CAROLE LOMBARD - My Favorite Actress

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Greatest TV Comedies - I DREAM OF JEANNIE (1965 - 1970)

A definite product of the 1960's is this entertaining series that had astronaut Tony Nelson (a game Larry Hagman), returning from a space mission, who lands on an uncharted island. He finds a magic lamp and uncorks it to find the irrepressible Jeannie (a wonderful Barbara Eden) a powerful genie, who must obey his every command. Once Tony and Jeannie make it back home to the hip Cocoa Beach, Jeannie constantly is getting herself and Tony into trouble. Much like Lucy did to Ricky on I Love Lucy. Tony has to keep Jeannie a secret, but his best pal Roger Healy (scene stealer Bill Daily) finds out. They were always scrambling to keep Colonel Bellows (the talented Hayden Rorke) a psychiatrist from finding out about Jeannie.

I Dream Of Jeannie was basically NBC's answer to ABC's mega hit Bewitched. The similar themes were there in the form of a woman with magical powers trying to please her husband. Well in Jeannie's case, her master. Samantha had a twin sister named Serena and Jeannie was given a twin too, with the imaginatively titled Jeannie Two (a little sarcasm there). Now I always preferred Bewitched and the awesomeness that is Elizabeth Montgomery, but Jeannie was good, high spirited fun. It's strange to see Larry Hagman in full manic mode doing pratfalls and quick takes like a born comedian. A totally different persona than his legendary evil JR Ewing from the night time soap opera, Dallas. He definitely goes all out for any and all kinds of gags. Eden is a delight too as Jeannie, as she gets ample opportunity to show her comic skills as opposed to just showing off her looks. Daily is supremely funny as Roger,who manages to walk away with several scenes throughout the series 5 year run. And Rorke as Bellows nails the befuddled doctor to perfection.

Look at the snazzy 60's era clothing...very cool

I enjoyed watching Jeannie reruns doing the early 80's on WTBS and it has developed a significant fan base over the decades. While it may not be always recognized as one of the top TV comedies of all time, you can't deny it's place in the annals of TV history. And for the record, I do think it is one of the best TV comedies of all time.

Some pertinent trivia and facts:
Jeannie's groovy bottle which was her home was actually a painted 1964 Jim Bean bottle.
The evil blue Djinn who had imprisoned Jeannie in her bottle for two thousand years was played by Eden's husband at the time, Michael Ansara.
After the pilot was made, Eden discovered she that she was pregnant. So for the first season, the producers used close-ups and always shot Eden from above the waist.
I Dream Of Jeannie ran for 5 years on NBC with 139 episodes.
A reunion movie was made in 1991 with Eden and Daily returning but not Hagman. He was replaced with former M*A*S*H star Wayne Rogers.


Mythical Monkey said...

I think Bewitched was a funnier show than I Dream of Jeannie -- especially when Dick York was still working -- but in a way, I thought Jeannie made more sense. I mean, I can understand why Major Nelson doesn't want Jeannie to interfere or use magic, because she can't give him the one thing he really wants, which is to be an astronaut and to make it on his own merit. If anything, she can only mess that up.

Whereas Darrin was an ad executive and a pretty bad one at that given that Samantha usually wound up coming up with his ad campaigns. His opposition to her use of magic seemed to be more of a stand-in for opposition to the nascent sexual revolution -- which may have been the point.

That said, Dick York was one of the funniest actors ever. And of course Elizabeth Montgomery was terrific.

Audrey said...

I think Gene Hagman might be my favorite part of "Jeannie". I have to say that I prefer Elizabeth Montgomery's Samantha to Barbara Eden's Jeannie. Some times Jeannie just acts very childish. She can be endearing but he character is less well-written than Samantha, I think.

Patti said...

As a product of the 1960's, I grew up on Jeannie. I remember thinking Major Nelson was so cute.

Since I enjoyed the show so much, I made sure to turn my kids onto it. They find it cute...but corny.

By the way, thanks for your recent comment on my "Deception" review. Yes, I can believe you haven't seen "Deception" or "Now, Voyager." After all, there are SO many movies and only so much time in which to watch them. There are plenty of movies I haven't had an opportunity to watch yet....including 3 of the 5 Shirley MacLaine flicks you mentioned.

Thanks for letting me know that you have Coop scheduled for the 40's bracket, not the 30's. That is going to be an extremely exciting tourney, so I definitely intend to be using someone's computer while I'm on vacation.

By the way, I am looking at your All Good Things FB badge right now. I am going to "fan" your page.

Have a wonderful day,

Jandy Stone said...

You know, I grew up watching I Dream of Jeannie (and Bewitched, which I do like a little bit better) on Nick at Nite, and I never until reading this post knew how Tony got Jeannie's bottle in the first place. I never really even thought about it.

Bill Daily is awesome. Also loved him on The Bob Newhart Show.


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