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Series / Covington Cross

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"How many times have I told you, NOT in the castle!"
Sir Thomas Grey, Lord of Covington Cross Castle, Knight of the Realm and irate parent

This short-lived British-American adventure series, which aired on ABC in 1992, followed the lives, loves and deadly feuds of the Grey family of Covington Cross, England circa 1392.

The head of the family is the beleaguered Sir Thomas Grey (Nigel Terry), who is called upon to deal with his children: Armus (Tim Killick), the eldest son who has abjured knighthood in favor of cooking — and eating; Richard (Jonathan Firth), the impetuous, impulsive second son; Cedric (Glenn Quinn), destined for the Church but a terror with the ladies; and Eleanor (Ione Skye), the fiery redhead daughter who'd rather be one of the boys. There is also a fourth son, William (Ben Porter), who departs for the wars after the pilot; and Lady Elizabeth (Cheri Lunghi), Sir Thomas' continuing love interest from the castle next over.

Sometimes referred to in the Society for Creative Anachronism as "Beverly Hills 902 A.D.", and any resemblance to actual 14th-century England is purely coincidental – but what the heck!

Tropes seen in this series:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Invoked by the Mother Superior at a local convent. Suspicious that Cedric is faking his injury to seduce her convent girls, the old lady plays at being a Dirty Old Woman and loudly invites him to bed her. He's on his feet and out the window pretty quickly after that.
  • Action Girl: Eleanor, who hardly ever wears dresses, totes around a crossbow wherever she goes, and is often seen practicing swordplay in the yard.
  • Arch-Enemy: The Greys are constantly feuding with John Mullens, their neighbor. There's plenty to feud about since he has designs on Thomas's estate, his son was killed by Eleanor, and Cedric romantically pursues his daughter Alexandra.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: A platonic example amidst the Grey family. The siblings squabble like there's no tomorrow and their father complains constantly about how insufferable they are — but it's obvious they all adore each other, and always have each other's backs.
  • Break Out the Museum Piece: When a bunch of nobles are held hostage, the Grey family has to save the day using weapons from the Duke of Arundel's private collection. Two-hundred-year-old weapons are still museum pieces, even in the middle ages!
  • Brief Accent Imitation: Eleonor pretends to be Genevieve by attempting a French accent to get their carriage let into Mullens's castle in the pilot. Her brothers remark that it's the worst attempt at an accent they've ever heard.
  • Cartwright Curse: Any girl who gets involved with a Grey boy will not outlast the episode, nor will any boy attracted to Eleanor.
  • The Casanova: Cedric is really not suited to the Church.note 
  • Chekhov's Lecture: In the pilot, Cedric is being taught about the fall of Troy. Although he ignores the lesson, the friar reminds him of it later when they need a plan to sneak into Mullens's castle.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Eleonor's proficiency with the crossbow, established in the pilot, comes back into play when Henry tries to stab her father in the back after their duel.
  • December–December Romance: By today's standards, Thomas and Elizabeth are only just edging past middle-age; in the time in which they live, they would definitely be considered to share a late-in-life romance.
  • Dreadful Musician: Judging by her brothers' faces, Eleanor is this when she takes it upon herself to learn the harpsichord.
  • Face Palm: Sir Thomas too many times to list.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: Obviously.
  • Fiery Redhead: Eleanor is the only redhead in the family and boy is she fiery.
  • Flynning: And how! The opening sequence of the pilot is a spectacular and no doubt horribly inaccurate swordfight between two fully armored knights ended by Sir Thomas' outraged: "How many times have I told you NOT in the castle!"
  • Food Fight: The Covington kids get into these all the time.
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: What's most bewildering about Mullens's hatred of the Greys is that after his only son dies at Eleanor's hands in the pilot episode, it's never brought up again!
  • Gentle Giant: Armus, who'd rather cook than fight but is darn good at both.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Armus falls in love with a young woman and convinces Richard to romance her on his behalf. Unfortunately, the woman in question prefers Richard's advances, and after being furious at his brother for a little while, he arranges it so the two of them can meet in private and confess their love for each other.
  • Meta Casting: This isn't the first, or even the most famous, time that Nigel Terry and Cheri Lunghi have played a noble couple in a Medieval period piece.
  • The Middle Ages: Originally intended to be set in the 1300s, they decided it wasn't important to stick to a specific time period and just went with a generic medieval setting.
  • Morality Pet: Mullens truly loves his daughter Alexandra, enough that he doesn't want her to know just how terrible he really is.
  • Not Me This Time: When a furious father bursts into Covington Cross and accuses Thomas's "scheming, lecherous son" of seducing his daughter, Thomas's first reaction is to yell: "CEDRIC!" Turns out it wasn't Cedric that time.
  • Only Sane Man: Sir Thomas again.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping:
    • Eleonor is the only one played by an American (although her actress was born in Britain) and her accent slips through on occasion.
    • Glenn Quinn's Irish accent slips through occasionally too.
  • Parental Favoritism: Thomas is a good father to all his children, but Cedric and Eleanor are clearly his favorites: the former because he's the most like his late wife, and the latter because she's Daddy's Girl.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: Sir Thomas and his late wife Anne were arranged, and didn't even know each other beforehand, but were very much in love.
  • Proper Lady: Elizabeth, from head to toes. She's never not gracious, elegant and calm.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Thomas commands the respect of his children and household staff by being firm, just and gentle. Lady Elizabeth has a good head on her shoulders too.
  • Rebellious Princess: Eleanor. Not strictly a princess, but a noblewoman who hates the gender expectations laid upon her, and is largely indulged by her father.
  • Rebuilt Pedestal: Eleonor is initially horrified that her father would basically sell her into marriage to a horrible man like Henry. Her respect for him is rebuilt when he breaks the engagement and agrees to face Henry in a duel to the death, even offering to marry Henry after all to spare him.
  • Romancing the Widow: Thomas to Elizabeth, who has apparently already had three husbands. And technically she's romancing the widower since Thomas has a late spouse of his own.
  • Silver Fox: Thomas, played by the handsome Nigel Terry, is pursued romantically by Elizabeth and is still considered attractive.
  • So Proud of You: Thomas to his children, and they to him practically Once per Episode.
  • The Three Faces of Eve: In the pilot episode, there's Eleonor as the Bratty Teenage Daughter (Child), Elizabeth as the voice of reason (Wife) and Genevieve who turns out to be a Femme Fatale (Seductress).
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Unusual example in that it is a generational contrast instead of one between peers. Eleanor is the young tomboy, while Elizabeth is the older girly girl. Thomas futilely hopes she'll pass some of her femininity onto his headstrong daughter.