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Why I Spoiled the Paul McGann Regeneration, and Why I Would Do it Again

If it's good enough for the BBC...

McGann 2

Paul McGann regenerates into John Hurt in the latest Doctor Who minisode, and I spoiled it in the headline of my article about it — and spoiled it again just now. We’ve gotten a few comments asking if I really had to spoil it, and frankly — yes. Here’s why.

First, know that I’ve written about spoiler culture a few times here on Geekosystem, and have spoken about it on our podcast. Generally, I think people are too precious about story points, and call a lot of things “spoilers” that simply aren’t. In the case of Paul McGann though, it was a spoiler, and I spoiled it. On purpose.

The regeneration is the whole story here. Putting it in the headline was a judgement call based on the fact that the exact moment I recognized Paul McGann I knew exactly what they were doing. A McGann/Eccleston regeneration has been something Doctor Who fans (of which I am one) have been wanting since the show came back. I genuinely believe anyone else who would recognize Paul McGann would make the exact same jump at the exact same moment I did — twenty seconds into the video.

So yes, I spoiled twenty seconds of of the lives of anyone who would recognize Paul McGann.

So sorry

People who came to the show later, and never went back to the pre-Eccleston days have nothing to be spoiled here, because they’ll have to do too much homework to catch up, and by the time they figure out who McGann is they’ve already seen the regeneration so it’s not like they can go back and watch the video to be surprised all over again.

By leading with the fact that the minisode features Paul McGann’s regeneration, more people will click the article and watch the video, which — not to be crass — is my job. I had the choice between leading with the fact that McGann regenerates in the episode, or phrasing it in some click-baity way like “You’ve Got to Watch This Doctor Who Minisode RIGHT NOW OMG!!!!” which we try to avoid.

It’s also not a surprise that will last. The video’s been up since this morning, and I’m willing to bet that people who care will find out soon if they haven’t already regardless of my headline. It’s a spoiler, yes, but one with an incredibly brief shelf life.

So if you’re angry that I spoiled the reveal, you have every right to be. I spoiled it, but please know that it was a conscious decision based on specific circumstances and not something we plan to make a habit of in the future.

Matt Smith is going to regenerate in the Christmas episode, and we’ve known that for months, because the BCC announced it. We already know who he’s regenerating into, because they announced that too. They spoiled it because they know that telling people it’s happening will get people to watch that episode. I’ve done the same thing with the headline for the Paul McGann regeneration.

(Image via Doctor Who)

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