Why The Doctor Needs to Lose His Screwdriver

I’m a bit behind on Doctor Who this season. It’s not because I don’t love the show, but because ever since they split the season into two parts I’ve had more trouble staying focused. This Spring I was in the middle of three other series and only recently decided it was past time to catch up. I’m only four episodes down right now, and basically enjoying Clara as the new companion.

Last night I watched “Cold War.” It’s the one depicted in the picture — The Doctor and Clara running around on a Russian submarine in the 1980s after an ice man from Mars. It was a horrible episode for a lot of reasons, but it also cemented something in my mind that I’ve been feeling for a long time:

The Doctor needs to let go of his security blanket. Er, his screwdriver.

The idea of a sonic screwdriver was cute for a while. The fact that ti did any number of random things was silly but in a good way.

In “Cold War,” the entire episode involved The Doctor running around aiming his sonic screwdriver at the ice man like a weapon while begging the thing not to hurt us. Aside from the fact that this was boring and not at all like The Doctor, there was that gosh darn screwdriver.

He uses it too much. The Doctor is supposed to have seen so much, know so much, and just be frantically brilliant. These days, I feel like he’s the man with the sonic screwdriver.

The Doctor is more than any one tool. He can save the universe without it. That being the case, maybe it’s time he lost it, at least for a while, to prove to himself and the writers of the show that he’s better than a tool.

Posted in ChitChat.


  1. They did exactly that back in the classic series when Peter Davison took over as the Doctor. It was in his 3rd or 4th story that they destroyed the Sonic Screwdriver and it didn’t reappear for the rest of the series, if I remember right.

  2. Oh, you definitely have to!

    Start with “City of Death” (Tom Baker, 1979). Possibly the single best story of the classic series. Incredible chemistry between Baker and Lalla Ward as Romana (they fell in love in real life, if memory serves it might have been during the filming of this story), a clever and fun script written by Douglas Adams, gorgeous location filming in Paris (the few FX scenes are laughable at best, but they’re very brief), and a ridiculously great guest cast (Julian Glover, Catherine Schell and even a cameo from John bloody Cleese!).

    If you want old-school horror, check out “Pyramids of Mars” (mummies, and aliens masquerading as ancient Egyptian gods), “Planet of Evil” (a low-budget but effective take on “Alien”) and “The Brain of Morbius” (Who’s version of a Frankenstein story).

    One of my personal favorites is “Kinda” (Peter Davison). It’s one of the most cerebral stories in the whole series, with a lot of really interesting ideas and some great performances.

    One for each Doctor:

    First Doctor – “The Time Meddler” – we meet a fellow time traveller with a TARDIS of his own, the Meddling Monk. He wants to “improve” Earth’s history, and he’s decided to do so by helping King Harold win the Battle of Hastings. By giving him nuclear weapons. Wackiness ensues.

    Second Doctor – I haven’t seen any, unfortunately.

    Third Doctor – “Terror of the Autons” – introducing the Master!

    Fourth Doctor – “City of Death”

    Fifth Doctor – I’ll stick with “Kinda”

    Sixth Doctor – “Mark of the Rani” – not a critical favorite, but I think it’s a lot of fun, and you get not one, but TWO evil renegade Time Lords.

    Seventh Doctor – “Rememberance of the Daleks”

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