The Virtual Set Tour Fiasco

Two-time backer here and a fan since the first Comedy Central season.

I have to say the 1st virtual set tour was a fiasco.

The writers room visit with the live riffing was excellent, but lasted only about an hour out of the 4 hour or so event. That was the only part that went well.

The introductory portion seemed to be killing time until the writers room was ready. After the riffing, when the Q&A was supposed to begin, Ivan pretty quickly indicated in what was supposed to be the video chat room where backers were to ask questions on camera that there were technical issues then shut it down, never to return. My 13 year old son was all set up to ask his question but had to sit there mystified while nothing happened.

Meanwhile, in the main livestream, there were so many writers in different Zoom windows that the video and audio became terribly choppy. It was a mistake to have so many for another reason—-they spent the vast majority of time talking to each other, referencing inside jokes they wouldn’t explain. An event that was geared toward making backers feel like insiders made us even more clearly outsiders based on how poorly it was staged. Joel took off early—-he seemed uncomfortable with how things were going.

It was 6:24 Eastern—-almost 3 hours into the event—-before any backer questions were asked. They asked a handful then wrapped it up. At least they remembered to thank the backers at the very end.

Ivan looked miserable, but I don’t think this was all his fault. If you’re going to do a virtual set visit, you need to make some attempt at the type of interaction visitors would have with the cast and crew in person. There was more actual interaction in the two live shows we’ve attended. If you can make a few thousand people feel like part of the family for a moment, you should be able to do it with a few dozen. And given how Covid’s separated people these days, we don’t get enough feeling-like-a-family time.

I’m not bringing this up to Joe Don Baker Joel, Jonah, and the gang, but rather to identify some ussues I hope they’ll fix in the remaining virtual set visit sessions. MST3K is not supposed to feel like their club, but all of ours. Right now it feels more like the former and I hope that changes soon.

Thanks to all for their hard work and commitment, but especially to the backers for so loving a 30-year-old show so much they’ll sacrifice significant time and money to keep it alive. MSTies are unique in fandom for such never ending loyalty—-as opposed to those MSTers, who are just bandwagon jumpers and fairweather johnsons.


:frowning: Sorry to hear that. I wasn’t able to make it, but I hope at least some of this will be available for viewing later. Even if it was less than perfect.


Ivan indicated it would and that that version wouldn’t suffer from the livestream’s choppiness (although you’ll hear people refer to it). The live riffing was good.


Hrrrm. Personally, I thought it went pretty well.

It was a live, online event in what had to be rather high stress moment. Yeah, there was a rocky start but these things don’t really have rehearsals. If anything, we had just barged into their nominal work day (given, it was planned but still).

Finding fault with the audio/video quality of the writers room stream, though, comes off like a jab. If the writers room finds Zoom to to be the best tool for their workflow, they’re going to stream Zoom to us. It’s dependent on the fortitude of all of their connections and, hey, U.S. broadband blows. The ongoing End Times still have people conducting work from their homes and not everyone has access to fiber lines. Sure, there are solutions on deck but they all have trade-offs:

  • The writers could have killed the video streams, which is the bulk of the Zoom traffic, but that’d include the share of the video they were actively riffing. We’d have absolutely nothing to see but, more importantly, the writers would lose their ability to work.
  • They could kill the Zoom video feeds, and the video they were riffing could have been piped into the stream we were accessing. Not only does this radically break up their usual flow but their connectivity would be competing with the ~150 of us that were there. With the setup that we visited, they just had to battle connections amongst themselves.
  • They could have paid for thicc pipes. That wasn’t in the recent campaign budget and, again, not everyone’s house has that sort of connectivity available where they are.
  • They could have conducted the event in something like Discord. With some server boosts, audio/video is clean and smooth as butter. Does everyone know how to navigate Discord? Do they want to install a Discord client (which would be mandatory, as the features on video are stunted in the web client)?

It’s their jobs. They didn’t have to offer a visit to their work site. But they did, and they accommodated our brief visit with all of the goofy obstacles that the pandemic continues to throw at all of us. Not everything went 100% perfect (dunno if you were around for the countdown stream at the end of the first campaign; it hadn’t, either) but it doesn’t diminish the excitement and fun of everything that was going on. Or, well, it shouldn’t. Sounds like it did for you.


Thanks for this. I feel Teflon93’s frustration, but it’s also important to remember that technology can be a real uh, bear. Sometimes we just have to deal with that.


I’m confused by this description?

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Joe Don Baker is the lead actor in Mitchell (Joel’s last episode of the original series) and Final Justice (Mike as host a few years later). The character of Mitchell is written to be juvenile, amoral, and utterly repulsive. So the MST3K crew had a fair number of riffs about how unpleasant he was. Joe Don Baker got really upset by them having the gall to make fun of him. Which spurred Mike and the gang to go extra hard on him the next time around, with a lot of riffs not just about the character but the man himself.

“Joe Don Baker” as a verb in this context basically means to be harshly critical in a mean-spirited way.


I know who he is, but “juvenile, amoral, and repulsive” are not usually terms associated with Joel. What I meant was, what did he (Joel specifically, apart from the poster being overall dissatisfied) do to deserve that appellation?


As I read the original post, it’s not “I’m going to refer to Joel as Joe Don Baker.” Rather, it’s used as a verb.

Translation: “My intention is not to bring this up as a way to trash Joel, Jonah, and the gang the same way the show has done to Joe Don Baker. I’m offering this as constructive criticism in the hopes that it will help things go better for everyone next time.”


Okay, thank you. I wasn’t asking to start a fight- I legitimately found the phrasing confusing
(Are we still using “phrasing”?)


Glad to help. And no worries. You were confused. You asked for clarification. I did my best to explain. All as it should be. No sign of a fight that I can see. Glad I could help. (And, yes, I still use the word “phrasing.”)


Don’t worry. It took me a couple of reads, too. (And heck even if he’s crabby to our fandom I still kind of like ol’ Joe Don.)


I like that Joe’s name has just become a verb now.

When your name is a verb, that’s a sign of either having made it big, or having screwed up big time.


I feel like “fiasco” is a fairly inaccurate description. While I haven’t seen the event yet, I will have to re-watch the video once it uploads (which I’m not happy I have to wait, but I understand)- it was several hours long. Most “behind the scenes” things are 30-45mins max. Plus I don’t believe they said anywhere that you were guaranteed to ask questions via video. They gave people opportunities to ask questions, see some writing happening live, and that, in my opinion, is exactly what we paid for. Now if you’re dissatisfied with the video quality, I hope this is resolved for the next events. And maybe this is you asking for more information up front regarding these events, and more effort to be put in to the stability of the feeds. But I don’t feel like this is anything short of an impressive feat, and a welcome reward- seeing behind the curtain.

The one thing that bothers me, is the complaint of the “inside jokes” the writers shared with one another. Do you watch Fast 9, and complain none of the characters relationships were clearly explained, or read the fifteenth book in a series, and dislike that two seemingly unrelated characters have some history you are unaware of? Do you jump into a podcast at episode fifty and get mad that callbacks make no sense to you?

Maybe you just put these ideas into words in a way that seemed more combative and entitled than you meant it, but for me, it came across very gruff and without much forethought put in. Maybe I’m guilty of the same thing, but I couldn’t stay silent any longer.


To “Joe Don Baker” someone is to humorlessly gripe about them.


You are correct, RJFL. In short, after the train chase, I’m not trying to kill anyone with a forklift (ole!) here. I’m not angry; just disappointed.


We were promised the opportunity to ask questions on camera—-that opportunity disappeared without comment, really. They had sent out the instructions as to how to do this for those backers in that category. No one was promised they would get to do so—-but no one was able to do so either. Don’t advertise what you can’t deliver.

This was not a DVD extra. It was supposed to be interactive but really wasn’t, for the reasons mentioned. This board isn’t really interactive either in that you see few posts from the cast and crew.

The experience was akin to eavesdropping on somebody else’s Zoom call with bad wifi. That’s not really a good experience. As for it being their jobs, the backers are the investors who have made those jobs possible this time around. If a bunch of investors showed up where I work, I wouldn’t ignore them and just goof around.

We can make all the excuses we like—-and people who have a lifelong love of things can be very creative in that regard—-or we can note problems and ask that they be addressed so that the overall experience is improved. Would you be delighted if the snowglobes looked nothing like the prototypes, like a kid ordering sea monkeys from a comicbook ad only to find the little white flecks in the water didn’t resemble the Atlantean race whatsoever?

The backers came through bigtime. Just try to make these events special, that’s all. Nobody expects perfection——we’re MSTies.


I appreciated the look into the writing process, and kinda shrugged at lag because it’s not the first time I’ve experienced tech issues with something I paid for and figured the next visit would go better.

I really wasn’t expecting or prepared for a 4 hour call at a very busy time of day and had to leave mostly because of that. My incredible and supportive husband took the afternoon off of work to take care of the kids so at least there wasn’t a babysitter wondering what was taking so long. I’d like to request that we’re given a rough idea of how long the call will be next time. Not a really a complaint, I just need a heads-up in case I do need a sitter next time.


I’m sorry that there seemed to be so many hitches with the set tour, it would have been another feather in the Best Brains cap if it went off smoothly. But there’s a reason “the first time is the worst time” is a saying, and with so many moving parts I’m not surprised that much didn’t go as planned.

I don’t think the original poster is trying to be harsh, they are just expressing overall disappointment that something so keenly anticipated was such a let-down. Having an eager child present makes such disappointment all the more weighty.

I do believe that, given Joel’s dedication to the craft and to the fans, that he will probably be holding a postmortem to discover what can go better next time. Hopefully everyone who didn’t enjoy the first run will be able to attend a later one and see how they improve.


Solid feedback, y’all! Please trust that we are SUPER HYPER AWARE of the technical issues and yes, we will be devising a new approach for subsequent set visits.

For what it’s worth, the effort on Friday involved, I believe, eight different apps/platforms to try to account for the need to privately stream two different calls, collect and allow upvoting on questions in chat, AND allow VIP backers to ask on-camera questions in the second half. Despite successful morning tech checks, in the actual event, the latter system failed completely. We apologize to folks who were disappointed by this; we will get it right next time.