The Doctor and Evelyn inadvertently interrupt a key moment in history – or so they think – when they meet the parents of Julius Caesar. When Evelyn insists that they jump forward to find out if Caesar really was born via caesarian section, the time travelers think they’ve found evidence that they’ve really changed history. Later, the Doctor and Evelyn encounter Mozart on his 100th birthday, but wind up meeting someone who wishes the great musician had died young, and then go to pay their respects to a former student of Evelyn’s whose father has just died, discovering that something has planted a deadly seed in the family tree. Finally, the Doctor discovers that he has been infected with a genetically-engineered virus by an assassin, and has only 100 days to live – and he and Evelyn proceed to spend those days trying to find the moment in the Doctor’s history when he was infected, and prevent it from happening.
written by Jacqueline Rayner (100 B.C.), Robert Shearman (My Own Private Wolfgang), Joseph Lidster (Bedtime Stories) and Paul Cornell (The 100 Days Of The Doctor)
directed by Nicholas Briggs
music by ERS
Cast: Colin Baker (The Doctor), Maggie Stables (Evelyn Smythe)
- 100 BC: Will Thorp (Gaius Julius Caesar), Lucy Paterson (Aurelia), Susan Brown (Midwife)
- My Own Private Wolfgang: John Sessions (Mozart)
- Bedtime Story: Will Thorp (Jacob), Frank Finlay (Old Jacob), Martha Cope (Talia), Susan Brown (Mary), Lucy Paterson (Julia), Alex Mallinson (Patrick)
- The 100 Days Of The Doctor: Nicholas Briggs (The Assassin)
Notes: 100 was added to Big Finish’s Doctor Who schedule late in the proceedings, replacing a six-part story, Earthstorm by SF novelist Stephen Baxter, which was originally slated to be the 100th release. Earthstorm was suddenly withdrawn from the schedule with no explanation offered, and has yet to be rescheduled for a later release date at the time of this writing.
Timeline: After The Nowhere Place and before Assassin In The Limelight
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: Very much like Circular Time, 100 is a collection of four not-very-linked single-episode adventures for the sixth Doctor and Evelyn, in a slightly self-celebratory vein: 100 is, appropriately enough, Big Finish’s 100th regular monthly Doctor Who audio story. For those expecting a multi-Doctor extravaganza, you do get one, after a fashion, in the fourth episode, but on the whole I was very pleased that the sixth Doctor/Evelyn team landed this plum assignment. With the shortest reign as the Doctor until Paul McGann came along, Colin Baker is the Doctor who was benefitted the most from his work with Big Finish, and here he’s paired with the very first companion created for audio only, Evelyn Smythe (Maggie Stables). This pairing is somehow fitting.
An all-star lineup of writers and even guest stars appears as well, with Jacqueline Rayner contributing the Caesar story, 100 B.C. (an in-joke on 100,000 B.C., which, for reasons I’ve never quite been able to fathom, is what a certain chunk of fandom insists on calling the first TV story, An Unearthly Child). Will Thorp (who played Toby in the TV two-parter The Impossible Planet / The Satan Pit) guest stars as Caesar’s father, and the story itself is a broad comedy of errors, with the two time travelers arguing over whether or not history would have been better off with Caesar as a woman. Rather than spending lots of time on alternate histories and philosophical debates, 100 B.C. gets on with its story, which has to be resolved in under half an hour.
My Own Private Wolfgang, by Robert Shearman (The Holy Terror, Chimes Of Midnight, Dalek, etc.), is interesting in that it starts off with the Doctor and Evelyn already in a changed timeline, working their way back toward history as we know it. The macabre touches typical of a Shearman script are present, and John Sessions (Death Comes To Time) plays every part that isn’t the Doctor or his companion. It’s both funny and deeply disturbing at the same time.
But if Wolfgang is too dark for you, stop there before you get to Bedtime Stories, which seems to start out as a modern day domestic drama and then gets several shades darker by the time it ends. Will Thorp guest stars here as well, though obviously not as a member of the Caesar family. To say much more than that would be to give away many of the story’s surprises.
As much as I liked the Winter segment of Circular Time, which was Paul Cornell Doctor Who metafiction at its finest, The 100 Days Of The Doctor stretches Cornell’s tendecy toward deconstruction Doctor Who too far. I never thought I’d say that, because that’s one of the things I’ve loved about Cornell’s audio and print fiction, but here the conceit is stretched far too thin, and its becomes far too self-referential. We get nods toward other audio-only companions (Erimem and Hex), nods toward Doctor Who: Unbound, nods toward the UNIT and Sarah Jane Smith audio series, nods toward Bernice Summerfield…and it all gets to be a bit much. There’s just too much breaking-down-of-the-fourth-wall in 100 Days for it to be taken very seriously by the end of the proceedings. For once, Cornell’s deconstruction of the myth stuck out like a sore thumb, rather than weaving into the story skillfully like it normally does. Aside from one brief guest voice by Nicholas Briggs at the end, 100 Days is also virtually a two-hander, featuring only Colin Baker and Maggie Stables.
It’s interesting that the CD extras – basically the equivalent of a DVD commentary track/documentary – make mention of 100 having been written, recorded and produced in a hurry, but nobody breathes one word about Earthstorm, the sixth Doctor story that seemed to vanish from the 100th story slot. But increasingly, I like these four-in-one releases. They probably should be kept down to about one a year, but I do like them. The fact that you can get three writers who have gone from Big Finish to the television Who universe and back (Shearman and Cornell have both written for the new Doctor Who, while Joseph Lidster has written for Torchwood) seems to suggest that the writers like them too, to say nothing of the returning cast members. At the time 100 was released, it’d been eight years since Big Finish boarded the TARDIS, and for those reveling in the new TV series, I can’t overstate how big a deal it was for Doctor Who – thought to be a media entity on its way out, and surely not one anybody expected to see return to TV – to return to a performed medium in 1999, rather than a series of novels that had lost cohesion. I think Big Finish has earned the right to celebrate, and at least 3/4 of the time, 100 is a fitting way to mark the occasion.