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I Dream of Jeannie

Entry updated 19 December 2017. Tagged: TV.

American tv series (1965-1970). Screen Gems/Sidney Sheldon Productions for NBC. Executive producer Sidney Sheldon. Writers included Sidney Sheldon, James S Henerson, and Martin Roth. Directors included Hal Cooper, Claudio Guzmán, Gene Nelson, and E W Swackhamer. 5 seasons, 139 30-minute episodes. Colour.

Astronaut Tony Nelson (Larry Hagman), forced to land on a remote desert island after a Space Flight, finds a bottle that contains a beautiful female genie with magical powers, who is named Jeannie (Barbara Eden). He brings her home, but only reveals her true nature to fellow astronaut Roger Healey (Bill Daily). Jeannie proceeds to complicate Nelson's life, as her well-intentioned magic often has unfortunate effects, and he must struggle to explain her fantastic antics to skeptical NASA physician Roger Bellows (Hayden Rorke) and his suspicious wife Amanda (Emmaline Henry). In the series' fifth and final season, Nelson and Jeannie get married.

Needless to say, any drama featuring a magical genie must be primarily classified as a Fantasy; yet Nelson's occupation, involving frequent space missions, also made this series an example of near-future sf, as his exploits paralleled or anticipated the achievements of the American space programme. Thus, there are episodes in which Nelson makes a pioneering spacewalk, joins a three-person flight that orbits the Moon, and participates in an experiment to determine how people might live in a lunar base. One can almost make this silly series seem interesting by regarding Nelson's central predicament as his need to make a choice between scientific reality (his career as an astronaut, which he professes is very important to him) and an attractive fantasy (the lovely Jeannie, devoted to using her magic to fulfil all of Nelson's wishes). For example, in the episode "Has Anyone Seen Jeannie?" (1965) Jeannie first tries to prevent Nelson from taking a spacewalk, fearing for his safety, and then, once he is in space, materializes next to him to take his attention away from the experience of floating in space. His final decision to marry Jeannie, then, could be said to reflect America's own apparent decision to abandon dramatic new space initiatives in the 1970s in favor of the appealing fantasies of Star Trek and Star Wars. Characters from the series later reappeared in two tv films, I Dream of Jeannie ... Fifteen Years Later (1985) and I Still Dream of Jeannie (1991). [GW]


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