Doctor Who: 73 Yards Review - 6 Ups & 4 Downs

Hear that? That's Doctor Who fans across the world exclaiming "What the hell just happened?!"

Doctor Who 73 Yards Millie Gibson Ruby Sunday
BBC Studios

Well... that was quite something, wasn't it?

If nothing else, 73 Yards is an episode of Doctor Who that will be discussed for many years to come. It's simultaneously one of the most engaging and unique episodes the show has put forward in the last 20 years, and also an episode that says almost nothing at all about anything.

One part folk horror, another part psychological thriller and with a brief sidestep into political satire, it's an episode you could see being aired as a short film at Cannes or Sundance, which certainly isn't the bracket Doctor Who normally falls into. 73 Yards is artsy, ambiguous, and high-concept, and that may not be everyone's cup of tea – frankly, I'm still trying to work out if it's mine.

Overall though, I can't deny I want more of this style of writing: big ideas, new genres, different vibes. Russell T Davies is nothing if not ambitious, so let's get into where that ambition succeeded, and where it let him down.

10. UP - A Visually Stunning Episode

Doctor Who 73 Yards Millie Gibson Ruby Sunday
BBC Studios

Space Babies put the new CGI budget front and centre, while Boom saw the Doctor Who crew playing with its new Volume-style tech to create a virtual environment.

Spectacle is great, and I certainly don't mind the increase in production value on the show, but sometimes you can't beat some good old-fashioned location shooting.

For basically the first time, the team was able to film in Wales this week without having to pretend they were somewhere else, which must've been a novelty. 73 Yards is dripping with gorgeous shots and environments, from the crumbling cliffside to the cosy yet claustrophobic pub. It's an episode that has its own 'feel' in a way few episodes do.

Whereas most direction in Who seems to borrow from the same BBC production bible, this episode felt like RTD sent director Dylan Holmes Williams out into the Welsh countryside with a camera and told him to do whatever he wanted. I'm very impressed, and I hope this isn't the last we see of him (after Dot and Bubble of course).

This show doesn't need insane CGI to bat with the big boys, and after a rather flashy run of episodes, it's nice to see a reminder of that.

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Alex is a sci-fi and fantasy swot, and is a writer for WhoCulture. He is incapable of watching TV without reciting trivia, and sometimes, when his heart is in the right place, and the stars are too, he’s worth listening to.