Greetings earthlings, from Hollywood Donovan, just back from a photoshoot in Joshua Tree, which is just as dictionary definition awesome as expected, if not more so. We’ve encountered many fine and amazing sights in California, and while the godblood sunset of Joshua Tree must rank pretty highly, not to be sniggered at is the cotdurned TARDIS they’ve got in Meltdown Comics on Sunset right now, through which a man can wonder and encounter all manner of Dr Who related art and craziness, including a swarm of real-sized Daleks.
I had no idea Death’s Head‘s old pal Dr Who was so big over here, yet there he is, leering out of the cover of the TV guide in the supermarket, and adorning the shirts of children rampaging gaily along the boulevard. Fitting then, that this week we hand over to Jenny Wise, for a righteous wander through the museum of Whovian Tech.
BEHOLD: The Doctor’s Technology!
So much has changed in the fifty years that Doctor Who has been on our televisions, and we’ve seen the show grow and change and redefine its own mythology. His core technology is one of the things that have stayed consistent throughout the series, but the cases become personal to each Doctor; inspired by the comparison of three TARDISes and three sonic screwdrivers of the 50th episode, we have a look at these two iconic and changeable devices.
Standing for “Time And Relative Dimension In Space”, the TARDIS was the main vehicle used by the Time Lords for travel through time and space. They were most commonly used for observation but occasionally for war, and by the time all the TARDISes were thought to have been destroyed the Doctor’s Type-40 model was already out of date. The model that he stole from a repair yard on Gallifrey is prone to a number of technical faults, although the semi-conscious nature of the ship means that these may be deliberate decisions on her part.
The 50th Anniversary episode showed us a whole host of TARDIS interiors but only three from the outside lined up at the end of the episode. This was a great way to see these very personal devices: Matt Smith’s newest Box is a vibrant bright blue with a retro pattern inside made of pipework, a recent change leading up to these episodes. David Tennant’s was starting to look rough around the ages and had dulled in colour, while the inside was very organic-looking. But John Hurt’s TARDIS looked quite different – the inside was like a cross between Tennant’s organic machine and the classic sets with roundel walls, and the outside seemed more robust, darker and scratched up. One can’t help but wonder if this is what a War TARDIS looks like.
Almost every version of the Doctor has had some form of a Sonic Screwdriver, a device which is being constantly modified and upgraded to contain more applications as the show-writers saw fit. Early versions of the device picked locks and projected sound, but since the Ninth Doctor it has been used for a huge range of scientific purposes such as computer hacking, geolocation and scanning for medical application. This advanced piece of Gallifreyan technology has been copied by other races with the “sonic pen”, “sonic blaster” and even Amy Pond’s home-made “sonic probe”. Occasionally it’s even used to drive a screw without touching it!
In the Anniversary show we saw two that we had already seen compared, and a brand new one. Matt Smith and David Tennant had a humorous exchange about the size of their tools and were criticised by the War Doctor for using it like a water pistol instead of the scientific instrument that it is; it’s telling that his Screwdriver was slim and silver with a small pink light on top, an elegant piece of design. The concept of the Screwdrivers all being the same one but in different casings played an important part of the Anniversary storyline.
With any big franchise, the research and fan commitment to these seemingly small details are astounding and fans can already buy the War Doctor’s Screwdriver among all of the others, get apps on their mobile to recreate the noises or even just play a range of inspired doctor who games! (get more details of the Doctor Who Extravaganza at bgo here).
The evolution of the Doctor’s technology continues to fascinate fans, while the show’s creators keep them on their toes with each new piece of kit.