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*He is not a secret agent. Not at all.



I've always been fascinated by the sonic screwdriver on Doctor Who. When I was a kid watching Doctor Who on PBS, I just thought it was a cool thingy and I really wanted one. Especially given my fascination with lockpicking.

Now I'm fascinated with it as a plot device. It is totally overpowered, has flexible rules of existence and allows massive cheats to get the story rolling forward. And in any other show, it would be total bullshit. In Doctor Who it becomes something else. It, to me, is a symbol of how this show creates itself and its own rules and in doing so becomes a television show so unlike any other. Chuck couldn't do this. Nor Fringe.

Terry Pratchett is right, Doctor Who isn't science fiction. It's science fantasy. He also doesn't understand why the show's ludicrous tone is so brilliant so ultimately, I disregard his criticisms.

The sonic screwdriver never saves the day or is the deus ex machina that solves the problem of the week. Christopher Bidmead, who was the head writer back in the Fifth Doctor days hated it He considered lazy writing. He destroyed it in "The Visitation" it wasn't seen again until the Eighth Doctor. He as right and wrong. And looking back, I don't think he really got what his show was and could be.

We know the Doctor is clever enough to open that locked door or what not, but we don't want to see him do that. We want to see him move the fucking universe.

Same goes for the psychic paper.
©2024 Michael Patrick Sullivan
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