"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're soon arrested as looters and, after a very nice photo session at the police station, duly try to escape. Although their attempt to run away fails rather miserably, the Brigadier is soon handed the files of all captured criminals of the day and fixes the "typical, absolutely typical
" situation as soon as he can. Back with UNIT, the Brigadier explains that the city has been evacuated due to the sudden, random and unexplained appearances of dinosaurs.
But not only is UNIT completely unable to capture a proper dinosaur, Sarah Jane also manages to get herself kidnapped a few times over and, quite suddenly, wakes up from an alleged "cryogenic sleep" on an eco-warrior spaceship headed for planet "New Earth". When she tries to explain to its occupants that the nearest star is four light years away
and they couldn't possibly get there within one generation, they lock her in the propaganda room to cool down. She escapes, naturally, and simply walks out of the "airlock" and up a flight of stairs to rejoin the plot back in London. The whole thing turns out to be 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 rudimentary 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". These are the eco-warriors, who are currently in a mocked-up spaceship in the minister's basement, believing they are on their way to colonise a new world.
To make things even more difficult for Sarah Jane and the Doctor, the head of the army controlling London, General Finch, is involved... as is Captain Mike Yates, who has firmly secured the episode's Idiot Ball
. Once the Brigadier and Sergeant Benton realise that Mike has become a Minion with an F in Evil
to Grover, they allow the Doctor to escape (Benton by allowing a Venusian neck pinch and voluntarily letting the Doctor knock him out cold) and go confront the minister and his lackeys. Also, the Doctor drives Jon Pertwee
's car for a bit, which is the most awesome vehicle in the universe
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, the Doctor uses his Bizarre Alien Biology
to withstand the time reversal and Reverse the Polarity
. Whittaker accidentally transports himself and Grover back to the time of the dinosaurs.
The Brigadier offers Yates the chance to resign quietly.
- Action Girl: Sarah tackles a knife wielding thug and stops him from stabbing the doctor.
- Affably Evil: Charles Grover. So courteous to everyone he meets, all the while planning to Ret Gone the Silurians and nearly all the human race in the name of Gaia.
- Anti-Villain: Yates, Grover and the chosen in Operation Golden Age.
- 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 UNIT 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.
- Faked Rip Van Winkle: This is the way the villains get Sarah out of the way - they knock her out and have her wake up aboard the Fauxtastic Voyage. She realizes it's fake when she realizes she still has a fresh bump on her head.
- Family-Unfriendly Death: There is a short but extremely gory shot of the dead Phillips with half his face ripped off.
- Fauxtastic Voyage: The colonists sincerely believe that they're on their way to a new planet. Apparently they don't have any mathemeticians on board, or someone would question the fact that the trip is only three months long. (Given that the nearest solar system, Alpha Centauri, is four light years away, this would require travelling at sixteen times the speed of light, as Sarah Jane wearily points out).
- This gets Hand Waved by one of the colonists, who mentions some kind of new space drive.
- 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.
- Also used earlier when the Doctor and Lodge, one of the looters, stage a fistfight to distract a guard.
- 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.
- The Igor: Butler.
- Immune to Bullets: All of the dinosaurs, for... some reason. Even grenades don't do anything other than mildly annoy them.
- Improbably Cool Car: Jon Pertwee's futuristic contraption, which fans affectionately named "The Whomobile".
- 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.
- Landmarking the Hidden Base: Operation Golden Age is based under Trafalgar Square.
- The Mole: Three of them.
- Missing Colour 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 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.
- 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.
- Ptero Soarer: The Doctor is attacked by one. It looks more like a muppet than anything else, really.
- Reverse the Polarity
- Right Behind Me
- Somewhere, a Paleontologist Is Crying
- 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.
- Stiff Upper Lip: The Brigadier has no fear. Giant triceratops? Fine, he'll go stand in front of it waving a flare around for a few minutes.
- 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 Phillips' 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 companion 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.