adventures on the edge of the universe, and he assured us that we will hear more about them, adding that Tom has been through some "tough times and there's a real frontier macho about him now that pops up every now and again."

I also asked Jim if Gypsy had changed at all and he shook his head with a smile. "She's still a rock," he said. "Somebody has to be."