I’ve got 22 episodes of Pointless sat on my digi-box. I’ve been chiseling away at them as much as possible. I’m defined by the fact I’ve never missed a single one. There was a week where that stack towered above 30, all of them a ‘do’ on a to-do list. A couple of nights purposefully Pointless-ing back-to-back helped.
TV-watching can be stressful. But I believe that can be made worse by Twitter. At times, I feel like it’s trying to micro-manage my viewing. I was watching a show the other week and when it came to the first break, I looked online. Scrolling back, it turned out that a minute earlier someone had posted a screen-grab of a scene from the programme, with a line to the effect that here was where the episode pivoted. Scrolling further, the same person had preceded that with a remark teeing up the fact we were about to get a scene where, yes, the episode pivoted.
It made me think about the mechanics of this. A journalist with access to a preview copy, who’s watched it, enjoyed it, grabbed an image to deploy – just so – upon transmission. It took some forethought and organisation, certainly. Some imagination. One could argue they were using Twitter with panache. But in addition to trying to steer (or maybe even trump) discussion about the programme, it was also a tacit way of communicating their privileged access to it.
That’s a fussy detail I’ve spent two paragraphs outlining. But it was the thing that set me thinking about writing this post. The last two or three years have seen the rise of the ‘non-spoilery’ preview followed by the instant ‘spoilery’ review upon transmission of hot-button TV shows. I have to confess, I find it a bit wearing. The sheer acquisitiveness. As if websites are trying to plant their flag in these programmes. As if we can’t be afforded the space to make up our own minds first. As if we need another bit of admin to take care of after watching something. The counter-argument to my gripes, of course, is that I’m under no obligation to read either the ‘non-spoilery’ or ‘spoilery’ variants. Which is true, but I’m still being nagged to do so by My timeline. Unfollow, then? Even though I feel that’s actually the passive response, it’s still not considered to be very friendly.
But while I wag my finger, I should confess I’m a sinner too. Look at this…
PETER CAPALDI IS THE DOCTOR! Weird not even to feel a shred of resistance to the new guy (and I really love – loved – Matt Smith’s version).
— Graham Kibble-White (@grahamkw) December 18, 2013
What exactly did that tell the world? Only that, yes, I’d managed to get along to the preview screening and – nnerr! – I’d seen Capaldi’s debut before you. I was simply boasting. Planting my flag. A friend rightfully stopped following me for that. By coincidence, I spotted that and managed to persuade him back. I’ve checked; he’s still with me and he’s a useful presence out there, sat in my notional audience. In my mind, he will sometimes shake his head ‘no’ before I hit the button.
Today’s blog post has been prepared in advance, like that screen-grab tweet, because I’m currently taking a fortnight off. But I still wanted to provide something to read on OTT on a Friday when I would normally be punting up my review of four shows from the week. Those reviews go online with a good deal of space – hours, mostly days – between the end credits and my opinionating. Maybe that space means I’m sacrificing vitality, and that I’m not taking advantage of the online form. But I’d still rather you had time to gather your thoughts first before I pushed mine at you.
- Graham Kibble-White is on holiday. Normal service will resume next Friday.