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(Review) Doctor Who: "73 Yards"

Having survived their near-death experience on a war-ravaged planet last week, the Doctor and Ruby Sunday return to Earth for what looks like a fun little trip to Wales.  However, one misstep changes Ruby's life forever.

Warning:  Spoilers ahead.

The Doctor and Ruby look like they're ready for a little decompression after the events of "Boom," and a gorgeous day on the shores of Wales seems like a nice way to decompress.  However, in his never-ending excitement for the start of a new adventure, the Doctor accidentally steps on a "fairy circle" on the ground and vanishes.  Thus, Ruby is abandoned yet again.

Written by Russell T. Davies, "73 Yards" is a Doctor-lite episode (presumably for budget/scheduling reasons) that may remind viewers of "Blink," Turn Left," and "The Girl Who Waited," among other stories.   RTD establishes a creepy tone right from the start, as Ruby is followed everywhere she goes for the rest of her life by a mysterious old woman. (Bet you can't guess how far away she stays from Ruby.)  Anyone who talks to the eerie presence suddenly wants nothing to do with the Doctor's companion.

It will take decades before Ruby finally figures out who the woman is and what this figure's role is in her life.  In the meantime, it's great to see Mrs. Flood make a quick cameo appearance, as well as Kate Lethbridge-Stewart.  (Russell T. Davies has made it clear that he intends to give UNIT a stronger role in the series again, arguing that it's important for the Doctor to have friends and allies.) 

Yes, Susan Twist also makes another appearance, but we won't tell you where she comes into this episode. 

Oh, and we have more magic snow.

(Quick tangent:  Does it mean anything that the color orange is so prevalent in this story?)

The years go by, and Ruby gets older, with still no trace of the Doctor.  She occasionally visits the TARDIS, which is stuck right where it landed so many years ago.  You have to wonder if the great blue box is mad that her Time Lord has left her for an extended period yet again.

"73 Yards" eventually becomes so focused on Ruby for so long, you might almost forget you're watching a Doctor Who episode.  We know these happen every so often, but it's always disappointing to when you don't get much of a glimpse of the Doctor or the TARDIS interior.  However, putting that to the side, this mystery remains engaging all the way until the end, when the "correct" timeline is eventually restored.

Given that "73 Yards" is the midpoint of this season (which arrived way too quickly), it might best be seen as a chance for a brief pause to prepare for whatever the remaining four episodes have to offer.  It will keep you in suspense from start to finish, and Millie Gibson does a good job of holding the spotlight for most of the tale.  However, we look forward to seeing Ncuti Gatwa in action for more than five minutes next week.

See you then!


Millie Gibson 73 YardsRuby Sunday gets the spotlight this week.  (pic via



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