★★ May 23, 1963 Season 4 Episode 18
If you want to see where we are…HERE is a list of the episodes.
This show closed out the 4th season and the one hour long experiment was over. The Bard is my least favorite episode of the entire series. I’ve seen some lists where it’s the bottom or near the bottom. On the other hand, I’ve seen some have it high. It’s a comedy episode that just doesn’t work. One thing that is interesting about this episode is the appearance of Burt Reynolds playing a Marlon Brando character. That added a star in my rating but even Burt couldn’t save this one.
Jack Weston plays Julius Moomer and the character is a no-talent writer who uses black magic to bring William Shakespeare back to write a television program. Even typing it sounds cringe-worthy. The plot had some good elements of a Twilight Zone but Weston’s character is just not likable. It might have worked in a shorter format with a different script.
Some may think this is a hilarious episode…I just never did.
From IMDB: William Shakespeare (John Williams) quotes lines from his plays nine times with a trumpet flourish sounding each time, and most of the time, him telling what play, act, and scene the quote came from. Three from ‘Romeo & Juliet,’ two from ‘Twelfth Night,’ and one each from ‘Troilus and Cressida,’ ‘As You Like It,’ and ‘A Mid-Summer’s Night Dream’, plus a partial one from ‘Hamlet’ (cut short when Shakespeare forgets the end of the “To be or not to be” line.
Cora (Judy Strangis) looks at the book , “Ye Book of Ye Black Art”, Julius (Jack Weston) is using to conjure black magic and refers to him as Faust. In a classic German legend based on Johann Georg Faust, he makes a pact with the devil, exchanging his soul for unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures. The devil sends his representative, Mephistopheles. He makes a bargain with Faust: Mephistopheles will serve Faust with his magic powers for a set number of years, but at the end of the term, the Devil will claim Faust’s soul, and Faust will be eternally enslaved.
Burt Reynolds’s character is clearly an amalgam of Marlon Brando and Paul Newman.
Rod Serling’s Opening Narration:
You’ve just witnessed opportunity, if not knocking, at least scratching plaintively on a closed door. Mr. Julius Moomer, a would-be writer, who if talent came 25 cents a pound, would be worth less than car fare. But, in a moment, Mr. Moomer, through the offices of some black magic, is about to embark on a brand-new career. And although he may never get a writing credit on the Twilight Zone, he’s to become an integral character in it.
Julius Moomer, a talentless, but relentless, self-promoting hack who dreams of becoming a successful television writer, uses a book of magic to summon William Shakespeare to write dramatic teleplays that Moomer will pass off as his own. Shakespeare becomes irritated by Moomer’s lack of appreciation and is even more appalled when he discovers the changes wrought on his plays by cynical television executives.
Rod Serling’s Closing Narration:
Mr. Julius Moomer, a streetcar conductor with delusions of authorship, and if the tale just told seems a little tall, remember a thing called poetic license, and another thing called the Twilight Zone.
Rod Serling … Narrator / Self – Host (uncredited)
Jack Weston … Julius Moomer
John Williams … William Shakespeare
Burt Reynolds … Rocky Rhodes
Henry Lascoe … Gerald Hugo
John McGiver … Mr. Shannon
Howard McNear … Bramhoff
Judy Strangis … Cora
Marge Redmond … Secretary
Doro Merande … Sadie
William Lanteau … Dolan
Clegg Hoyt … Bus driver
John Newton … TV interviewer
John Bose … Daniel Boone (uncredited)
Rudy Bowman … Robert E. Lee (uncredited)