Hello Whovians and welcome to ‘New to Who,’ where I, Hello McFly, will be your guide through Doctor Who. Every good sci-fi property has its fair share of technological wonders – Star Wars has lightsabers, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has the Electronic Thumb, and Men in Black has the Neuralizer.
Yet no other show comes close to reaching both the creativity and sheer numbers of Doctor Who. In its fifty year span it has invented one-off contraptions like the Anti-Regeneration Gun to tried-and-true classics like the Sonic Screwdriver. Where other sci-fi entities will center the entire show around a single technological marvel (i.e. Back to the Future‘s DeLorean and Stargate‘s … um, stargate), Doctor Who continuously ups the ante with its own mesh of mechanisms. While we can’t cover every single invention in a single article, we can cover the staples of the show, the items that make traveling through time and space not only possible but fun as well. So sit back, pull up a chair, and see the top devices of Doctor Who.
Back to Basics
The most versatile and useful item in the Doctor’s arsenal, the Sonic Screwdriver has been a staple of the Whoniverse since its first appearance in 1968 during Patrick Troughton’s incarnation. Its use are nearly innumerable – picking locks, running medical scans, hacking computers – and its designs range and reflect the many Doctors who wielded it. While not every incarnation had a Sonic Screwdriver, the Sonic Screwdriver still defines the show with its universal applications and ever-changing designs.
While the Doctor is a people-person and can usually schmooze his way into a situation, sometimes he needs a little extra help. That’s where the Psychic Paper comes in: seemingly blank by appearance, it picks up on people’s thoughts and displays whatever would work on the user, whether it’s some sort of badge or a certificate. Fair warning: it does not work on geniuses (‘The Shakespeare Code’) or the unimaginative (‘Flatline‘).
It’s hard to beat man’s best friend – especially when it also happens to be adorable and robotic. From his laser nose to his encyclopedia knowledge of the universe, K9 is characterized by his loyalty, usefulness, and always cheery greeting to the Doctor and his companions. While the show has written him off, pairing him with one of the Doctor’s former companions, K9 remains a fan-favorite for good reason.
Essentially a Gallifreyan USB drive, the Fob Watch stores the memories and physiology of the Time Lord who owns it; anyone else who tries will only get flashes of memory and a killer headache. It served both the Doctor (‘Human Nature‘) and the Master, one of his most fearsome nemeses (‘Utopia‘) in hiding their true nature not only from others but themselves as well.
While I plan on expositing on the TARDIS in future blogs as both a time machine and a character, a list of Doctor Who gizmos and gadgetry would simply be incomplete without it. Standing for Time And Relative Dimension In Space, the TARDIS is essentially the Doctor’s spaceship, able to take him wherever and whenever he would like (though it will often direct him where he needs to be instead). Disguised as a blue British police box, it uses dimensional dams to support its massive interior, making it “bigger on the inside.”
This is far from a complete list of the Doctor’s technological trinkets, and that’s a good thing. The items he uses are innumerable because he either creates them or uses them in ways never thought of before. They’re a reflection of the brilliant intellect hiding behind the face (or faces, depending on how many regenerations you’ve seen). He’s got gadgets and gizmos a-plenty, he’s got whozits and whatzits galore. You want thingamabobs, he’s got twe- hold on a minute, that’s The Little Mermaid.
Regardless, the Whoniverse is filled to the brim with creative and unique gadgetry at the Doctor’s disposal, all of which can inspire, save the day, or simply captivate the viewer.
Until next time, Whovians – time travel responsibly!