If you’re a fan of Doctor Who, and appreciate stop motion animation, you definitely won’t want to miss this!
Doctor Who is known for many things, one of them being an incredibly dedicated fanbase. It seems that everywhere you look, fans have made some truly incredible creations that could even hold up to the level of the show itself. One such creation, in my opinion, would be the Action Figure Adventures, available to watch on YouTube. The creator, Batmanmarch, has made stories for every Doctor from the 1st to the 11th, but the highlight of their effort is the stories they made for the 8th Doctor, conveniently put into 3 playlists for each season. It helps quite a bit that out of all the impressions done for the Doctors, the 8th is by far the most accurate.
As the name implies, the Action Figure Adventures use, well, action figures, to visually convey the story in the form of stop motion animation. Batmanmarch has put in a lot of effort to create intricate sets for cityscapes, desert planets, and most impressively, a faithful recreation of the TARDIS interior as seen in Doctor Who: The Movie. In addition, they also give some panning shots to give you a better idea of what’s going on, so that you don’t have to rely exclusively on what the action figures are doing to understand that they’re in the middle of World War 2, or an epic space battle. A lot of different action figures are used, which can be somewhat amusing at times. Who knew Scorpion from Mortal Kombat worked for the Zygons?
While it looks decent from a visual standpoint, it really shines in the aural landscape it creates. Many of the high tension moments are complemented nicely by the orchestral score created for Doctor Who: The Movie. Other parts of the soundtrack incorporate New Who, in particular a few tracks from the 50th anniversary special really help you immerse yourself into the world. The voice acting ranges in quality but is well done overall. The impression for the 8th Doctor may take a bit to get used to, but I was personally sold on it by the end of War Times. It really captures the essence of the character while also making it their own, especially during the parts when he raises his voice.
The series makes good use of a lot of classic monsters, guaranteed to make any Classic Who fan smile. The series starts right off with the Cybermen, possibly taking some cues from the 7th Doctor’s first adventure with Hex in the Big Finish audios. There are also appearances from the previously mentioned Zygons, as well as Krynoids, Silurians, Autons, and especially the Daleks. The monsters aren’t the only thing that fans will want to look out for, as we get episodes where the Doctor is reunited with some of his old friends. Ian Chesterton, the Brigadier, Romana, even Dr. Grace Holloway gets her time to shine. There’s even an episode set in Kaldor City, which had its own spinoff audios by Magic Bullet Productions!
Well that’s all well and good, but how does the story hold up? After watching the first few episodes, you would think it as little more than some good ol’ fashioned Classic Who type goodness, but Batmanmarch cleverly feeds you breadcrumbs that point to the episodes flowing together in a more serialized approach. Two new companions are introduced: right off the bat we’re treated to Kathy Bradford, the spunky barmaid living in World War 2, and later on we meet Emily Moore, a marine biologist who seems to be hiding something from the Doctor. It brings together a good deal of elements from both Classic and New Who, which is fitting for a Doctor that is something akin to a bridge between the two eras.
Before I go into spoiler territory, I’d highly recommend you go watch it for yourself. Now that you’ve most likely ignored the warning, let’s talk about Davros. The absolute mad lad starts right off the bat making his own Daleks again and getting the Renegade Daleks back under his grip with the promise of upgrades. The episode ends with them all chanting about the destruction of Gallifrey, and it’s at this point that you think to yourself, “Wait, this is about the Time War????” Batmanmarch had a really solid buildup to the Time War, bringing the Doctor back to Gallifrey with the use of Emily Moore, who turns out to be a spy sent by Romana to keep tabs on the Doctor. Then you find out the Master’s freed himself from being eaten by the TARDIS and has either turned back into Geoffery Beevers or he’s just absolutely refusing to die. Until the Doctor kills him, that is. Oh, did I mention the Doctor kills the Master? With the power of friendship, no less? But of course he doesn’t stay dead for long, as the political drama within the High Council gets a bit, well, backstabby.
The confrontation between the Doctor and Davros results in them landing on a planet Romana can easily blow up, as one of the Council members is all too happy to point out. When she refuses, the cunning little action figure takes matters into his own hands, testing new technology to revive the dead first on the Master, before bringing back everyone’s favorite Time Lord Founder, the almighty Rassilon, to lead the charge into war. It works, for a while, until they realize that putting a man in charge who was already rumored to be kind of a tool probably wasn’t the best idea, especially with new technology that they didn’t wait to see the effects of.
There’s a lot of incorporation of new series elements during these later episodes of Season 3. There’s even an appearance from The Cult of Skaro, which allows me to kinda try and slide it in to my own interpretation of the franchise’s continuity (Timewyrm: Genesis isn’t canon btw). I didn’t even mention the whole deal with The Key to Time and the episode Lucie Miller was in! The ending gives off similar vibes to Season 26B, which I plan to explore later. The Doctor resets the timeline so things go the way they do in the audio dramas and such. This kinda makes it feel repetitive, in a way, but with no fault to the series itself. If you’re a fan of Doctor Who, you definitely won’t want to miss this!
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