The girl in the bottle plays 'Spin the Astronaut'.
"All I do is think and blink."
One of the classic 1960s Fantastic Comedies, I Dream Of Jeannie ran on NBC from September 1965 to May 1970. Starring Larry Hagman and Barbara Eden, it depicted the life of American astronaut Captain (later Major) Anthony Nelson and the beautiful genie he acquired while stranded on a desert island after a space mission. Because of the series' repeated emphasis on Jeannie's absolute devotion to Tony, I Dream Of Jeannie is also considered the archetypal Reactionary Fantasy, simultaneously establishing a woman with almost limitless power while literally enslaving her to a man who doesn't want her to use it. Despite the enormous potential for his own personal gain with no risk, Tony Nelson would rather embrace conformity so as to remain in the astronaut program. This being a Sitcom, complete success in his goal of appearing normal is of course denied him.The only question is which gender's fantasy is being indulged. In the first episode, as he was about to be rescued from the desert island where he found her bottle, Tony explicitly freed Jeannie from his service. She followed him back to Florida entirely of her own volition, and when Tony took the most logical approach of saying, "I wish you to vanish!", she laughed that he set her free to do whatever she pleased, and what pleases her is to stick around and take over Tony's life, which may explain Tony's persistent failure to ensure her complete and unconditional obedience afterwards.Tony's efforts to present a stable homelife centered on the opinion of NASA psychiatrist Dr. Alfred Bellows, who had suspected Tony of insanity or worse after the astronaut carelessly described his first encounter with Jeannie during a post-mission examination in the first episode. Complicating this were not only Jeannie and her magical antics, but fellow astronaut Roger Healey, who learned about Jeannie and wanted to exploit her powers for his own benefit (although this was toned down after his first attempt led to near disaster).Dr. Bellows' wife Amanda complemented his suspicions with her own Secret Chaser tendencies, often leaving Tony scrambling to cover for Jeannie's magical eccentricities.Jeannie's sister, mother, and various other friends and relatives from the good old days of Caliph Haroun al'Raschid just added to the chaotic mix. Somehow, though, across the course of the five years the show was on the air, their relationship evolved from master-slave to love between partners.In the last season Jeannie and Tony were married.I Dream Of Jeannie was created by Sidney Sheldon in explicit reaction to the success of Bewitched. Inspired by the movie The Brass Bottle (which coincidentally also starred Barbara Eden, though portly Burl Ives was the Genie in that film, while Barbara was his master's human fiancée), he deliberately inverted the genie trope as it then existed, turning the hideous and borderline-malicious male genie of the Arabian Nights into a beautiful female genie who was eager to please her master. He also gave Tony a clear motivation for maintaining a facade of normality (remaining an astronaut during NASA's glory days, with its chances of making history), as opposed to the unremarkable, dull and conventional life idealized by Darrin Stevens.Sheldon reportedly wanted a brunette Jeannie — mainly to avoid comparisons to the blonde Samantha of Bewitched — but could not find anyone who could play the role as he had envisioned it; Barbara Eden was cast almost in an act of desperation.After its cancellation, I Dream of Jeannie demonstrated remarkable success in syndication, winning timeslots across the country and becoming the first non-network program ever to earn higher ratings than network fare in the same timeslot. By Fall 1971, JeannieReruns in syndication were reaching a larger audience than saw the program first-run on NBC. Its cult-like success spawned the mandatory Animated Adaptation in 1973, and two TV movie semi-reunions — 1985's I Dream of Jeannie: 15 Years Later (in which Wayne Rogers replaced Larry Hagman as Tony) and 1991's I Still Dream of Jeannie (which eliminated Tony entirely).A feature-film version has been rumored for years, with every star(let)-of-the-hour from Paris Hilton to Halle Berry proposed for the title role. The latest incarnation of this project is back in Development Hell after being scheduled for a 2008 release for a while, a curiously identical fate to the film version of Larry Hagman's other TV show.
I Dream Of Jeannie provides examples of:
Accidental Dance Craze: At a party, Jeannie does her 'fold arms, nod head' spell casting gesture. One of the guests sees her, thinks it is a new dance move, and soon everyone at the party is doing it.
Amnesiac Lover: The fate of Major Nelson after the movie. Jeannie, however, resolves to rekindle their love the non-magical way.
Clip Show: "One of the Best Genies A Master Ever Had" (Given the option of being rid of Jeannie once and for all, Tony reminds Roger and Jeannie - and the audience - of all the things she did to him over the last two years.)
Comes Great Responsibility: In one episode, Jeannie gives her powers to Tony without his knowlege. After Hilarity Ensues and he realizes what's happened, he briefly considers using the powers to change the world, like stopping war or famine. Jeannie, though, cautions him that solving such big problems may inadvertently cause even bigger ones, then urges him to stick to something small and managable. By that time, though, Tony's inadvertently given the power to Bellows and more hilarity ensues...
Dumb Blonde: Both played with, and played straighted, with Jeannie. Part of it is due to her being a Fish out of Water and not being particularly familiar with the ways of the modern (1960s) world, but then other times, others (particularly her evil twin sister) uses her naivete to their advantage.
Executive Meddling: Tony and Jeannie's wedding was mandated by NBC executives, who threatened to cancel the show if it weren't made to happen. Even though the production staff gave in, NBC execs still exiled the program to weak timeslots throughout its fifth season in order to give themselves an excuse to kill the series anyway.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: Somehow the lascivious implications of the show's premise — a beautiful, pushy woman living with an unmarried man — appear to have completely slipped past the network censors, who were more concerned about whether or not Barbara Eden's navel was visible.
They did bring that up in the show a couple times.
They allowed it because an early episode showed that Jeannie slept in her bottle.
There was one episode where Tony has to restrain a burly woman who is going crazy. The woman says that she had a secret fantasy of being dominated.
London, England Syndrome: In one episode, Jeannie goes to Reno to file for separation from Tony. He thinks she's been to Reno, Nevada; but she actually went to "Reno, Persia," which seems rather anachronistic since Persia became Iran in 1935.
She might not be aware of that and simply refer to it the way she has always known it — Persia
Magical Gesture: Jeannie always crosses her arms and nods her head, then blinks.
Ms. Fanservice: Jeannie. Notice how her skirts keep getting shorter and shorter with each ensuing season?
Mundane Wish: A common occurrence in the show. Lampshaded in one episode when Jeannie gets downright exasperated that most of Tony's wishes are mundane — but considering Jeannie's cluelessness and occasional mischeviousness, it's hard to argue against him.
Negative Continuity: The show was infamous for its poor continuity. Or the examples, one of the most infamous was that early episodes flat out stated that Jeannie was originally a human girl, born of human parents. Later episodes retconned this with Jeannie flat out saying she was born a genie, and Jeannie had various genie relatives appear in the show, notably her evil sister.
One season 1 episode showed that Jeannie had a pet lion when she was younger, stating that it was her only pet. Later episodes introduce Djinn-Djinn who was her long-lost pet dog (who was also a genie-dog.)
Whether or not Jeannie could be photographed depended on whether it can cause more conflict to the plot.
The second TV movie flat out said the Jeannie's sister never had a master before, despite us seeing one in her first appearance and another epsiode saying she had hundreds of masters (and husbands) before. Bizarrely, it was also implied she never went to the real world, as if the character never appeared on the show.
One season two episode features Jeannie being horrified of Tony going to the bank because people in her time would have their ears chopped off if they could not pay off the loans. A season five episode is driven by Jeannie being utterly confused by the concept of credit.
Easily explained by Jeannie grasping the concept of physical money changing hands but not that of a line of credit. Credit cards were only just becoming commonplace during the original run of the series, making this a Period Piece: many people didn't (and still don't today) understand how credit works.
One episode explained that if Jeannie had married Tony, she would become human and lose her powers, but their children could potentially be genies. When Jeannie and Tony actually did marry in the final season, Jeannie retained her powers without issue.
Added to that, the same episode showed that Jeannie and Tony, if they married, would have a mortal son and a genie daughter. In the TV movies, Jeannie and Tony only have a son, who is treated as a human/genie hybrid.
Reactionary Fantasy: Although often held up as one of the archetypal examples of the Reactionary Fantasy, some commentators have argued that it may in fact be a subversion. Tony actually freed Jeannie upon being rescued in the first episode — only to have Jeannie choose to follow him home anyway. Thus she stays with Tony because she wants to, not because she is bound to him in any way, and her "servitude" and "obedience" are an act on her part. This explain rather neatly why and how she manages to get around his orders so frequently and thoroughly...
Barbara Eden has explained in interviews that 'Master' was only a ceremonial title and that everything Jeannie did was entirely of her free will.
Reality Subtext: Efforts made to hide Eden's pregnancy early in the series.
So that's why she wears that body-enveloping veil in the earliest episodes!
Larry Hagman's work on Dallas led to the recasting of Tony and the character's outright absence in the two reunion movies.
Real-Life Relative: The Blue Djinn, whom Jeannie had scorned 2000 years ago, was played by Michael Ansara, Barbara Eden's husband. He also played two other characters, including one whom Jeannie II "makes love" to (in the milder sense; but still, who better to play such scenes with than your real-life husband, eh what?)
Reassigned to Antarctica: Well, the Aleutians, actually. Tony and Roger get sent there at one point when Jeannie messes up a diplomatic situation.
Replaced the Theme Tune: The black-and-white season 1 had an obscure jazz piece, whereas the color seasons 2-5 had the more upbeat theme we're all familiar with.
Screwed by the Network: When it looked as if Season Five would be the last season, the writers wrote a script for a final episode in which Dr. Bellows finally learns the truth about Jeannie. When the network decided that the series would be renewed for at least another season, the script was changed to where Dr. Bellows' revelation was a nightmare Tony had. After the episode had wrapped up production, and was in the can, the network changed its mind again and decided to cancel the show after all.
Unintentional Period Piece: The TV movies were loaded with 80's fashion. It is very telling that the original 60's series aged much better them. To their credit, the second movie had the sense to put Jeannie in her iconic harem costume for most of the movie.
Wham Line: Tony introduces Jeannie to Schaefer and Bellows: "General, Colonel, I'd like to introduce my fiancee."