First, scripts for the new season of Doctor Who were leaked, and people panicked. "Don't spoil me," they yelled across the stretching expanse of social media space. "If you read those scripts, you're a bad fan!"
Then, this weekend, a workprint of Peter Capaldi's first proper episode, Deep Breath, wound up on BitTorrent sites around the interworld and fans kicked their frenzy all the way up to a Capaldi Twelve. The #keepmespoilerfree hashtag was born, threats were made, honor impuned, and, in general, Doctor Who fans had an epic fit over the leak.
Well, here's what we say -- Relax. Like the leaked episode suggests, take a deep breath, and let's look at this situation objectively.
But before we start -- this is not to advocate that you illegally download this episode. We're not talking about the legality or the ethcis of this situation, just the practicalities. Now, with that said...
Doctor Who Premieres Have Been Leaked Before
Do we all recall 2005? How well? Well enough to know that when Doctor Who first returned to our screens it was through a (rumored purposeful) leak of the episode, "Rose?" That's right! On the brink of the show's first foray back into television since the failed 1996 TV Movie, the launch that would make or break the rebirth of Britain's favorite sci-fi franchise wound up on the intertubes, back when we still called the Internet that.
And what happened?
The show was a smash hit. So, just to start, if you're concern is that people watching this workprint version ahead of schedule will impact ratings, you have precious little to worry about. Even less than with "Rose," frankly, since, unlike "Rose," this isn't even a final version of the episode. No one who watches a work print is going to say, "Nah, don't think I'll bother with the real thing, thanks".
Zero Spoilers on Social Media
If you search the Doctor Who hashtags on Tumbr or Twitter, you'll find three things
- The latest Season 8 trailer
- Random fanfics and musings on Doctor Who with corresponding animated .gifs
- People screaming "DON'T SPOIL ME ZOMG!!!11"
Do you know what you shan't be seeing right now? Any spoilers. Not. ONE. And, believe me, I've checked. The closest thing you'll find is people making vague tweets and commentary about Capaldi's performance and Moffat's writing.
So, to follow up on the first point -- even if you obsessively look for them, the supposed spoilers for this episode aren't really out there. Oh, I reckon they'll turn up, eventually, but not in such a way as they won't be easily avoidable.
Credit where credit is due -- that means that Doctor Who fans are super cool. Even if many of them did watch the episode, they're doing what matters most -- keeping the contents of the episode under their hats. That's rare, and should be commended.
This Will Not Have a Siginifcant Impact on Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, Steven Moffat, or the Cast and Crew
Everyone working on Doctor Who is still collecting their paychecks, the leaked episode will still air, and we will all still watch it and talk about it endlessly.
Yes, I'm sure Moffat & Co. are bummed, but they'll start feeling a whole lot better as their world tour continues and they're met with tens of thousands of adoring fans.
The BBC Are Dealing With This Perfectly
Some people have said this leak makes the Beeb look incompetent, but it's sort of all in how you spin it. One fan's worst abomination ever is another British Broadcasting Corporation's opportunity to create a campaign for fans to rally around in order to bring in solid ratings.
And that's precisely what the BBC's done. They've taken the #keepmespoilerfree spirit and used it to get fans to be even more supportive of a show they already loved with an intense ferocity beforehand.
Did the BBC leak the episode on purpose? Nah, probably not. But that certainly doesn't mean they can't work this situation towards their favor, and that's precisely what they've done.
So! To sum up --
Fan support: Maximum
Why, if the Doctor were a real person, he might even have been responisble for the leak himself! Do you hear that sound? It's the TARDIS dematerializing, echoing a confirmation that the day has been saved.
What do you think? Is the leak of the Season 8 premiere a disaster of epic proportions, or just another pitfall of sci-fi fandom in the Internet era? Let us know in the comments!