I know I’m overthinking this, so let’s get that out of the way right off the bat. Cartoons like Disney’s Doc McStuffins probably shouldn’t be given as much thought as I give them. But, as a long time comic and genre fan, my mind automatically goes to the rules and functions of whatever supernatural elements are at play in the shows I watch. Also, not for nothing, but I’ve seen hundreds of hours of this show because my daughter loves it which gives me plenty of time to think about how the show’s mythology works (or in many cases, doesn’t work).
So here’s the deal if you’re not familiar. Doc McStuffins is a little girl who fancies herself a doctor of toys. She also has a magic stethoscope that brings her toys to life. It’s kind of like Toy Story, but instead of the toys deciding when to act inanimate, Doc holds the power thanks to her magic stethoscope that grants them life. Each episode a different toy gets some kind of malady that Doc diagnoses and cures with her toy know how.
Here’s my problem with the show, though, it’s mythology is sloppy at best. For one thing, it’s not clear what state of consciousness the toys are in when Doc’s magic stethoscope isn’t around. Are they like coma patients experiencing the world as it goes by without being able to do anything about it? Do they essentially “turn off,” existing only when Overlord McStuffins deems them worthy of life? These are the things I think about while my daughter does her best to sing along to the show’s many songs (which is adorable, by the way).
I’m also fuzzy on the range of the stethoscope’s power. Does Doc have to be in the same room as the toys? You’d think the answer to that is yes, but I saw an episode recently where she left a patient in her clinic (a clubhouse in the backyard) overnight with her nurse, a hippo named Hallie. Presumably the two toys were still “alive” even though Doc was in the house. If this is the case, why doesn’t she leave them “on” all the time? Maybe she’s one of those doctors who gets their jollies from being in control of life, even if it is toy life.
I have other, bigger questions. Who gave a child such power? Could the stethoscope work on other inanimate objects? Do other, similar objects of power exist in this world? Could Doc animate all the toys in the world, creating a veritable army — one that she has the knowledge to repair when they inevitably get damaged, by the way — and take over the world? Clearly that’s where the story is heading.
I just realized that the series might all be a hallucination. What if Doc is just imagining all of these things? What if she really is just pretending and we’re taken on the journey through her imaginings? If that was the case, it would answer a lot of my questions because a young girl wouldn’t understand the rules of a magical device and would therefore not bring those elements into her fantasy. I’d like to say I subscribe to that theory now, but I’m still going to watch and wonder.