Long before Larry Hagman was mean-old womanising oil baron J R Ewing in Dallas, he was clean living Captain Tony Nelson of the US Air Force in this highly successful sitcom that was NBC's answer to rival network ABC's series Bewitched.
When Nelson crash-landed on a desert island in the South Pacific, he stumbled upon an old bottle containing a genie. On releasing the genie he found that she was a beautiful blonde who instantly fell in love with him. Jeannie (as he so named her) accompanied Nelson back to his Florida home where she was happy to serve his every need (no, not that...this was the 1960's), and call him 'Master.'
The beautiful Barbara Eden played the spirit from the bottle who, in spite of wearing a skimpy chiffon outfit had to keep her navel covered by order of the Network Bosses. In order that the viewer should be left in no doubt as to the wholesomeness of Tony and Jeannie's relationship, he was given a fiance in the early episodes. However, the 'other woman' was soon dropped and eventually, after Jeannie's many attempts to please had dropped Tony in a number of tricky situations, the two main characters finally 'tie the knot'.
Tony's best friend and confidante was Captain Roger Healey (Bill Daily). There have been several revivals of I Dream of Jeannie, the first was a one-off TV movie imaginatively entitled I Dream of Jeannie Fifteen Years Later, but former M*A*S*H star Wayne Rogers stepped into Hagman's shoes when the latter's Dallas commitments precluded him from the special. A shame really, because the viewers -and Tony- finally got to see her navel!
Published on December 21st, 2018. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.