Every fandom has its points of conflict, and Doctor Who certainly has had its fair share of fan fights over everything from who’s playing the role to the week by week events of the show. However, nothing has hit the show’s fans as hard as the loss of The Doctor’s Sonic Screwdriver a couple of weeks ago, during the episode “The Witch’s Familiar.” With a good number of viewers in a panic, it seems like the right time to sit you folks down and deliver the following message: relax guys, it’s all part of the plan.
If this was the first time The Doctor had lost his Sonic, then perhaps it would be a good time to panic. But, as history has shown us, The Doctor has gone without the tool that modern fans have come to know and love before. Several of his past forms have gone into action without any sort of Sonic tool. Besides that point, the current scenario doesn’t strip The Doctor of any sort of Sonic assistance, as he’s now been given the rather awesome-looking Sonic Shades. Though we will admit, even we were skeptical when they first came out.
While seeing The Doctor whip out a pair of sunglasses and thinking he’s saved the day was weird at first, their usage throughout “Under The Lake” have proven their usefulness to The Doctor in his adventures. Combining the basic functionality of a Sonic Screwdriver, with that of a hidden camera feed is something that sounds like such a good idea, it should have happened sooner! But besides functionality and historical preference, the main reason the Sonic Screwdriver needed to go is that Moffat planned for it to happen all the long.
In his Season 4 two parter, “Silence In The Library / Forest Of The Damned,” Steven Moffat started to lay down the groundwork for the plan with the Doctor Who staff. He did so by creating the character of Professor River Song – a woman who we’ve come to learn is The Doctor’s wife, as well as his greatest confident and frequent interloper into his future life. However, when The Doctor met River for the first time, it was the last time River would ever see The Doctor in her lifetime. With all of her future knowledge of events in The Doctor’s life, her time traveling adventures are never completely in sync with The Doctor’s. This is significant, because upon first meeting Professor Song we learned that she possesses a specific device that comes in handy during the two part adventure’s pitfalls and perils – a future model of the Sonic Screwdriver.
Modeled after the Sonic Screwdriver used during the run of the Ninth and Tenth Doctor, River’s “Future Screwdriver,” was made by The Doctor himself and sent back in time with her to The Library. Its greatest assets are that it possesses an alternate / more powerful “Red” setting, as well as the ability to hold a copy of a person’s entire consciousness – so long as the power supply maintains. To paraphrase Chekov’s Gun, once we saw that Sonic Screwdriver, we knew it was going to have to come up at some point. With River Song’s return this Christmas, and her Doctor being described as older and with a “new haircut and a suit,” it looks like the Professor may be getting a special, bittersweet gift this Christmas.
Whether he’s traveling with the Sonic Screwdriver, rocking the Sonic Shades, or using his Sonic Cane – The Doctor will always be his amazing time traveling self. While he may switch his methodology from time to time, his ability to save the day will not waver. Even without a Sonic appliance to call his own, he’ll be there when the universe needs him. So don’t fret the new Sonic Shades, Whovians. After all, if anyone’s used to gigantic and frequent shifts in the status quo, it should be Doctor Who fans.