The Doctor’s Magic Wand

A theme park filled with dinosaurs, a virus that can reanimate dead tissue, the ability to stream “Honey Boo Boo” to your cell phone. There are plenty of times to ask, “Has technology gone too far?” We often have a similar dilemma in the Doctor Who fandom. We have to ask, “How can technology go this far?”

The Doctor is truly brilliant, and it makes sense that his tools would be equally brilliant. But how much brilliance are we willing to accept, and at what rate of embellishment? There can be no doubt how much DW fans love the sonic screwdriver, but is it being used in the way we would prefer? A tool in his hands, but to writers, perhaps a crutch?

We take a look at the history of the sonic and many of its uses, as well as the development of a real life sonic screwdriver.

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2 thoughts on “The Doctor’s Magic Wand

  1. Jumping in here, as I rarely do on the blog, because this episode was one I conceived of a while back, and our production schedule didn’t allow for it in the regular course of things. So glad we got the opportunity to, because as a dyed-in-the-wool Whovian, but also as a (hack) writer, this is a fairly important sticking point with me, personally. Let me explain — no, that will take too long. Let me sum up:

    The principle of Occam’s Razor indicates that a hypothesis with the simplest explanation is the one statistically with the greatest odds of proving valid. The core tenets of geometry will uphold that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Creative composition courses in universities across the world will advise fledgling writers to ‘write about what you know’. In all these and dozens of other instances, the “path of least resistance” has not only its merit, but calculable and demonstrable advantages.

    I wouldn’t think to refute any of these applications of the “keep it simple, stupid” guideline. I’m an optimization nut, myself, and will spend 2.5 hours of work preparing a process that will save me 2.75 hours, because to me, that’s a net 15 minute advantage.

    I’ll stand my ground on one point, however — when storytelling, the “easy out” is easily noticed. I’d rather read, see, or hear something innovative, even if outlandish, rather than the equivalent of an escape hatch. That, to me, is not optimization, it’s a cop-out.

    As I hope I conveyed in the ‘cast, I love the sonic screwdriver and the intellectual, pacifist ideologies it represents. I sincerely hope, though, that future utilization will reflect the simple nature of the tool, at its essence, and not show further examples of shoddy, half-baked, or uncreative science fiction writing. We’re a brighter audience than that. Give us a little credit.

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