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Sonic Screwdriver
October 29, 2011 8:10 PM   Subscribe

Sonic Screwdrivers: Banned in Action Movies Since 1963.
posted by homunculus (32 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
This was teased with a brief appearance by a sonic screwdriver (and a fez) in the video announcing that the people making this had become Official YouTube Partners. But considering only 500 people ever watched THAT video, who cares.
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:25 PM on October 29, 2011


Handheld deus ex machina. And I thought phasers/communicators/tricorders were cool. But then again, I think my iPhone is cool.

I almost bought one of those screwdrivers at Thinkgeek.
posted by valkane at 8:31 PM on October 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Almost.
posted by valkane at 8:31 PM on October 29, 2011


It's Haliw├╝d computer science in a pocket-size form factor. All future movies would be compressed to trailers and that first half hour of going to the movies where they just show your trailers? That like a year's worth of movies.

* Embarrassingly enough, it's first now that I know that the brand is Sonic and not Sony and doesn't actually exist.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 8:32 PM on October 29, 2011


The whole point of the sonic screwdriver is that the Doctor deals with forces so vastly beyond human reckoning, a mere deuce-ex-machina is a joke. In a universe where daleks spew out of a dimensional prison like jiffy-pop, and Satan himself is unchained as he possesses a spacefaring hive-mind, the little leg up the sonic screwdriver gives the Doctor is a giggling joke, a human-scale teddy-weddy we can hug and find the strength to pretend that the monsters aren't so scary.

You? Snark all you like about bombs and bullets. That dude in the suit with a dalek for a head shows up again, and I am right behind the couch, hiding until it goes away. Somehow.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:40 PM on October 29, 2011 [7 favorites]


Slap*Happy: "That dude in the suit with a dalek for a head shows up again, and I am right behind the couch, hiding until it goes away."

But he was a nice guy! Until they killed him.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:44 PM on October 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Villain shoulda deadbolted his laser.
Really, how hard would that be for you Fez guy?
posted by Winnemac at 8:44 PM on October 29, 2011


I guess if you look vaguely like David Tennant, you might as well make a YouTube video.
posted by hippybear at 8:50 PM on October 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


This is all fine and dandy until the villian makes a laser out of wood.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:56 PM on October 29, 2011 [9 favorites]


I guess if you look vaguely like David Tennant, you might as well make a porn video.

Makes the term "Sonic Screwdriver" titular.
posted by valkane at 8:59 PM on October 29, 2011


[...] deuce-ex-machina [...]

*giggles*
posted by palbo at 9:33 PM on October 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


Yeah, this was why the took it away from the fifth Doctor and didn't give it back until the Fox movie.
posted by charred husk at 9:34 PM on October 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Another thing to blame Fox for.
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:50 PM on October 29, 2011


Villain shoulda deadbolted his laser.
Really, how hard would that be for you Fez guy?


It's in the Guild bylaws for some stupid fucking reason. All doomsday machines must have built in either a totally obvious weak link or a comically large and well illuminated cancel button that even a kid could hit with a frisbee from half a mile away.
posted by loquacious at 12:35 AM on October 30, 2011


That's what makes the Doctor great: he literally is the deus ex machina. The God from the Machine. The Doctor is a plot device. He is the universe's plot device.
posted by Harry at 1:16 AM on October 30, 2011 [8 favorites]


I almost bought one of those screwdrivers at Thinkgeek.

....I did buy one from Thinkgeek.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:00 AM on October 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


I find it more annoying than I ought to that this video doesn't say that the screwdriver has been "banned in action movies since 1968."
posted by koeselitz at 6:57 AM on October 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


[Some comments removed; if you don't have a TV/don't know what this is about, maybe just move on.]
posted by taz at 7:20 AM on October 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


My think geek Sonic Screwdriver has been helpful as a LED flashlight in cramped spaces.
posted by The Whelk at 8:53 AM on October 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Slap*Happy gets it; cheesy as the Doctor Who stories can be, they're always about something much, much bigger than a gun or a bomb or what not. I've never seen a plot hinge on something the sonic screwdriver did/didn't do; rather, it allows lots of narrative speed bumps tobe wiped away to focus on a different kind of story.
posted by verb at 9:03 AM on October 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Sonic Screwdriver is a perfectly fine device when used int the process of getting the Doctor et al into trouble, an absolutely awful one when used to get them out of it.
posted by Artw at 9:18 AM on October 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'm on record as not liking the overuse of the sonic screwdriver either, but the logic from a show making sense makes... Erm... sense. The doctor should never be stopped from saving the universe because a door is locked.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 9:21 AM on October 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Or, really, what Artw said.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 9:25 AM on October 30, 2011


For a 900 year old super genius with all the tools that ever existed in the past and future history of the universe at his disposal; a sonic probe, a multipass and a plastic water pistol seems a rather paltry toolkit.
posted by clarknova at 11:46 AM on October 30, 2011


For a 900 year old super genius with all the tools that ever existed in the past and future history of the universe at his disposal; a sonic probe, a multipass and a plastic water pistol seems a rather paltry toolkit.

You're forgetting something else in the toolkit -- his brain.

Which is the best tool of all.

That's kind of the point.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:52 PM on October 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


The Sonic Screwdriver is a perfectly fine device when used int the process of getting the Doctor et al into trouble, an absolutely awful one when used to get them out of it.

Pretty much. Good example: In Utopia, when he opens the deadlocked door into the rocket launch tube and Jack has to grab him by the scruff of the neck (as it were) lest he fall in. It makes perfect sense that he would open that door, and perfect sense in retrospect that it would be, you know, locked.

Still, it also makes sense enough that he's brilliant enough to help the Professor rejigger the Footprint Drive food-based computer so it all works -- that whole rocket thing turns out to be the subplot, after all -- but then the other key use of the screwdriver is to lock the coordinates of the TARDIS, which both drives the plot onward into the next episode, and creates a "getting the Doctor into trouble" aspect by giving the *ahem* access to 21st century Earth. Then in the next episode, The Sound of Drums, I don't have any problem with it both getting him and Jack and Martha out of trouble and back to following the major plot by fusing Jack's vortex manipulator. Nor does it trouble me that it was used to deactivate a 21st century security camera or to make perception filters using the TARDIS keys (in practice a pretty neat idea).

I'm not going to say it's never been poorly used, but a lot of the examples I can think of, even say destroying a Cyberman, are only about removing the current threat and advancing the plot to somewhere less monster-y and more thought-problem-y.

Thinking of this video's DNA example, it's sort of a CSI effect: obviously you can't get DNA results just by connecting a test tube to a USB port on a laptop, but the needs of the story are more about getting the end result and moving the narrative than presenting the very real scenario of sending a package to a lab and then waiting for months until they arrive in a manila envelope.
posted by dhartung at 12:56 PM on October 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


[...] deuce-ex-machina [...]

*giggles*


palbo, maybe he was insinuating the plural: one deus, two is deuce...
posted by IAmBroom at 1:13 PM on October 30, 2011


The Sonic Screwdriver is an oft used deus-ex machina, sure, but remember. It doesn't do wood.

When Dalek Oak and Dalek Elm form an alliance with the CypressMen, the Doctor will be, well, screwed.
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:05 PM on October 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


[...] deuce-ex-machina [...]

*giggles*

palbo, maybe he was insinuating the plural: one deus, two is deuce...


Revved up like a deuce ex machina in the night....
posted by hippybear at 4:07 PM on October 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


When Dalek Oak and Dalek Elm form an alliance with the CypressMen, the Doctor will be, well, screwed.

That's when a regular old power screwdriver will come in handy. But only if he's well supplied with a lot of screws.
posted by hippybear at 4:08 PM on October 30, 2011


The Sonic Screwdriver is an oft used deus-ex machina, sure, but remember. It doesn't do wood.

Him and Alan Scott have similar problems it seems.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 6:26 PM on October 30, 2011


John Kenneth Fisher: "The doctor should never be stopped from saving the universe because a door is locked."

Well, the Law of Conservation of Detail would state that locked doors only exist because the Doctor has a sonic screwdriver to unlock them. And if the doors are wood or deadbolted, it's because the Doctor isn't supposed to be able to get through.
posted by dunkadunc at 6:50 PM on October 30, 2011


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