Yes, I have been living under a rock.
So when the Kitsap Sun got an email from Fred Rabinovitz of Port Orchard saying he and his son had built a TARDIS in their garage, the newsworthiness of the announcement whizzed right past me … defying the laws of space and time … much like the TARDIS itself.
When I was asked to write about Rabinovitz’s TARDIS, I had no idea how lucky I was. My first clue was photographer Meegan Reid, who clawed the assignment away from Larry Steagall and who gushed with excitement when we arrived at Rabinovitz’s garage.
Meegan is by nature pretty low key. I don’t think I’ve seen her this worked up over anything … except maybe those whales in Dyes Inlet. To myself, I’m like, “Nice blue box. But what’s the big deal?”
To Whovians everywhere, I apologize for my ignorance.
The TARDIS, of course, is the time-space travel machine that figures centrally in the long-running BBC television series “Dr. Who.” From the outside, it appears an ordinary British police call box. Inside … ah, that’s another story.
The Doctor in “Dr. Who” has had multiple incarnations since the show launched in 1963 — each played by different actors, with different (mostly female) sidekicks and villainous otherworldly enemies.
I’m not going to say how many Doctors there have been for fear of stepping into Whovian trivia quicksand. I do know the Doctor is an alien Time Lord (apparently with two hearts) and a shape shifter … unlike the TARDIS (for Time and Relative Dimension in Space), which got stuck as a police call box early on in the series.
That’s not to say the TARDIS is a static prop.
Over the course of the series — both the “classic” earlier version and the reincarnation that began in 2005 — the TARDIS has been so much more than a vehicle through space and time. It (she?) has a personality and oft independent will, as the Doctor does battle over the millennia with various hordes of rubbery monsters. All of this is served up with that dry British wit that seems to poke fun at the show’s inherent hokiness.
What’s not to love?
Jordan Rabinovitz, 17, is the resident Whovian – reminiscent of the 11th Doctor in a natty vest and bow tie — proud as a hen on a new clutch of eggs as he opens the door to the TARDIS.
Inside, Fred Rabinovitz, an engineer by trade, has done wonders with a metal recycling bin, some holiday rope lights and a DJ’s music mixing console he got off eBay. There’s even a black-and-white television that displays a grainy image of the hypnotizing introduction to the show.
Jordan pushes a button and the TARDIS emits a noise suggestive of futuristic travel. His secret? A key scraped along a piano wire. It’s thoroughly convincing. Take note, BBC.
The Rabinovitz TARDIS has had its own dramatic career, appearing in the family’s extravagant Christmas light display and as a prop in a video for a Spanish assignment.
Jordan is a relative newcomer to the fandom — which like the TARDIS is bigger on the inside that it appears from the outside. He started watching in December 2012.
“I had heard a little bit about it. I decided I may as well watch the first episode (from the 2005 reboot), and it just got me intrigued,” Jordan said. “Episode by episode, the emotional attachment set in.”
By June he had his dad hard at work on the TARDIS.
“I would build it, and he would come out and say, ‘That’s not right.’” Fred said. “I’d say, ‘It’s good enough.’ And he’d say, ‘No, it’s not.’”
“It’s a work in progress,” Fred said. “We’re always adding to it.”
Jordan Rabinovitz has watched many of the Dr. Who episodes — including those of the classics he can locate — and he can rattle off trivia rapid fire. He even has a replica of the crazy-long scarf worn by an earlier doctor and a sonic screwdriver.
Jordan, a senior at Crosspointe Christian Academy, often comes home from a long day and closes himself in the TARDIS. Listening to the take-off noise or music from the console, he is indeed transported.
“It’s a getaway. It’s imaginative. It lets the creative juices flow,” Jordan said. “I have achieved time travel, but only when I’m in it.”
In case there was any question, let’s make one thing perfectly clear: “I’m a huge fan, not obsessive,” Jordan said. “There’s a line; you don’t cross it. Some have, and I’m sorry for them.”
As to the question, “Is it bigger on the inside?” Just wait ‘til you see their next model.