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In my view, this is one of the top 10 or 15 sitcoms ever, and it certainly
is one of my personal favorites. Its misfortune was to be produced during
an era full of silly, mostly non-topical comedies (Beverly Hillbillies,
Bewitched, My Favorite Martian and so on) and I think it's been underrated
because of that.
But sit down sometime and take a good look. You'll see a spirited ensemble performance from the actors, with standout work from Larry Hagman and Hayden Rorke. I don't think Hagman ever got enough credit for the wonderfully manic and nervous mannerisms that made Major Nelson so damn funny and endearing. And Rorke's prissy and arrogant Dr. Bellows was a terrific comic foil -- cartoonish in the best sense of that word.
Bill Daily did a good comic turn as Major Healy, although I think his character never was allowed to develop as much as Hagman's and Rorke's. (His finest comic hour was to come, on "The Bob Newhart Show.") And of course, there was the gorgeous Barbara Eden as Jeannie, sprightly and innocent and an excellent counterpoint to Hagman's world-weary astronaut. The romantic chemistry between Jeannie and Tony was one of the strongest in TV history.
The show was fast-paced, rarely sappy, full of pleasant "NBC Peacock" colors, and a showcase for fine comic timing and physical slapstick.
I Dream of Jeannie, starring Barbara Eden as the blithe, beautiful two
thousand year old blonde genie named Jeannie and Larry Hagman the
perpetually befuddled astronaut Anthony Nelson.
The series starts when U.S. Air Force Captain (later promoted to Major) Anthony Nelson's space shuttle launch experiences a third stage rocket malfunction causing NASA to scrub the mission. Where upon his Mercury style capsule splashes down of the coast of an uncharted South Pacific island.
After washing ashore Nelson constructs an S.O.S. signal from debris on the shoreline. In this debris is an ancient sand caked bottle of Arabic origin. After noticing the bottle won't seem to stay in one spot, Tony picks it up to examine it. After pulling out the cork, and dusting it off a cloud of smoke gushes forth. The mystical fog then takes the form of a beautiful blonde girl dressed in an Arabic harem costume. After her appearance she kneels before Tony and exclaims in Arabic/Farsee "Your wish is my command master."
After wishing her to speak English Jeannie summons a rescue helicopter. But when Tony realizes that he could never explain her to his superiors, his nosy doctor, Dr. Bellows or the outside world he tries to set her free.
After believing she has left, Tony boards the helicopter.
Little does he know that Jeannie has snuck along with him inside her bottle. Her love for her now ex-master is so strong she can not bear to be away from him. There for Jeannie freely remains as Tony's genie.
From September 18th, 1965 to September 7th, 1970 through 139 half hour episodes, the series depicts the wacky situations Jeannie gets her 'master' and his goofy best friend "Major Roger Healey" (Bill Daily) into, and out of. From showing Tony he truly did not love his first fiancée, to finally marrying him in 1970. As well as unintentionally driving a very sane Dr. Bellows out of his mind with her wacky, misguided magic.
Along the way appearances are made by Jeannie's mother, her crazy uncles, her magical and usually invisible dog Djinn-Djinn and her unforgetable, worldwide infamous, wicked, raven haired twin sister also named Jeannie. Not to mention a long line of celebrity guest stars from Sammy Davis Jr. to Groucho Marx.
I Dream of Jeannie is a classic show with eternal appeal. Each generation will enjoy this classic sitcom. I'm sure two thousand years from now our descendants will be watching the girl in the bottle play 'spin the astronaut!'
I would say that "I Dream of Jeannie," "Bewitched" and "The Flying Nun"
constitute the trifecta of ultimate 1960's TV shows. That is, they were
all fantasies and had very loony premises. In all three cases, a new
kind of person enters the scene and upsets the status quo.
In Jeannie's case, when Maj. Nelson brings her home, she turns Cocoa Beach, Florida, upside down. The whole city goes from being a drab, old-order bastion, to a wacky, hippie-like enclave. In that sense, Jeannie's colorful outfit is a great contrast to Maj. Nelson's monochromatic uniform.
On a given episode, Maj. Nelson can expect Jeannie to do something like put an elephant in his house or repaint his office like an Arabian palace. Her antics always catch the attention of psychiatrist Dr. Bellows, who reports it to the general. But, as is always the case in silly comedy, she fixes it before Dr. Bellows can show the general, and Dr. Bellows ends up looking like an imbecile.
Maj. Nelson's hopeless romantic friend, Maj. Healey, hilariously has the worst luck of all. Every time he asks Jeannie for help, it always gets him in trouble.
One of the funniest aspects of this show is the fact that even people who do not know that Jeannie exists get affected by her magic. Dr. and Mrs. Bellows suffer the most, but even guest characters see their lives turned crazy when some misused magic messes something up.
So that's "IDOJ." This is one show that I never miss a chance to watch on TVLand. One thing that would have been really neat would have been if Jeannie and Samantha ("Bewitched") could have teamed up. Knowing what each woman did individually, just imagine what they could have done if they had combined their magic!
In conclusion, I will always dream of Jeannie.
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.
I would say that the series "I Dream Of Jeannie","Bewitched",not to
mention "The Flying Nun","My Favorite Martian",constitute the trifecta
of ultimate 1960's TV shows of that period. That is in perspective that
they were all shows that relay on fantasies and had very loony
premises. In each of these shows,and especially in each and every
episode,a new kind of person enters the scene and from there goes to
reveal the secret powers of the individual and basically upsets the
status quo of the episode intitled.
In the case of "I Dream Of Jeannie",when Major Nelson(Larry Hagman)brings Jeannie(Barbara Eden)home from a bottle that he found on the beach during a space mission,he takes Jeannie to his home in the suburbs of Cocoa Beach,Florida and from there,she turns the town upside down. Not only does she wreck havoc but she has a evil jealous streak whenever any girl or anybody tries to pull some scheme to win the love for her beloved master. In other words,she turns the once old-order bastion of Cocoa Beach to an enclave city. On any given episode,Major Nelson can expect Jeannie to pull something out of a hat or per se cause mischief which at times gets him into trouble. Her antics catches the attention of Dr. Bellows(Hayden Rorke)who reports it to the general. But before the problem ensues she fixes it before Dr. Bellows shows it to the general,making him looked more like an imbecile. Major Nelson's hopeless romantic friend,Major Healey(Bill Daily)who always asks for Jeannie's help gets him into trouble too who basically has the worst luck of them all. Hijinks ensues quickly leaving what's next for Major Nelson to occurred within the findings of his beloved home with Jeannie around. In other words,you'll never know what Jeannie's gonna do next,so its expect the unexpected.
This was a hybrid of another successful show as well,"Bewitched",and the key ingredient was not the situations that occur,but the special effects that kept viewers tune in each week to see what will happened next. "I Dream Of Jeannie",was an consistent winner throughout its six-year run on NBC from the premiere episode on September 18,1965 to the final episode of the series on September 1,1970 after producing 139 episodes,which 29 of those episodes were in black and white,in its first season(1965-1966),while seasons two through six were in color. The show was created and produced by Sidney Sheldon,whom after the show went off the air became one of the most influential writers of the latter century. And this was produced under the powers that be through Screen Gems/Columbia Pictures Television(the same company that was responsible for "Bewitched","The Flying Nun",and "The Monkees"). The show gobbled up its competition for much of its run,and when it went off the air,it left with just a whisper. The show bordered on farce most of the time,with Barbara Eden not only played Jeannie,but Jeannie's evil twin sister and Jeannie's mother. It also brought out some of the most fantastic special effects ever displayed for television. It also attracted some famous guest stars as well,like several episodes featured celebrities Sammy Davis,Jr.,Groucho Marx, Jack Benny,and George Burns,not to mention as well Hawaiian singer and actor Don Ho.
As far as the acting is concern,you get a spirited ensemble performance from the actors,especially when it came to the performances of Larry Hagman and Barbara Eden,not to mention as well Hayden Rorke. It is also to point that Bill Daily gives a great comic turn as Major Healy,who in my opinion was never given the chance to develop(but his finest comic hour was to come on "The Bob Newhart Show"). It also goes to show that Hagman to this day doesn't give credit for the mannerisms and made Major Nelson so hilariously funny and endearing(and also his finest work was yet to come on "Dallas",as JR Ewing). The romantic chemistry between Jeannie and Major Nelson was so endearing that the producers decided to have them engaged(in an episode from 12/1/1969)and from there they would become married,which killed off the show. But as for the characters themselves,sit down sometime and take a good look at the ensemble cast,its worth viewing.
In the world of the 50s and 60s silly sitcoms, this is an except, a colorful and exciting show. Barbara Eden is very good at her role, Larry Hagman is better actor here than in "Dallas" or another serieses. The best is Bill Daily's Maj. Healey, but I like the late Hayden Rorke's suspicious Dr. Bellows too. When I saw the series' episodes first time I got a laughing-stock. It is fantastic! The first and second seasons are perfect, the third and fourth are good, but the fifth is a silly, American family sitcom. After Jeannie marries her master, the series goes wrong. But except for those 20 episodes, the whole series is my favorite sitcom of all times!
I am officially now probably the only person in my family who likes this
show. For whatever reason, though, it always seemed to be on. People in my
family are not the best at turning off the television sometimes, I guess.
Whatever the case may be, I'm GLAD "Jeannie" was left on. I "lazily" began
watching it and gradually began liking it quite a bit.
Basically, "Jeannie" is a genie who ended up in the custody of NASA astronaut Tony Nelson. As some TV Land commercial points out, most men with a genie would wish for greedy things like riches and ...probably more than that, but Tony mostly just seems to like Jeannie for her companionship. Jeannie and Tony do have a nice friendship (they eventually get married), but it isn't always an easy one. Jeannie gets Tony in trouble a lot, whether he's with friends, other girls, or even at NASA--particularly, in fact, at NASA, where suspicious psychiatrist Dr. Alfred Bellows always seems to be a witness of Tony and Jeannie's strange antics, though nobody ever believes him when he tries to report what he sees.
Some of Jeannie's tricks make the show silly, dull, or just plain boring. I don't, for example, care for when Jeannie blinks (that is how she gets things done, by folding her arms and blinking) Tony back in time, to Persia (where Jeannie is "from," although she's about as non-Arabic looking as it gets) into some silly situation like making Tony wear no pants or something. Jeannie also has things like a "jealous streak" that make her occasionally downright unlikable. She "blinked" Tony into a jail cell once, keeping him from seeing an old friend, and once wanted to KILL some foreign princess.
However, "Jeannie" lasted for five years, so not ALL of the episodes involved the above-mentioned situations. Many are downright amusing, particularly episodes involving Dr. and Mrs. Bellows, the uptight NASA psychiatrist and his nosy wife who tend to be the only witnesses of Jeannie's tricks. Bill Daily, as Tony's best friend, fellow NASA astronaut and resident womanizer Roger Healy, is also amusing, and I actually prefer him in "Jeannie," to "The Bob Newhart Show." As "Jeannie" and "Tony" Barbara Eden and Larry Hagman are also extremely good--both together (I hate it when actors playing TV couples have no chemistry)and in individual scenes. "Jeannie" may be unlikable when she is acting jealous, but the rest of the time she's bubbly and clueless and has a sort of charm (which is why I don't like when she acts jealous). Scenes where Jeannie ends up doing conventional things like going to the market, buying a dress, or going to the beauty parlor, are some of the more amusing.
As for Larry Hagman, well, I didn't grow up in the 1960's, but if I had, he sort of seems like an actor whose career I would have followed with some interest, even though I'm not sure if I've seen him in anything else. As Tony, Hagman is put into numerous silly and embarrassing situations (I've read about actors complaining about the scripts, which is something I occasionally dislike hearing. I would say Hagman had good cause to do so) from having about every costume imaginable "blinked" onto him, to running around screaming (and cursing? It sure sounds like it) after being "blinked" mouse-high (I personally didn't care for this episode, but I was watching it as somebody was painting the front door and I kept hearing them snickering), and numerous other slap-stick situations that vary in levels of amusement. At first glance, especially in his astronaut's uniform, Hagman SEEMS like an actor who...couldn't pull that off, but he does, and is able to maintain Tony Nelson's super-serious demeanor with it. It is a nice achievement, but sometimes as I watch, I think silly things to myself like "poor Larry Hagman." Tony's still fun to watch, and I especially like his interactions with Dr. Bellows and with Jeannie, as the two, as I have mentioned have wonderful chemistry together. I can very much imagine people speculating as to whether or not they were an "item" in real life, due to how convincing they are.
I think it's the high quality of acting that really makes this show "work" for me. Even in the silliest of situations, the acting quality doesn't lessen. It's just that occasionally goofy scripts that might sometimes turn me off.
What heterosexual male over the age of puberty wouldn't have wanted to
Barbara Eden as their own devoted and affectionate Jeannie?
Like most series built on some pent-up romantic tension between the leading characters ("Nanny and the Professor," to "Moonlighting") the problems arose when the series creators decided to put the couple together. It was a death knell...
It was hilarious that the network censors wouldn't allow them to show Barbara Eden's navel and a pity as well. She's closing in on 70 now but for those of us hitting puberty when the series premiered, she'll always have a special place in our...hearts.
I had the honor to chat with Sidney Sheldon and one question I had was
how did he get this show past the censors during the 1960's? Of course,
there was the controversy over whether or not Barbara Eden's navel
could be seen on television (which was addressed on another network
during her appearance on the Smothers Brothers comedy hour).
As competition against ABC's Bewitched, Jeannie had the advantage of heightened sexual tension as the blonde beauty Barbara Eden ran around half naked begging to serve Larry Hagman. Only the quintessential comic male of the 1960's could exist in a scenario like that and milk it for so many years.
I only wish Barbara's other series (How to Marry a Millionaire) had airtime on TV Land...
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Although many rate "I Dream Of Jeannie" (IDOJ) as a knock-off of
"Bewitched", which debuted a season earlier, this is a show that can
stand on its own two feet.
Despite the female lead in both series having powers beyond mere mortals, the set up is vastly different in IDOJ as compared to its leading rival.
For starters, Jeannie is a more minx-like, impulsive creation that has yet to be domesticated. The closest parallel would be Samantha's mother, Endora, in "Bewitched". Barbara Eden was perfect for the role and the other lead players in the form of Larry Hagman (who later went on to achieve superstar status as evil J R in "Dallas"), Bill Daily and Hayden Rorke played their roles to perfection.
Like most series that are spontaneous, the cast members got along very well on and off screen, as verified by their comments in a filmed reunion interview found on the recently released DVD set.
In IDOJ, the sizzle comes from the developing romantic relationship between an unmarried, eligible bachelor played by Hagman and a beautiful, tempestuous lady; whereas in its witchcraft themed rival show, the romance between the lead characters was already established in a marriage and the setting was more domesticated. I am not saying that "Bewitched" was a better or worse programme, merely that IDOJ and that show achieve their ends through different means.
More importantly, perhaps, IDOJ provides a glimpse into a more innocent era before America was fully embroiled in Vietnam. It portrayed a military career and astronauts as noble career paths, so unlike what many think of these vocations today.
Also, in an early episode, Hagman's character is seen in a mid-Eastern setting in full USAF regalia, something that would not be as openly received in these perilous times we live in now.
All TV shows are generally a reflection of the era they were made in and IDOJ seems to capture the reverberations of a gentler and more respected America perfectly. Watching it now, the viewer gets to wonder how it all could have changed so dramatically in just four decades.
So, as a means of escapism and rose tinged nostalgia, this one takes some beating.
One last comment - the trivia bit which states that all characters drove Pontiacs is wrong as Bill Daily's character drove a Ford Fairlane Convertible, at least in the first season.
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