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Captain Tony Nelson is an astronaut. While on a mission, he discovered a mysterious bottle. Opening it, he released Jeannie (a Genie) who was so overjoyed at her release she promised to serve Captain Nelson. Nelson is unsure what to make of Jeannie, especially given that his work is highly secret and his superiors tend to keep a close eye on him. Written by
Murray Chapman <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"I Dream of Jeannie" and "Bewitched" were considered rival shows during the 1960's and 1970's. Oddly, "I Dream of Jeannie" cast member Bill Daily made his acting debut in a small role on "Bewitched". See more »
Much as "The Addams Family" had to be compared to "The Munsters," "I Dream of Jeannie" will perpetually be held up to scrutiny against "Bewitched" as two 1960s sitcoms with similar appearing concepts. In this case, a magical woman complicates the life of a mortal man, even as she tries to help him through his problems.
But let's stay on topic. NASA Astronaut Captain Anthony Nelson (Larry Hagman), on a space mission, went up, but something went wrong and they had to bring him down. His capsule came to earth on a tiny desert island where he discovers a bottle; he opens it and in a puff of smoke a genie (Barbara Eden) appears. She explains that because he freed her, she is his, forever, then blinks and a rescue helicopter appears.
When she follows him home, things instantly become complicated. His best friend, Captain Roger Healey (Bill Daily) gets in on the secret in short order, and helps Tony with his fiancé, who happens to be the General's daughter! Eventually, that engagement got broken off, leaving Tony free to play the field, and Jeannie to get angry about his other women. And the two buddies get promotions from Captains to Majors.
Lots more complications, like Jeannie's Sister, an evil, raven haired twin who was out to enslave Nelson for her boy toy, The Blue Djinn turns up (played by Eden's husband at the time, Michael Ansara), who first put Jeannie into the bottle, and even her dog Djinn Djinn (didn't the writers know any other Arabic words?) who had a pension for disappearing and then tearing any uniform he saw to shreds... not a good thing on an Air Force Base!
The charm of the show was in Hagman's incredible ability to go from deadpan to fully reactionary on a dime (something he was required to do in nearly every episode), and Eden's brilliance at playing the petulant brat still learning about the 20th Century World, and with whom no one could be angry for very long. Daily was a great foil for both of them, (though I never understood why his uniform was GREEN) and of course, there was Dr. Bellows (the incomparable Hayden Roarke), intrepid base psychiatrist, who always knew something funny was going on, but could never quite prove it to anyone. Certainly part of the show's success was in his slow burns after whatever he was going to prove to whichever General was in command didn't pan out!
Though one has to wonder how they managed to do a contemporary mid 1960s program on and around a Military installation without so much as a passing reference to Vietnam! Yes, it's NASA, but still! Air Force Generals were on duty! Of course, in the end, it turned out to be for the best, as not referencing the war was likely part of the reason a diversionary program like this was on the air in the first place: all part of the magical, mystical lineup of comedy programs all of the networks were airing during the 1960s through the 1970s, designed to divert audiences from the newscasts of the day.
The irony of the censors not permitting Eden's belly button to be shown was that on the same network (NBC) and during the same hour (8pm, before "Jeannie" moved to 7:30 in its final seasons), "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In" had Bikini clad Goldie Hawn fully exposed and dancing in body paint!
Despite the stock footage of Atlas rockets and Gemini missions, there is a certain timeless quality to the series and an obvious charm and sweetness that won't soon wane. It's certainly one of the best "special effects" sitcoms of all time, and is genuinely one of the funniest.
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