Sunday, 2 June 2013

Spoilers...

So, by now you'll have heard the news. It's been everywhere. It was discussed on Radio 2 this evening.  But still, I feel the need to note that this post contains spoilers of a most final nature for the immediate future of Doctor Who, and put it behind a cut, even though it's basically only a couple of lines about my personal reaction.





I know large segments of the fandom will be wailing and gnashing teeth regarding the man's departure. And yes, I'm disappointed, but to be honest I was just as disappointed when I thought the announcement about Series 8 going ahead included Matt Smith. (It didn't, I must have read some of the supplementary interviews and speculation and folded it into my memory of the press release.) I'm mostly disappointed that it has to be announced before the fact at all.

I get why they have to make these announcements - it's clearly totally impossible to keep completely quiet*, and if it's going to break it's better to break it on purpose, in a controlled manner so you can maybe preserve some of the details and cushion the shock. Plus, I suppose there is some merit in announcing the replacement early, as they did with Smith himself, to give people time to get used to the idea.

But this is basically the single biggest spoiler that can break - the spoiler of WHO WILL DIE AND WHO WILL LIVE** - and it's kind of annoying. I'm sure there's this ongoing war between story and publicity at BBC Towers, the one desperate to keep everything under wraps while the other needs to let everyone know that oh my god Tennant and Piper are back and hey John Hurt don't you want to see this so much! And they're both entirely valid points of view.

So, what should rule? Story or advertising? At the end of the day the argument is probably moot. These things are, I think, decided largely by practicality. Tennant and Hurt were all involved in location shoots, which are notoriously hard to keep the public away from (to the point where fans were lipreading River Song's dialogue and transcribing it to the internet - that's one back yard patio Moffat must wish he'd built in studio). Shooting for season 8 may not begin until after Smith's exit is broadcast, but even so the production juggernaut is probably already underway and somebody would notice his absence from that process. Sometimes you just can't keep it secret, and those are the no-brainers. Get that marketing machine in gear, fill these seats for the grand finale.

Hopefully there will still be some surprises and revelations, like when they let slip the Cybermen were in the series 2 finale and completely managed to conceal the involvement of the Daleks until broadcast (no thanks to the potentially disastrous appearance of The Wrong Dalek at an awards ceremony some weeks previous, which apparently nobody made comment upon). Misdirection is still a thing; sometimes you let out a little secret to protect the big ones. I have my hopes and my theories, and Moffat rarely does anything in a straight line, so until that broadcast we don't know anything for sure.

Except that Smith will survive the 50th Anniversary, and will not appear beyond the Christmas Special.

Which is pretty significant, really. But still.

On the plus side, until they actually make the announcement about a replacement***, I can dream that they're already on the way to knock on my door and thrust a sonic screwdriver into my eager palm.

~

* They gave it a good shot back in 2005, but it still got out - by way of a slip on the part of the incumbent - and the show is now SO high profile that I believe it's actually impossible to keep it quiet that Matt Smith is not turning up to work and who's this other guy appearing on the shooting schedule and all the readthroughs and IMDb.
** The Doctor is dead!  Long live the Doctor!
*** The knowledge that they have surely already been cast is powerless in the face of a dream that, let's face it, is already pretty unlikely.