on March 24, 2012
During the '60s, television entertained us with the silliest sitcoms, lacking any socially redeeming value whatsoever. The week began with Goldie in LAUGH-IN, followed by Barabara Eden's I DREAM OF JEANNIE, Elizabeth Montgomery in BEWITCHED, Eva Gabor in GREEN ACRES, and bodacious Barbara Feldon in GET SMART, closing with F TROOP on Saturday night. I don't know why anybody else looked at these fluffs; Monday through Friday, I was in love with the leading ladies. None were so vivacious, bubbly, captivating, and sexy as JEANNIE.
Astronaut Major Tony Nelson crash lands on a desert island to find a bottle holding a genie captive for millenia. Once released, she falls in love with her "Master", eager to grant his every wish by crossing her arms and blinking. JEANNIE is everyman's fantasy of a magical love slave. Seriously challenged for androgens, the Major, (Mary Martin's son Larry Hagman who went on to greater stardom in DALLAS) doesn't want a voluptuous love slave or a gift nightmare. And so the show proceeded for 5 years, with JEANNIE screwing up Nelson's life with her unwanted and malaprop miracles that keep Colonel Bellows, played by Hayden Roarke, continually befuddled; "I saw it with my own eyes." Until Jeannie finally marries her Master in the last season.
A vacuous treat for people who dream of fairy-tale nonsense. Or dream of Barbara Eden.
Ms. Eden's (nee Huffman) considerable thespian talents, drive for stardom, and enchanting mezzo soprano voice failed to raise her above pretty girl bit parts in frothy comedies. After her breakout role as JEANNIE, she made another hit as the irrepressible housewife in THE HARPER VALLEY PTA, followed by singing gigs in Las Vegas. Shaken by the tragedy of her son ODing on recreational drugs, and still a beauty in the face of 60 years, she tried a come that never made it back, as a psychic sleuth on a TV series that died in its first season.
Most stories need a half-dozen main roles for character interest; count 'em in MASH, CHEERS, and STAR TREK. The silly sitcoms lug on 3 or 4 stock roles. Their humour is beaten out of the lies the protagonists tell to avoid embarrassing truths, and the penalties for prevaricating, a redeeming social value never noticed.