Another recent interview with Joel Hodgson wherein he’s much more candid about his time in MST3K than he was in the past. This may have been well-known to fans more clued in than me, but his leaving midway through season five was entirely due to his feud with Jim Mallon; his claims at the time to have reams of ideas he wanted to try out were smoke to protect the reputation of the show. Does he regret leaving? “Absolutely.”
I really came to enjoy Mike’s tenure as host, but you can’t help but wonder how the show would have progressed had Joel stayed. Maybe he would have stepped aside as host anyway, or alternated with Mike; maybe Trace and Frank wouldn’t have left when they did; maybe Joel would’ve completely revamped the premise and it would have taken on new life, or crashed and burned. Beyond all that, you can’t help but feel a pang for a creative person forced out of their own creation. (John Kricfalusi can relate, I’m sure.) And whatever the hell Mallon is doing with the property nowadays doesn’t inspire much sympathy for his side of the issue. (There is no Tom Servo without Kevin Murphy. Doesn’t matter if Josh did it first. Nobody thinks of the Beatles as John, Paul, George, Stu and Pete do they?)
Obscure related trivia: Joel Hodgson’s original Gizmonic Antsite was the first proper website I ever visited. (Not counting the proprietary stuff from the Prodigy days.) Even that black-and-white number loaded slow as hell on my AOL dialup connection.