When the Doctor tells fans to Google Bootstrap Paradox, they listen
This week’s episode of “Doctor Who” started a little differently than previous episodes, with the Doctor breaking the fourth wall to propose a brain-teaser to the viewer all directly to the camera.
The intro only lasted a minute or two before the popular opening sequence kicked in and everything went back to “normal” on the show, but the intro was enough to make a mark on Google.
When traveling with the Doctor one of the most important lessons a companion can learn is ‘always listen to the Doctor’ and it seems that a lot of viewers take that advice to heart as well. In this week’s episode “Before the Flood” the Doctor explained the ‘Bootstrap Paradox’ and told viewers to Google the term, which it seems a lot of viewers did.
The chart below shows the Google Trend of the term “Bootstrap Paradox” starting in 2005 and leading right up to this weekend. See if you can spot when the “Doctor Who” episode aired. Go ahead, this isn’t part of the brain-teaser.
That significant jump in the search phrase is pure Doctor Who influence on the viewer. As a fan I imagine that even the Doctor would smirk at his influence over the search giant.
If after watching the episode you are still a little unclear on what exactly a “Bootstrap Paradox” is, well we can help you with that as well. The Doctor used a hypothetical time-travel in his explanation and we’ll do the same.
In the episode the good Doctor talked about a time-traveling Beethoven fan that went back in time to meet the musical genius. When he arrives in the time that Beethoven lived, he finds out no one has ever heard of Beethoven before, in fact, Beethoven as the time-traveler knew him doesn’t even exist.
Saddened to imagine a world without Beethoven, the time-traveler decides to take on the name Beethoven and he writes and publishes all of the music that he loved so that Beethoven would ‘live’ again.
This creates a question that becomes the paradox: who really wrote Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony?
Did the time-traveler simply fall in love with the music he wrote AS Beethoven in the past? If so, who wrote the music that he first heard, and the Doctor before him, and the Doctor before him, and so on and so on. It’s a circle, one that continues on forever without a clear beginning or ending.
It’s not surprising that the search-term had such a fantastic surge this weekend, the last two-seasons of “Doctor Who” have been the most-watched in the long history of the series. The season 9 premiere of the show was the largest season premiere ever in the Adult 18-49 demo, which nearly doubled the season 8 average.
The previous season, season 8, saw the introduction of Peter Capaldi as the new Doctor and since then the show has been on a consistent rise to the top. It’s sad to imagine but this will be the final season with Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman). That’s a goodbye that we are simply not ready to think about at this time.