Natasha was considered to be the “leader” of the B-Team in-world. Why is unclear, but it probably was simply because she was the first to appear, and had a degree of popularity. While she only appeared in five episodes, those five do seem to have left a lasting impression, although that could simply be because she was the first on-scene.
However, Natasha was in a unique situation amongst the B-Team. She’d already been re-tooled not once but twice before the Rebuild of Elmer, which meant that in an interesting way, she required the least amount of work of any character. At the same time, she is the most and least changed.
Natasha’s appearance worked in her favour, with two of her three versions standing out. The second one had its cybernetic plugs and wires coming from her head, which seemed to strike a chord with some readers. Likewise, the third version, with its’ post-apocalyptic grunge gear and tattoos also stood out from the rest of the cast. Both of these seemed to strike home, and gave us a lot to work with.
The third version of Natasha proved to be the most useful for riffing in a very strange way. In filling in for Rick, she adopted his ‘floater/casual’ style of riffing, in essence doing the same thing as he did. While it may seem like a waste of a guest star, in many ways, it worked a lot better then some. She didn’t rely on a single over-used gag (Karen) or a single style of riff, allowing us a much boarder range to work with. Natasha v3 was probably the most flexible of the B-Team after Maya.
Had Elmer Studios continued into 2003-2004, Natasha v3 would have been a member of the cast, albeit in a B-Team role. v1 and v2 would have been quietly dropped and deliberately forgotten.
What didn’t work?
Natasha v1 was boring. That’s all there is to it. She was stiff, anal-retentive, humourless and had relatively little to her to make her distinct or interesting. True, a lot of that could be put down to her first appearance (our third episode in which we were still very rough), but her personality factored into it as well. She also didn’t really provide much of a good board for interaction, having no real connection with the other characters save for a tenuous connection with Rick. That, in turn, was worth a few meta-gaming jokes in one host segment, and that was it.
Even her unique traits, being a Telekenetic (at least in version one), were really not that well used. She blew up the TV, but really, that was a matter of using mind bullets rather then lead ones. In many ways, it was a waste of potential on our part, and by the time we would have better used it, the B-Team were largely retired.
Not a lot, or, if you prefer, an awful lot.
The rebuild Natasha is based off her third version, as appeared during Crisis of infinite Temps. Relatively little has changed; her appearance has been slightly redesigned to be a bit more “modern” (Like everyone else, really) and her personality and riffing style has loosened up a bit to make her somewhat closer to Rick and Dan. This allows her to substitute well for Dan under the current, re-worked B-Team plan, acting as the ‘casual idiot’ member of the team.
Her background has been somewhat reworked though. As it stood, she was suffering badly from not having much to go on and no real life outside of the apartment. Besides re-working her to fit the same fictional universe, she’s got a unique job, a unique place to live and a unique background quirk in her crappy garage band, something which in and of itself can be used for new material.
Finally, and most importantly, in the spirit of removing meta concepts, she no longer has a past of different design versions that are known to the rest of the cast. As far as they’re concerned, there is no non-grungy Natasha, and there’s no need to explain why she’s changed. She’s always been that way.
What’s stayed the same?
Compared to version three, most things but with some background filling. Compared to the whole package? An awful lot.
However, while Natasha v1 and v2 are unknown to the cast, that’s doesn’t mean that that they never existed…