December 11-12, 2021
I Dream of Jeannie is a classic fantasy sitcom that ran from 1965-1970, starring Supa-Star Barbara Eden as the titular genie, Jeannie, and Larry Hagman as her reluctant and long-suffering Master, Tony Nelson.
Eden later returned to the role of Jeannie for two reunion telemovies: I Dream of Jeannie… 15 Years Later in 1985 and I Still Dream of Jeannie in 1991.
Even now, nearly fifty years after the show ended, it retains an avid fan-following, and still regularly airs in re-runs around the world.
So, what makes I Dream of Jeannie so special to fans?
The show gave kids a reason to rush home from school.
After a long day at school, it is understandable for kids to drag their feet a little and take their time getting home. But this was not so for kids of the ‘60s, when a new episode of their favourite show was on and there were siblings to battle for control of the remote.
I Dream of Jeannie, along with a few other classic shows including Bewitched and Gilligan’s Island (the latter starring Supa-Star Dawn Wells), ruled the after-school line-up. However, the need to be home to watch I Dream of Jeannie was especially prevalent, due to the show’s penchant for multi-episode storylines.
Most of these multi-episode arcs ran concurrently with a competition, such as guessing the date of Jeannie’s birthday or the combination that would free her from a locked safe. Kids dreamed of being the competition winner, whom Barbara Eden, in character as Jeannie, would often congratulate personally onscreen at the end of the story. But you couldn’t win if you didn’t make it home in time to see the episode!
For many viewers, I Dream of Jeannie was the first show to include the progression of a romance from start to finish.
In fashion with family values of the time, the main couples in most shows airing during the same period as I Dream of Jeannie were either already married or very close to marrying when the shows began. Darrin and Samantha Stephens, for example, were married in the opening minutes of the first episode of Bewitched.
While Jeannie and Tony don’t have the most traditional of courtships, we see it all unfold. From Jeannie and Tony’s first meeting to Tony’s mad dash across the world to win Jeannie back, and their marriage ahead of the show’s final season. For many children, Jeannie and Tony’s relationship was the first slow-burn love story they ever saw unfold onscreen. For that, it will always be special.
The show was the first ‘colour’ series for many viewers.
The first season of I Dream of Jeannie was filmed in black-and-white, which was still the norm at the time. No colourful animated opening, no iconic pink and red costume for Jeannie. For the second season in 1966, however, the show made the jump to full colour.
For some viewers, I Dream of Jeannie would have been the first show they watched in colour. While the series was just as funny and memorable in its black-and-white days, a character as spirited in personality as Jeannie came even more alive in colour. Viewers were also more able to appreciate set props, like Jeannie’s hand-painted green bottle.
I Dream of Jeannie introduced some children to the concept of ‘Easter Eggs’ in TV shows.
I Dream of Jeannie’s iconic animated title sequence, created by legendary animator Friz Freleng, is among the most beloved opening title sequences of all time. However, the full version of this title sequence did not come into use until season two.
The first eight episodes of season one instead used a narrated sequence recapping Jeannie and Tony’s first meeting. For some, this opening is just as memorable, but for a whole different reason. During this sequence, there is a shot of the street where Tony lives in the “mythical” town of Cocoa Beach, in the also “mythical” state of Florida.
Look closely during this shot – the house of Darrin and Samantha Stephens is visible at the end of the street. Young minds were blown away by the fact that one of their favourite shows was happening just down the street!
Barbara Eden will appear at Supanova Comic Con & Gaming Sydney (21–23 June) and Perth (29-30 June).