The Flying Dutchman and Displaced form a double-header of two-part stories for September’s monthly Doctor Who range release. This time, we are back with the Seventh Doctor, travelling with both Ace and Hex (Phillip Oliver).
The Flying Dutchman
With Hex complaining that their adventures barely afford them a break, the TARDIS materialises on an 18th Century sailing ship. The good ship Isabella is under a new captain, the superstitious Captain Marfleet (Nicholas Khan), whose father gifted him the command. This has caused dissension in the ranks, as the crew prefer to take their orders from the experienced Chief Mate Unsworth (Stephen Wight).
When the Isabella’s crew encounter the fabled ghost ship “The Flying Dutchman”, the Doctor pushes his companions to unravel the mystery. Ace is sure it is aliens, while Hex will not discount the existence of ghosts.
Writer Gemma Arrowsmith, who has also written for Missy and The Paternoster Gang, provides the action here, which offers a mix of swashbuckling fun and a few spooky chills. We enjoyed Ace’s bond with the cabin boy Archie, who is impressed with how she handled herself in a fight, even if the revelations there seemed a touch unlikely.
The second story presents a different sort of mystery; an abandoned home which appears to have been left in haste. The situation calls to mind the Marie Celeste, except that particular sailing ship did not leave an AI speaker running! “Harri”, brilliantly voiced by Patience Tomlinson, provides some answers as well as a cryptic clue or two.
Displaced, which as the extras note, resonates well with 2020’s lockdown months, is from writer Katharine Armitage who is new to Big Finish, albeit with an impressive resume elsewhere. She has cleverly pitched her story – as Hex hails from 2020, it enjoys a contemporary feel, while featuring two-thirds of a TARDIS crew from the late 1980s.
There is a lot going on here, far more than we first assumed, and the style feels very RTD/Moffat – not a million miles away from homicidal satnavs and repeated phrases. In this case, there is an alien presence – not a spoiler, he is the beaky chap on the cover – but also a very human motive too.
Set in the early days of this popular trio, these are a pair of fun adventures which spend some time building the relationships. Of the pair, Displaced is the deeper, more complex and involving story, but The Flying Dutchman is a great piece of knockabout fun.