I Dream of Jeannie

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I Dream of Jeannie
I Dream of Jeannie.png
FormatFantasy sitcom
Created bySidney Sheldon
Directed byGene Nelson
Hal Cooper
Claudio Guzman
StarringBarbara Eden
Larry Hagman
Bill Daily
Hayden Rorke
Emmaline Henry
Opening theme"Jeannie"
Composer(s)Richard Wess
Hugo Montenegro
Nelson Riddle
Van Alexander
Sonny Burke
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons5
No. of episodes139 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)Sidney Sheldon (1967–1970)
Producer(s)Sidney Sheldon (1965–1967)
Claudio Guzman (1967–1970)
Editor(s)William Martin
Location(s)Sunset Gower Studios
Columbia Ranch
CinematographyFrederick Gately
Fred Jackman
Robert Tobey
Lothrop Worth
Camera setupSingle-camera
Running time25 minutes per episode
Production company(s)Sidney Sheldon Productions
Screen Gems Television
DistributorSony Pictures Television
Broadcast
Original channelNBC
Picture format35 mm film
Black-and-White (1965-1966)
Color (1966-1970)
Audio formatMonaural
Original runSeptember 18, 1965 – May 26, 1970
Chronology
Followed byI Dream of Jeannie... Fifteen Years Later
I Still Dream of Jeannie
Related showsJeannie
 
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Not to be confused with Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair.
For 1952 film, see I Dream of Jeanie (film).
I Dream of Jeannie
I Dream of Jeannie.png
FormatFantasy sitcom
Created bySidney Sheldon
Directed byGene Nelson
Hal Cooper
Claudio Guzman
StarringBarbara Eden
Larry Hagman
Bill Daily
Hayden Rorke
Emmaline Henry
Opening theme"Jeannie"
Composer(s)Richard Wess
Hugo Montenegro
Nelson Riddle
Van Alexander
Sonny Burke
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons5
No. of episodes139 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)Sidney Sheldon (1967–1970)
Producer(s)Sidney Sheldon (1965–1967)
Claudio Guzman (1967–1970)
Editor(s)William Martin
Location(s)Sunset Gower Studios
Columbia Ranch
CinematographyFrederick Gately
Fred Jackman
Robert Tobey
Lothrop Worth
Camera setupSingle-camera
Running time25 minutes per episode
Production company(s)Sidney Sheldon Productions
Screen Gems Television
DistributorSony Pictures Television
Broadcast
Original channelNBC
Picture format35 mm film
Black-and-White (1965-1966)
Color (1966-1970)
Audio formatMonaural
Original runSeptember 18, 1965 – May 26, 1970
Chronology
Followed byI Dream of Jeannie... Fifteen Years Later
I Still Dream of Jeannie
Related showsJeannie

I Dream of Jeannie is an American sitcom with a fantastical premise. The show starred Barbara Eden as a 2,000-year-old genie, and Larry Hagman as an astronaut who becomes her master, with whom she falls in love and eventually marries. Produced by Screen Gems, the show originally aired from September 1965 to May 1970 with new episodes, and through September 1970 with season repeats, on NBC. The show ran for five seasons and produced 139 episodes. The first season consisted of 30 episodes filmed in black and white.

Show history[edit]

Original run[edit]

Tony and Jeannie.

The series was created and produced by Sidney Sheldon in response to the great success of rival network ABC's Bewitched series, which had debuted in 1964 as the second most watched program in the United States. Sheldon, inspired by the movie The Brass Bottle, which had starred Tony Randall, Barbara Eden, and Burl Ives as the genie Fakrash, came up with the idea for a beautiful female genie. Both I Dream of Jeannie and Bewitched were Screen Gems productions. The show debuted at 8 p.m., Saturday, September 18, 1965, on NBC.

When casting was opened for the role of Jeannie, producer Sidney Sheldon could not find an actress who could play the role the way that he had written it. He did have one specific rule: He did not want a blonde genie because there would be too much similarity with the blonde witch on Bewitched. However, after many unsuccessful auditions, he called Barbara Eden's agent. When NBC began telecasting most of its prime time television programs in color in fall 1965, Jeannie was one of two regular programs on NBC that remained in black and white, in this case because of the special photographic effects employed to achieve Jeannie's magic. By the second season, however, further work had been done on techniques to create the visual effects in color, necessary because by 1966 all US prime time series were being made in color.

According to Dreaming of Jeannie, a book by Stephen Cox and Howard Frank, Sheldon originally wanted to film season one in color, but NBC did not want to pay for the extra expenses, as the network (and Screen Gems) believed the series would not make it to a second season. According to Sheldon in his autobiography The Other Side of Me, he offered to pay the extra US$400 an episode needed for color filming at the beginning of the series, but Screen Gems executive Jerry Hyams advised him: "Sidney, don't throw your money away." [1]

Nielsen ratings[edit]

Syndication[edit]

When reruns debuted on New York's WPIX, Jeannie won its time period with a 13 rating and a 23 share of the audience.[7] The series averaged a 14 share and 32 share of the audience when WTTG in Washington, D.C. began airing the series.[8] It was the first off-network series to best network competition in the ratings: "The big switch no doubt representing the first time in rating history that indies (local stations) have knocked over the network stations in a primetime slot was promoted by WPIX's premiere of the off-web Jeannie reruns back to back from 7 to 8 p.m."[9]

Animated series[edit]

Hanna-Barbera Productions produced an animated series Jeannie from September 1973 to 1975, which featured Jeannie (voiced by Julie McWhirter) and genie-in-training Babu (voiced by former Three Stooges star Joe Besser) as the servants of Corey Anders, a high-school student (voiced by Mark Hamill).

Cast[edit]

Regulars[edit]

Recurring characters[edit]

Storyline[edit]

Main article: List of I Dream of Jeannie episodes (including DVD and VHS release information).
Jeannie, free from her bottle, is very happy to meet Tony.

In the pilot episode, "The Lady in the Bottle", astronaut Captain Tony Nelson, US Air Force, is on a space flight when his one-man capsule Stardust One comes down far from the planned recovery area, near a deserted island in the South Pacific. On the beach, Tony notices a strange bottle that rolls by itself. When he rubs it after removing the stopper, smoke starts shooting out and a Persian-speaking female genie (wearing an enticing harem costume) materializes and kisses Tony on the lips with passion, shocking him. (In the second season's animated opening, it is a kiss on the cheek; and, Tony is happy to receive it.)

They cannot understand each other until Tony expresses his wish that Jeannie (a homophone of genie) could speak English, which she then does. Then, per his instructions, she "blinks" and causes a recovery helicopter to show up to rescue Tony, who is so grateful that he tells her she is free. But Jeannie, who has fallen in love with Tony at first sight after being trapped for 2,000 years, re-enters her bottle and rolls it into Tony's duffel bag so she can accompany him back home. One of the first things Jeannie does, in a subsequent episode, is break up Tony's engagement to his commanding general's daughter, who, along with that particular general, is never seen again. (This event reflects producer Sidney Sheldon's decision that the engagement depicted in the pilot episode would not be part of the series continuity; he realized the romantic triangle he created between Jeannie, "Master", and Melissa Stone wouldn't pan out in the long run.)

Tony at first keeps Jeannie in her bottle most of the time; but, he finally relents and allows her to enjoy a life of her own. However, her life is devoted mostly to his, and most of their problems stem from her love and affection towards Tony, and her desire to please him and fulfill her ancient heritage as a genie, especially when he doesn't want her to do so. His efforts to cover up Jeannie's antics, because of his fear that he would be dismissed from the space program if her existence were known, brings him to the attention of NASA's resident psychiatrist, US Air Force Colonel Dr. Alfred Bellows. In a running gag, Dr. Bellows tries over and over to prove to his superiors that Tony is either crazy or hiding something, but he is always foiled ("He's done it to me, again!") and Tony's job remains secure. A frequently used plot device is that Jeannie loses her powers when she is confined in a closed space. She is unable to leave her bottle when it is corked; and, under certain circumstances, the person who removed the cork would become her new master. A multi-episode story arc (see below) involves Jeannie (in miniature) becoming trapped in a safe when it is accidentally locked.

The Blue Djinn and Jeannie, 1966.

Tony's best friend and fellow astronaut, US Army Corps of Engineers Captain Roger Healey, does not know about Jeannie for several episodes; when he finds out (in the episode "The Richest Astronaut in the Whole Wide World" [January 15, 1966]), he steals her so he can live in luxury, but not for long before Tony reclaims his status as Jeannie's master. Roger continues to demonstrate his desire to use Jeannie's powers for his own "selfish" benefit, but for the most part he respects Tony's status as Jeannie's master. Both Tony and Roger are promoted to the rank of major late in the first season.

Jeannie's sister, mentioned in a second-season episode (also named Jeannie and also portrayed by Barbara Eden [albeit in a brunette wig]), proves to have a mean streak starting in the third season (demonstrated in her initial appearance in "Jeannie or the Tiger?" [September 19, 1967]), repeatedly trying to steal Tony for herself, with her as the real "master". Her final attempt in the series comes right after Tony and Jeannie get married, with a ploy involving a man played by Barbara Eden's real-life husband at the time, Michael Ansara (in a kind of in-joke, while Jeannie's sister pretends to be attracted to him, she privately scoffs at him). Jeannie's sister wears a green costume, with a skirt rather than pantaloons.

Early in the fifth season [September 30, 1969], Jeannie is called upon by her Uncle Sully (Jackie Coogan) to become queen of their family's native country, Basenji. Tony inadvertently gives grave offense to Basenji national pride in their feud with neighboring Kasja. To regain favor, Tony is required by Sully to marry Jeannie and avenge Basenji's honor, by killing the ambassador from Kasja when he visits NASA. After Sully puts Tony through an ordeal of nearly killing the ambassador, Tony responds in a fit of anger that he is fed up with Sully and his cohorts and he would not marry Jeannie if she were "the last genie on earth". Hearing this, Jeannie bitterly leaves Tony and returns to Basenji. With Jeannie gone, Tony realizes how deeply he loves her. That outweighs all concerns he has had about Jeannie's threat to his career. He flies to Basenji to win Jeannie back. Upon their return to NASA, Tony introduces Jeannie as his fiancée. The two get married several weeks later. The public introduction of Jeannie heralds a change in the series continuity: the secret is no longer Jeannie's existence, but merely that she possesses magical powers, contrary to the mythology created by Sidney Sheldon's own season two script for "The Birds and Bees Bit", in which it was claimed that, upon marriage, a genie loses all of her magical powers.

Multi-part story arcs[edit]

On several occasions, multi-part story arcs were created to serve as backgrounds for national contests. During the second season, in a story that is the focus of a two-part episode and a peripheral plot of two further episodes (the "Guess Jeannie's Birthday" contest began with the opening two-part episode on November 14, 1966, concluding with the name of the winner revealed after the end of the fourth episode, "My Master, the Great Caruso", on December 5), it was established that Jeannie did not know her birthday, and her family members could not agree when it was, either. Tony and Roger use NASA's powerful new computer and horoscopic guidance based on Jeannie's traits to calculate it. The year is quickly established as 64 BC, but only Roger is privy to the exact date and he decides to make a game out of revealing it. This date became the basis of the contest. Jeannie finally forces it out of him at the end of the fourth episode: April 1. This date conflicts with the birthday given to her in the Season 1 episode "G.I. Jeannie": July 1.

In a third-season four-part episode ("Genie, Genie, Who's Got the Genie?" [January 16 – February 6, 1968]), Jeannie is locked in a safe bound for the moon. Any attempt to force the safe or use the wrong combination will destroy it with an explosive. Jeannie is in there so long that whoever opens the safe will become her master. The episodes spread out over four weeks, during which a contest was held to guess the safe's combination. This explains why Larry Hagman is never seen saying the combination out loud: His mouth is hidden behind the safe or the shot is on Jeannie when he says it. The combination was not decided until just before the episode aired, with Hagman's voice dubbed in. Over the closing credits, Barbara Eden announced and congratulated the contest winner, with 4–9–7 as the winning combination.

In the fourth season, a two-part episode, "The Case Of My Vanishing Master" [January 6–13, 1969], concerned Tony being taken to a secret location somewhere in the world, while a perfect double took his place at home. A contest was held to guess the location to which Tony had been taken. Unlike earlier contests, the answer was not revealed within the story. At the end of "Invisible House For Sale" [February 3, 1969], there was a special "contest epilogue" where Jeannie and Tony revealed to the audience the "secret location", Puerto Rico, followed by the name of the "Grand Prize Winner".

Setting[edit]

Although the series was set in and around Cape Kennedy, Florida, and Nelson lived at 1020 Palm Drive[10][11] in nearby Cocoa Beach, California locales were used in place of Florida ones. The exterior of the building where he and Healey had offices was actually the main building at the Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, north of Los Angeles.[12] "If you look at some of those old [episodes], it's supposed to be shot in Cocoa Beach but in the background you have mountains — the Hollywood Hills," Bill Daily said.[13] In actuality, the home of Maj. Nelson was filmed at the Warner Ranch, in Burbank (on Blondie Street). Many exteriors were filmed at this facility. Interior filming was done at the Sunset Gower Studios in Hollywood.

The cast and crew only made two visits to Florida's Space Coast, both in 1969. On June 27, a parade in Cocoa Beach escorted Eden and the rest of the cast to Cocoa Beach City Hall, where she was greeted by fans and city officials. They were then taken to LC-43 at Cape Canaveral where she pressed a button to launch a Loki-Dart weather rocket. They had dinner at Bernard's Surf, where Eden was given the state of Florida's Commodore Award for outstanding acting. Later the entourage went to Lee Caron's Carnival Club where Eden was showered with gifts and kissed astronaut Buzz Aldrin on the cheek, just two weeks before the Apollo 11 launch.[14]

I Dream of Jeannie Lane sign in Cocoa Beach, Fla.

The cast and crew returned on November 25, 1969 for three days for a mock wedding of Eden and Hagman staged for television writers from around the nation (timed to the airing of the nuptials episode on December 2) at the Patrick Air Force Base Officers Club.[13] Florida Governor Claude Kirk attended and cut the cake for the couple.[14]

Eden returned 27 years later, in July 1996, as a featured speaker for Space Days at the Kennedy Space Center. Cocoa Beach Mayor Joe Morgan presented her an "I Dream of Jeannie Lane" street sign, later installed on a short street off A1A near Lori Wilson Park.[14]

On September 15, 2005, the area held a "We Dream of Jeannie" festival, including a Jeannie lookalike contest. There had been plans for one in 2004, but it was interrupted by Hurricane Frances and Hurricane Jeanne. However, a Jeannie lookalike contest was held in 2004, with Bill Daily attending.

On August 24, 2012, Cocoa Beach City leaders honored the show with a roadside plaque outside Lori Wilson Park.[15]

Factual and geographic errors[edit]

NASA astronauts did not live in Florida at the time of the series. Since 1962, they lived and trained at the Manned Spacecraft Center (now Johnson Space Center) in Houston.

Many of the exterior shots of Tony's home or other areas show mountains or hills in the background. The actual respective terrains of Florida and southeast Texas – where the real-life astronauts of that time lived and trained – are flat (especially the areas around Cape Kennedy and Cocoa Beach where the Nelsons were shown to have lived in the sitcom).

Theme music[edit]

The first season theme music was an instrumental jazz waltz written by Richard Wess. Eventually, Sidney Sheldon became dissatisfied with Wess' theme and musical score.[citation needed] From the second season on, it was replaced by a new theme entitled "Jeannie", composed by Hugo Montenegro with lyrics by Buddy Kaye. Episode 20 and 25 used a re-recorded ending of "Jeannie" for the closing credits with new, longer drum breaks and a different closing riff. The lyrics were never used in the show.

Songwriters Gerry Goffin and Carole King wrote a theme, called "Jeannie", for Sidney Sheldon before the series started, but it was not used.[16]

In the third and fourth season of the show, another instrumental theme by Hugo Montenegro was introduced that was played during the show's campy scenes. Simply titled "Mischief", the theme would be heard mainly on outdoor locations, showing the characters attempting to do something such as Jeannie learning to drive, Major Nelson arriving up the driveway, a monkey walking around, or reactions to Doctor Bellows. This theme featured the accompaniment of a sideshow organ, a trombone, and electric bass. It was introduced in the first episode of season 3, "Fly Me to the Moon".[citation needed]

Opening sequence[edit]

The first few episodes after the pilot (episodes two through eight) used a non-animated, expository opening narrated by Paul Frees; the narration mentions that Nelson lived in "a mythical town" named Cocoa Beach in "a mythical state called Florida". For the first color season, it was expanded to include footage of Captain Nelson's space capsule splashing down on the beach, and Jeannie dancing out of her bottle and kissing Nelson. In addition, the image of the bottle itself was modified to reflect its new decoration. Both original versions of the show's animated opening sequence were done by famed animator Friz Freleng.

The bottle[edit]

Jeannie's origin[edit]

In the first season, it is made clear that Jeannie was originally a human who was turned into a genie by (as later revealed) the Blue Djinn when she refused to marry him. Several members of her family, including her parents, are rather eccentric, but none are genies. Her mother describes the family as "just peasants from the old country". (Note that the term "Djinn" is synonymous with "genie".) The Blue Djinn was played by Barbara Eden's first husband, Michael Ansara. In later seasons, he also played King Kamehameha and Biff Jellico.

The topic of Jeannie originally being human is restated in season two during the episode, "How to be a Genie in 10 Easy Lessons". Jeannie mentions that she has a sister who is a genie, but the phrasing – "she was a genie when I left Baghdad" – does bring up the question of whether she too was born a genie.

In the third season, this continuity was changed retroactively and it was assumed that Jeannie has always been a genie. All her relatives are then also genies, including, by the fourth season, her mother (also played by Barbara Eden). This may have been done to increase the similarity with Bewitched, or simply to increase the number of possible plotlines. Whatever the reason, this new concept was retained for the rest of the series.

The TV movie I Dream of Jeannie... Fifteen Years Later (1985) reiterates most of Jeannie's first-season origin when she tells her son, Tony Jr., that she was trapped in her bottle by an evil djinn after she refused to marry him. (There is no specific statement, however, about whether he turned her into a genie at that time or if she had been born one.)

In a 1966 paperback novel published by Pocket Books, very loosely based on the series, it was established in the story that Jeannie (in the book, her real name is revealed as "Fawzia") and her immediate family were genies living in Tehran hundreds of years before Tony found her bottle on an island in the Persian Gulf (instead of the South Pacific, as depicted on TV).

References in popular culture[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Sheldon, Sidney (Aug 1, 2006). The Other Side of Me. Hachette Digital, Inc. 
  2. ^ ClassicTVHits.com: TV Ratings > 1965–1966
  3. ^ ClassicTCHits.com: TV Ratings > 1966–1967
  4. ^ ClassicTVHits.com: TV Ratings > 1967–1968
  5. ^ ClassicTVHits.com: TV Ratings > 1968–1969
  6. ^ ClassicTVHits.com: TV Ratings > 1969–1970
  7. ^ Variety, October 6, 1971.
  8. ^ Variety, September 22, 1971.
  9. ^ Variety, October 6, 1971.
  10. ^ James Henerson (writer) & Claudio Guzman (director) (January 27, 1969). "Ride 'Em Astronaut". I Dream of Jeannie. Season 4. Episode 15. NBC.
  11. ^ James Henerson (writer) & Hal Cooper (director) (February 3, 1969). "Invisible House For Sale". I Dream of Jeannie. Season 4. Episode 16. NBC.
  12. ^ Creech, Gray "NASA on Classic TV" (November 3, 2005) http://www.nasa.gov/missions/research/classic_tv_prt.htm
  13. ^ a b "Cocoa Beach celebrates 40 years of 'I Dream of Jeannie'" The Associated Press (2006) http://www.usatoday.com/travel/destinations/2005-09-15-cocoa-beach_x.htm
  14. ^ a b c Osborne, Ray I Dream of Jeannie Days
  15. ^ "'I Dream of Jeannie' gets historical marker in Cocoa Beach". Central Florida News 13. Retrieved 2012-08-25. 
  16. ^ Cox, Stephen; Howard Frank (2000-03-18). Dreaming of Jeannie: TV's Prime Time in a Bottle. St. Martin's Griffin. ISBN 0-312-20417-5. 
  17. ^ "I Dream Of Jesus", by The Dead Milkmen (Lyrics Time)
  18. ^ Erin Sanders: Big Time Rush episode "Big Time Songwriters" (Childstarlets.com)
  19. ^ "Charmed, I Dream of Phoebe, Season 6". Tntdrama.com. Retrieved 2013-09-05. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]