First there were the spoilers. Then came the fanrage.
It’s taken me a while to manage my habits about favourite programmes, to avoid all social mediums between the time it starts broadcasting to the time I finish watching. This includes if I happen to tune in late on iPlayer and have to skip back to the start of the programme (what a useful feature), and/or if I pause the programme at some point to forage for biscuits, and consequently end up out of sync with the rest of the viewing audience.
Things get trickier if the programme is first broadcast overseas. There I can just hope that no-one talks too loudly about stuff until it airs over here properly. I got burned by imdb during the first series of 24 and I try to avoid things where I can, but this year people made their favourite scenes from the Newsroom’s last two episodes into Youtube clips and put the spoilers right in the titles.
With British programming I tend not to miss the airdate so easily. And I even managed to watch the finale to the most recent series of Doctor Who, while attending the Horus Heresy Weekender last May. I stop getting withdrawal symptoms from the mediums better that way.
I didn’t entirely understand the import of that finale at the time – at least in part because that was the precise minute the people whose room I was watching the show in decided to return to the room, so my concentration was compromised – and it was in those moments that my new year’s resolution first formed.
Because, the first thing I did when the episode was over and I had a minute, was to go online and find out what that thing was all about. And it turns out that while I was curious, other people had formed opinions. People I follow, or am friends with, or sometimes both. Sometimes they link to other people’s opinions. Sometimes there’ve been analyses.
When the Doctor Who anniversary happened, I watched alone. I tuned in to several of the other anniversary broadcasts, watched the episode again from my recording it, and the following day went to the cinema to enjoy it in 3D. There were probably more people there when it was simulcast live into the cinema, and it would’ve been lovely to listen to the audience’s reactions… but I think I would’ve missed something in the noise.
When the Doctor regenerated at Christmas, I watched with my family. And shortly after that, I went back to the mediums to see what the reactions were… and there were those who loved it and those who hated it and I found myself internally defending my opinion of the show against the intensity of these other people’s opinions… except I hadn’t really formed my opinion of the show yet. All I knew for sure was that I didn’t love it or hate it quite as much as other people had apparently decided they did.
And thus was borne the resolution. So on New Year’s Day, I sat down with my friends to watch the latest episode of Sherlock. And when we’d finished, we played games – Love Letter and Zombie Dice, both quick games but good fun – and I thought about the episode. Not so much whether I liked or hated it yet. I was still trying to figure out whether certain plot points lined up, and whether I could figure out anything about the ongoing story threads.
But before I went online again, I wanted to have an opinion. I wanted to have my own before I was given two and asked to pick.
Not that I’d’ve have put it on the mediums at that point, oh no. Some people haven’t watched it yet.