Phil: I’m not really a Twitterer. I might have a user name (Practical_Phil since you ask) and 38 followers (14 less than someone else) but despite quite a bit of research, I still don’t get it.
Apparently, Twitter is all about conversations and the way you take part in these is to use the appropriate hash tag. I’ve been meaning to give this a go so on Christmas day, I watched the Dr Who special and tuned in to #drwho on my ‘phone.
What I found there was lots of moaning. 10 minutes in and people are pronouncing the episode a terrible failure. As we progress, they are commenting that of course the potential new assistant looks like a character seen in a previous episode because it’s the same actress. And so it went on.
Now the show only lasted an hour. That’s 60 minutes. You could watch the whole thing and even if you didn’t like it, you hadn’t really wasted much of your life. Not for the Twitteratti though, judgements had to be made instantly because their opinions were vital to the sum of human knowledge.
This is all fine. People love a moan and if it keeps them entertained, who cares. Except that despite being aimed at a slightly drunk audience with bellies full of the devils own Brussel Sprouts, the plot was a little bit more complicated than it appeared. Yes, there was the main story about killer snowmen to entertain Granny, but alongside this was a darker plot with an emotionally damaged Doctor finding the will to carry on after the “death” of his last companions.
It brought to my mind the book version of James Bond in “You only live twice”. This opens with Bond recovering from the murder of his wife and we first find him a depressed man in mourning, not unlike the Doctor at the start of his story. Like Bond, by the end of the show, he is back on form and we have a new mystery in the form of Oswin who we are told will become the new companion despite dying twice in two very different eras.
All good you might think. We like slightly convoluted plot lines, mysteries and twists in the end. Except that those hammering Twitter don’t. They want nice, sequential, simple stories that they can comment on and understand at every single point. Mystery, no thanks. They want everything served up on a plate. We can’t waste time building the plot – give it to us now ! They yearn to see behind the curtain and if the Wizard wishes to keep his secrets, the result will be a tantrum.
This might not matter except that the people who commission this sort of stuff read Twitter. They will remember the opinions of people who couldn’t wait until the end to make comment. Commissioners will demand ever simpler plots full of linear narrative. It will be a gradual process but slowly, the complexity of TV drama will fade.
Still, we’ll still have books won’t we? Surely no-one tweets as they read?