Archive for January 10, 2023

The Death of the Arthur: Hex Calibre

Posted in FILM, literature, Mythology, Television with tags , , , , , , , on January 10, 2023 by dcairns

Happy Valley‘s back, the best BBC show in years and years, so we’re watching that. If you’ve never watched, start at the beginning, you have a treat in store. Sarah Lancashire’s sarcastic cop is a worthy companion to Donald Pleasence’s in DEATHLINE, the highest praise I can muster from a prone position.

Not been watching too much else, but been alternating between Rex Stout, Margery Allingham and Charles Stross. CS is an Edinburgh-based writer I’d like to meet. His Laundry Files series posits a shabby British spy agency designed to deal with transdimensional occult manifestations — so it’s HP Lovecraft’s cosmology filtered through Len Deighton’s view of the bureaucracy of espionage. The books are amusing from the start, and keep getting better. The tone becomes more controlled, the writing gets more skilled, and Bob, our disgruntled operative, gets more appealing.

My own second novel is nearly ready to make its appearance, in Kindle and paperback from, on Amazon. I’ll keep you posted. It was my lockdown project, which may be why it’s so claustrophobic: nearly everything takes place indoors, at night, or at the earth’s core.

And I’ve just belatedly discovered ventriloquist Nina Conti’s own lockdown project, Nina and Monkey’s Bedtime. Don’t attempt to eat while watching this, especially if, like me, you have a cough. I wish I’d known about this during lockdown.

I watched another episode of THE ADVENTURES OF SIR GALAHAD. It still had a couple of funny things in it.

#1 The stolen sword Excalibur is brought to baddie Ulrics tent. Merlin has it placed on a small table and magics it into place, saying it will now be safe from theft. He’s done a basic sword-in-the-stone spell on it, only this time it’s The Sword on the Table. Moments after M and U leave, Galahad lets himself in by slashing one side of the tent open, and tries his heroic best to nick back the sacred sword, but it won’t budge. I thought it would be amusing if he’d then picked up the entire table and carried it off. That’s what I’d do, if I wasn’t flat on my back.

An amusing thing that does happen: Ulric returns to the royal tent, but doesn’t seem to notice the gaping slash Galahad has made in it as a back door.

#2 Galahad gets caught and the baddies tie him to a flimsy pole embedded loosely in the soil, and then set up a massive ballista — one of those giant crossbow things — as his firing squad. I don’t know why the idea of using a siege machine for a solo execution job is so funny, but it is. I’m willing to bet that it never, ever happened. Although one can imagine a bunch of bored soldiers trying it for laughs. It’s very much “sledgehammer to kill a fly” material, but funnier. All while George Reeves stands there, sweating in his woollen chainmail, looking mildly concerned.


Now THAT’S a cliffhanger, And the brief “NEXT INSTALLMENT” montage (is two shots a montage?) doesn’t feature any footage of Galahad, boldly keeping up the pretense that he at least MIGHT be dead, and the next three hours + of THE ADVENTURES OF SIR GALAHAD will have to somehow get along without him.