Steven Moffat, producer of Doctor Who, is not a happy man.
I can understand why. He’s always been anti-spoilers, believing that it ruins a story if you know everything in advance. The fact that someone published online the full plot of this year’s first DW two-parter before it was shown, despite Moffat and others requesting that people show restraint, has lead to an outspoken column in Doctor Who Magazine, not surprisingly as those episodes depend on a major twist within the first fifteen minutes.
Now, I’m speaking as someone who accidentally tweeted a minor Thor spoiler only last week. It was thoughtless and careless of me, byt it was a mistake and hopefully won’t happen again. These things happen – it’s annoying, but sometimes people let the cat out the bag.
(A few years ago, someone spoiled that Lex Luthor had discovered that Clark Kent is Superman. I was angry about that until I realised DC was going to do next to nothing with that particular twist.)
The internet has made it possible for us to find out in advance everything we could possibly want to know about a film or TV seriies, and that must be a nightmare for writers who not only want to use plot twists but who also want the immediacy of a scene to add to its emotion; that immediacy is lost if, say, you know six weeks in advance that Billy-Bob is going to have an unfortunate encounter with a combine harvester.
But here’s the thing, and I’ve not seen it mentioned in online spoiler debates – the geek audience, and its general spoilerphobia, exists alongside and audience of soap fans who have almost everything spoiled on the front of TV listing magazines, go into a newsagents and you can find out the plot of the next fortnight’s worth of EastEnders in about 30 seconds. Spoilers can be a marketing tool aimed at a generation raised on instant gratification, and I’ve fell for it more than once, but let’s not kid ourselves, it has an impact on storytelling and that’s why Moffat’s so mad.
Now I’ve said all that, I really hope no-one spoils the mystery of River Song for me…