DW: The Flying Dutchman / Displaced Review

Hooray! More Ace and Hex! … In two two-part stories… okay, well, one of the best from this team was just a single part (“The Word Lord”) so still looking forward to it! … Oh, one story is crap and the other is just plain. What a shame given this trio is one of the best things to come out of Main Range, this is a sorry note for what is presumably their final outing in its original series…

Synopsis (of “The Flying Dutchman”):

The Doctor, Ace and Hex find themselves on a seemingly deserted boat in the middle of the ocean. Eventually locating the crew, they discover that the men have been in hiding to avoid the attack of the legendary ghost ship The Flying Dutchman that they’ve recently glimpsed approaching through the fog. But ghosts don’t exist. Do they?

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

Displaced is a good old fashioned haunted house mystery, complete with The Doctor, Ace and Hex being unable to escape from rooms as ghostly goings-on happen, like creepy music playing or mysterious voices and dust everywhere yet a cup of tea is still warm, that sort of thing. There are some good interactions between the main cast, particularly that old chestnut of Hex and Ace getting fed up of The Doctor’s mind games and thinking this is some test he’s set up, while the Time Lord plays innocent (for real this time!) The Doctor soon thinks it’s the work of an inter-dimensional vulture species called “The Craw”, but when he and his companions summon one it proclaims innocence, saying it merely did what its species always do: feed on what is already dead (at least I think that’s what it said, its electronically manipulated voice was hard to understand…)

A Craw A.I. had gotten tangled up in the house and was using the Alexa rip-off known as “Harri” to communicate with The Doctor, Ace and Hex (or “Change, One and Curse” as it mistakenly calls them, somehow…) eventually revealing that it had grown to love the family living inside of it and that they had been killed by a jealous next-door neighbour who wanted their land. That was all it was in the end, sure an alien A.I. summoned them and was causing the stuck doors and such, but it was actually just a greedy and heartless human at the root cause. Everyone soon leaves, with The Doctor saying that the TARDIS landed them there because it heard the cry of a fellow sentient living space… It was a good story by the end, but it was slow going, and at least three quarters were full of very familiar tropes.

The Bad:

It almost seems like a waste, putting all that effort into realising The Craw on the cover, given they actually made up so little of Displaced in the end…

I don’t know WHAT happened with “The Flying Dutchman”, but not only was it really rather boring but it was poorly scripted and even acted in the case of a lot of a guest cast. It was full of super-cheesy voices, especially the ship’s crew and its snobby Captain, which is odd for Big Finish at this stage of the company’s life. So, The Doctor, Ace and Hex arrive on a boat and find the crew hiding because of the Flying Dutchman, a glowing ghost ship that had appeared in the fog. The Doctor says it’s nonsense, the crew say it was real so into the brig our heroes go. They escape and see the ghostly ship and its crew invade, then leave again. Unsworth (Stephen Wight), a crewman who feels underappreciated, takes command from their cowardly Captain, until The Doctor, Ace and Hex reveals the Flying Dutchman was just another shop Unsworth used to be a part of using natural materials with phosphorescence to make themselves glow. Captain Marfleet (Nicholas Khan) takes back control of his ship and instead of sending Unsworth to his death demotes him to the lowest rank and offers help to the people of the ship his former underling had roped into it, showing beyond the snobbery was a nice guy. That was it in a nutshell, there was just so much… cheesiness and too little happening for my liking.

Also there was a subplot with Ace meeting a boy named Archie who turned out to be a girl named Anna who was searching for adventure, but the issue was her voice sounded so much like a girl that I assumed she was a girl until the “shock revelation” to Ace, at which point I just went “Oh… so that’s what they were going for. Whoops”. Ironically this was the only part where someone should’ve put on a cheesy accent or something!

The Continuity:

Not much, again this is set before all the arc-heavy stuff with this team, so there isn’t much to comment on. Ace does mention the Mary Celeste, which The Doctor says “don’t remind me”, a reference to the First Doctor TV story “The Chase”, which shows us that Daleks were responsible for the vanishing of the crew…

Overall Thoughts:

This was a bit of a damp squib, if I’m honest. The Flying Dutchman was either boring or too cheesy, and Displaced had a good twist or two during its final moments but was rather dull and cliché before it got to them. Ah well, can’t win them all, I guess… Let’s just hope the last few Main Ranges can pull of a happier ending for the long-running series!

The Flying Dutchman:

Displaced:

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