Audio Drama Review: ‘Doctor Who: The Flying Dutchman/Displaced’
by Rachel Bellwoar
Doctor Who: The Flying Dutchman / Displaced
Directed by Samuel Clemens
Starring Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), Sophie Aldred (Ace), and Philip Olivier (Hex)
A ship with no crew and a house with no people. This is what the Doctor and his companions, Ace and Hex, have to deal with in “The Flying Dutchman” and “Displaced.” While the crew of the Isabella are eventually located, the Tungate family are a different story.
‘The Flying Dutchman’
It’s never a good omen when the Flying Dutchman appears. For Captain Marfleet (Nicholas Khan) of the Isabella, whose chief mate, Unsworth (Stephen Wight), would be happy to take command from him, it’s the kind of test his leadership doesn’t need so soon out of the gate. New to being captain, Marfleet got the job because his dad was the previous captain, and he hasn’t had a chance to earn his crew’s respect. With Unsworth contradicting him all the time, he’s not likely to, either.
Is Unsworth really the hero of this story, though? While he comes in like a Robin Hood type, breaking the rules for the betterment of all, writer, Gemma Arrowsmith, plays with listeners’ assumptions and makes it so first impressions aren’t reliable in this tale. Also smart: having ‘The Flying Dutchman’ open with a scene on the Isabella. That way when the Doctor shows up after the theme song and the crew are nowhere to be found it makes their absence seem even more compelling. There was a crew, so what happened between them spotting the Flying Dutchman and the TARDIS deciding to materialize?
Instead of bringing a new dynamic to the TARDIS crew, Hex treads on Ace’s toes a lot in both these stories. While Ace has never been one to complain about adventures, she has confronted the Doctor about his mind games before. In “Displaced” and ‘The Flying Dutchman’, it’s Hex who fulfills that role, except he comes across as more of a wet blanket. If this was Hex’s last trip that would make sense (and it sounds like Hex is ready to quit in ‘Displaced’), but it’s not and, after all that complaining, nothing really changes.
As a B-story, Ace gets to act as a role model to Archie (Carly Day), who’s the Isabella’s lookout, but every time Archie wants to talk, it’s always the worst time. The result is that all of their conversations feel forced, like Ace doesn’t want to be there, because the Doctor is the one who tells her it’s ok. While Ace would’ve probably come to the same conclusion, it makes it seem like Ace only agreed to stay because the Doctor told her to.
‘Displaced’ takes place in a smart house and finds the Doctor and his friends trying to solve the mystery of what happened to the family that lived there. Like an escape room, though, they can’t leave until they’re finished. There’s a sadness to this audio drama, but writer, Katharine Armitage, is able to come up with some unique ways of incorporating the Tardis’ translation circuit and lets the TARDIS have a personality, in the same way ‘The Doctor’s Wife’ did.
The Flying Dutchman/Displaced is available to purchase from Big Finish.