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Wednesday, 11 May 2011

"The Wrath Of Steven Moffat" - Spoilers And Their Worth.

Okay. Before you all start yelling "hypocrite" I admit, I love spoilers. I love Doctor Who spoilers, anyway. I couldn't give a shit about any other show, I just am not as interested to know what's happening in other shows. I have a real love for Doctor Who and there's an idea of this show belonging to the fans anyway, since it's been running for far longer than most of its production team have been alive. But it does not belong to the fans. It's a delusion we love to nurture as much as we, as fans, love to ignore the reality. This is 'Doctor Who © BBC'. It's not ours!

Doctor Who show-runner Steven Moffat recently 'launched' what some see as a 'vicious attack' on fandom, stating that those who leak plot-lines online, or to the press, should stop watching "his show". It has caused a bit of a stir on Twitter - on my timeline anyway - among the more active Doctor Who fans.

Let me tell you the story of 'Doctor Who Spoilers and Me'. During the lead-up to series three I became pretty interested in chasing the crew of Doctor Who around the streets of Cardiff to watch them film scenes for the show. Since the scenes were for future episodes, the information within them, if splashed about, would be seen as spoilers. I "spoiled" myself this way all through series three and four, knowing just what was coming - or almost, but loving the show anyway... There was never anything BIG enough to ruin the show for me, or for others, it would seem. I was addicted to spoilers; they were a companion to the show, for me.

Because most of what was 'out there' were just clues to what would happen. Nothing over-explicit. It was a means of teasing myself. I've never done 'the spoiler thing' because I want to know what's happening, but because it fires off conversations and debate about a show I know and love. Through Series Five the spoilers got heavier and I found myself knowing bigger things, like Rory's death(s) and the nature of the threat (the Alliance), things which I didn't really mind knowing, but, when I accidentally 'spoiled' the Rory Death Scene for my then-girlfriend, I saw just how destructive HUGE spoilers could be to the enjoyment of others.

So I decided to stay as spoiler-free as possible for the 2010 Christmas Special, A Christmas Carol. The most I knew was that it was a Scrooge-style story, there was a shark, there was singing... I knew literally nothing else. And do you know what? I enjoyed it far more - no, that's not fair... - I was more EXCITED about the story than I had been for the entire series before it. I had an epiphany! I would be spoiler-free for the whole of Series Six. I left Doctor Who forum Gallifrey Base, I stopped attending filming (though I sometimes relapsed, just like any addict) and I tried to limit my contact with sites such as the brilliant Doctor Who Spoilers. It was difficult, since my best friends are basically the source of all spoilers - although, they were not the source of the one that got Mr Moffat so worked up recently! But, I tried my best.

It didn't work of course! I know as much, almost, about this series as I did about the last! But I've tried to limit myself to teasers. I know things I dare not say on here for fear of a violent backlash! But the things I know only help to stir the excitement in me over the episodes to come. There is one BIG THING I know - or think I know - but again, it's not the End Of All Things. However, one quick trip to Gallifrey Base changed things slightly. The first two episodes were ruined for me. Not completely, I still loved them, but the risk had been taken away.

One fan lucky enough to bag a ticket to the press screening of The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon later posted everything (almost) about the episodes on GB. Ordinarily this fella would have got a pat on the back from many! Even from me! But there was something uncomfortable about the release of SO MUCH information... It wasn't just the odd hint or teaser here and there; it wasn't even a list of things that happen! It was an entire, detailed break-down of the entire two episodes. It was also a disturbing betrayal of trust after being asked, nicely and politely, not to let the cat out of the bag before the episodes aired. Even the press kept quiet, for Christ's sake!

An enthusiastic reaction to being given Top Secret Information is something I'm all too aware of! But it seems that this incident caught the attention of the production staff and ruffled a few feathers. So how much information does it take to turn a 'spoiler' into a 'ruiner'? Well... It would seem the answer to that is 'all of it, almost'. As I've mentioned, the odd thing or two creates HYPE: "The Cybermen are back!!" means that scores of people will watch to see a) if they actually are and b) what they're up to this time. Want to know who River Song really is? Sure! Head over to Gallifrey Base! If you care that much about who she is that you'll seek the information out, it's not going to stop you watching, it is? Almost harmless! But those are all clues, hints and teasers. What you don't want is to be told the ins and outs of the whole bloody episode! 

I suppose what I'm saying is, in far too many words (sorry), is that there's no fun in being given an already completed crossword to solve. Sure, those one's where you're given "1=F and 2=T and 3=P" but have to fill the rest in yourself are great fun! And normal "2 Down: Green Fruit, five letters" are awesome! But a completed grid? Not much fun in looking at the clues when the answers are already filled in, even if you haven't filled them in yourself! I'm not sure this is the clearest analogy ever, but it's the best I can do.

So, in clumsy conclusion to a clumsy post: Spoilers = Good, Ruiners = Bad.