Sunday, May 15, 2011

Thoroughly spoiled

Sorry if you’re getting bored with Doctor Who, and apologies also if you’re getting fed up with all these underclad women who’ve started populating my blog  – see previous appearances of Charlotte, Helen, Lily, some feet, etc, – hey I don’t make the rules – although of course the nipples-for-eyeballs transaction is purely abstract if Blogger enjoys another spectacular global brainfart – in which case I’ve already staked a preliminary claim over at WordPress, a bit like a Nazi in around 1944 trying to get his paintings out of Berlin – anyway, yes, Doctor Who – that’s Katy Manning, incidentally, who played Jo Grant, an assistant to the Third Doctor, in the early 1970s, but she usually wore more clothes – but yes, chief writer Steven Moffat has unleashed a fearsome diatribe – I think he was probably wearing clothes at the time – against people who leak plot details of the show before transmission:
It’s heartbreaking in a way because you’re trying to tell stories, and stories depend on surprise... Stories depend on shocking people. Stories are the moments that you didn't see coming, that are what live in you and burn in you forever. If you are denied those, it’s vandalism.
Is it really? Is that what stories depend on? There must be a literary equivalent to Godwin’s law, something along the lines of “As a discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Shakespeare becomes one” and if there wasn’t, there is now, and it shall be called Bradley’s Law, after the deliciously anachronistic Bardic scholar, but anyway – when people went to see Shakespeare’s plays, most of the time they knew what the story was going to be, who was going to die, who was going to get the girl and so on. Before him, the same was true of medieval mystery plays and, even earlier, Greek drama. It’s only in the past few hundred years that the unexpected has become a key element in fiction and drama – think of the Dickens fans in New York calling out to arriving ships “Is Little Nell dead?” – and that readers and viewers have really started to enjoy not knowing what happens next. Indeed, it’s become something of a marketing gimmick, especially for thrillers. Audiences at The Mousetrap and Psycho being entreated not to give the ending away, and TV shows as different as Dallas, Twin Peaks and The Killing being hyped on the basis of the identity of a murderer, successful or otherwise.

But although the revived Doctor Who has helped to recreate the notion both of event TV (it’s nearly six, got to get home for Who) and family viewing, we’re also in a cultural universe that is at the same time more atomised (I’ll watch Who when I choose, not with my family while we’re having tea) and more connected (but if I do watch it live, I’ll Tweet it at the same time). The notion of an entire nation simultaneously gasping as River Song is revealed to be the bastard love child of The Master and K9 belongs to another, happier, less wibbly-wobbly time. And in any case, many of those for whom  stories – according to Moffat – depend on surprise then go and watch the same stories over and over again, having bought the box set. For all the Spoiler Alerts Moffat can try to deploy, he’s fighting a losing Time War. Just ask anyone who’s tried in recent weeks to protect his dignity with a superinjunction.

That said, I only got round to watching the first episode of The Killing last night, so shush, OK?

4 comments:

Dave said...

I haven't watched Dr Who for some years. Does it have naked ladies in it now?

blackwatertown said...

It's all naked doctors these days I thought - hence it's new found popularity amongst women.
Though I could have done without seeing the innards of the Daleks - yuk - put some metal back on why dontcha, you slimy beasts.
I do like an unexpected twist myself. Though I'm probably not the harder to confound, not having seen it coming (er, so to speak) in The Crying Game. In my defence, I'd been away and didn't get the theme song clue.
As for the Killing... am I the only one still slightly unsure about whodunnit?
(Only to be answered cryptically of course.)

Tim Footman said...

They are all naked, Dave, but some of them wear clothes on top.

Still only on ep 2 of The Killing, Paul, but yes, have heard the ending is ambiguous (as was that of Twin Peaks, of course).

The militant working boy said...

Modern entertainment (The Killing apparently excluded) seems to rely less upon the unexpected and more upon naked women... one often resulting from the other.
Strange how your blog manages to sidestep this...
Are you a wizard or just plain ironic?