Doctor Who series 14 | 73 Yards spoiler-free review

Doctor Who series 1 logo
Share this Article:

A spoiler-free review of Russell T Davies’ Doctor Who episode, 73 Yards. Still don’t read it if you want to know absolutely nothing.

I’ve got a little out of the habit when it comes to writing spoiler-free reviews of Doctor Who. Back in my Den Of Geek days, I was turning these out weekly. These days? Less so, as I get older, and get even more conscious of not wanting to spoil any of an episode for someone.

Still, I’ve read some of the discourse surrounding this current run of Doctor Who, and thought it might be worth jumping back in for Russell T Davies’ latest penned episode, 73 Yards. He’s made the point in interviews building up to the current series of the show that one of the delights with Doctor Who is it can be something new each and every week. Stick 73 Yards next to his loud, bombastic duo of Space Babies and The Devil’s Chord and he very much proves the point.

It’s often overlooked in his Doctor Who writing that Davies has a steel – not in the Cyberman sense, and no, that’s not a clue – that runs through it, in the way you get from his other dramatic work. Cucumber, incidentally, remains his most criminally overlooked show, but another of his programmes – that I’ll chat about more in the spoiler-filled review at the weekend – came to mind while I was watching 73 Yards.

What I think I can safely say is that this is based on a compelling horror idea, given away to a degree by the title of the episode. There’s a taste of the superb movie It Follows, a dab of Midnight, and a chance – finally – to spend some quality time with Millie Gibsons Ruby.

I think she needs the spotlight away from the Doctor again, as she got in the Christmas day episode, and with the Doctor and Ruby not constantly on screen together here, Gibson finds her footing. In fact, 73 Yards hinges on her more than any of her episodes to date, and I’m glad it does.

She picked the coldest-looking episode to date to get her best moments, with the TARDIS popping up on the Welsh coast. There’s an early moment where the Doctor and Ruby are chatting next to it and her hair is billowing about so much that they may as well have been filming the Twister sequel next door. Bottom line: it looked bloody cold.

But crucially, 73 Yards is also bloody good. Really creepy, too. It’s directed with some measure by Dylan Holmes Williams, and he gets the memo: long shots work. Stillness works. A cold tone – and not just in temperature terms – runs though key scenes, and there’s also something of a mystery to unravel.

Given that 73 Yards takes us up to the half way point of Doctor Who series 14/Doctor Who season 1, there’s a few pointers towards the road ahead too. But for the purposes of a spoiler-free take on it, this has the tone of some of Russell T Davies’ harder episodes, dials the palette and the volume down, and for me, delivers his best episode of Doctor Who since 2010.

More at the weekend.

Share this Article:

Related Stories

More like this