I’ve spent the last couple Fridays at the Black Cat watching Doctor Who. If you’ve looked way back in my blog, you’d know I’m a huge fan of the new series’ of Doctor Who (Doctors #9-11). I’ve never been a huge fan of Doctor #9, but a friend of mine, Larry, has attempted to argue his virtues.
Lucky for Larry (and for me) Black Cat started hosting Doctor Who Happy Hours the beginning of August, starting with the new series 1, and Doctor #9. And I have to admit, that Doctor’s (as played by the elfish Christopher Eccleston) growing on me.
However, I did attend once with a guy who had never seen Doctor Who. He was aware of it, having glanced at a couple episodes of the 70s series on TV as a kid, but he definitely had no idea it had been revamped, remade, and re-awesomed in 2005. So, watching a pretty kickass episode for a reintroduction, The Unquiet Dead, I got an interesting question: “what’s that magic wand thing?”
“It’s not a magic wand!!” That was my response. It was like a reflex. Kinda like in 30 Rock when Liz Lemon was talking about the Death Star and Jenna told her never to speak about Star Trek with hot guys and she reflexively corrected with “Wars!”
It’s a sonic screwdriver. A Sonic. Screwdriver. It’s a tool, not a wand. It’s not magical. It can only do what any tool can, just faster and from a remote location and it only does certain things. It does lock/unlock, on/off (stop/go), and righty-tighty/lefty-loosey (as any screwdriver must do). It’s also a diagnostic tool, taking readings about the ambient surroundings. It can’t make things disappear or make rabbits bust out of hats. Also, it doesn’t do wood.
Now Larry, a true, blue Doctor Who enthusiast, contended it may, in fact, be a wand. WTF?? I’ll be honest, I’m not up on wand lore. I never read or watched Harry Potter. But I’m pretty sure a wand can conjure things that weren’t there, create states of being that didn’t exist before, and turn people into other beings or forms. That is magic. The sonic screwdriver only does things an actual tool could do, it just does it a lot faster and without having to go through each step to make it happen. For instance, if The Doctor needed out of a situation quickly he couldn’t just poof make himself and his companions disappear, he’d need a transport device which he could then activate with the sonic screwdriver. I can’t even remember specific arguments for wand, but we did discuss its limited capability. Like that it doesn’t do wood. In the end we settled on: Sonic Screwdriver is an epic tool, but a shitty wand.
I have literally never, ever had a nerdier conversation in my life. I am a self-described nerd, mostly because I know too much about a lot of stuff (please, please don’t get into an argument re environment and sustainability with me), but besides Firefly and Doctor Who I am not much into sci-fi stuff. But that argument felt so nerdy and so right. Black Cat, a Doctor Who happy hour drink in my hand, surrounded by, like, fifty+ Doctor Who enthusiasts, a few with sonic screwdriver replicas in their hands — it was the only place I could have this conversation in public and feel accepted.
So 7 PM (show ends up starting around 7:30, but get there early to assure a seat), Fridays at the Black Cat in DC, Doctor Who’s on like…Dalek Khan?
Well anyway. Doctor Who’s what’s up.