As you no doubt know, thanks to a huge mistake by BBC America’s DVD distributors, some people in the USA have already seen the series finale, The Name of the Doctor.
And by now, though I have not searched around, I’m sure there are illegal copies, torrents, circulating on the internet. Promised a brilliant episode, in which we find out about Clara and the Doctor’s greatest secret, with a shocking cliffhanger that leads into the 50th anniversary special, it’s the dilemma fans faced before with the leak of Rose back in 2005: do I see it online, or wait until Saturday?
I know which I’m going to do – but then, I refuse to even watch the show on iPlayer before I see it on TV. In fact, the last episode I didn’t watch live was in 2007 when I was on holiday. And despite being on holiday in 2010, I even managed to watch it live then! But what should you do? You’ve probably made your mind up already, but nonetheless, let me make my argument clear…
If you watch it now, the story will be the same. The shocks will still be shocking and the happiness will still be joyous. What’s more, you’ll have bragging rights. You will know all the secrets The Name of the Doctor has to tell.
But there’s far more to consider.
Most obviously, quality is a massive concern. I don’t use torrents, but surely the version shown on BBC One and BBC HD will be far superior? You won’t be squinting to make out all the details that the episode will inevitably have – is that the Seventh Doctor’s umbrella? Are those Amy’s glasses on the sideboard? Is that a Cyber-mite? Did anyone else see the Tissue Compression Eliminator in the greasy mitts of the peasant in the background?
(Please note that I haven’t seen the episode so all those listed above aren’t spoilers. I’m just stabbing in the dark. Although I have it on good authority that a peasant might, possibly, maybe, perhaps lurk in the background just the once…)
‘The quality might not be the best,’ I hear you say, ‘but I can always watch it again on Saturday to pick up on those details.’
Ah yes – but should you?
The idea of a leak is a bigger issue than just quality. It’s also insulting to the creative team simply because this is not how it’s meant to be.
Like the episode or not, Steven Moffat, Matt Smith, Jenna-Louise Coleman, Saul Metzstein, and a massive crowd of others have dedicated a huge amount of effort, love and attention into making this series finale. Their dedication and passion cannot be underestimated. And the reason they did all of it is so that you – yes, you – can sit down on (or behind) your settee on a Saturday evening and enjoy the culmination of their hard work in glorious definition.
Don’t you think it’s a bit insulting to them if you sneak a look at a dodgy copy online just so you can tell others that you know what happens?
Yes, it’s the old argument against pirate DVDs all over again. But don’t forget that the 40-odd minutes of entertainment you’re going to watch took months to produce by a hard-working bunch of people who do it because they love it – and they want you to love it too. In fact, it’s likely that Steven Moffat has spent years thinking about this finale.
(Furthermore, if you watch it solely online, you won’t be taking advantage of your TV license, will you? See, that’s got you thinking…)
So watch it now or watch it on Saturday. Only you can make that decision. I know which side of the fence I’m on. Please join me. We have jammie dodgers.