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Western Animation / The Big Knights

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Before Peppa Pig, there was this.

"The height of two men, the weight of four, the strength of sixteen! Sir Boris, finest swordsman in the World! And his brother, Sir Morris...not the finest swordsman in the world! But the most enthusiastic! And their noble pets, Sir Horace the dog, and Sir Doris the Hamster. The Big Knights!"
The Narrator
The Big Knights

The Big Knights was a 2000/2001 children's BBC series by Neville Astley and Mark Baker about the exploits of two knights doing heroic deeds in a fantasy Kingdom of Borovia. The pilot appeared in December, 1999. The show ran for thirteen ten-minute episodes before being cancelled.

The distant lands of Borovia are threatened by dragons, witches and ogres. It is up to two mighty heroes, Sir Boris and Sir Morris, to ride in and defeat these evil monsters, rescue the Princesses, and restore order to the Kingdom. Unfortunately, these two chivalrous brothers happen to be as stupid as they are strong, resulting in numerous mishaps and extraordinary amounts of collateral damage as they attempt to perform good deeds.

Humour is derived from the setting (Borovia is not actually in The Middle Ages but in the The 20th Century and extremely backwards) and from the various disasters caused by the Big Knights. Oh, and it has BRIAN BLESSED providing the voice of Sir Morris.

The Big Tropes provided by this animated series include:

  • Brawn Hilda: The princess' aunts, Lily and Iris, who are essentially a Distaff Counterpart to the Big Knights, complete with the big unstoppable body-shape.
  • Bedsheet Ladder: Used to escape from the castle of the princesses' aunties. Sir Morris neglects to tie his on to anything.
  • Big Eater: Sir Doris the hamster is this — Sir Boris irately claims it's because she's too stupid to ever realise she's full. There's an episode where she accidentally gets swallowed by a dragon and devours the ridiculously huge amount of food in its belly, forcing it to go rampaging across the kingdom to try and sate itself — but it can't, because Sir Doris eats everything it swallows.
  • Big Fun: Sir Morris and Sir Boris, as you might expect. Aunt Lily and Aunt Iris count too.
  • Blood Knight: The Big Knights don't care much who or why they fight but they sure enjoy it.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Both of the Big Knights.
  • Book Dumb: Sir Morris can't even read.
  • Brick Joke: King Otto continuously jokes about the unlikelihood of a meteorite destroying his brand new hydro-electric dam. The camera keeps cutting away to a meteorite approaching planet earth, with ominous music playing. The meteorite completely misses the dam, but then Sir Morris accidentally launches himself into orbit and falls back down into the side of the dam, destroying it.
  • British Brevity: Only 13 episodes were ever made.
  • Broken Treasure: A precious town clock.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The Big Knights versus pretty much anything is usually this. Except for the troll at the toll bridge, who beats them (or battle until mutual exhaustion). Though they are very good-natured about losing.
    Sir Morris: Can we have another go?
  • Distaff Counterpart: Aunts Lily and Iris. They're at least somewhat smarter than the Big Knights, but otherwise just like them; just as big, just as strong, just as fearless (they grow Man Eating Plants in their garden even bigger than the wild ones seen in the episode), and just as boisterous (when one of the princesses apologies for a quiet burp, one of the Aunts practically blows them both away with a belch to demonstrate what a "real burp" is). They even say some of the exact same things as the Big Knights, such as referring to an absurdly massive spread of food as "just a snack."
  • Distressed Damsel: Princesses Lucy and Louretta. Happens fairly often, apparently.
  • Empathic Environment: Often. It is perpetually stormy in the Land of the Vampires, right up until the Vampires are all destroyed. Then the country becomes a sunny, tourist location.
  • Enhanced on DVD: The studio went above-and-beyond to put out the DVD/Blu Ray, digging the source computer files out of their archives and re-rendering the whole show in high definition, restoring the intended widescreen framing and fixing some animation glitches.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Dragons, Witches, (and Ogres!).
  • Hat of Power: The hats of invisibility.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: if you look closely in the intros of the shows you'll see that both of them get their swords from out of thin air.
  • Honour Before Reason: And common sense.
  • Idiot Hero: Sir Morris especially, Sir Boris to a (slightly) lesser extent.
  • Imperial Storm Trooper Marksmanship Academy: Target practice with catapults.
  • Impoverished Patrician: King Otto
  • Intelligible Unintelligible: The imp from Ethel & The Imp only speaks in incomprehensible screeching, but nobody seems to have any trouble understanding it.
  • Invisible Streaker: The Knights when they don the hat of invisibility.
  • Invisibility Cloak: The hat of invisibility.
  • Just a Stupid Accent: The Borovian populace speak with something that sounds vaguely central European or Mediterranean.
  • Kafka Comedy: Jack Tiny, who gets the blame for every mishap in his community, just because he first noticed the beanstalk cropping up. Also, For the blameless villagers, who are constantly jeopardized by the idiot protagonists.
  • Knight in Shining Armor
  • Knight Templar
  • Lampshade Hanging: It's one of "those very strong doors."
  • Large Ham: It has BRIAN BLESSED in it. The narrator chews plenty of scenery too.
  • Lawful Stupid: Morris signs a contract where an imp will provide breakfast in exchange for dedicating his life to evil, culminating in fighting his brother to the death. Boris is the first to insist this clause be carried out.
  • Mad Scientist: Professor Von Proton.
  • Magic Hat: traffic cones that grant invisibility.
  • Manchild: Sir Morris is extremely naïve, believing fairy tales to be real, or that food simply appears on the plate by magic (instead of being prepared by their housekeeper). He also likes Sir Boris to read him bedtime stories.
  • Man-Eating Plant: They grow wild in some of Borovia's forests, and King Otto's sisters grow them in their garden as well.
  • Meaningful Name: The Big Knights, who live in Castle Big, on the edge of Forest Big.
  • Naked People Are Funny: Their invisibility hats don't hide the Knights' clothes, making them an Invisible Streaker; and on top of this, they have a tendency to tip their hats to people they meet, making them briefly visible and leading to this.
  • Nerd Glasses: Averted (big time, ahah) with Sir Morris.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Occurs every episode.
  • Noodle Incident: The brothers were suspended from the king's court for some incident, evidently caused by Morris.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: How the witches, dragons and ogres disguise themselves to attend the Big Knights' school.
  • Percussive Maintenance: Sir Morris and his philosophy regarding Professor Von Proton's time machine.
  • Perpetual Poverty: The larder is often bare. And what wealth the Big Knights had accumulated, Sir Morris gave away in exchange for a magic bean.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: King Otto begrudgingly attempts to visit his people, open a hydro-electric dam, orders construction of a power plant, and orders acts of espionage to be carried out against the neighbouring country.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: The Big Knights travel to the past to warn themselves not to visit Professor Von Proton's laboratory. On being told, their past selves immediately go and do just that.
  • Schizo Tech: Borovia has 20th century amenities like telephones and television, but the state is still feudal and the army rely on medieval weapons and castles.
  • Smart House: One episode has Castle Big being converted into a smart castle.
  • Strange-Syntax Speaker: Professor von Proton. "Your witless bumblings have the course of the universe distorted!"
  • The Strength of Ten Men: "The height of two men, the weight of four, the strength of sixteen!"
  • Swallowed Whole. Happens to Sir Doris and Sir Morris, courtesy of a hungry dragon.
  • The Pig-Pen: The wizard Zabobon, who wears a filthy robe and is perpetually surrounded by flies.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: All the other knights in King Otto's court are reluctant to anything other than practise genuflection, leaving all the fighting to the Big Knights.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: Whenever the Big Knights are about to throw themselves into combat.
  • Überwald: The Land of the Vampires, at least until Sir Morris garlic-burps all the vampires to ashes.
  • Ultimate Job Security: The Big Knights may cause severe problems (sometimes on a national scale), however they almost always get away with it. This is purely because they happen to be the only people able to rectify the problems they have caused (though not without causing even more damage on the side).
  • Underdogs Never Lose: Averted. The Big Knights always win at sports, much to the irritation of the normal people of Borodzo.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Both of the Big Knights, who are oblivious to the damage they do, and also King Otto, who is pompous, cuts corners for money and does not care about his subjects.
  • Vampires Hate Garlic: After Maurice eats the raw garlic given to them in the hopes of defeating the vampires, he instead takes them out by burping.
  • Vampire Vords: Although everyone else has similarly vague, central European accents.
  • The Von Trope Family: Professor Von Proton.
  • Watch the Paint Job: Possibly the only car in the entire land of Borovia, King Otto's limousine. It is utterly destroyed every time it makes an appearance on the show.
  • Wicked Witch: In The Village Games. Zig-Zagged in that when she first appears, she's shown brewing a bubbling sinister cauldron... which she explains to her cat is vegan soup. When the cat meows at her, she says she knows the vegan version just isn't the same, but you can't get the babies to make it properly nowadays.
  • With Catlike Tread: The Big Knights are not exactly stealthy. This becomes especially apparent when they don the hat of invisibility.
  • Wizard Beard: Zabobon has one.