Director: David Butler
Writer: Rod Serling
Cast: Jack Weston, John McGiver, Doro Merande, John Williams, Henry Lascoe, William Lanteau, Howard McNear, Marge Redmond, Clegg Hoyt, Judy Strangis, and Burt Reynolds
Composer: Fred Steiner
Air Date: 5/23/1963
Production Code: 4852
Devoid of talent, aspiring writer Julius Moomer (Jack Weston) uses a book of magic to summon William Shakespeare (John Williams). Claiming authorship of Shakespeare’s dramatic teleplays, Julius learns a painful lesson on the importance of gratitude.
“The Bard” suffers from tedious humor, padded sequences, and an obnoxious main character—portrayed by Jack Weston of “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street.” Discerning viewers may therefore wish to forgo this episode, which benefits only from a clever narrative concept.
Despite its reputation as the worst entry of the entire series, “The Bard” contains all the elements for a classic episode of The Twilight Zone: a struggling author, a premise involving black magic, and a cameo appearance from William Shakespeare. Unfortunately, this offering is marred by a heavy emphasis on quirky humor—arguably the weakest of Rod Serling’s devices as a writer.
Also worth noting is Burt Reynolds’ impression of Marlon Brando, which, though potentially amusing if toned down slightly, serves only to enhance the cringe factor of this episode.
In spite of its appalling execution, “The Bard” offers a thought-provoking statement on how changing the interpretation of a written work, especially when done for commercial purposes, can detract from the creative value of an original fiction piece.
A satirical but groan-worthy installment of The Twilight Zone, “The Bard” should be avoided by diehard Serling enthusiasts and casual fans alike. Specifically unappealing is the character of Julius, who behaves in an arrogant, ungrateful, and entitled manner from beginning to end.
Overall Quality: 1/10
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