Yesterday was a big day for fans of the Doctor Who TV series. The show started 50 years ago yesterday – though it has not been on continuously – and the BBC aired a 50th anniversary special. One of the characteristics of Doctor Who is that the main character, the Doctor, changes every few years. A new actor takes over the role as the previous doctor “regenerates.”
I’m not a fan of the show, but being in the UK, I felt I should watch it. This episode featured two previous doctors – Matt Smith and David Tennant – and, as far as I can understand, a new-old doctor, played by John Hurt.
This morning, reading the Guardian web site, I noticed that the newspaper had liveblogged the show. This made me wonder: are we that distracted that we want to watch a TV show while following what others say on a website, or Twitter, or other social media platforms?
The liveblog is not new. It’s used very often in my profession, tech journalism. For example, when Apple makes a new product announcement, they don’t always provide a live video feed. For this reason, journalists present send text and photos to websites to provide real-time information. Liveblogs can be used for sporting events, award ceremonies and others. But TV shows?
I may be wrong, but what’s important when watching a TV show is to follow the story. Can a viewer really appreciate a show when reading what someone else is writing on a website? Do they need that as a crutch? And can the “journalists” doing the liveblogging even follow the show closely enough to write seriously about what is happening?
I don’t recall liveblogs of big, recent TV series finales, such as Lost or Breaking Bad. Viewers were too interested in following the complex stories and seeing how they tied up. Could it be that Doctor Who is just simple enough that it can be liveblogged?
I wonder what kind of person – who is a fan of the series – would sit and watch the show while following such a liveblog on their tablet, phone or laptop. I noticed that my Twitter stream was very quiet last night during the period that the show was on. Many of the people I follow are long-time Doctor Who fans, and they were not tweeting, but rather paying attention to the TV screen.
It’s sad that people can’t focus on something as simple as a TV show for an hour; that they have to depend on following what others say to get through it. Naturally, some people would have watched the show with friends, perhaps sharing comments, but there’s a big difference between that type of shared watching and the proxy of a liveblog.
There are times when one should focus on just one thing. Are we that distracted that people really can’t do this? I feel sorry for anyone who can’t sit still for an hour and absorb a TV show without having to read what others have to say.