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 The Destroyer: Pitiful. Can this world do no better than you as their champion?

Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart: Probably. I just do the best I can. [1]

Two great British institutions meet at last, as Doctor Who delves into the King Arthur stories.

The Doctor and Ace follow a signal of some sort to land Twenty Minutes Into the Future, near an archaeological dig somewhere in England. They try to hitch a ride to the dig (the source of the signal) from a UNIT convoy passing through with a nuke [2], but are left in the dust. Fortunately, archaeologist Peter Warmsly, the guy in charge of the dig, is nicer and does give them a lift--though he's just as baffled as they are about the whole UNIT nuke thing. UNIT is equally weirded out by the people claiming to be "the Doctor" and "Liz Shaw" (the only other UNIT pass the Doctor could find), and decides to recall Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart to active duty.

The three of them repair to a watering hole / hotel, where Warmsly bitches about the UNIT hardasses and Ace spends £10 on a lemonade. Meanwhile, someone is performing a magic ritual of some sort that

  1. causes a sword to fly across the room and embed itself into the wall mere inches from Warmsly's alarmed face, and
  2. lets evil witch Morgaine enter our universe.

Then Pat the innkeeper hears his microbrewery go boom, and the crew rushes to investigate, where they find... a knight in armor. Who looks up at the Doctor and goes "Merlin!"

The next day, the Doctor and Ace dragoon Warmsly into taking them down to the dig. There, the Doctor quickly translates a mysterious inscription as "Dig hole here"; which, he says, he knows, because it's in his own handwriting. Then he tells Warmsly to stand guard while he and Ace investigate the hole, which leads to a tunnel, which leads to a spaceship under the lake.

Tropes

  • Actor Allusion: Jean Marsh's character tells Nicholas Courtney's character that the next time they meet, she will kill him, and the story takes place in 1989. Back in The Dalek's Master Plan, which took place in 4000, Jean Marsh's character kills Nicholas Courtney's character.
  • Affirmative Action Legacy: Brigadier Bambera
  • Alternate Universe
  • Battle Couple: Ancelyn and Brigadier Bambera develop into this pretty quickly.
  • Bellum Interruptum: The Doctor halts a battle by simply shouting "STOP!".
  • Casual Kink: Ancelyn asking Bambera if she's single the day after their first meeting involved her beating him up and manacling him.
  • Call Back: Mordred uses the Doctor's own words from The Happiness Patrol against him. "Look me in the eye, end my life."
  • Character Filibuster: Averted. The Doctor's anti-nuke speech originally ran for much longer and was wisely cut down.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The discovery of a war memorial causes Morgaine to halt her army, apparently to pay respect to the dead.
  • Flashed Badge Hijack: the Brig.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar / Gosh Dang It to Heck: Brigadier Bambera's habit of saying "Oh, sh...ame" could arguably count as this. See also the Casual Kink example above.
  • God Save Us From the Queen: Queen Morgaine, naturally.
  • Have We Met Yet?: Morgaine has met the Doctor before, but this is the first time the Doctor has met Morgaine. That goes double for Ancelyn.
  • Large Ham: Pretty much everybody from the Arthurian universe.
  • Meaningful Name: Winifred -> Guinevere. Ancelyn -> Lancelot.
  • More Expendable Than You: The Brigadier says this word for word when he takes the Doctor's weapon by force and goes to face the Big Bad.
  • Not Herself: Under Morgaine's Hate Plague spell, Ace actually spews a racial slur. That is how she realizes she and her friend are being played against each other.
  • One Word Title
  • Open Says Me: An unusually literal example.
  • Pet the Dog: Morgaine cures Elizabeth's blindness. Admittedly it was because Mordred had drunk a whole of alcohol and she probably felt obligated to pay them somehow, but restoring someone's sight is a damn sight better than some of the ways you could repay them when you're an evil witch.
    • On the other hand, it comes right after a Kick the Dog moment where Morgaine kills and disintegrates Lt. Laval (who was already badly hurt in the helicopter crash), just so that she can absorb Laval's mind and find out more about the situation.
  • Pin Pulling Teeth: One of Morgaine's knights.
  • Ridiculous Future Inflation: Lemonade still does not cost £10, thankfully.
  • Slap Slap Kiss: Ancelyn and Brigadier Bambera's relationship.
  • Sleep Cute: Ancelyn and Bambera
  • Spikes of Villainy: The evil knights have spiky decorations on their armor; the heroic Ancelyn doesn't. (This does help in keeping track of who's who when they're fighting with their visors down.)
  • Sword Over Head
  • Take the Wheel: With the added detail that the passenger is from an alternate universe where they don't have cars, and the driver takes the time to confirm that this is the case before telling him to take the wheel anyway.
  • This Is No Time to Panic: The Doctor, at the end of Episode 2. A few seconds later, he adds: "Now we panic!"
  • This Is Sparta: "THERE. WILL. BE. NO BATTLE HERE!!!"
  • A Truce While We Gawk: There's a moment in Mordred and Ancelyn's final duel where they break apart for a moment -- and the Doctor walks right between them, casually tipping his hat as he passes, on his way to his own final confrontation with Morgaine. Mordred and Ancelyn stare after him for a moment before remembering that they were in the middle of fighting to the death.
  • Twenty Minutes Into the Future: The novelisation established the date as mid-1997.
  • Volleying Insults: Ancelyn and Mordred:

 Ancelyn: Is your army not enough to give you courage?

Mordred: Courage? To face you, Ancelyn, who fled the field at Camlann? Ancelyn the Craven I call you!

Ancelyn: What care I for the words of a half-man, who cowers at a woman's wrath?

Notes

  1. Was supposed to be his Famous Last Words, but the writer wimped out.
  2. Not ones to learn from experience, are they?
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