Saturday, November 24, 2012

Adventures of Sir Galahad – Chapter 13: The Wizard’s Vengeance


OUR STORY SO FAR: Apprentice ka-niggit Galahad (George Reeves) has been waging a virtual one-man battle against the forces of evildom for the past twelve weeks here on Serial Saturdays in his endless quest to recover Excalibur, the sacredly invisible sword belonging to Arthur, King of the Britons (Nelson Leigh).  Gallie lost Excalibur during the ka-niggithood initiation, which required him to spend a night in the Sword Room guarding the weapon.  A little Sominex slipped into his wine soon allowed a mysterious personage known as The Black Knight (voiced by Paul Frees) to make off with the sword, and Excalibur fell into his hands of Saxon king Ulrich (John Merton), who has plans to replace Arthur with a better-looking monarch…namely himself.

But because of this serial’s indeterminable length, complications have arisen.  Ulric’s chamberlain, the perfidious Bartog (Don C. Harvey), has switched allegiance from his king to The Black Knight in his determination to dethrone Arthur…even to the point of allying himself with a band of rebels headed up by the outlaw Cawker (Pierce Lyden).  Last week, Cawker, Bartog and The Black Knight put the snatch on Queen Guinevere (Marjorie Stapp) and her entourage…and when Galahad and his comic relief sidekick Sir Bors (Charles King) relay this news to Arthur, the king goes out after Guinevere with a rescue party, leaving our heroes at the mercy of Sir Modred (Leonard Penn)—suspected by Galahad to be in actuality The Black Knight.  Black Knight or no, Modred is certainly in the running for the chapter play’s Wanker Award since he’s about to crush Gal with a gi-normous spiked iron ball…


…but Modred makes that one fatal mistake so common to movie villains—he has failed to reckon with Bors, whom he left behind in Arthur’s assembly room after Borsie promised to play nice.  It takes but mere seconds for Bors to free his pal Galahad…


…who, in this amusing screen capture, hadn’t completely freed himself from the table to which he was tied, so Reeves’ stuntman winds up getting a few boo-boo’s.  Having temporarily dispatched their captors, Galahad and Bors shut the door to the Spiked Iron Ball Room behind them, and make tracks for the entrance to the dungeon’s secret passageway.


Modred and the Captain of the Guard (Al Ferguson) eventually end up busting down the door, and take off after our heroes.  But when they reach the secret entrance, Modred suddenly has an idea: “We may be able to trap them in the passage…you go to the entrance in the sword room…send guards to the exit beyond the walls.”

Okay, there’s kind of a problem here.  In Chapter 1, when it’s discovered that Excalibur has vanished and Galahad is being set up to take the fall, Galahad’s explanation of seeing a mysterious knight disappearing “through yonder wall” is dismissed as “silly pap.”  But by this time in the serial, apparently everyone, including the guards, has been clued into this passageway stuff.  Except the guy who owns the place, King Arthur.  They had tighter security during the Lee Harvey Oswald transfer.

Well, let’s get back to the story.  Inside the passageway, Galahad wonders out loud what’s keeping Modred and his goons.

GALAHAD: There’s no one following us, Sir Bors…why?
BORS: So much the better…let’s hasten out of here so we can join Arthur and search for the Queen…
GALAHAD: I still can’t prove that Modred’s The Black Knight…but his eagerness to get me out of the way proves he’s no friend
BORS: Well, let’s be moving…before they seal the exit…

Maybe you two should have thought about that before ruminating on why Modred is such a tool.  Because guards are soon posted in the Sword Room…


…and a pair of bowmen enters the passageway from the outside wall.  “This game is not to my liking,” observes Bors.  “Where to now?”

“Back to the dungeon,” advises Galahad.  “Maybe they won’t look for us there.”

Bzzzt!  Wrong answer, hero boy.  Modred and the Captain of the Guard have already entered the passageway the same way you did, and you and the fat guy are trapped like rodential sewer dwellers.

GALAHAD: Well…where do we go now?
BORS: I’m trying to remember something about this place…
GALAHAD: Oh, fine…this is a great time to lose your memory…

“Um…do you remember that guy who kept you from being crushed by the big spiked iron ball?  You do?  Then here…have a piece of STFU gum.”  No, the writers of this serial have to resort to a bit of laziness because just as if it looks like Galahad and Bors are going to die from painful arrow wounds (though there is an amusing bit in which the bowmen accidentally start shooting at Modred), Bors remembers that there’s a fourth way out of the passageway.  And that’s how he and Galahad escape.

Outside, Galahad and Bors are at the walls of Camelot when they observe Bartog riding in like he owned the jernt.  “You’d think Bartog was an honored guest, the free way he rides in,” cracks Bors.


“Perhaps he is,” Galahad replies, because by now the two of them can see that The Black Knight has exited the entrance of Camelot to shake hands with his friend.

BORS: The Black Knight at Camelot!  Now we must find Arthur!
GALAHAD: There’s one thing more important to Arthur than his palace or his sword…Guinevere, his Queen…and Bartog knows where she is…
BORS: But we can’t storm the palace and wring the words out of him…
GALAHAD: We can follow when he leaves… (As Bartog and B.K. go inside) We can reach the horses all right…but to manage that main gate…I don’t think that gateman will be as blind to us as he was to Bartog…
BORS (pulling a small pouch from his belt): I have something here that will film his eyes…
GALAHAD: Good!  Come on…

Inside Camelot, Bartog is made to feel at home as Martha the Wench pours him a generous helping of wine at a table at which The Black Knight sits opposite.

BARTOG: You’ve done well, Sir Knight…and I have helped you…I’ve risked my neck, and betrayed my sovereign—Ulric of the Saxons…
BLACK KNIGHT: If it’s gratitude you’re fishing for, you have mine…
BARTOG: Thanks for that…but I have bigger fish in mind…for my aid, you made promises…a position of high honor…and all the lands and titles of Sir Lancelot…
BLACK KNIGHT: I’m still bound by the promise…but the time’s too early, Bartog…
BARTOG: How can that be?  You’re here in Camelot…you drink Arthur’s wine…you have his sword Excalibur…and you hold his Queen a hostage…the time is right, my Lord…overripe, I’d say…
BLACK KNIGHT: You forget…Arthur himself lives

As does Sir Lancelot (Hugh Prosser).  You might want to take care of him before you start having your mail forwarded to those lands of his.

BLACK KNIGHT: …so as long as he does, neither his sword nor his Queen nor his castle can make me true king of Britain
BARTOG: And if I should stop his living?  What then?
BLACK KNIGHT: All the conditions of my promise will be straightly fulfilled…
BARTOG: Then I have not long to wait…the plan for Arthur’s destruction is already in my mind…

Bartog then takes his leave of the Knight…disappointingly, we do not get a “Dun dun DUN!” on the soundtrack.  But we do witness Bartog furiously riding off, and as he zips past familiar scenery on horseback, Galahad and Bors soon give chase.  There is riding and riding and more riding, until Bartog finally has enough of this and he temporary stops at a wooded glen before continuing on his way.  But Galahad and Bors stupidly ride down an incline in the glen, thinking that Bartog went that way even though a lack of hoof prints would dictate he went in the opposite direction.


GALAHAD: Huh…that was a neat trick of Bartog’s…he must have been very amused at our thick headedness…

I’d be disappointed if he didn’t fall off his horse laughing at you two dimwits because—what trick?  You’re the two dillweeds who rode down in there despite all evidence to the contrary.

BORS: He’ll wish his head were thick if I ever catch him…but I fear it won’t be soon…
GALAHAD: There’s nothing to do now but to find Arthur…

So with a scene dissolve, we find Bartog riding back into the outlaw’s camp.

BARTOG: Cawker!  Gather your men!  Prepare to ambush atop Grey Cliff!  King Arthur himself will be in the net…
CAWKER: What will His Majesty be doing, following you into a trap?
BARTOG: With Guinevere the bait?  Seems likely…be ready in two hours!  I ride to Ram’s Head Inn!

“Prepare for combat!” barks out Cawker to his men as Bartog rides off—and he doesn’t mean the Vic Morrow-Rick Jason TV show, either.  Another dissolve later, and Bartog is dismounting his steed at the Ram’s Head…but is stopped by Sir Gawain (Rick Vallin) as he attempts to enter.

GAWAIN: It is Bartog, the Saxon traitor!  Your crimes must be overtaking you if you seek shelter here…
BARTOG: I seek King Arthur…
GAWAIN: For what reason?
BARTOG: To tell him where he may find his Queen…
GAWAIN: Come with me…

The two men go inside, where King Arthur and Sir Kay (Jim Diehl) are seated at one of the tavern tables, apparently enjoying glasses of chardonnay.  Arthur asks Gawain, “Where did you find this jackal?”—which made me laugh-out-loud.


GAWAIN: Outside, Sire…he claims to know where the Queen is being held…
ARTHUR (rising from his chair): I know there’s a price involved…name it…
BARTOG: Amnesty for my crimes…refuge under your protection…
ARTHUR: Then you’ve quarreled with Ulric…
BARTOG: Worse than that…with The Black Knight, too…

A wise ruler would immediately surmise that Bartog does not work or play well with others, and would avoid an alliance with him like scarlet fever.  Arthur is not that monarch.

ARTHUR: Your conditions are granted…where is the Queen?
BARTOG: I’ll lead you to her…you take only two knights as escorts…
KAY: Sire…I implore you…
ARTHUR: Let us go, then…

Usually Sir Kay is little more than a plonker in these situations…but he can clearly see that he can no more trust Bartog than he can throw him.  But Little Arthur is doing the thinking of Big Arthur, and so the King orders Kay to hold the fort at the Ram’s Head while he, Gawain and a knight identified only as “Sir Hector” go with their new pal Bartog.


Meanwhile, Galahad and Bors are riding around out in the middle of nowhere, which prompts Galahad to remark: “This has been a fruitless venture.”

“We can lose our enemies but we can’t find our friends,” Bors tosses off in a philosophical fashion.  And then he spots a wisp of smoke in the distance, which suggests that someone is not doing all they could to prevent forest fires.


“I think this is no ordinary one,” mutters Galahad when Bors asks if fires start themselves.  Sure as you’re born, the wisp of smoke becomes a cloud of same…and viola!  It is none other than Merlin (William Fawcett) himself!


MERLIN: You are right, Galahad!  But it is no ordinary thing that causes me to appear…King Arthur rides headlong toward an ambush!
BORS: Where will the ambush be?
MERLIN: At the top of Grey Cliff…but you must have help…Sir Kay and most of Arthur’s knights are at the Ram’s Head Inn…
GALAHAD: So you’re on Arthur’s side now, huh, Merlin?
MERLIN: I have never been elsewhere

“Yeah, all those times I’ve been f**king with you in this serial…I was only kidding.  I’m a kidder.”

MERLIN: …but this is no time for explanations…

“Because the writers aren’t that far enough along yet.”  Merlin orders our heroes to ride, and as they comply with his request…whammo!  He disappears in his usual smoky fashion.

So let’s stop and consider this situation.  Would it not have been easier for Merlin to go back with Galahad and Bors to the Ram’s Head, to give their story a little additional credence?  Of course it would.  But we’ve got two chapters left, and as I have said on so many occasions—writers be lazy!  Observe:


GALAHAD: Sir Kay…the message is not mine—it comes from the magician Merlin!  I beg of you to ride with us!
KAY: I wanted to ride with the King…but Bartog swore it would endanger the Queen…

Oh, so that’s why he’s refusing to go.  “I wanted to ride with the King, but Bartog is his favorite now…”

GALAHAD: You realize the King himself is in dire peril?
KAY: Oh, I think that not likely…

“And besides…it’s a cliffhanger—what can you do?”

KAY: …our King is a man of great resourcefulness, and not likely to ride into a trap…besides, I doubt he would relish my interference

“And also, too: the wine is cold and delicious…plus I just ordered a Blooming Onion.  So stop harshing my mellow.”

GALAHAD: Does all that mean that you refuse to ride with us?!!
KAY: It means that I believe you no sooner than Bartog, and I believe him not at all!  It’s too late to mend Arthur’s fate, and I’ll not risk my force on a wild goose chase!
GALAHAD: Very well, then—we’ll go alone!
KAY: No you won’t!


Kay gives the other ka-niggits the signal to stop Galahad and Bors, but our heroes easily outwit these guys (Galahad—or I should say his stuntman—grabs an overhead beam and kicks at the knights, knocking them down) and haul ass out of the Ram’s Head.  They mount their steeds and ride off in the direction of Grey Cliff.  At the location, Bartog, Arthur, Gawain and Hector have already arrived…the four men dismount and begin to walk toward the cliff as Cawker and the other rebels move swiftly toward their date with destiny.


ARTHUR: Bartog…I like not this tiptoeing about…why can we not ride in, like knights?
BARTOG: There are good reasons…but if you doubt me…
ARTHUR (after a pause): Lead on…

Actually, there are about ten to twenty good reasons, and they’re all racing toward the spot where they’re going to dry gulch Arthur and his ka-niggits.  (As are Galahad and Bors, who can be seen rushing through the hills to catch up with their King.)  “How much farther must we go?” Arthur asks again after they’ve traveled a little way.  “Hardly any, Sire,” responds Bartog, barely suppressing his dickishness.

As the outlaws descend from the hills and Bartog whips around to face Arthur with his sword drawn, the King shouts: “You’ll pay for this treachery!”  Art…seriously, dude.  You act surprised that Bartog has dicked you over.  (“Boy…I did not see this coming!”)  And…where the hell is Merlin, anyway?  It’s not like he didn’t know about all this.  Artie—if you do manage to get out of this mess I would seriously think about hiring a new court advisor who can also pull a rabbit out of his hat.  (Though Merlin’s participation might violate the Official Rules of Major League Swordplay—I’ll have to get with Chris Vosburg on this later.)

Well, as is so often the case when the swordlery breaks out—a bunch of guys stand around and hit one another with swords in the same fashion as we used to do as kids, and it’s kind of hard to delineate just who is who.  But soon it becomes apparent that after sucker punching Galahad, Cawker runs off into a wooded area, followed by Galahad…and the two of them start to tussle with daggers while perched on a large rock:


Suddenly, the same archers who couldn’t hit Galahad with an arrow throughout this serial even if he was standing in front of them manage to hit him during the fracas between him and Cawker…


…from this angle it does look as if Galahad has been hit…


…but from this angle it’s readily apparent that Cawker is the victim (or his stuntman, anyway)…


Oh, well.  Take us home, Knox baby!

MANNING: Why does The Black Knight rescue the treacherous Bartog?


That…is a damn good question, my friend.

MANNING: Who is trapped behind this curtain?


Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!

6 comments:

Chris Vosburg said...

GALAHAD: So you’re on Arthur’s side now, huh, Merlin?
MERLIN: I have never been elsewhere…


Yeah, buddy, then why didn't you simply cut out the middleman here, and beat Bartog to the punch by wising up Arthur to Bartog's little scheme by appearing to him in a cloud of secondhand smoke at the Ram's Head?

I agree, Ivan-- it looks like Merlin is mostly just into amusing himself by making the silly ka-niggets jump through hoops, and is laughing himself silly when they go scurrying off into yet another trap.

On the other hand, maybe smoking is not permitted at the Ram's Head, and let's face it-- when you're out of smoke, you're out of Merlin.

Chris Vosburg said...

Having smote a mighty buffet upon mine own helm (a forehead slap, in other words) I note that the episode is actually titled "The Wizard's Vengeance".

Vengeance? What vengeance [laughing]? Upon whom, exactly?

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

I note that the episode is actually titled "The Wizard's Vengeance".

Vengeance? What vengeance [laughing]? Upon whom, exactly?


I'm starting to think it's upon me, since I agreed to do this serial.

On the other hand, maybe smoking is not permitted at the Ram's Head, and let's face it-- when you're out of smoke, you're out of Merlin.

...and after my Mom performed a quick Heimlich to remove the turkey sandwich, I was fine!

Chris Vosburg said...

I think, Ivan, this may be why MST3K abandoned the serials (Commando Cody, Undersea Kingdom, Phantom Creeps, etc): because it was just too tough a slog, and it was giving them a headache.

That said, I nominate as write-in candidate for the next serial to tackle:

Flash Gordon's Trip To Mars.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

That said, I nominate as write-in candidate for the next serial to tackle:

Flash Gordon's Trip To Mars.


Even if I could access my copy (storage building) I'm not sure I could do this one. It's the weakest of the Gordons; I just remember breathing a sigh of relief when it was over.

Ironically, it was the third Gordon serial that gave me the cliffhanger habit: Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe.

Chris Vosburg said...

I've said elsewhere that I got a kick out of the Flash Gordon serials because of one enduring sidelight of them all: whenever he meets a denizen of another planet, he introduces himself as "Flash Gordon," and then they call invariably him "Earthman" to his face.

It's like

Flash: Hello, I'm Flash Gordon.
Alien: Greetings, Earthman.
Flash, No, my name is Flash Gordon.
Alien: Yes, it is, Earthman, what's your point?
Flash: I'm just saying, call me Flash.
Alien: Sure, whatever you say-- Earthman.
Flash: Flash! Flash Gordon!
Alien: Sorry, Earthman?
Flash: Third Base!