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Doctor Who’s Biggest Deus Ex Machina

Guest contributor Stewart McDonald on why the Sonic has become the deus ex machina of Who.

Series-8-TV-launch-trailer-(8)

The Sonic Screwdriver, as we all know, is the Doctor’s scientific device. It has helped him scan many things from ancient artifacts to people’s biology. It’s gotten him out of more scrapes than his quick thinking has. This has become more true lately, with the Sonic Screwdriver sometimes serving as a handy plot device to either get the TARDIS crew out of a quick scrape or as a convenient means to wrap up plot devices, turning off doomsday machines and unlocking locked doors.

Now, I’ve seen some articles and different viewpoints on the Doctor’s ‘magic wand’ and the most common criticism comes into Steven Moffat’s era with the much bigger and often much more used Screwdriver used by the 11th Doctor and soon, the 12th Doctor. It seems that the Sonic Screwdriver has become too convenient a plot device for writers to fall back on when thinking of a way to help out the Doctor. But is that such a bad thing? Why shouldn’t he be allowed to rely on a device that is arguably as iconic as the time travelling police box we all know and love?

Well, I think we should take a look…

An App For Everything!

To start off with, let’s step away from the show itself and look towards the reality we are submersed in every single day of our lives. Every. Single. Day. Smart phones. It seems to be that the current generations of the 21st Century are practically stuck to their iPhones and tablets with industrial strength adhesive, or perhaps the Wire is slowly feeding on their electrical energy in the brain. Let’s be honest, either situation isn’t exactly pleasant to suffer through.

In a world where technology is constantly evolving and becoming more and more of an effective tool in our daily routines, simply saying the words “I’ve got an app for that” couldn’t be closer to the truth even if it was a ten foot sign with big flashing lights telling you exactly where to go to get to the truth.

Applications for our phones are everywhere and they are practically compatible with every device and machine known to man. Thus, they make our lives less complicated and a whole lot easier. But as every changes and adapts to overcome the next great hurdle, why can’t the Doctor? Why can’t his trusty little screwdriver keep up with the times?

A Reflection of Reality

50th-trailer-totters-classicsonicMy point, in case its not that clear, is that as the Sonic Screwdriver adapts and changes, it starts to reflect our current society and technological advancements. The Sonic Screwdriver for the Doctor is what the smart phone is to we humans. It is small. It is an effective tool. It has become something that our fleeting lives depend on. I sometimes wonder if the writers were consciously thinking about that comparison when drafting the next episode, or were they just looking for a way to propel the story forward to the conclusion. Who knows?

As I look back through Doctor Who’s history, I find myself paying attention to how the Sonic Screwdriver was utilized. When it was conceived in the Classic Era, I find that it looked to be used as a futuristic piece of technology that was seemingly capable of anything. It was with the Doctor everywhere he went and its destruction at the hands of the Terileptils in ‘The Visitation’ caused the 5th Doctor considerable remorse:

“I feel as if you’ve just killed an old friend.”

Eric Saward explained the reason for killing it off as being done on the instructions of John Nathan-Turner because a device that could help out in any situation was limiting the story. And so, the Sonic Screwdriver was no more. But let’s be real, people. This is Doctor Who! Nothing stays dead forever.

When the show returned in 2005, the Screwdriver was a lot smaller and a lot more limited. the Doctor mainly utilized it for scanning equipment and repairing small robot dogs. This suited the times we lived in. Everyone had various bits and bobs and nifty little gadgets for different situations. A single device for everything was not something we seen a great deal of. The closest piece of technology I can recall being close to that was the universal remote. The Sonic Screwdriver is a useful metaphor for today’s time. It upgrades as we upgrade our computers and phones. It adapts as we adapt. the Doctor’s dependence on it increases as ours does. You get the idea.

Even when it gets fried in a scanner or eaten by a shark, the Doctor simply swaps it for a new one. I’ve done that too. My iPhone or my iPad breaks and I simply have it replaced for a brand new model. Usually the same model, but I’m not going focus on that.

The Deus ex Machina Problem

power-of-three-spoiler-pics-(9)Once we moved into the 11th Doctor’s era, the Sonic Screwdriver became the most simple way to keep the story going. It became quite the cheap trick to get the Doctor out of a jam. I’ll admit, when I sat down every Saturday to tune in to the next adventure, I actively expected the Sonic Screwdriver to save the day. When it wasn’t used, I was actually surprised and somewhat confused, especially in ‘The Crimson Horror’, where Clara and the Doctor both favoured a simple wooden chair to defeat Mrs. Gillyflower and to escape so they could rescue Ada. It was refreshing to see them using a more hands on approach to solve the problems they faced. However, the rest of the time it feels like a luxury not afforded to us as much as it used to be.

Too many times the writers rely too heavily on the Sonic Screwdriver. At first I didn’t mind, it was nice to see it become a more useful prop. Now it just feels like an overplayed song on the radio. You can’t go five minutes without hearing or being reminded of it. The worst offence I have seen of this has been narrowed down to three different stories:

The Power of Three: In this episode, the Doctor used the Sonic Screwdriver to call off a second wave of the small black cubes that were causing complete heart failure for anyone near them. He then waved it around a little more and brought all those affected back to life and subsequently destroyed the Shakri ship. If the Shakri was an ancient myth for the Time Lords capable of wiping an entire species from the cosmos, I doubt they could be defeated by a gangly man in a bow tie with a metal wand that lit up at one end.

Closing Time: There was only one big offence in this episode, which wasn’t as bad as the other two on this list. This is the episode that inspired this whole article. the Doctor uses his Sonic Screwdriver to disable a lonely Cybermat in the shopping centre. Later on, it comes to life once more and attacks an unsuspecting Craig Owens. the Doctor uses the Screwdriver as a gun, more or less, and shoots the Cybermat. Now I’m all for him having an app for almost anything, but essentially turning it into a projected energy weapon? That’s pushing it, don’t you think?

The Day of the Doctor: Along with many Whovians, I loved this 50th Anniversary special. Unfortunately, there was one part that annoyed me. When the Doctors trapped themselves inside the ‘Gallfrey Falls’ painting to sneak into the Black Archive. When a Dalek approaches them yelling, “EXTERMINATE”, they simply turned around and used their Sonic Screwdrivers to force the Dalek through the painting giving everyone under the Tower of London a jolly big fright. While it was an amazing spectacle, I didn’t understand how that was possible. You could just write it off due to them being in a painting, but that fees too easy. The War Doctor even made fun of their reliance on the trusty device, which left me a little cheated when they turned around and simply shoved a Dalek through a painting with their screwdrivers.

The Verdict (if you can call it a verdict)

The times are changing and so is Doctor Who. It has become a more modern show, with more advanced aliens and futuristic tech. However, as we become more dependent on technology, it has shown in the writing. I think it is about time that we started to rely less on the Sonic Screwdriver and more on unconventional means of saving the day. Now I’m not saying we go to the lengths that the Classic series did and ‘retire’ the device, but I do believe that writers should learn to use the screwdriver in moderation.

The Sonic Screwdriver is the deus ex machina of Doctor Who. While it is clear that it has become overused, the least I can do is understand why.

Step back in time...

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195 comments
davidbrummy
davidbrummy

I feel the Sonic Screwdriver is an example of how the new show was much better thought on then the classic series.  When reintroduced RTD made sure that both the Sonic Screwdriver and the new Psychic paper had limits.  The Sonic Screwdriver could be defeated by a dead lock seal and people could be trained to see through the Psychic paper.  Both simple ideas but effective plot sealants.  





AnthonyJFuchs
AnthonyJFuchs

In "Day of the Doctor," I thought that the Doctor(s) used their screwdrivers to remotely control the Dalek's robotic armor.

I would be interested to see an extended arc in which the screwdriver gets stolen, and the Doctor goes on a quest to recover it, and in the process learns that he doesn't actually need it as much as he's been using it.





Polyphase
Polyphase

Use of the Sonic to save the day is just lazy writing and should never be done. Personally I don't like the way he carries it around pointing it at everyone like it's a gun and sometimes he clutches at like a security blanket. It's also way too big. I remember the 4th Doctor udes it sparingly

Marscruiser
Marscruiser

Since we're discussing the sonic: Has it ever been canonically stated exactly what is Matt staring at so intently all the time in the screwdriver?  (Did 9 or 10 ever stare intently as if there was something to read?  I seem to recall David doing so.) Is there a tiny screen, a dial, a readout, anything whatsoever to communicate the sort of instant data the Doctor then rattles off?  Those of you with high detail replicas have any idea?  I assume it's telepathic or the green center of it acts as such, but there's nothing to indicate what exactly is going on there aside from a lovely bit of actor's business.  

BJAMES
BJAMES

I've accepted what I would call, in my opinion, the overuse of the Sonic Screwdriver as a mild negative amidst the overwhelming positives. It is part, even more so now, of the Doctor Who mythology, and if you've created a device that can get you out of almost anything, well, you're going to use it to get you out of almost everything! I feel, at the least, that it sometimes provides a solution that doesn't need involve violence, or blowing things up, and that's nice. But that being said, when the Doctor comes across a problem that involves technology, something mechanical, even if he figures it out, he'll most likely need a tool to implement that solution. Hence the Sonic is the go to.

akm10000
akm10000

In 'The day of the Doctor', the doctors were in the painting. And in the painting, everything is depicted as the artist wishes. Ofcourse there were no rays which came out of Sonic(s) when the Doctors blasted off the Dalek, but maybe, the artist imagined it that way. It all depends on the artist. For example, Van Gough painted an exploding Tardis, but that doesn't mean that his visualisation of the event was 100% accurate.

The painting was most probably painted after the Doctor managed to rescue Gallifrey, and the artist must have heard the tales of bravado of the Doctors as to how three Doctors entered in the middle of a deadly war with nothing but their screwdrivers to aid them and that with the help of only screwdrivers, they managed to fend off the Daleks. The artist would have wanted to show the screwdriver's importance in the scene. And so, he depicted the screwdriver as a potential weapon.

jamesgrayh
jamesgrayh

I dislike it when the sonic is used as a plot device. John Nathan Turner once said (I'm paraphrasing) that he destroyed the sonic because its more interesting to watch The Doctor figure out an ingenious way of getting through a door, whereas RTD said it's more interesting to just get through the door to see what's on the other side and get on with the story.








I agree with RTD on this one. The sonic should be used as a plot SERVICE - so that would included mechanisms like opening doors and such. I don't even mind it doing very illogical things like lighting candles and flaming torches (see Girl in the Fireplace & The Pandorica Opens) because it's a tiny insignificant action to get on with the story. I'm definitely not keen on the Doctor using the sonic as any type of weapon (like firing on the Cybermat in Closing Time) as it doesn't make sense, and I don't mean from a technological POV, but from the POV of The Doctor's sensibilities - he is (predominantly, with some exceptions) a pacifist - I don;t like the idea of the Doctor using any items of weaponry or harm (occurrences like the gun at the end of Time Of Angels are different, as it was being used to puncture the grav-globe, not for harm).


I  don't like it when the plot is solved with the sonic, as it is a lazy resolve - but I would limit this concern to plot-central episodes (e.g. The Big Bang - where thankfully it didn't resolve the plot) , for example it doesn't bug me too too much when he does it in Power Of Three because the whole episode is a character piece, not plot-central - the threat of slow invasion is just a means of forcing the characters into certain scenarios (the Ponds contemplating regular life VS life with The Doctor).






KevinChambers1
KevinChambers1

I think one thing with the sonic that Moff did a nice job addressing is how it works in Lets Kill Hitler, that the sonic works in conjunction with one's mind. As such the strong someone's mind is, the stronger and more effective the sonic becomes.

Greenbed4059
Greenbed4059

I never cease to be amazed at which parts of this crazy world of Doctor Who cause the most debate and/or argument.

From what I can understand after reading this, and similar, discussions over the past 50 years there are certain things that are acceptable, i.e...

1. The Doctor is an alien

2. He has lived for over 2000 years

3. He travels throughout the universe

4. He travels to any point in time, both past and future

5. Whenever he should die... he doesn't. He gets a new body and just starts again.

6. He lives, and travels, in a box. But not an ordinary box, oh no! This box is actually a space ship. It's also a time machine. Oh yes! Not only that but it's actually bigger on the inside... much bigger!

All these facts are fine, apparently. Yeah, nobody ever seems to question these basic tenets of the show and that's ok. Fine.

However, if this 2000 year old, time travelling, space faring, regenerating, alien who lives in such a fantastic, magical box happens to have a piece of technology that looks and acts as if it's got magical powers, then all of a sudden, there's an outcry from some of the fans!

"That's a step too far" they cry... it's all gone "deus ex machina", say the ones who probably have never learned Latin in their lives but can't wait to quote it 'cos it sounds cool.

Well, each to their own and all that. We all have our own limits on just how much hokum we're prepared to accept, but surely any beings who have lived for so long, travel throughout time & space in a TARDIS, and are capable of cheating death... surely, c'mon surely, they would have hand held technology that could do what the Sonic Screwdriver is capable of. Wouldn't they?

I refer you to a famous quote from Arthur C. Clarke about advanced civilisations and how their technology would appear to be magic to a lesser advanced race.

Oh yeah, to save anybody asking, yes I did learn Latin at school - that's how old I am :-)

Planet of the Deaf
Planet of the Deaf

We do know that there's one thing the sonic doesn't do...Turkey :-)

The Finn
The Finn

The one thing RTD did well in regards to how the sonic was brought back in 2005 is that he introduced a limitation to it's powers, i.e. wood.

Aztecs, Daleks and Cavemen
Aztecs, Daleks and Cavemen

It's become bigger than it used to be. In the Eleventh Doctor's era it seemed to be part of his costume. I dislike it being waved around like he often does. Rose complained about the Doctor not scanning for alien tech, but she wouldn't have a problem around the Eleventh Doctor. He always scanning for alien tech with his sonic screwdriver.

KingOfTheInterWebs never existed...
KingOfTheInterWebs never existed...

Surprisingly, the majority of sonic screwdriver uses, work in actual science to an extent. There was a scene in Age of Steel where The Doctor cuts a rope using it and every now and then it gets complaints like 'That's the most unrealistic use of the sonic screwdriver in the series' but actually it isn't. If we were able to control sound waves in a specific way, we could cut a rope or disintegrate a door. And the Dalek being knocked back had three sonic screwdrivers blasting it with a huge amount of sound, which would in reality probably be enough to knock it backward, because after awhile the louder and higher in pitch the sound becomes, the more solid it becomes. Some sounds can feel like you've been punched in the gut and you can actually get knocked back by it. (This is from personal experience this bit.) And using it as a medical scanner would just be like ultra-sound in a way. How on earth The Doctor then looks at the screwdriver as if he's looking at a screen though is beyond me... the use as a weapon would probably a similar principle to solid sound but it's still unlikely. And computer hacking, unless you can hack computers with sound, I think that's the most unlikely use of the sonic screwdriver. 

Exalos
Exalos

Except it's not a deus ex machina (that's not what it means). D.E.M is an event that conveniently happens out of nowhere or an act of god some kind of god helping mortals to resolve something. So for example if in Victory of the daleks a meteor would have destroyed the dalek ship out of nowhere that would have been a deus ex machina. The sonic is a convenient plot device at best.

RobberBaron
RobberBaron

What was always completely ridiculous was that all of the Doctor's enemies in the Alliance conspired to make the ultimate prison for him in The Pandorica Opens, and yet one zap of the sonic from Rory and the Doctor is free

RobberBaron
RobberBaron

I've just re-watched The Day of the Doctor and I always assumed the point was, zapping the Dalek was the same thing as when they were planning to destroy the cell door

cyberbrayde
cyberbrayde

I think it's cool. The reason why the eleventh uses it so many times, is because it's cool. For goodness sake, he thinks bow ties are cool, and he flirts with the TARDIS. The Doctor is pretty smart, and scanning about makes me wander he's only showing off.

MaraBackman
MaraBackman

I think that one of the easiest solutions to preventing the Sonic (or any other gadget) from becoming an instant plot-solver would be to show the Doctor putting effort into using it. If he just flicks the Sonic almost nonchalantly to solve a problem then it doesn't look too serious, but if he puts a great deal of effort into it and the strain is visible then it works better to establish the seriousness of the situation.

gunslinger19
gunslinger19

yeh in day of the doctor iv basically decided that the fact they were in a painting meant that they could vibrate the paint molecules in the dalek, and the fact that there were 3 of them amplified the sonic's power. i think they should retire the sonic as it wouldnt really make sense for the doctor to just not use it when it could save the day. but if not, could they just not use the sonic in the climax maybe? its a useful narrative device for collating information and moving the plot forward and opeing doors, but the climax should be a moment built by the entire narrative, not just the sonic

Undiscovered Adventure
Undiscovered Adventure

Hey, what about the Clara Ex Machina?

- The GI jumps into the Doctor's time stream, making his every victory a defeat,

Clara jumps into the time stream, saving him throughout his many lives.

- The three Doctors are about to destroy Galifrey together,

Clara helps to convince them not to, changing the Doctor's history forever.

- Doctor is about to die for good because he's out of regenerations,

Clara convinces the timelords to 'help him change the future' and they give him a new regeneration cycle.

I love Clara, but you've got to admit, she's done a lot for the Doctor. He'd better be grateful in series 8!

Andrew_Swallow
Andrew_Swallow

The sonic screwdrivers were obviously made to repair the TARDIS.  It would be able to do anything a repair man would carry a tool in his tool box to do.  It was not designed to be a weapon.  Its functions may be extended to diagnose and repair repair humans and Time Lords.


A repairman may wish to replace a metal panel.  He would would use a cutting tool to cut the metal and a crane to lift the panel into place.  Any cutting tool would be short range to prevent accidental damage to other things.  A levitation and pushing facility is a high tech replacement for the crane.  So they sonic screw driver would be able to get the Dalek but not the Cyberman.

LucasW
LucasW

Russell T Davies said on a video diary for series one that "it doesn't matter what you use the sonic screwdriver for, so long as it isn't key to the story." Or something along those lines. Say what you like about him (and nearly everybody does) but I think he's hit the nail on the head there. Use it as a scanner, a key or a torch, but never EVER use it as a resolution.

The Taker
The Taker

Repost here:

"I've been hearing a lot about losing the sonic, as its multifold abilities allow for quick copout resolutions to happen. But here is the thing: in my opinion, losing the sonic wouldn't "allow" the writers to be more creative (the fact that it's there doesn't limit those chances, after all, I'm quite certain that there is no rulebook stating "the extensive use of the sonic screwdriver is in order"), if anything, it would force them to work a way around situations that are reasonably easy pickings for the Doctor at this point in time. But surely, that must be a good thing? Well, actually I don't think so. First of all, the Doctor using the sonic is never the point. The sonic helps to keep the pace and the tone of the storytelling on par, because having a reliable little tool means that you don't have to be so caught up in the little details that you miss the bigger picture. I'm all for keeping the sonic away from game-changing situations, or rather, purposely aiming for a different solution, but losing it, or not using it to its full potential would mean that the Doctor and Co. would be tied down with lots and lots of irrelevant problems (finding a different solution to each and every one of them), thus taking up a lot of time that could be used a lot better for further developing the characters and the story. I would advise you to take a look at WHAT ELSE is happening while the Doctor is using the sonic. You will find that using the sonic is rarely the important thing in those scenes, the true game-changers are the choices, the motives, in short, the stories of the characters that get developed even in these situations. The sonic allows for this to happen, because they don't have to come up with sciency-wiency technobabble for the simplest of sci-fi problems. Instead, it provides room for the characters to maneuver and position themselves, as they go from point A to point B, which is important, because in the end, the characters are the solution themselves. Having the sonic doesn't neccessarily hinder creativity, but losing it would force the writers to dwell longer on events that are unimportant in the long run and essentially damage the driving force behind the show's formula. Sure, it doesn't seem inspired when all the Doctor does is wave his little toy around, and if there are good ways to work around that when possible, then by all means, go for it, but I believe the sonic isn't as overused as many people think it is, or rather, they're perhaps missing the actual point of the scenes in which it is being (over)used, focusing merely on the sonic, when it's not the actual focus at all."

MrThorfan64
MrThorfan64

They calculated how to destroy the Dalek. And JE had a worse DEM then the stories you mentioned under DEM. The sonic screwdriver isn't the worst of Euripides' methods.

TheDreamer... the Oncoming Planeteer.
TheDreamer... the Oncoming Planeteer.

I always assumed it was telepathic too. It doesn't look like there is anything to read on it, from the pictures, but I dont have one so I can't say for certain.

BeyondThePolice
BeyondThePolice

@jamesgrayh I think the Sonic can be used in a more central manner under the Doctor uses it very cleverly. For example, the Doctors doing centuries-long calculations to be able to dissolve the door in Day of the Doctor using the logic that they were all using the same screwdriver. Also, using the two halves of the Sonic to project someone's voice like a microphone in A Christmas Carol. I kind of agree that the Doctors probably shouldn't have been able to use their combined screwdriver power to smash a Dalek, since the Doctor never really uses the sonic in that sort of way, but it does kind make sense if you think about powerful sound waves being emitted by the Sonic, and it was a really cool moment and not central to the plot.



ClaireAbraham
ClaireAbraham

@Greenbed4059 The Sonic Screwdriver is being used too often as a magic wand. I think it's very useful when it's used as... a screwdriver. A tool, with specific abilities, much like the psychic paper. It should be able to open doors and break locks. It should be able to analyze the composition of things. It should NOT be used to shoot at things like a weapon. (I hated it when Eleven did that.) The War Doctor's line, "What are you going to do, assemble a cabinet at them" was effective precisely because he was pointing out that the Sonic Screwdriver had limitations.

BJAMES
BJAMES

@Greenbed4059 The compliment was for you Greenbed4059, not any response to your comment, just to clarify.

Ollie232
Ollie232

@Greenbed4059 I understand your point but don't really agree with it, Most of the point you state above could be used in the same way as the sonic and sometimes they are but the issue with the sonic is that it is used too often and as a easy option out, so instead of the writers writing a decent ending to a story they can just wave the magic wand and be done with it. Yes this can be done with the points you mentioned but they seldom are, for example take the TARDIS vary rarely do you see the doctor get stuck in a trick situation and uses the tardis to travel back in time to stop it, the tardis is used as a way to introduce the plots. similarly regeneration is only every used to carry on the story never to bring it to a quick end... this is the issue that we have with the sonic. I will admit that there are times that the tardis and regeneration are used to get out of a tricky situation but nothing is used more in doctor who as a deus ex machina as the screwdriver... we are not sayng that deus ex machina is an issue but it ruins the story if the sonic is always being used as a cheat. 

MJJ
MJJ

@The Finn Which is why I whole-heartedly disagree with the writer's verdict. Because, in that same 50th show, the Doctors have their combined sonics spend some 300 years trying to figure out a way to shatter the door to their prison and none of them, to quote Clara, "bothered to check the door." Not only was that a priceless moment, but the Doctors learned the lesson (again) on when to use the sonic (e.g., in the painting) when when to use something else. I've had no problem with the sonic being a major tool of the Doctor, along with the TARDIS. It's much more fun when they're reminded of it's limitations.




MaraBackman
MaraBackman

@The Finn There are times when I wish that they had kept the limits from the 70's, when the Sonic could only open electronic locks. That meant that the Doctor had to find a different type of lockpick in the past.

Amy is uniting the Earth Kingdom!
Amy is uniting the Earth Kingdom!

"How on earth The Doctor then looks at the screwdriver as if he's looking at a screen though is beyond me..." -It has been said to have a psychic interface. Presumably, he's seeing a psychic "screen" displaying the information. Although I've always loved that character tic, as well as Ten's habit of holding it up to his ear and "listening" to the scan results.


Greenbed4059
Greenbed4059

Thank you, you're very kind.

I can see both sides of the argument but as I said above, any race of people who can do what Time Lords can do are always going to have technology that looks like magic to us lesser mortals.

I think one of the first things we see the Sonic do is to explode some mines, (and that was in the mid sixties). If that was done by one of the more recent Doctors I'm pretty sure the accusations of "Deus ex machina" would once again be levelled at the show.

I can understand why people get upset when writers seem to take the easy option, and have the Sonic remove some obstacle or other, but it's hardly a new thing and sometimes it's necessary to move the plot on within the limited time frame.

Undiscovered Adventure
Undiscovered Adventure

I was only fooling, I know there have been plenty of times where companions have saved the day (and the Doctor). I just find it funny that in the past few episodes (Name, Day and Time of the Doctor) Clara has essentially solved every major problem in each (not always single handedly mind, but without her they would not have happened), and has had a long lasting impact on the Doctor's life as a result.

robdw
robdw

@The Finn You think the same Russell T Davies who said "With Steven Moffat's scripts, I don't touch a word" wrote some of Steven Moffat's one-liners for him?


All right, then!

The Finn
The Finn

@robdw @The Finn I didn't mean that. The scripts are, as you say, all Moffat. What I'm saying is that maybe RTD suggested, when asking Moffat to write the episode and giving him a brief, that he include something about the sonic having limits.