Classic Doctor Who star Sylvester McCoy has been opening up about his feelings on the modern series, with the Seventh Doctor actor revealing that he wants a person of color to play the Fourteenth Doctor and that he was initially not a fan of Matt Smith’s casting before he was blown away when he saw him in action. McCoy generally has a lot of positive thoughts about contemporary Who, then, but he does have one bone to pick with the writers.
While speaking to Radio Times, The Hobbit star admitted that he thinks the Time Lord uses the sonic screwdriver too much in the modern series. As fans will know, the sonic was destroyed in the classic show during Peter Davison’s era and was not seen again until 1996’s Doctor Who TV movie starring Paul McGann. Since then, however, the Doctor rarely goes an episode without using it. But McCoy misses the days when the writers would have to get more inventive.
“They use the sonic screwdriver too much,” McCoy said. “It’s a bit of a crutch. I never had one. The producer decided that I shouldn’t have one because he said it was too easy for the writers to get The Doctor out of trouble. I managed to save the universe every Saturday – and without a sonic screwdriver, [so] I’m slightly critical. I don’t think they should use it all the time if you can manage without, like me – and my umbrella!”
McCoy’s not alone with this criticism, either. Whovians, particularly those who grew up in the sonic-less 80s, have blasted the way that the screwdriver has basically become a magic wand, often displaying a newfound ability whenever the situation calls for it. The official Doctor Who website has even handily compiled a comprehensive list of the device’s many uses.
In the writers’ defense, it’s worth pointing out that the increased importance of the sonic is likely a consequence of the format of the modern show – usually single-episode stories lasting 45 minutes – instead of the classic series – multi-part stories stretching across weeks. Classic Who had more time to spare for the Doctor to come up with something clever, but nowadays, it saves time to just have Jodie Whittaker zap something with the sonic.
Doctor Who season 13 is in production now and expected to premiere this fall.