25 October 2013

The Trials and Tribulations of Looking For More Sonic Uses

The Trials and Tribulations of Looking For More Sonic Uses

Ever since I started this project people have asked where did the data come from. Was there a list somewhere on the internet detailing all the uses. That would have been nice if that were the case but alas, no such list existed. No, it basically just turned into a brute force method of actually scrubbing through all the episodes. And even at that, some of the uses were so quick that they evaded my initial review.

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NOTE : The tweaking is still in flux and some of the categorizations could still be changed before the finalization. But in general, the numbers are fairly stable and the chart shouldn't see much alteration.

From the chart you can see that Open is the top ranked use. Not Open Door but Open Anything. It is what most people suspected. But I was surprised at how closely Scan followed. This particular function was boosted in the ranking from the Eleventh Doctor's love of scanning everything he sees.

The Second Time Through
But there was a nagging thought. Had I caught all the uses the first time through all the stories or were there still some missing. My count was at 792 at the beginning of October 2013 and there was still some time to take a look at afew stories before putting this to bed. Since the bulk of the counting was my responsibility [Jürgen is the data scientist] I began a re-watch of some of the episodes I suspected had additional sonic uses.

Re-Watch of Inferno
I began the re-watch with a thought, "Did I catch all the uses of Liz using the screwdriver as a door handle in Inferno?" So I went back and re-watched Inferno. Yes, there were instances I missed. But, I found out to my chagrin, there were uses that weren't even shown on the screen. The garage where the TARDIS console and Bessie were stored was accessible only by use of the sonic screwdriver used as a door handle. In episode seven, after the Doctor returns from the alternate dimension and is dazed and out of commission, Liz tells the others she needs to go to the control room. She gets up and the camera does a quick-cut to Liz in the control room. After she completes her business there another quick-cut back to the garage. Seeing that it was completely necessary to use the screwdriver to open and close the garage door twice, these four instances needed included even thought none of those uses were shown on screen.

I began to wonder what else I had missed.

Waiting For The Other Shoe To Drop
I was curious about Old Amy's sonic probe in The Girl Who Waited. On the re-watch I saw a very quick clip of young Amy at the door of the room with multiple doorways. The door closes and she turns around. Originally I didn't see that she was actually holding the sonic probe which she had obtained from old Amy.

The Big Change For The Sonic
The craziest moment of these re-watches had to be in Day of the Moon during the firefight at the end of the episode. My assumption was the Doctor was merely creating a distraction for River as she mowed down the Silent with her blaster. But after closer scrutiny I found a clip of 1-3 frames clearly showing a green beam emitted from the sonic screwdriver striking, and collapsing a Silent. Upon a frame-by-frame review of the sequence I found the Doctor taking out multiple Silents which meant that each time he fired the sonic, it was counted as a particle beam shot whether he took out a Silent of not.

I'm currently at...
The sonic use count now stands at 852. That's 60 more than I had at the start of October when I thought the dataset was finished. Sure, people remember most of the most obvious and well know uses. But it's the little one during the course of an adventure that are forgotten—until someone goes through every show and finds them.

It Never Ends
So the process continues for more of those not so obvious uses. This will continue up to the showing of the 50th anniversary so there's time to find even more undiscovered uses. And if the trend continues I will find a few more to add to the list. This process has been going on for a while, but not as quickly as I'd like. I will not have the opportunity to re-watch every single episode unfortunately. I'm just one person working on this project and my relevant other and the house demand a certain amount of time.

But as the 50th anniversary approaches I are attempting to pin down the definitive list that will be used for future analysis. And after watching the 50th-year episode, and listing all the sonic uses from that, the final analysis of the screwdriver's use.

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