Doctor Who – Series 1, Episode 4: 73 Yards

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We’re now four episodes into the rebooted, err, rebooted Doctor Who TV franchise. This week’s tempting (but-haven’t-got-a-clue-what-it-means) title is ’73 Yards’. 🤔

First, let’s get the bad news out of the way! From this super-fan’s perspective, it hasn’t all been plain sailing for the latest run of this iconic show. The first episode was excruciatingly awful, the next, poor, but tolerable, and last week’s (phew!) – a welcome return to form! 👍👏

Episode 1 – Space Babies

Episode 2: The Devil’s Chord

Episode 3: Boom

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OK, that’s all a bit creepy!

Watching the (extremely) brief teaser shown after last week’s episode, it didn’t give much away, except this episode looks to be a dark theme with an inference that the Doctor isn’t in it very much! Tonight’s is going out at 6.50pm, but as usual, in this ‘new world’ of Who marketing, it popped up on iPlayer overnight. So, even with all my involvement in the launch of this year’s Rowell Fair (it opens today) I squeezed it in before tonight’s traditional slot. As usual, I held back this Post until it had aired on TV, just in case I ruined the surprise for anyone.

3.45pm: Here we go…

What’s it about?

“Landing on the Welsh coast, the Doctor and Ruby embark on the strangest journey of their lives whilst
in a rain-lashed pub, the locals sit in fear of ancient legends coming to life!”

Any good?

Yes, as I thought, this one was a bit light on Doctors, but ironically, some of the most thought-provoking new-Who episodes have been the ones where the titular character is hardly in it! Previous ‘Doctor-less’ outings include the very first – Blink in 2007. A year later, it was 2008’s Turn Left, followed by The Lodger (2010) and Closing Time (2011).

So, did it live up to the promises of no-doctor = great story? Well, this sure was a SUPER-creepy one, centering around the Tardis landing in Wales in the present day, where the natives are definitely restless (at least, at first). In so many ways, this felt very different: no monsters as such to run away from, for a start …and don’t hold your breath for the familiar title sequence either! So far, so very weird. And talking of weird… what about the Doctor’s duffle coat? It looked orange to me, but apparently, it was yellow! Must get to SpecSavers! 👁️👁️

Yes, from the off, this had all the hallmarks of Blink and from the same year, later in this episode: The Sound of Drums (and that’s great, in my book). It’s the first episode for a long, LONG time, where it was sufficiently complex, that I’d watch it again purely to see whether I’d missed anything. Yes, there’s a lot – an awful lot – going on! To keep diehards like me happy, twenty minutes in, there’s a (brief) return of a character we’ve met before. Five minutes later there’s another! It all felt rather familiar (in a good way) and a real crowd-pleaser – provided that particular crowd is full of Who fans.

I haven’t said that for a while! 😁👍

The suspense was pretty much full-on throughout, and just how I like it. The menace was ever present and it was a head-scratcher as to who it was and why they were doing what they were doing! 🤔

Thirty minutes in, there was a major change of pace, a change of focus AND a change of year, as we fast-forwarded to 2046. Later, even further into the future by 40 more years. Who at its best!!

We got a few questions answered in this one, including ‘who the heck is Roger Ap Gwilliam?’ (mentioned in Who-teasers as a significant character) plus the significance of the episode’s title. If I’m honest, I’m not sure I completely understood the ending, but that’s part of Who’s charm when it’s on a roll – just sit back and ‘enjoy the journey’ and ‘don’t worry about the vehicle’! Anyway, there’s always YouTube, where some hyper-fan will have helped us thickies make sense of it all! Yes, there’s one HERE.

If I have one criticism, this one felt a little rushed, especially in the second half, and might have benefitted from another 20 minutes-or-so to flesh out some of the weirder bits. Having said that, this has been the best episode so far in this series for a long, long time, although my head is still spinning. As one fan put it, just after that final climactic scene…

“The collective sound of a million minds being blown. 10/10”

Next Week

Again, the briefest of clips for next week’s instalment entitled: Dot and Bubble.

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