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Reviews & Ratings for
"The Twilight Zone" The Bard (1963)

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20 out of 33 people found the following review useful:

This one single-handedly killed the hour-long format!!

Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
11 June 2010

I don't think it's any coincidence that this was the last of the hour-long episodes of "The Twilight Zone"--an experiment tested in the fourth season. While some of the episodes this season were poor, there were some gems as well. Sadly, "The Bard" is as far from being a gem as you can find. In fact, I suspect that this episode was saved for last because the producers knew darn well it was a bad show. But, since at this point they knew the series would return to its original half-hour format, "The Bard" couldn't do that much harm! Frankly, I think they should have just kept this turkey on the shelf!

Jack Weston plays Julius Moomer--the world's worst writer. You see him in an agents office pitching one horrible idea after another--all devoid of originality and consisting of nothing but clichés. Later, he discovers a book of magic (or, rather, it discovers him) and uses it to eventually bring William Shakespeare to the present to write for him! While this very, very goofy idea isn't that a bad basis for the show in a comedy anthology, how Moomer is played is just excruciating and the show just isn't appropriate to "The Twilight Zone". Part of it must be blamed on bad writing, part on Weston's over-acting and part on the show's director who did nothing to encourage a realistic portrayal. Simply put, a slightly more subdued performance would have helped immensely--as the show has all the subtlety of a 2x4 upside your head!! My wife and I sat in pure agony watching this mess of a portrayal. And, if it WAS to be on "The Twilight Zone", it should have been dramatically changed in tone.

Weston's over-the-top characterization isn't helped by the sensibilities throughout the show. When odd things happen, there are comical sound effects as well as silly music--like this show was scored by some vaudeville stage hands and band! It tended to telegraph everything and removed any possibility of subtlety or style. And, the fact that many of the people in the show are caricatures sinks the entire production.

Painful, unfunny and awful. There just isn't much to recommend this bilious mess. And, incidentally, the other two reviews for this show (so far) both gave it a 10. Wow.

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15 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

One of the funnier entries in the series

Author: (chuck-reilly) from Los Angeles
18 October 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Failing playwright Julius Moomer (Jack Weston) conjures up the spirit of Shakespeare (John Williams) to appear in the present in his former earthly form. The bewildered Bard reluctantly agrees to write plays for the inept Moomer who quickly sends them (under his own name) to Broadway Producers. Soon, Moomer is the toast of the town and getting rich in the process. Alas, his fame and fortune are short-lived when he mistakenly invites the Bard to see the production of one of his plays in-person. Naturally, Shakespeare is taken aback by the Method acting he witnesses, and particularly by the artificial performance of one Rocky Roads (a young Burt Reynolds). Method-acting Rocky needs "motivation" for one scene and can't seem to find it---until the Bard provides it for him by sending him flying through a wall with a punch to the nose.

Moomer is forced to return the indignant Bard back into the past. But he's far from finished, however, as he now conjures up Lincoln, Washington, Napoleon...etc. etc. for more creative work.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

The most lamentable comedy and most cruel death of series 4

Author: darrenpearce111 from Ireland
15 November 2013

For Shakespeare it was Peter Quince. For Serling it was Julius Moomer (Jack Weston). Both great writers conceived of a world's worst writer. Somehow for Shakespeare the idea worked better. The Bard is full of bad jokes. It could have worked much better, especially with Shakespeare (John Williams) up against the shallowness of commercial sponsorship in the form of a pompous businessman (John McGiver). That theme was really close to Rod Serling's heart as a TV writer. Unfortunately, the feckless protagonists in the Zone like Moomer were too often without any redeeming charm (a rare exception would be Andy Devine's Frisby).

'The Bard' is a curate's egg worth having a look at for Burt Reynolds as method actor Rocky Rhodes (appearing about 35 minutes in).

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

This Rough Magic I Here Abjure.

Author: Robert J. Maxwell ( from Deming, New Mexico, USA
15 February 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Jack Weston, a failed writer, brings back Shakespeare by means of black magic and sells Shakespeare's work as a television series. The suits change everything in the play around so that, for instance, a balcony scene turns into a subway encounter. Shakespeare shows up at a rehearsal, watches speechlessly as his work is debauched, and storms out.

It's entertaining enough but has its weaknesses. Among the chuckles is Weston's ignorance: Weston keeps pestering his agent, trying to sell tired scripts, but he's an ex streetcar conductor who knows nothing about writing or literature. If a sign in a bookstore offers a first edition of Keats, he asks the saleslady for "a Keat." As for Njinsky, "Sure Njinsky was a great dancer but who remembers her last picture?" John Williams will be a familiar face to fans of 1950s movies. He was usually a detective or a lawyer. Here, he's The Bard, strutting around in 16th-century costume, full of himself, always quoting his own work. "Blow, blow, thou winter wind," and, "Her beauty hangs upon the cheek of night like a rich jewel in an Ethiope's ear," and on and on, until he gets to, "To be or not to be --" Then he stops, scowls with frustration and stalks off because he's forgotten the rest.

The cast list is studded with the names of famous actors or character actors. Among the best is Burt Reynolds as a Marlon Brando clone. As an actor in Shakespeare's mangled play, he's disheveled. He mumbles and wears a sweatshirt. He asks incisive questions like, "What's my tertiary motivation? Y'know, why do I walk through this door at this PARTICULAR time?" Williams clips Reynolds on the jaw and disappears.

The plot, enjoyable as it is, has a few kinks. First, a couple of time-consuming scenes could easily have been cut and pepped up the tempo. I'm thinking of the extended opening in which Weston importunes his agent. We get the picture long before the scene ends. And there is at least a full minute given to Weston strutting around his apartment describing what a big man he's about to become, while Williams regards him with disgust.

Finally, it's impossible to believe that Weston's agent or sponsors would find Shakespeare's words in any way appealing, no matter how they were revised. One of the network's suits objects to lines like, "He produced a pince-nez box and, anon, gave it to his nose, then took't away." The line itself is a near-perfect parody and is funny as hell -- but if you were the owner of Shannon's Soups would you pay for a series based on lines like that?

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

The Hack

Author: AaronCapenBanner from North America
4 November 2014

Last broadcast episode of the fourth season stars Jack Weston as Julius Moomer, a talentless hack TV writer who wont stop bothering his agent for jobs, so to get him out of the office, promises him a script if he can devise something worthwhile out of a black magic pilot. Sold on the idea, Julius finds a real book on black magic and somehow conjures up the spirit of William Shakespeare(played by John Williams) who is not impressed by modern Hollywood or Moomer, though he does have ideas... Dud episode is among the worst, featuring forced and unfunny comedy, a most silly ending, and Weston hamming it up with more relish than mustard...

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Jack Weston is Pretty Good but So Passe

Author: Hitchcoc from United States
17 April 2014

This was probably more accessible in the 1960's. Jack Weston plays an overbearing man who was once a streetcar conductor and who fancies himself a screenwriter. He has had numerous failed efforts to get the execs to look at his sad, trite imaginings for television series. He has all the lines that were appropriate for the job at the time, but he is an idiot. He talks his agent into allowing him to submit a script for a show based on black magic. Of course, he has no idea what to do. He goes to a bookstore to find a book on the subject, only to be met by its nutty proprietor who is obsessed with baseball. She thinks Weston is some former two-bit ballplayer. While he is talking, a book literally flies off the shelf, into his arms. He takes it home. It is full of spells. Because he has none of the materials called for, he is unable to get anything to work. He is taunted by the middle- school daughter of a woman in his apartment building. At some point, through no effort of his own, William Shakespeare shows up and offers his assistance. What happens is that Weston uses him in such a way to get things done his way. He is boorish and clumsy but using the bard's words, he manages to get hooked up with a commercial enterprise (a soup company CEO). He takes the plots that Shakespeare gives him and totally destroys them, using one of his ridiculous plots. Tension builds. There is a delightful cameo by a very young Burt Reynolds who is studying method acting. He has performed in two Tennessee Williams plays and is annoyed that Shakespeare has never heard of Stanislavsky or the aforementioned Williams. He pouts and prances and really annoys the great poet. This is played strictly for laughs and the Twilight Zone purists were probably annoyed. The episode is too long and often not terribly funny, but take it with a grain of salt.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Not The Most Original Idea, but well played

Author: kenbarr-ny from United States
20 January 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The idea for this episode is not the most original, bring a famous writer from the past and watch him (or her) get indignant over how modern times butchers his (or her) works. Bob Newhart did this with a sketch about what a Madison Avenue type would do to the Gettysburg Address ("Abe, you have to change 'four score and seven' to eighty seven"). However, it is well acted, with Jack Weston and John Williams as the hack TV writer and William Shakespeare respectively. Two story lines are the inanity of most TV writing and the unholy alliance between production and advertisers. Since this episode aired in 1963, two years after Newton Minnow's "vast wasteland" speech, it seems to show Rod Serling's take on that subject.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

"Don' cha dig? I'm conjurin' baby, I'm conjurin'."

Author: classicsoncall from Florida, New York
13 July 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Well it finally happened - a Twilight Zone episode that quite literally, was written and acted in The Twilight Zone. How else do you explain Burt Reynolds doing Marlon Brando, and then have John McGiver doing Burt Reynolds doing Marlon Brando? Now I have to say, I take delight in whimsy, and this is one that took extreme poetic license with the legacy of the Bard himself, William Shakespeare. It was kind of a neat idea actually, but sadly, the idea went nowhere. The best takeaway from this story (from the perspective of almost a half century later), is the recollection of the New York Mets in only their second year of baseball. They went 51-111 in 1963, as Julius Moomer's (John Weston) landlady laments the trade of Gil Hodges to the Washington Senators. Maybe it was Julius' book of the black arts that got them their first World Series win just six years later. (Now there's a Twilight Zone story all by itself).

There are a few other one-liner gems in the episode, but they're buried in the plodding story. Like Julius' dream of becoming a Wurlitzer Prize winner. But my favorite was the idea he pitched for a game show - 'Pick Your Own Embalmer'. Did you catch that? I didn't think so. You'll have to go back and listen for it, while I come to grips with the idea that this might be the next great reality TV show concept of 2010. It just might work.

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9 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Funny and Loaded With Awesome Actors!

Author: Telyer5 from United States
8 February 2008

This episode cracked me up! It was nice to watch a lighter Twilight Zone, but still have that other-worldly feeling. Keep an eye out for Burt Reynolds, he does a spot-on Marlon Brando impression... it is pretty amazing and very comical! John Williams plays William Shakespeare... he was in Dial M For Murder and is really great! Jack Weston is great as Julius Moomer who yearns to be a better writer in order to keep his job. I couldn't place him until I checked on his name and I remembered him from Dirty Dancing... Anyways, if you are looking for a Rod Serling-written episode that makes you think but also will give you a chuckle, check out "The Bard."

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