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Recap / The Twilight Zone S 4 E 120 The Bard

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Rod Serling: 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 twenty-five 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.

A TV writer accidentally summons the ghost of William Shakespeare.


  • Alliterative Name: The star of The Tragic Cycle is the acclaimed young actor Rocky Rhodes.
  • Black Magic: Julius buys a book of black magic called Ye Book of Ye Black Arte at a second hand bookshop in order to research a pilot script. He accidentally summons the ghost of Shakespeare, who writes a television film script for him entitled The Tragic Cycle.
  • Historical Domain Character: Shakespeare is a major character. Julius later summons the ghosts of Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Pocahontas, Theodore Roosevelt and Benjamin Franklin.
  • Napoleon Delusion: Discussed. Julius tells his agent Gerald Hugo, the network executive Mr. Bramhoff and the sponsor Mr. Shannon that Shakespeare is a cousin on his mother's side who believes that he is Shakespeare.
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  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Rocky Rhodes, a temperamental Method actor who is well known for starring in A Streetcar Named Desire, is a parody of Marlon Brando. Shakespeare is disgusted by his manner and appearance and punches him when Rhodes asks him what he has against Stanislavski. In playing the character, Burt Reynolds imitated Brando's distinctive voice and speech patterns.
  • Running Gag: Shakespeare frequently quotes lines from his plays and then cites the title, act and scene that they come from. This is accompanied by the sound of a trumpet.
  • Shout-Out: Julius describes Jeremy, the protagonist of the rewritten version of The Tragic Cycle, as "kind of a Dr. Kildare, Dr. Casey type." He tells Shakespeare that doctor shows are very big this season.
  • Show Within a Show: Shakespeare writes the script for a television film called The Tragic Cycle, which is credited to Julius.
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  • Take That!: The entire episode is one against the American television industry. The network makes numerous changes to Shakespeare's script The Tragic Cycle, changing character details, motivations and fates to make it supposedly more believable, please the sponsor and avoid potentially offending the audience. Shakespeare is aghast at a tender love scene set on a balcony being relocated to a subway. Furthermore, one of Julius' bad ideas is to take the half-hour show The Millionaire and expand it to an hour under the name The Multi-Millionaire. Hugo mentions that he was laughed out of the office when he made this suggestion. This refers to The Twilight Zone being extended to an hour for its fourth season. It returned to its original half-hour format for its fifth and final season.

Rod Serling: 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.

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