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Critic's Notebook: "Doctor Who," man of plastic

June 21, 2010 |  7:39 pm

Can't get enough "Doctor Who"? Too long between episodes? Missing David Tennant? Thought Kylie Minogue should have had a crack at something more than just a Christmas special? Luke Molloy apparently does, too.

I know nothing of Luke apart from his "YouTube" channel and username (doctorwhoo2); that current Doctor Matt Smith is so far only his seventh-favorite (Tennant, Tom Baker and Sylvester McCoy are tied for first); and that he lives in the U.K. and lists his occupation as "actor" and his hobby as "being a computer whizkid," which seems right enough.

Luke is the young auteur -- pretty darn young, I'd say, by the sound of his voice -- of "Doctor Who Figure Adventures." And he is not the only person making "Doctor Who" figure adventures, fan-created episodes enacted with action-figures, like "Robot Chicken" but without the irony -- which is itself only a subset of a much larger, and fairly venerable, body of homemade way-out-of-canon "Doctor Who" adventures, some serious, some satirical, and many, if not most, featuring wholly original incarnations of the Doctor. (The great advantage of playing at being the Doctor, as opposed to, say, Captain Kirk, is that he changes his skin anyway -- he might as well be you as anyone else.) Click here to transport to a directory to this world of wonders, which is itself only a subset of an even larger body of fan-created films dedicated to franchises as varied as "A Nightmare on Elm Street," "Saw," Harry Potter and Indiana Jones, all coming to an Internet near you.

Embedded above is the trailer for Luke's now-concluding fifth series of "Doctor Who" epics in plastic. What I love about his work is that for all the obvious preparation and the careful post-production, it retains the essence, ardor and energy of childhood play, from his lively rendering of the voices (including Kylie-as-Astrid's unembarrassed "I love you!") to the way the characters carelessly inhabit his own human-size world. (Check the "giant" duck statuary surrounding the Tardis and, in the episode now showing on Luke's YouTube channel, the wickedly appropriate use of a toilet plunger as a big Dalek drill.) At the same time, he gets the flavor of the show pretty right -- the plot devices, the technobabble -- but with the knowingness filtered out: It's a child's vision of Russell T. Davies' vision of "Doctor Who."

"I'm the Doctor, and I've just saved the universe!" Luke declares in his best Tennant. And he totally awesomely has.

-- Robert Lloyd (twitter.com/LATimesTVLloyd)


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