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Let’s pick some clickbait apart

The thing that’s got Doctor Who fandom in a tizzy today is this article from The Mirror, (archive.is link, if you’d rather not give them the traffic) a tabloid that, to be fair, does have a better track record than you’d typically ascribe to a tabloid. The article purports to claim that Paul McGann is set to reprise his incarnation of the show’s titular character in a spin-off — and I’m gonna pick the article apart line by line. Let’s just get into it. All blockquoted text from the Mirror article unless I indicate otherwise. Headline.

EXCLUSIVE: Paul McGann set to make comeback as the Eighth Doctor in new Doctor Who spin-off series.

Wow, exciting. That’d be cool, wouldn’t it. Don’t even need to read past the headline to get the gist — the claim is clear: The McGann incarnation will be back on your screen in multiple episodes. And it’s an exclusive, too! Nobody else has this information! Which makes sense, because there will in fact be: No information. Next, the lede.

The Doctor Who returns later this month with three specials celebrating the 60th anniversary with David Tennant back as the Doctor and Catherine Tate as Donna Noble and now Paul McCann is set to make his comeback too

First of all, the quality of the copyediting is fucking appalling here — “the Doctor Who,” “Paul McCann,” and have they run out of commas at The Mirror? But that aside, all we’ve got here is a basic restating of both information you already know — Doctor Who is indeed back later this month with three specials starring David Tennant and Catherine Tate — and then of the claim made by the headline. (Though I don’t know who Paul McCann is.) The same claim is restated once again by the opening line…

Paul McGann is set to make a comeback as the Eighth Doctor in a new Doctor Who spin-off series.

The 63-year-old actor had the keys to the TARDIS for the 1996 television film, a co-production between BBC Worldwide and Universal Studios, which was an attempt to revive the sci-fi show after it was cancelled in 1989.

His incarnation of the Time Lord built up a loyal fan base since due to the audio adventures he has voiced. He has had two just TV appearances in the 50th anniversary special and a cameo in Jodie Whittaker’s final outing The Power of the Doctor.

…and the next two paragraphs are broadly speaking accurate restatements of things you already know, too, though I’d argue he didn’t actually appear in the 50th anniversary special but in a webisode, but okay, close enough.

The show is about to enter a new era with Russell T Davies – the man who rebooted it in 2005 – at the helm and Disney co-producing with the BBC and spin-offs are being planned to increase the Whoniverse.

More established information. We know all this, and RTD was explicit about wanting to mirror the Star WarsMarvel model of a whole range of spinoffs even before he took back over, saying in 2021, in Doctor Who Magazine #579:

RUSSELL T DAVIES: There should be a Doctor Who channel now. You look at those Disney announcements, of all those new Star Wars and Marvel shows, you think, we should be sitting here announcing The Nyssa Adventures or The Return of Donna Noble, and you should have the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors together in a 10-part series. Genuinely.

After the announcement of his return he’s been more coy, but the sentiment is clearly still very much a driving force behind the new Whoniverse branding — if Tales from the TARDIS does anything, it’s signal that it’s all one big show, one big story. A McGann incarnation spinoff would not actually be that weird. But let’s get back to the article.

The spin offs will work in the same way that Disney created series for Star Wars and the Marvel Cinematic Universe that stream on Disney+.

Literally explicitly something he said in 2021, sure. Still, to be extremely clear: No new information at this point.

A source said: “Russell likes the idea of bringing back McGann with his own set of episodes in the TARDIS. Disney are on board as they want more original content and want to fully exploit the franchise as they know how big it could become.”

Alright, see, here’s what we’re clearly basing this entire article around, but, is this new information? “A source” could be anyone, that could be my grandfather, for all we know.1Both of them are dead.

“Russell likes the idea.” Sure, who wouldn’t? It’d be really cool to see Paul McGann get his real, proper due, right, the idea comes up in fandom all the time. But liking the idea isn’t six episodes on BBC One by winter next year.

“Disney are on board,” well, yes, they’re spending a lot of money, they generally seem to get along with the RTD2 team very well. I’m sure if RTD shows up with a spinoff premise that he’s excited about and thinks will work, Disney are on board.

Other possible spin-offs include a series on UNIT, the Earth based military wing that works with the Doctor to defend the planet and a villain anthology.

Oh, we’re already moving on from the McGann incarnation spinoff, huh? The UNIT spinoff has been widely rumoured for a long time now, and the modern incarnation of UNIT could probably sustain a spinoff, so, sure. And I hadn’t heard the “villain anthology” one before, but if you’re going as vague as “other possible spin-offs,” you could say just about anything. “Other possible spin-offs include a drama about Dr Who’s biscuit supplier, a Zygon police procedural with a psycho-sexual twist, and a film about Professor Prudeish from off The Time Warrior as he fights his care home in court.” Sure, Jan.

Doctor Who returns later this month with three specials celebrating the 60th anniversary with David Tennant back as the Doctor and Catherine Tate as Donna Noble. Ncuti Gatwa is then taking control of the TARDIS in 2024.

More restatement of known information, though, small correction, Gatwa actually takes over at Christmas this year.

Speaking in an interview recently, Paul said he would be interested, adding: “I finally got to be in an episode. The fans tell me that they hope there will be a chance of some more, that would be nice. I would be well up for it.”

Actor wouldn’t turn down followup to job they’re famous for. Some of them say they wouldn’t, some of them seem somewhat desperate for it, but it’s not an uncommon sentiment, is it. Certainly it doesn’t sound like a man who’s in active negotiations with the BBC.

A spokesman for Doctor Who declined to comment.

They would, wouldn’t they, the sneaky bastards.

So, in conclusion: The only actual new information in this entire article: An unnamed source claims “Russell [T Davies] likes the idea” of a McGann incarnation spinoff. …Yeah, man, I’m sure he does.

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    Both of them are dead.

What the fuck is this little thingy? (Solved. Thanks, Reddit.)

Pictured, from the back and front, laying on a pink post-it note: A small, plastic thingamabob, of, in the front, two horizontal bars connected by a circular hole, and in the front, one horizontal bar through which the aforementioned circular hole goes. On the back it's also sort of a gear thing? It's holding two small metal wheels, keeping them in place with the little speedbumps that are on the back horizontal bar. Image descriptions are hard.

I’ve found at least one of these before, and last week I found this one between the shoe store and the gym. I’ve no idea what it is or what it could possibly be part of.

As far as I can tell, the plastic is all one piece. The metal wheels are easily removable by just peeling back the back bar a little. The vibe is more “RC car” than “serious equipment.”

UPDATE: Reddit got it instantaneously.

“Rogers: The Musical”: I have some questions

I was recently reminded that the Disney park in California actually put on a 45-minute version of the Rogers: The Musical scenes from Hawkeye, so I watched first the first performance, and then the last performance of it. Turns out that if it happens in a Disney park you can probably find a high-quality recording of it on YouTube.

I like Rogers: The Musical as the goofy thing it is, which is a supposedly in-universe Hamilton-ising of Steve Rogers’ story. It starts off fairly faithful to the movies, and then as it goes on gets, as seen in Hawkeye, increasingly inaccurately silly. (It’s pretty clear the whole thing is engineered around the song we saw in Hawkeye.) And then it starts raising questions it doesn’t have answers to. Because where Alexander Hamilton is long dead, just another dead guy in history, Steve Rogers and his coworkers are… not.

A short note on chronology

Both versions I’ve watched present what you’re about to see, in the grand tradition of place-based theme park chronology, as the world premiere of Rogers: The Musical, which means, in theory, you’re watching the exact 19 December 2024 premiere performance Clint attends in Hawkeye.1Hawkeye 1×01: “Never Meet Your Heroes” (2021)

Let’s just get into it: What exactly is this based on?

Steven Grant Rogers was enough of a public figure and then, with the SSR, surrounded by enough historically notable people, that the WW2 section of the story is easy enough to source from what we can easily imagine are several history books and biographies that broadly speaking agree with each other. This is what he was like as a youth, how he came to join Abraham Erskine’s Project Rebirth, how he saved the Howling Commandoes. Rogers was a living legend before he went into the ice, and it’s easy to imagine something akin to the Chernow Hamilton coming out between 2011, when Fury pulls him back out,2Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) and 2016, when Rogers, together with his co-conspirators Wanda Maximoff, Natasha Romanoff, and Sam Wilson go into hiding after falling out of favour with the United States government.3Captain America: Civil War (2016)

It’s the rest of the story that’s harder to justify a source for. Sure, the SHIELD leak and its presumably extremely public dissemination through journalism and government hearings4Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) covers the Battle of New York,5The Avengers (2012) and a lot of other stuff that’s skipped over in the Save the City montage, which is presumably how the musical knows about Steve’s list, though I think that’s weirdly personally specific, and about Fury being there when he woke up. Fury is a known figure in the world by 2024, but his notorious shadowyness will be why they don’t have much to work with for his actual personality and go for “sassy” instead. There’s probably another book out there in the world that you can get this from.

But then it gets really messy. Obviously Ant-Man was not at the Battle of New York. But Fury also rambles off, in 2011, years before most of these people join or even get their powers, but okay, whatever, a whole Avengers roster. Let’s go through them one by one.

  • “A Panther in Wakanda.” Sure, T’Challa’s association with the Avengers is presumably just a known fact.
  • “A Sokovian named Wanda.” As far as the public is concerned, the way she dealt with Crossbones’ attack in Lagos is the reason for the Sokovia Accords6Captain America: Civil War (2016) and after that she breaks out of the Raft and becomes an international fugitive. Footage probably exists of her fighting alongside the Avengers at Novi Grad and at the Battle of Earth. I’ll accept it, but it’s a little weird.
  • “A Star who is a planet’s son.” There’s genuinely no way Peter Quill is a known entity on Earth or that anyone knows he’s Ego’s son. The same is true for the rest of the Guardians — at most I’m willing to accept people know about “the tree and the raccoon who were there at the Battle of Earth.”
  • I can’t quite make out the line, “An AI who ran his own” something, but Vision. About as believable as Wanda, sure.
  • Spider-Man. Sure, the world’s knowledge of Peter Parker was erased ~10 days before this,7Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021) but we know about Spider-Man.
  • “A lawyer who can’t really see.” Matt’s identity is not public knowledge as far as I know.
  • “A raccoon and a talking tree.” Like I said.
  • War Machine. Doctor Strange. Sure, these are probably public enough figures.

This all works just fine in our universe, but not really in theirs. To the Alex Daily of Earth-199999, these would be ridiculous allegations or revelations. People who know Matt make jokes, right, but there’s not that many blind lawyers associated with the Avengers8Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021), and people make jokes about Matt, sure, but we just don’t know some of this stuff. I can’t possibly justify a source for biographical details about Star-Lord.

The Save the City montage then rambles through a bunch of the big fights. These are all public knowledge. But is Steve’s use of the Time Stone to go back first to Peggy and then to make sure he does that a thing the public knows about? Nobody’s even really there to witness this conversation. Jim Barnes and Sam Wilson are aware of the broad facts of it, but why would they ever go on the record about this anywhere? As far as the Alex Daily of Earth-199999 would be concerned, Captain America simply hasn’t been seen since shortly after the Battle of Earth. Not that weird, he’s still legally an international fugitive.

Some of these details are on the level of, everyone involved must’ve been keeping detailed journals, but when would those even have been released? It’s December of 2024, it hasn’t even been that long since the Battle of Earth.


The idea of a Hamilton-analogous Rogers: The Musical is fun. These are public figures in this fictional world, they’d have certain cultural positions. But Steve Rogers was an international fugitive like ten months before this moment. If that position has changed, we don’t know about it. It’s weird to make a pretty hagiographic musical about this dude at this moment in time, right? It’s weird.

So here’s the only reasonable conclusion I can come to. From statues of mass murderer Confederates to a recent President currently out on bail, America has always had an element of, let’s call it, a willingness or even a desire to admire or worship the worst of itself. On Earth-19999, in December of 2024, based on Rogers: The Musical‘s relationship to the reality of Earth-199999, I posit to you that Steve Rogers might be who that admiration is currently predominantly aimed at. There might be Rogers Republicans, a CapAnon movement. HYDRA-emblazoned “SHIELD Lives Matter” stickers on pick-up trucks.

Which means the reason Clint is the only Avenger attending opening night is he’s the Republican Avenger. Oof, yikes. Couldn’t be me, Clint. Fix your heart, man.

  • 1
    Hawkeye 1×01: “Never Meet Your Heroes” (2021)
  • 2
    Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
  • 3
    Captain America: Civil War (2016)
  • 4
    Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
  • 5
    The Avengers (2012)
  • 6
    Captain America: Civil War (2016)
  • 7
    Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)
  • 8
    Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)
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