1 9 6 5 – 1 9 7 0 (USA)
139 x 30 minute episodes
The ABC series Bewitched was the second-most viewed television series in 1964 and writer Sidney Sheldon was determined to create a series based on that premise.
Inspired by the 1964 film, The Brass Bottle, Sheldon created I Dream of Jeannie.
In September 1965, NASA Astronaut Captain Anthony Nelson had an emergency splashdown landing that would forever change his life.
He rescued a genie named (appropriately) Jeannie, who fell head over heels for the strong-willed good looking Captain.
Major Nelson (he was eventually promoted) and Jeannie were TV pioneers of the opposite sex, platonic relationship, involving cohabitation. Tony’s neurotic friend Roger Healey supplied the formulaic “swinger”.
The first season focused on the secret relationship of an astronaut and an extra special girl as Major Nelson adjusted to his live-in, supernatural girlfriend.
Eventually, Tony Nelsons best friend Rog was added to the “in crowd”, but poor Dr Bellows was always kept safely away from the secret via a series of “perfectly logical explanations” from Major Nelson.
When the show went colour (at episode 31) several changes were made.
The first most notable was Jeannie’s bottle (in reality, a Jim Beam decanter from 1964 that was hand-painted by the show’s prop department). It underwent an unexplained make-over along with the house set, which would continue to change from season to season until the end of the show.
Jeannie’s costume also became a little more revealing (Grrrr baby!).
In the first season, we were shown a tom-boyish, sassy Jeannie, but in the second season, Jeannie became sweet but jealous tempered, ultra-feminine and very, very sexy (with a neat line in micro mini-skirts).
In the third season, Barbara Eden was granted the opportunity to play Jeannie’s alter-ego in the form of a streetwise, sexy, sneaky sister (also called Jeannie) who played on her innocence to try and steal Major Nelson away for herself.
By the fourth season the show began to be sadly formulaic and by the fifth and final season, ratings reflected the fact that primetime viewers were tired with the show’s gimmicks.
The studio executives made the ever-fatal chemistry killer, repeated to this day in shows like Moonlighting, Who’s the Boss? and Mork and Mindy – they killed the sexual tension.
Major Nelson and Jeannie got married in a 1969 episode (pictured below) although the cast and crew were against it. Ironically, the one thing Jeannie wanted most eventually ruined the show.
Major Nelson eventually made a fortune in oil and eventually got shot in Dallas . . . sorry, I’m getting confused . . .
Although it would seem at this point that I Dream of Jeannie had run its course, a strange phenomenon was about to occur that would make this show an eternal television legend, more popular than it had ever been during its original run – Syndication. In fact, this show has never been off the air thanks to syndication.
A Saturday morning animated spin-off called simply Jeannie screened on CBS from September 1975 to August 1978.
In the cartoon version, surfer dude Corry (voiced by Mark Hamill) let Jeannie (voiced by Julie McWhirter) out of the bottle and earned her services. Unfortunately for all involved, the clutzy Babu (former Stooge and Hanna Barbera fixture Joe Besser), came along with the package.
With a mere “Yapple dapple,” Babu created all sorts of problems for Jeannie to clean up. Jeannie and Babu were also players in Scooby’s All-Star Laff-A-Lympics on ABC from 1977 to 1980.
Dallas commitments prevented Larry Hagman from appearing in a single two-hour TV movie revival (I Dream Of Jeannie: Fifteen Years Later) screened in the USA on 20 October 1985. Wayne Rogers (formerly Trapper John in M*A*S*H) took his place.
In this TV movie, viewers finally got to see Jeannie’s navel: sensitive producers had kept it hidden by her harem slacks during the original run – again, one thing that US TV executives were not in the 1960s was daring.
Six years on, on 20 October 1991, there was a second revival (I Still Dream Of Jeannie) but, this time, no one played the part of Nelson: conveniently, he was away, deep in space.
Larry Hagman died on 23 November 2012 after a battle with cancer. He was 81.
Some episodes of I Dream Of Jeannie featured an ‘invisible’ dog. The dog’s name was Djinn Djinn and he belonged to Jeannie.
The dog (who was actually only invisible some of the time) despised all uniformed men, which Jeannie explained was because the palace guards had been unkind to him in past years. In his appearances on the show, the vicious little beast shredded many a trouser leg and was once turned into a porcelain statue when one of Jeannie’s spells went awry, as they were wont to do.
He also became a proud father in a story that involved Roger telling everyone Jeannie was pregnant when it was in fact actually Mrs Djinn Djinn who was expecting.
Capt/Maj. Anthony Nelson
Capt/Maj. Roger Healey
Dr Alfred Bellows
Gen. Martin Petersen
Gen. Wingard Stone
Gen. Winfield Schaeffer