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What to Watch Between Episodes of ‘Game of Thrones’: ‘Excalibur’

Those scoundrels at HBO just don’t get it, do they? Why do they make us wait a whole seven days for each new episode? Don’t they know if given the chance, we’d take two days off work, binge watch the whole season and plunge the United States economy into a dark pit of inactivity? I guess they figure making us wait builds suspense. I think they might have something there. Did Daredevil enjoy the kind of weekly anticipation Game of Thrones generates once it released?

So this leaves us with a dilemma. What do we do once the end credits roll and we hear that dum-da-da-dum, dum-da-da-dum, dahhh dumb tune start. Well, might I propose a weekly substitution of Game of Thrones type fare?

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This Week’s GOT Pick: Excalibur (1981)

Knowing you’re a Game of Thrones fan, I’m going to make some assumptions about you. I’m going to assume you’re OK with gore, you love interesting exotic characters and you probably like magic and sorcery and absolutely love nudity and explicit sexual content. I know I do. Who doesn’t? Guess what? You’re in luck! I have a movie pick for you.

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John Borman’s classic Excalibur contains all the sex and gore and more you could want. If I were to pitch Excalibur to a movie studio today, I’d probably call it “Game of Thrones in King Arthur’s Court”. If you’re not intrigued yet, have I explained how you get to see Helen Mirren naked? I don’t mean old Helen Mirren naked, either. I mean, young, hot, vivacious Helen Mirren – and she’s naked!

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Do you want to see me naked? Yes, please, says Merlin

The movie uses Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur as its source material, adding in oodles of sex and buckets of blood. The film opens with Merlin retrieving the titular sword from the Lady in the Lake. He gives this to wannabe king, Uther Pendragon, (King Arthur’s dad) and a bloody fight ensues. People are slashing at each other. Limbs are being lopped off. Heads are literally rolling. But Uther misuses the sword’s power and is betrayed and killed. Before Uther dies, he shoves the sword into a solid stone just to really annoy everybody. He declares that only the man who can pull the sword out of the stone again will be the King of England. Nothing like an arbitrary test of kingship. 

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Jump forward in time and here comes happy go lucky Arthur, not even King Arthur at this point. He’s merely a squire for his older brother, Kay. When Kay’s sword is stolen, Arthur thinks he’s a very lucky man upon finding the sword in the stone in the middle of the forest. Easy peasy, he pulls it out. Word quickly spreads of the accomplishment. Merlin reappears, called to the sword and declares Arthur Pendragon’s son, King of England.

Not everybody is happy with this development and Arthur is forced to go to war for those loyal to him. After impressing his enemies, Arthur meets the daughter of one of his loyal subjects, Guinevere. Gwen’s a total hottie, of course, and Arthur promptly falls for her. Merlin recognizes Guinevere is trouble in a dress, but what’s a wizard to say?

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Yes, that IS Patrick Stewart! The sultry lady is Guinevere

Years later, Arthur meets Lancelot and is challenged to a fight. Arthur gladly accepts but is surprised when Lancelot keeps beating him. He summons the power of Excalibur to defeat Lancelot which succeeds, but breaks the sword in the process. Admitting his hubris, Arthur throws Excalibur into a nearby lake which is promptly returned to him by the Lady of the Lake based on a very generous Return Policy.

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Arthur! Did you forget your sword?

The near dead Lancelot is brought back from the brink by Merlin and then earnestly pledges himself to Arthur. Together they build Camelot (it’s a silly place, don’t ask), install their Round Table and their Knights. Arthur eventually marries Guinevere, but it’s clear she has the hots for Lancelot of the good looks and he can’t help but reciprocate her feelings of lust. In order to prevent temptation, Lancelot goes on various knight errands and picks up a few other famous Arthurian knights like Perceval and Gawain (played by a young Liam Neeson and in the possession of a certain set of medieval skills) on his journeys.

After some years, they all return to Camelot where Gawain, under the influence of Arthur’s mystical half-sister, Morgana (Morgan Le Fey), begins to speak of the love that should not be named between Lancelot and Guinevere. Unable to quietly accept such accusations, Lancelot challenges Gawain to a duel. This means certain death for Gawain as Lancelot cannot be beaten. The two fight, but Lancelot is injured, having wounded himself by his own sword (it’s a self-hating sword wound). Still, Lancelot prevails, beats Gawain, clears the Queen’s name then rides out into the forest. This makes Guinevere even hotter for him and she rides out too with lust in her eyes. The couple enjoy a steamy romp in the forest before falling asleep.

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Arthur finds them in the middle of the night. He’s tempted to kill both of them for their transgression but instead thrusts Excalibur into the ground between them. Lancelot awakens, realizes the awful thing his horniness has wrought and announces dramatically, “The king without a sword! The land without a king!”

This stabbing of the earth with Excalibur causes some kind of elemental earthly binding with Merlin, sending him into the ground where Morgana casts a Charm of Making. With Merlin out of the picture, Morgana does her whole sexual magic seduction routine and metamorphoses into Guinevere in order to confuse and seduce Arthur which is really pretty disgusting considering she’s is half-sister. It’s all very Jaime and Cersei Lannister with British teeth.

Morgana bears a child, borne of Arthur, and calls him Mordred. Jump forward two decades and Mordred and his father go to war for the Kingdom. All of the knights of the Round Table are there, including Lancelot who comes back with a hipster beard. The final scenes are one final, glorious, gory-ous, bloody war.

Anyway, Excalibur – it’s a really, really good movie alternative to Game of Thrones while you’re waiting for the next episode. You should go find it on an old DVD or VHS somewhere. Maybe Tower Records.

Don’t forget the positives:

  1. Helen Mirren gets nude
  2. Patrick Stewart is in the movie
  3. Liam Neeson is in the movie
  4. It’s violent
  5. Morgana seduces her half brother Arthur. Gross
  6. Mordred’s armor is AMAZING

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