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"Good grief, it's a triceratops! Look Brigadier, try and keep it occupied while I'm finishing this off, will you?"
The Doctor

The Doctor brings Sarah back to 20th Century London, only to find it deserted. They are soon arrested as looters. Back with UNIT, the Brigadier explains that the city has been evacuated due to the sudden, random and unexplained appearances of dinosaurs.

The Doctor and Sarah discover a conspiracy led by a government minister, Charles Grover, who is using a Mad Scientist, Professor Whittaker, to clear London of people by bringing dinosaurs forward in time. They then plan to use a time machine to return the Earth outside London to a pre-technological age, erasing most of the human race from history so that they can repopulate the planet with eugenically-selected "colonists", who are currently in mocked-up spaceships believing they are on their way to colonise a new world.

The Doctor and Sarah are stymied at every turn as they discover just how high up the conspiracy grows - as well as Grover, the head of the army controlling London, General Finch, is involved, as is Captain Mike Yates, the Brigadier's UNIT subordinate.

The Doctor and the Brigadier raid the underground HQ of the conspiracy, helped when Sarah enlightens the "colonists", who rebel. In a struggle with the Doctor over the controls of the time machine, Whittaker accidentally transports himself and Grover back to the time of the dinosaurs. The Brigadier offers Yates the chance to resign quietly.

Tropes

  • Action Girl: Sarah tackles a knife wielding thug and stops him from stabbing the doctor.
  • Anti-Villain: Yates becomes a Type III on the scale.
    • Not to mention Grover, and the chosen in Operation Golden Age though they're closer to Type IV.
  • Being Evil Sucks: By siding with Operation Golden Age, Yates not only alienates his friends, but also finds himself reluctantly doing things that would harm them.
  • Bring It Back Alive. The Doctor and U.N.I.T. attempt to capture one of the dinosaurs alive.
  • Don't Shoot the Message: The gist of the Doctor's speech at the end.
  • Easily Forgiven: Yates is simply removed from UNIT.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs
  • Evil Luddite: The villains' motivation.
  • Face Heel Turn: Captain Yates.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: There is a short but extremely gory shot of the dead looter with half his face ripped off.
  • Fauxtastic Voyage
  • Five-Bad Band
  • Fridge Brilliance: The last time we saw Mike Yates he'd been Mind Raped by a corrupt industrialist and nursed back to health in a hippie commune. Little wonder he joined Operation Golden Age.
    • The Brigadier is strangely quick to forgive Mike for his betrayal. However, since this is the same man who ordered the total genocide of a sentient, hibernating race (in a story written by the same writer no less) it's easy to see why he would sympathise with Yates's actions.
  • Have You Told Anyone Else?: General Finch to Sarah Jane. She didn't, but she left a note on the desk.
  • Hit Me Dammit: Benton to the Doctor, when Finch orders him to hold the Doctor prisoner.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Sarah gets captured twice through treating first Grover and then Finch as Reasonable Authority Figures without noticing their treachery. Particularly bad the second time, as she's incredibly trusting of Finch at a point when she knows anyone could be potentially in on the conspiracy.
  • Karmic Death: Grover and Whitaker are sent back in time when their device is sabotaged by the Doctor. Best case, they manage to eke out a meagre existence for a few years before falling victim to some disease they won't be able to cure. Worst case, they get dumped right in front of a Tyrannosaurus and rapidly become dino-chow.
  • Missing Episode: This is the most recent Doctor Who story to be in some way incomplete, due to the fact that the master tape of the first episode was for some reason[1] destroyed almost immediately after its original transmission. Fortunately, this was one of the last Doctor Who stories that BBC also made a black and white film copy of, and the first episode survives in that form. For the DVD release, the episode was recoloured using the chroma dot automated colour recovery process, but the results were not 100% effective.
  • The Mole: Three of them.
  • Oh Crap: Sarah Jane, when she realizes she's revealed her findings to someone else in the plan.
  • Pull the Thread: Sarah Jane does this with the Fauxtastic Voyage.
  • Reverse the Polarity
  • Right Behind Me
  • Special Effects Failure: A major example. To say the dinosaurs were crap is a bit of an understatement.
  • Spoiler Title: Aversion: Part One of Doctor Who serial "Invasion of the Dinosaurs" was simply titled "Invasion". However, as always Radio Times printed the full title and spoiled the twist.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Title: The serial's really about Operation Golden Age's schemes. The dinosaurs are secondary to the plot. Malcolm Hulke and Terrance Dicks (writer and script editor receptively) had wanted to name the story Timescoop, but the higher powers vetoed it.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Project Golden Age may not be good guys by any standard but Whitaker probably qualifies as it's strongly implied he's only interested in advancing his research in contrast to his well meaning accomplices, and he's much more willing and quick to use lethal force than they are.
  • Treacherous Advisor: Charles Grover
  • Utopia Justifies the Means/Well-Intentioned Extremist: Operation Golden Age
  • Wham! Episode: The suspenseful tone of the first episode as well as the morally ambiguous villains and the Robber's bloody death heralded the darker tone the series would take in the Robert Holmes era. However, probably the most devastating event in the story is Yates's betrayal, not only marking the first time a regular had outright turned on the Doctor but also shattering the secure, cosy feeling of the UNIT family and heralding the series return to the Doctor's more nomadic lifestyle.
  • The X of Y
  • You Said You Would Let Him Live: The Golden Age nutjobs try to pull this on Yates concerning the Doctor.

Notes

  1. because it's title was simply "Invasion", which shared the name of a Patrick Troughton Cyberman serial "The Invasion", it got junked along with the serial.
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