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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » I Dream of Jeannie - The Complete Fifth and Final Season
I Dream of Jeannie - The Complete Fifth and Final Season
Sony Pictures // Unrated // July 8, 2008
List Price: $39.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Paul Mavis | posted July 3, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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The bottle is empty. Sony has released I Dream of Jeannie: The Complete Fifth and Final Season, starring the gorgeous Barbara Eden and the expertly funny Larry Hagman. Going for broke in a misguided effort to inject some new vim into the mid-level performing series, network execs demanded a major plot alteration for this final season (against the wishes of the creative staff) which, true to form for such fundamental premise changes, lessened the impact of the show. But it probably wouldn't have mattered one way or the other, anyway. I Dream of Jeannie had already well-mined the possibilities of a handsome bachelor astronaut living with a real, live genie, inevitably creating a bit of let-down with this hit-and-miss, half-hearted final go-around.

For those living on Mars the past thirty-eight years, a brief summary of the show should suffice. In this final season of I Dream of Jeannie, astronaut Major Tony Nelson (Larry Hagman) has been living with an honest-to-goodness genie-in-a-bottle for the last four years at his nicely appointed bachelor home in Cocoa Beach, Florida. And for the last four years, the conveniently named Jeannie (Barbara Eden) has been thoroughly screwing up his life with one hair-brained "boink" after another ("boink" being the sound Jeannie makes when she grants her "Master" a wish). Eager to please him in any way (that's right, guys), the sweet, innocent, but delightfully sexy Jeannie often compounds her wish-granting mistakes by involving Tony's next-door-neighbor and fellow astronaut Major Roger Healey (Bill Daily), all the while trying to avoid detection by suspicious but essentially clueless Dr. Bellows (Hayden Rorke), Tony's and Roger's superior in the Air Force astronaut program. Acting much more like a friend to Tony this season, Dr. Bellows frequently runs interference for Tony in his dealings with new superior, General Schaeffer (Vinton Haworth). Of course, the big news this season is the fact that what we all suspected before about Tony and Jeannie (that they were doing it) seems to be confirmed with their mid-season marriage, bringing Jeannie firmly in line with other contemporary sitcom housewives.

TV Land is littered with sitcoms and dramas that sank (creatively as well as ratings-wise) the minute two lead characters succumbed to temptation and ended the sexual tension that kept audiences on edge during the shows' runs (Moonlighting would have to be the most spectacular flame-out example). According to the accepted line on I Dream of Jeannie, the move to make Tony and Jeannie a respectable married couple was forced on the series by the network big-wigs - a creatively debilitating move that the actors, producers and writers resisted, but to no avail. If this scenario is indeed true, I can't imagine what the network honchos hoped to gain by this twist on the series' basic premise, other than perhaps a quick fix with the ratings (which were never that spectacular with Jeannie). After all, the whole point of the show is Tony trying to hide Jeannie. Unlike Durweed over on Bewitched, who hated Samantha's witchcraft because it was otherworldly, "un-human," and outside the "norms" of society, Tony almost always enjoys Jeannie's hocus-pocus (or at least laughs about it when everything turns out okay). He has no qualms with who she is - essentially, an alien being with magical powers - but he does have to keep her underwraps because it wouldn't look good if his bosses knew he was living with a girl, and it certainly wouldn't look good if they found out she was a real genie.

That's why Tony can never keep any of the stuff that Jeannie "boinks" into existence: a surplus of wealth would be an immediate tip-off to everyone that Tony the astronaut was getting extra money from somewhere. But now with his marriage to Jeannie known to one and all, the basic idea of the show is virtually eliminated. Now, Jeannie's magic is the only element that needs to be explained away, and aside from the outsized nature of the tricks she pulls, they're really no different that the stuff Lucy used to get up to with Ricky. Sure, Lucy never made a goat appear at Ricky's nightclub, but as Ricky's wife, her wackiness was something that could be safely explained away time and time again as the actions of a anxious, slightly addle-patted wife - which is close to how Jeannie is treated in this season.

Gone obviously, too, is the slightly naughty sexual chemistry that existed prior to Tony's and Jeannie's nuptials. Whereas before, when Jeannie would purr, "Your wish is my command, Master," men all over America ticked off their own particular (or peculiar) sexual fantasy with the pin-up-worthy Eden, making for a subtextual good time with this frothy little fantasy. But now...Jeannie is a wife, for chrissakes, and although admirably her character doesn't change one iota (she still calls Tony "Master"), and she doesn't fall into most of the traditional sitcom wife stereotypes (no nagging, no bossing around, no constant threat of leaving), it's still somehow...different. And "less." The fantasy element is severely limited. The spontaneity and unpredictability of the character has been muted by a marriage license; now, Jeannie's most feverish wish is to be a model housewife, making her little different than Sam Stephens over on 1164 Morning Glory Circle. Who cares if she calls Tony "Master" now? They're safely married; the potential perversity of the premise has been legislated out, courtesy of the State of Florida.

The comedic edge seems to be off the series, as well. Dr. Bellows, more and more, acts as Tony's father-figure friend, rather than his nemesis, eliminating a good deal of the tension of Jeannie's infractions (if we know Bellows isn't going to "bellow," what's the point of Tony worrying about Jeannie's "boinking" around?). I miss Barton MacLane's gruff, no-nonsense General Martin Peterson (MacLane had died during the fourth season); now we have Vinton Haworth's General Schaeffer, who's far too gullible and kind-hearted to be the ultimate threat of expulsion for Tony, should Jeannie be found out. Even Roger seems out of the loop, being frequently called away from the arms of a good looking girl to be arbitrarily inserted into the plots, unlike earlier seasons where he paled around with Tony on a regular basis (Roger seems particularly sex-crazed this season; a coarser take on the character).

Worse still, many of the episodes this season don't have the manic spark of the funny fourth season (and what's with that rather surreal, bizarre wedding episode, with its different POV perspectives and slow-motion sequences, and decidedly creepy music? Someone had to know that pivotal episode was badly handled). Hagman, who was a particular delight as the very harried Tony, now seems decidedly grumpy as the very married Tony this time around. The slapstick pratfalls are cut way back, while Hagman's desultory line-readings noticeably lack any zing or pep. Knock-out Eden (is she possibly the sexiest woman ever to grace a sitcom?) is irrepressible as always, but it's not hard to notice she too looks slightly strained here, perhaps recognizing that the show, regardless of the ill-chosen new direction in the series' format, had probably run its course - something audiences obviously felt, as well (seriously: enough with Djinn Djinn the dog). Never a big ratings hit, I Dream of Jeannie did manage to pull itself up into the Nielsen Top Thirty the previous season, largely because its follow-up show, Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, was the number one series in the country. However, for this fifth season, NBC made the decision to move Jeannie back to its third season timeslot on Tuesdays at 7:30pm, where, without the benefit of Laugh-In's anticipatory audience, it got creamed by ABC's counter-culture hit, The Mod Squad. NBC put the genie back in the bottle, and the series was quietly cancelled.

Here are the twenty-six, one-half hour episodes of I Dream of Jeannie: The Complete Fifth and Final Season four-disc set, as described on their slimcases:

DISC ONE:

Jeannie at the Piano
Tony's forced to perform at Carnegie Hall after Jeannie blinks some magic into a small NASA piano he was playing. Unfortunately, Tony makes it to Carnegie Hall and the piano doesn't.

Djinn Djinn, the Pied Piper
Jeannie's magical dog Djinn Djinn returns and creates enough havoc to land himself and General Schaeffer's dog Jupiter in the dog pound.

Guess Who's Going to be a Bride (Part 1)
It's Jeannie and Tony's five year anniversary as Master and genie. Jeannie's offered the throne of her uncle's country, the sworn enemy of a neighboring country working with NASA. The catch is she must take a husband.

Guess Who's Going to Be a Bride? (Part 2)
After offending Jeannie and her uncle and ruining NASA's partnership with Kasha (enemy of Bahsenji), Tony must rush to the Far East to get Jeannie back, even if it means proposing to her.

Jeannie's Beauty Cream
When Mrs. Bellows admires Jeannie's young skin, Jeannie lends her a jar of special face cream. The cream turns Mrs. Bellows into a beautiful young girl no one recognizes, not even her husband Dr. Bellows!

Jeannie and the Bachelor Party
Dr. Bellows and Roger scheme to throw Tony a bachelor party, against his wishes. To make matters worse, Jeannie and Mrs. Bellows find out.

DISC TWO:

The Blood of a Jeannie
Things get sticky when Jeannie informs Tony that genies have green corpuscles instead of red ones. The problem is she has to pass Dr. Bellow's blood test before they can be married.

I'll See You in C.U.B.A.
Jeannie repeatedly blinks Tony down from an experimental aircraft on its way to Puerto Rico. Everything goes wrong when Jeannie accidentally blinks Tony and the aircraft to Havana, Cuba instead.

Jeannie & the Mad Home Wrecker
As an early wedding gift, Dr. and Mrs. Bellows give Jeannie and Tony a grotesque piece of modern art. Things only get worse when the NASA staff chips in to have the same artist redecorate Tony's entire house!

Uncles A-Go-Go
In order for Jeannie to marry, one of her uncles must approve of her husband-to-be. The only problem is two uncles show up and Tony has to make both of the men happy.

The Wedding
It's time for the wedding; the only problem is Jeannie can't be photographed, and every photographer in town has been granted permission to photograph the wedding!

My Sister, the Home Wrecker
Jeannie's twin makes one final go at Tony. This time she poses as Jeannie and leads Roger and the Bellowses to believe she is having an affair with another astronaut.

Jeannie, the Matchmaker
Feeling sorry for Roger, Jeannie finds him a date at a computer dating agency. As the same time, Tony arranges a date for Roger with the General's niece on the same night!

DISC THREE:

Never Put a Genie on a Budget
After an outrageous shopping spree, Tony tries to teach Jeannie how to live on a budget. Only Jeannie gets a little too frugal just in time for them to host a visiting Russian cosmonaut.

Please Don't Give My Jeannie No More Wine
Jeannie blinks a bottle of wine for a casual dinner at the Bellowses' home. Unfortunately the wine makes humans invisible.

One of Our Hotels is Growing
On vacation, Jeannie, Tony, Roger and the Bellowses are informed the hotel they reserved is booked. To solve the problem, Jeannie blinks a thirteenth floor.

The Solid Gold Jennie
Jeannie blinks into Tony's decontamination chamber at NASA without knowing she must remain hidden there for 21 days with Tony, Roger, and another astronaut!

Mrs. Djinn Djinn
Roger mistakenly spreads the word across NASA that Jeannie is expecting a baby when the only one expecting is Mrs. Djinn Djinn.

Jeannie and the Curious Kid
Dr. Bellows' nosy nephew stays with the Nelsons and soon discovers the truth when he spies Jeannie turning into smoke. After the boy returns to the Bellowses, Tony finds Jeannie and her bottle are missing!

Jeannie, the Recording Secretary
Jeannie's voted recording secretary of the Officers' Wives Club and finds a trip to Hawaii is offered to the wife with the best husband. She blinks Tony down from a training mission for his interview, but he's fast asleep and impossible to revive.

DISC FOUR:

Help, Help! A Shark!
Tony causes General Schaffer to lose a high stakes pool match, but after Jeannie's magic makes Tony a pool shark, the General demands Tony play for him in the rematch.

Eternally Yours, Jeannie
Bonnie, one of Tony's old high school flames, sends him a letter telling him she will be visiting the next day. Jeannie becomes jealous and poses as Bonnie to test his faithfulness.

An Astronaut in Sheep's Clothing
It's their six month wedding anniversary and both Jeannie and Tony have planned special surprises. But an exotic plant, a cashmere goat and a string of pearls spell insanity for the newlyweds.

Hurricane Jeannie
Marooned in the Nelsons' home during a hurricane, Dr. Bellows witnesses multiple acts of magic that finally expose Jeannie as a genie.

One Jeannie Beats Four of a Kind
With Jeannie's help, Tony sets out to expose a card shark who has been robbing NASA officers of their money in fixed poker games.

The Chili King
Tony's visiting cousin cooks up a get-rich-quick scheme and convinces Jeannie to use Tony's face and name to sell cans of chili. Suddenly Tony's in trouble for endorsing a commercial product without NASA's permission.

The DVD:

The Video:
Looking near-perfect again this go-around, the full screen, 1.33:1 video transfers for I Dream of Jeannie: The Complete Fifth and Final Season sport full, bold, saturated colors and relatively sharp images. The occasional scratch or dirt mark shows, but overall, very clean. There are no compression issues to speak of here.

The Audio:
The Dolby Digital mono soundtrack is representative of the original television presentation; all dialogue is cleanly and crisply heard. Optional Spanish and Portuguese sound tracks are available, with subtitles in Spanish and Portuguese. English close-captioning (not an option on the menus) does work for these episodes through your TV.

The Extras:
Except for a couple of those crappy "minisodes" of other series that Sony keeps putting on their TV discs (Fantasy Island and Bewitched here), there are no extras for I Dream of Jeannie: The Complete Fifth and Final Season.

Final Thoughts:
Marrying off Jeannie to her Master doesn't work, and fatally changes the subliminally perverse premise into a stock, boring sitcom. Both performers look uncomfortable, and the scripts are repetitive and thin. Fans of the series will no doubt be curious to see the wedding, but a rental for I Dream of Jeannie: The Complete Fifth and Final Season is about the best I can do for even those dedicated fans.


Paul Mavis is an internationally published film and television historian, a member of the Online Film Critics Society, and the author of The Espionage Filmography.

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