I Dream of Jeannie
by Erika Cox
I Dream of Jeannie was a popular show in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. Of course, by the time I started watching it on a regular basis it was in reruns, but that’s okay because I was able to enjoy some of the innovative shows that came out before I was old enough to really start watching TV.
I Dream of Jeannie lasted five years, from 1965 to 1970; it was produced as a rival show of Bewitched, which came out in 1964.
During the shows’ regular airings between 1965 and 1970, it had average success. However, the show had greater success and was more popular while it was in reruns. During the 1970’s the show had one of the highest ratings for any show in reruns.
The show starred Barbara Eden who played Jeannie; her master Major Tony Nelson played by Larry Hagman; Roger Healey, Major Tony Nelson friend and coworker, played by Bill Daily; and a host of other co-stars including Barbara Eden playing the role of Jeannie’s cousin and her mother.
The show was basic and depicted what some might think as a wish come true, especially for a man.
The show begins with an unassuming man walking on a deserted island, finds a bottle that looks unusually, rubs it, smoke starts fuming out, and out comes a pretty genie who has been locked up in this bottle for a very long time and is more than willing to grant his wishes.
Despite Major Nelson freeing Jeannie, she would never leave him. Jeannie, the genie, possessed magical powers and by twitching her nose, twinkling her eye, and nodding her head she made people disappear, reappear, unable to talk, and act in ways they would not normally act.
She usually performed her magical tricks when she felt her master, Major Tony Nelson, needed to be bailed out of a tough situation or needed to be persuaded by her wishes. Major Tony Nelson tried desperately to conceal his uncomfortable good luck but did let his friend, Roger Healey in on the secret.
Major Tony Nelson wasn’t totally happy with his new genie and at first tried to conceal her and her powers but he eventually got use to her. However, his friend Roger Healey enjoyed the fact that his friend had a personal genie and often tried to get her to perform magic for himself in the hopes of becoming rich and famous.
Major Tony, who was an astronaut, constantly tries to hide Jeannie and her magic tricks from his boss and company, NASA. But because of his actions and successful attempt to conceal Jeannie, his boss believes he is trying to hide something or has a mental problem.
It was always funny to see how Major Tony was going to try and hide his newfound genie and her powers. Because genie was aware that Major Nelson didn’t want her exposed she would often disappear at the right time. Friend and co-worker Roger Healey also made the show funny with his many antics trying to get Jeannie to help him succeed.
The show also portrayed the love struggle between Major Nelson and Jeannie. Jeannie absolutely adored Major Nelson but Major Nelson didn’t seem too interested. Eventually after years of “living together” so to speak, although, in a platonic or master and genie relationship, the two were married on the last episode of the show.
Unlike Bewitched, the genie in I Dream of Jeannie looked much nicer and used her powers in a less threatening way. Although genie had magical powers, she sort of played the part of the dumb blonde, even though she wasn’t blonde.
She also dressed more provocative than the Bewitched character. I liked I Dream of Jeannie because it was simple, amusing, and appealed to a “if I only had a genie that would grant me everything” wish. Perhaps that is what made it so popular.
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