Home » Flight of the Bucket: A Small-Cast Comedy in Space

Flight of the Bucket: A Small-Cast Comedy in Space

Flight of the Bucket Cover art

The ten episode first season of “The Flight of the Bucket” has a cast both distinct in personality and behavior as well as voice. Created by Adam Arthur and Troy Burnette from Superhappy Productions, this audio drama has the potential to become the “Wolf 359” of the 2020s.

Another Crew of Lovable Misfits

The humorous tone of “The Flight of the Bucket” is not new tactic for gaining sympathy points for characters. Wolf 259 did it and Marvel Studios has been doing it for most of their origin story movies and TV. Comedy lets the listener drop their guard and connect with people who aren’t technically real, but feel like they have a life beyond the story’s plot. The cast of four people and one artificial intelligence aboard an unregistered spacecraft traveling the cosmos sounds similar to most episodic science fiction shows, audio dramas or not.

What makes the show stand out is the voices of each actors’ performances are unique to their character. The captain sounds different from the engineer who in turn is nothing like the comic relief character. Their personalities are distinct and easy to categorize. There’s the new girl whom exposition is relayed to and by proxy the audience. The incompetent alcoholic captain and the engineer who lies somewhere in between the captain and the dimwitted pyromaniac onboard in terms of competence. The level of competence compared to the rest makes the pilot not just a new recruit. The exposition is down to earth as well. No fancy science outside of the basic jargon or handwavium one might find on Star Trek.

The Two-Part Flight of the Bucket: Character Continuity

The first 3 episodes are mostly are mostly jokes and introductions to both characters and their dynamics. It’s unclear how long they’ve been adventuring in space, but it’s clear they have a system. Whether it works is another thing entirely. Episode 4 titled “Caper” is the first two-part story. From episode 6 onwards, everything started clicking. Early on I could differentiate the voices easier than some audio dramas. What snapped into place was how they acted and reacted to each other.

The introduction to the exposition receptor character — a competent woman and former pilot who gets roped into joining the ship’s crew. That ship is the SS Watercress. Each episode begins with a captains log. Aside from that, there’s not a lot of serialization in terms of plot. Most of the episodes contain one adventure per episode. The continuity comes from the characters acting like themselves.

The one caveat to the sense of character continuity is the advertisements. They aren’t for real products and they fit the tone of the show. Still a lot of the jokes in those 30 seconds or less fictional commercials miss more than they hit. At the very least, there nowhere near as memorable as the characters.

Bucket Flight #001

Starting at episode 5, the story finds its footing and goes off running to the finish line. Listening to the remaining half of the first season was a blur of laughter. I honestly don’t know the specifics aside from one particular episode where Gutman’s backstory is told. That pilot mentioned earlier is Gutman. If you thought you knew her, prepare to be wrong and laugh at the same time.

By the end of season one, the status quo changes slightly and a new adventure with the ship formerly known as the Watercress starts its continued trek into space.

9/10 Stars