‘The Doctor Puppet’ is a Labor of Pure ‘Doctor Who’ Love
Robin | On 15, May 2013
One of the more mixed blessings of YouTube and web series in general is that popular films, TV shows and books are subject to fans making tributes which are, being generous, of variable quality. But in amongst the ill-advised rubbish there are always a couple of gems; The Doctor Puppet is fan-made Doctor Who tribute featuring a model animated Doctor in an episodic adventure that will climax to coincide with the series’ 50th anniversary later this year.
There are currently only two episodes of the series to watch (plus the charming Christmas special) because it is a brand new series. Also, episodes are emerging at a slow rate because model animation is a slow process and they are being released as they are completed, rather than making the whole series and then releasing – and one can see the entire behind the scenes process on the Nerdist blog. Hopefully this will allow the series to build a following. Either way I think it’s nice to be reviewing it the week after the death of the greatest model animator of them all: Ray Harryhausen.
What really stands out about the show so far, and something that one often finds in model animation, is phenomenal attention to detail. The models of the Doctor (and both David Tennant and Matt Smith’s incarnations make an appearance) are simple and yet instantly recognizable; the costumes are right, the hair is right (an absolute must for Matt Smith!), and, best of all, even the mannerisms are right and distinct between the two Doctors. It is an extraordinary labor of love, both in the design and in the animation.
But all that having been said, a good looking series is no good on its own. Getting these details right is great but it’s no substitute for a good story well told, which is what Doctor Who has always been about. Not only does The Doctor Puppet have a compelling story (or at least the start of one) it has something the live action series currently lacks. I’m old enough to remember the days when Doctor Who was episodic, each story spread over 4 or 5 episodes, and watching The Doctor Puppet makes me wish they’d revisit the idea.
The hardest thing about any fan series is not angering the other fans. I’m a die-hard, lifelong Who fan and I love this show. It’s a lovingly made tribute without a detail out of place, and, frankly, I wish the last season of the TV show had displayed half this much imagination.