Yes, I downloaded them. No, I haven’t read them. — A spoiler-free discussion of the leaked Doctor Who scripts.
Beware the Doctor Who spoilers! The scripts for the first five episodes of season 8 have somehow made their way in to the big bad world also known as “the internet”.
Capaldi & Coleman [x]
On Monday, a statement was released by BBC Worldwide. It reads as follows:
“BBC Worldwide is currently investigating a security issue around Doctor Who Series 8 where unfinished material has inadvertently been made public. We deeply regret this and apologise to all the show’s fans, the BBC and the cast and crew who have worked tirelessly making the series.
“We would like to make a plea to anyone who might have any of this material and spoilers associated with it not to share it with a wider audience so that everyone can enjoy the show as it should be seen when it launches. We know only too well that Doctor Who fans are the best in the world and we thank them for their help with this and their continued loyalty.”
Yes, I downloaded them. No, I haven’t read them.
These are post-production scripts. Every scene is time-stamped. Theoretically, there should be no difference between these scripts and the completed episodes. And that’s one of the reasons why I won’t read them. Not yet, anyway.
Television is a visual medium. As a writer, I love reading scripts to see how other screenwriters express things, but reading even the best script is not the same as watching an episode.
When I watch a Doctor Who episode for the first time, I want the element of the surprise. I don’t want to know what will happen next. Although I am of the belief that spoilers should not necessarily ruin one’s enjoyment of a film, book, or television show, Doctor Who is one of the few television shows where I make a point not to read articles deemed spoilery, and to avoid the internet on the day of airing, for fear of finding out too much. [Other shows for which I have done this include Life On Mars, Ashes to Ashes and Orphan Black].
Even if these scripts were an earlier draft, and not an exact record of the edited episodes, I still probably wouldn’t read them – although I would certainly be a lot more tempted to. One of the best things a writer can do is read a script and then watch the finished product, making note of any differences between what was written and what was shot. It’s a good way to think about why things may have been changed, and to work out whether similar changes may need to take place in order to make your own work better. I’ve read early scripts for television pilots and films that I hadn’t seen, and later watched them, still getting a high level of enjoyment, because what I’d read wasn’t exactly what had been made. It’s kind of like reading the book before seeing the film – you still get something out of it, because things have to inevitably change. You’re seeing an interpretation of something that you’ve read.
But there is no point reading a post-production script instead of waiting for the episode to air. As far as I can tell (and I don’t intend on looking into this further), these scripts are the same as the finished episodes. So it’s like reading a novelisation of a film (where the film has been made first) – when you finally watch the thing, there won’t be any surprises left.
This season of Doctor Who is set to be full of new and exciting things – aside from the fact that he’ll apparently be “darker”, I know very little about Capaldi’s Doctor. And I don’t want to know any more. I want to wait and see it the way it’s supposed to be seen: on a television screen (or, let’s be realistic here, a computer screen) when it finally airs for the first time.