Wednesday, February 15, 2017
A Quick Look at TV: I DREAM OF JEANNIE
Typical of 60's sitcoms, I Dream of Jeannie was also one of the most delightful. Larry Hagman played astronaut Tony Nelson, who experienced trouble on re-entry and became stranded on a tiny island well away from the area being searched for his capsule. On the beach he found an old bottle, out of which materialized the beauteous Jeannie -a genie played by the stunning Barbara Eden. Jeannie makes possible Tony's rescue and he responds by giving her her freedom, but the free Jeannie wants only to stick close to Tony and follows him back to Cocoa Beach, Florida. There, Tony must keep her existence a secret, which proves challenging as Jeannie flexes her magical powers in a frustrated attempt to please her new master. The eager-to-please Jeannie finds her dreamy master the kind of man who would rather do things himself, and from there much comedy ensues. Bill Daily plays the skirt-chasing Roger Healy, Tony's close friend and the only one in on Jeannie's secret. Roger constantly yo-yo's between loyal friend and greedy opportunist, more than willing to take full advantage of Jeannie's amazing powers. Tony's main obstacle was his CO, Dr. Bellows, played by character actor Hayden Rourke. The show was massively successful for several reasons, not the least of which was the stunning beauty of Miss Eden. Hagman and Daily made for one of the best comedy teams in television, and Larry had the funniest scream to boot. NASA's space program served as the background of the series. Though the rules regarding Jeannie's powers and backstory were in constant flux, each episode was sharply written. Eventually, Tony came to reciprocate Jeannie's affections and the characters married. Despite this giving the show it's true stride, this was about the time the ratings began to slide. The show was one of the earliest victims of the "rural purge" television experienced in the early 70's. Still, the show continued to grow in popularity through re-runs. Eventually, a pair of TV movies would emerge. I DREAM OF JEANNIE: 15 YEARS LATER caught up with the gang at a time when Jeannie was now the mother of an unpredictable teenager. Popular replacement actor Wayne Rogers filled in for absent Larry Hagman. I STILL DREAM OF JEANNIE saw Tony missing on a space mission and Jeannie desperately trying to find a new master. It was, like most such films, a defacto pilot for a series that never took off. Seems there was also an unrelated Saturday morning cartoon version of the Jeannie character.