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Cult TV fans plug into club alliances, souvenirs

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1992-09-09 Commercial Appeal.jpg


Isaac Turner pops a Star Trek tape into his VCR several times each week.

"I'll pull out a tape and watch a couple of episodes, basically because there's not that much else on TV that I'm interested in," says Turner.

Turner, an Alabama accountant and commander of a fan club chapter called Shuttle Yamato, is among thousands of Star Trek fans who belong to organized chapters around the world. Shuttle Alacrity is the name of the local chapter

But Star Trek is not the only television series that has attracted unwavering fans' adoration.

Dozens of TV shows have spawned groups of loyal fans who watch, discuss and collect memorabilia long after the pro- grams leave the airwaves.

Organized fan clubs exist for Many of these so-called cult shows, including the gothic soap Dark Shadows, the campy sci-fi drama Lost in Space and the Korean War comedy M*A*S*H.

Perry Mason also has a fan club. So does The Bionic Woman, Quantum Leap and The Honeymooners. The latter is called the Royal Association for the Longevity and Preservation of the Honeymooners (RALPH).

"There are a lot of them out there," says Blanche Trinajstick, president of the National Association of Fan Clubs in Pueblo, Colo. "There are fan clubs for The Andy Griffith Show and Gilligan's Island and Mr. Ed. Many of these shows are older ones, and the nostalgia interest is outstanding nowadays. Some of these cults and clubs have been going for a long time, but there are a few starting up around more recent shows."

One recent example is COOP, the Twin Peaks fan club.

Although that moody series was canceled last season by ABC, fans welcomed the release of Twin Peaks: Fire, Walk With Me in theaters this summer. Trinajstick publishes an annual directory of fan clubs, and the Current issue includes more Than 1,500 clubs, including groups for rock stars and actors as well as television programs. Star Trek has one of the largest fan club networks, but other shows with larger-than-average followings include The Andy Griffith Show and Dr. Who.

"In the last year, Mayberry is going crazier than ever with people from all over wanting to join," says Jim Clark, presiding Goober of The Andy Griffith Show Rerun Watchers Club Headquartered in Nashville, Tenn. "The show has always been popular, but it seems like people from all over are finding out about our club and want to know more."

The club's members include More than 5,000 dues-paying households and some 700 chapters around the world.

Many fans of The Andy Griffith Show have watched the show since it started, but new fans — young and old — discover the show all the time, Clark says. "I was born in 1960, the same year the show started, so I can't remember not watching it. I'm sure I didn't watch it that first year, but I've watched it virtually all my life.

"I get letters from people who say the same thing—that they've always been fans of the show."

The reasons some shows attract cult followings while others simply fade away are too diverse to categorize, says Jeremy Butler, an associate professor of film communications at the University of Alabama.

"It's a strange phenomenon of the subcultural that has to do with people's ability to define themselves within a group that exists on the margins of society.

Nobody really knows why some things have a cult attached to them and others don't. But I think perhaps one thing is the idea of identifying oneself with a group that is outside the mainstream."

Science fiction shows attract a large percentage of fan clubs, but any show can spawn a cult-like following.

Many die-hard fans keep going back to their favorite shows because they believe the programs represent quality scriptwriting or particularly good entertainment. Dr. Who fans, for example, often cite intelligent scripts, solid characterizations and a creative concept as reasons they enjoy the British science fiction/ fantasy series.

The main character, Dr. Who, travels through space and time in a vehicle called a T.A.R.D.I.S., righting wrongs. He generally employs a nonviolent approach to solving problems.

Fans of The Andy Griffith Show point to the show's enduring comedy, emphasis on good morals and easygoing philosophy. "Families can watch the show together," says Clark. "It's a wholesome show.

"Kids might like it for different reasons; maybe they can relate to Opie because he's a kid, too. And when they become parents, they like it for the father-son relationships and that kind of thing."

For information on fan clubs for your favorite program, write the National Association of Fan Clubs, P.O. Box 4559, Pueblo, Colo. 81003. For a copy of the Fan Club Directory, send $8 to the same address.

Caption: The Andy Griffith Show Rerun Watchers Club, based in Nashville, revels in a mixup of Sheriff Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith, center) and Deputy Barney Fife (Don Knotts, left) in convict's trap.

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  • APA 6th ed.: Diggs, Mitchell (1992-09-09). Cult TV fans plug into club alliances, souvenirs. Scripps-Howard News Service .
  • MLA 7th ed.: Diggs, Mitchell. "Cult TV fans plug into club alliances, souvenirs." Scripps-Howard News Service [add city] 1992-09-09. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Diggs, Mitchell. "Cult TV fans plug into club alliances, souvenirs." Scripps-Howard News Service, edition, sec., 1992-09-09
  • Turabian: Diggs, Mitchell. "Cult TV fans plug into club alliances, souvenirs." Scripps-Howard News Service, 1992-09-09, section, edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Cult TV fans plug into club alliances, souvenirs | url=,_souvenirs | work=Scripps-Howard News Service | pages= | date=1992-09-09 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=8 December 2023 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Cult TV fans plug into club alliances, souvenirs | url=,_souvenirs | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=8 December 2023}}</ref>
  • Title: Cult TV fans plug into club alliances, souvenirs
  • Publication: The Commercial Appeal
  • Date: 1992-09-09