If you haven't heard of I Dream of Jeannie (shame on you), it is a sitcom which began in 1965, which follows the story - and hi-jinx - of Major Tony Nelson (Larry Hagman), an astronaut who crash lands on some desert island in a botched rocket launch and comes into contact with Jeannie (Barbara Eden), a beautiful, Farsi-speaking blond genie, when he unwittingly rescues her and releases her from the bottle she had been trapped in for centuries. Major Nelson finds that she can, indeed, grant wishes and he wishes for a helicopter to find him. Based on his description of a helicopter, she manages to wish the search helicopter to their location. Realizing he won't be able to explain where his genie came from, he releases her, giving her her freedom. Well, she is smitten and has fallen for Major Tony Nelson, and decides to follow him home. And, as they say, hilarity ensues.
As the show progresses, Major Nelson gets a side-kick and straight-man, Major Roger Healey (Bill Daily), who originally played a very small part in the pilot of the show. The two are forever getting into tight spots, thanks to Jeannie's magical intervention, and having to try to keep the base psychiatrist, Dr. Bellows (Hayden Rorke) from finding out that Jeannie is a genie. The mix of ancient magic and modern science makes for ridiculous situations, full of situational comedy, which this show capitalizes on.
I was a fan of I Dream of Jeannie from back in my childhood, but I hadn't realized just how racy the show was for its time. Barbara Eden was quite a beautiful young hottie and she wore clothes that were as revealing as the censors would allow back then. There are numerous shots which allow Barbara Eden fans to admire Barbara's better assets, and a couple of scenes in the pilot where the comes out of the shower and is wearing nothing but Major Tony Nelson's dress shirt, showing a good bit of leg, with the very real threat of giving away more. Mind you, this is in a time when they had problems with the censors because they showed a flume of smoke going under the door of his room, insinuating that Jeannie was joining him in the bedroom... Scandalous!
While Barbara Eden and Larry Hagman's sex appeal helped to generate interest and the hi-jinks that played out made for entertaining comedy, the show really thrived on the sexual tension between Jeannie and Major Tony Nelson, as they tried to define exactly what their relationship was supposed to be and how it translated to modern America. While the women of America were discovering their independence, here was a show whose female lead character wanted nothing more than to be subservient to her man - as a slave - and to please him. Not just a slave, but a slave by choice; Major Nelson had released her from her slavery in the pilot episode, but she decided that meant that she was now free to please him, since that's what she wanted to do. As I said, this sexual tension "made" the show, and when the producers of the show bowed to public pressure and had Jeannie and Major Nelson marry in Season 5, Episode 11, it changed the feeling of the show, but right through to the end, the episodes were funny and entertaining.
In I Dream of Jeannie: The Complete Series, you get all 139 episodes - in color - which is a bit of a feat, since the first thirteen episodes, including the pilot, were actually filmed in black and white. The colorization looks pretty good, but if you listen to the commentary on the pilot with Barbara Eden, Larry Hagman and Bill Daily and listen carefully to what Barbara Eden says, you can note when a dress that was actually green was colorized red. Also, a good deal of the commentary directly discusses the fact that the first thirteen episodes were in black and white. This is actually a bit weird, at times, but it's very entertaining to hear these three reminiscing about the early episodes of the show.
If you are a fan of I Dream of Jeannie, or if someone on your Christmas list is and has been very good this year, I would definitely recommend I Dream of Jeannie: The Complete Series.