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STUDIO: Columbia Pictures Television
RATED: Not rated
RUNNING TIME: 628 minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES: Minisodes
The tale of a genie in a bottle…and no, not Christina Aguilera.
Barbara Eden, Larry Hagman, Bill Daily, Hayden Rorke, Emmaline Henry.
Astronaut Maj. Anthony Nelson’s (Hagman) space pod drifted off course and landed on a deserted island, which is where he found an ancient bottle with a real genie – coincidentally named Jeannie (Eden) – inside. Having freed her, Nelson reluctantly became her master and took her back to his home in Florida. It’s then that the free-spirited Jeannie caters to his every whim – whether he wants her to or not. With his best friend, Maj. Roger Healy (Daily) in on the act, Nelson has to keep the fact that he has a genie living in his house from becoming known, especially by his boss, the ever-suspicious Dr. Bellows (Rorke). This is no small task considering that Jeannie’s shenanigans regularly land him in more trouble than he can handle.
“Master, I know you don’t like me using my powers to grant you wishes, but today’s your birthday and you shall have anything your heart desires.”
“Well, when you put it that way, Jeannie, lets start with you, Raquel Welch, Yvonne Craig, Jayne Mansfield and Marilyn Monroe in bed and then we’ll talk…”
I Dream of Jeannie is one of the most fun shows that I remember from my childhood and still holds up well to this day, nearly forty years after it left the air. Even taking into the account that it was a direct rip-off of Bewitched, which had premiered the year before in 1964, Jeannie is still buoyed by the chemistry of stars Eden and Hagman, the former being one of the most stunning women ever to appear in a sitcom and the latter instilling Nelson with a constantly harried and hyper-anxious nature that played well on the show. The premise of the show seems unbelievable, not the fact that an astronaut finds a genie, but that he doesn’t just just take advantage of her and her power. However, that should be credited with the period for which it was made, which was perfect for the show. If Jeannie had been made in the ’50s, it would have been far too saccharine to stand today and if made in the ’70s, would have no doubt been much more serious.
“Okay, Reverend, so what you’re saying is that I’m going to have to love, honor and cherish Jeannie for a few thousand years, right? Well, as long as she always looks like this, that shouldn’t be a problem…”
Eden is simply a vision as the titular Jeannie. A source of controversy back in the day for wearing a genie outfit that revealed her midsection, Eden was nevertheless supremely sexy in the role, but didn’t simply rely on the look, as she instilled the character with a brightness that is all but irresistible. What man wouldn’t want a woman that looked like Eden at his utter beck and call, and completely devoted to him? The concept is male fantasy at its purest. The show used that element, but tempered it with Nelson, who is seemingly too steadfast in his morality to be believed. Jeannie was the source of never-ending anxiety for Nelson, with her tendency to take things too literally, use her power without thinking, and be over-devoted to her man. Jeannie’s relative naivete to the modern world and ability to do almost anything with the blink of her eyes made for infinite comedic possibilities.
“Look, Genie, I already told you, you’re going to have to handle this Aladdin bullshit on your own…”
On the flipside, Hagman should, in hindsight, be credited with completely distinguishing the villainous J.R. Ewing from this prior role of Nelson. Whereas J.R. is possibly the most evil and conniving character in television history, Nelson is a stalwart good guy, content to let Jeannie help him on occasion, but for the most part trying to live his life as if he just has an odd housemate…albeit a lusciously delectable housemate who would no doubt grant him his most carnal desire in a heartbeat. The thin line Nelson has to walk is the central premise of the show, on the one side the chance to have anything a man would ever desire, and on the other side the need to live a normal life, or at least as normal as possible.
Mmmm, evil Jeannie…nice.
The supporting characters also lend good comedic elements to the show, and none more so than Daily as Roger Healy. Daily was even more put upon than Nelson, because he was a man who would take every advantage of Jeannie, although not to the point of abusing her. Healy was the embodiment of what any sane guy would do if Jeannie dropped in his lap. No doubt, by the time he was done, he’d be a sultan on some tropical island with a bevy of women, all of them at least as hot as Jeannie, catering to his every wish. But deep down, Healy is also a decent guy. Rorke as Dr. Bellows provides the main conflict in the show as the most frequent source of anxiety for Nelson and Jeannie as he has seen many of the fantastical things and situations that Jeannie frequently has gotten Nelson into. Nelson always has to be on his toes for fear that Bellows will discover his secret.
“Hey Farrah, after we get done shooting, why don’t you and I head back to my trailer?”
“I’m sorry Bill, but you play an astronaut. I could never go for a guy who plays an astronaut…”
Season 5 was the final one for the show, and the one where Nelson and Jeannie finally tied the knot, which invariably spells the death knell for a show with sexual tension between the main characters. I Dream of Jeannie never did get a proper series finale, although there were two telemovies 15 and 20 years after it went off the air. Although Hagman wasn’t in either of them if you can believe that. Invariably, because of how the show came to be, Jeannie is compared to Bewitched. Truth be told, If I had to make a choice between the two, I’d have to call it a toss up. Jeannie was quite a bit lighter and on the whole more fun, while Bewitched had better supporting and recurring cast such as Agnes Morehead, Paul Lynde, Bernard Fox, Alice Pearce and Sandra Gould. Although on an interesting side note, a very young Farrah Fawcett played Healy’s girlfriend in a mnumber of episodes. I’d give the hotness factor to Eden, but Elizabeth Montgomery was also a beautiful woman, and one of the few people from TV whom I truly felt the passing of when I was younger.
“Whoa, is that a Jack and Coke…?”
If there’s one drawback the show, it’s that it was extremely one-note. Jeannie would do something that would get Nelson in trouble, and they’d have to frenetically find a solution before Dr. Bellows or someone else discovered their goings-on. Nevertheless, I Dream of Jeannie is still a fun watch and very easy to get into if you’ve never seen it.
Fun show, weak DVD. No extras whatsoever except worthless Minisodes, short promotional snippets of shows, in this case Bewitched and Fantasy Island. At least the Jeannie episodes look good as the transfer is nice. There are English, Spanish and Portuguese (must be big in Brazil or something) language tracks and Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.