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I Dream of Jeannie - The Complete First Season (Black & White)


TITLE: I DREAM OF JEANNIE - THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (BLACK & WHITE)


Info:

DVD Release Date: March 14, 2006 (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Color/1965-66
MSRP: $39.95
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 30
Running Time: 537 minutes
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning (black and white): English; closed-captioned.
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning (colorized): English, Spanish, and Portuguese; Spanish and Portuguese subtitles; closed-captioned
Special Features: Commentary on "The Lady in the Bottle;" "I Dream of Jeannie - Out of the Bottle" featurette


Introduction:

"Once upon a time, in a mythical place called Cape Kennedy, an astronaut named Tony Nelson went up on a space mission. The missile went up but something went wrong and they had to bring it down. Captain Nelson landed on an island in the South Pacific where he found a bottle--at least it looked like a bottle. But it didn't ACT like a bottle... because in it was a genie."

It was those words that started out many of the very early episodes of the 1960s hit series I Dream of Jeannie. Inspired by other supernatural shows of the time (particularly Bewitched, but also shows such as My Favorite Martian, The Munsters, and others), this was yet another (and perhaps one of the most successful, with only Bewitched surpassing it in success) of this specific sitcom genre.

The plot of the show is simple--as the show introduction stated, Tony Nelson (Larry Hagman) is an astronaut that finds a bottle, and inside the bottle is a genie, named (conveniently) Jeannie (Barbara Eden). While he at first rejects Jeannie, he quickly finds it necessary to have her around the house, and does everything he can to hide the fact that she even exists. When that fails, his next goal is to simply hide the fact that she is a genie. This is where the show really distinguishes itself from Bewitched. While Bewitched got all of the major plot details that it was ever going to get out in the first episode, I Dream of Jeannie developed its plot over a period of five seasons.

The four-disc set that is to be released by Sony contains all 30 episodes from the first season of the show, and much like rival show Bewitched (which was also released by Sony), there are two different versions available: black and white, and colorized. Unfortunately, the studio only made the black and white version available to Sitcoms Online, so some parts of this review only reflect the black and version.


Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

The set begins with (what else?) "The Lady in the Bottle," where (as the story in the introduction indicates), Major Nelson lands on an island in the South Pacific and finds a girl in a bottle... who happens to be a genie. He tries to get away from here, but considering that the show lasted for five seasons, it is obvious who won that battle. Major Nelson is going to the moon--and so is Jeannie—in "Guess What Happened on the Way to the Moon?" Tony's fiancée, Melissa, wants to move their wedding date up, but is that what Jeannie wants? Find out in "Jeannie and the Marriage Caper." Jeannie wants to be closer to Tony and decides that the best way to do this is to join the Air Force in "G.I. Jeannie." Disaster ensues when Jeannie is spotted on a yacht with Tony and she suddenly disappears... which makes several witnesses believe she was murdered... in "The Yacht Murder Case." Dabney Coleman guest stars in "Anybody Here Seen Jeannie?" Jeannie decides to become the all-American woman in "The Americanization of Jeannie," but can Tony handle this?

Jeannie has her dreams set on becoming a movie star, but there is one thing preventing her from doing that in "The Moving Finger." Jeannie creates a fake house and parents to get Roger to propose to her (in order to make Tony jealous) in "What House Across the Street?" Jamie Farr guest stars in "Get Me to Mecca on Time," where Jeannie must take a trip to Mecca to regain her fading powers.

Roger finally discovered the truth about Jeannie--and wants to use the truth for his own greedy purposes in "The Richest Astronaut in the Whole Wide World." Bernard Fox guest stars in "Is There an Extra Jeannie in the House?," which continues the plot from the previous episode. Tony tells Jeannie that his childhood dream was to become a surgeon--and she grants the wish, just in time for Roger's appendectomy in "My Master, the Doctor." Maureen McCormick guest stars. Roger has the perfect plan for winning in Reno--a little help from Jeannie--in "How Lucky Can You Get?" Tony becomes an excellent golfer, but is the talent real? Find out in "Watch the Birdie."

Tony paints a copy of a Rembrandt painting for a charity auction in "My Master, the Great Rembrandt," but is a copy good enough for Jeannie? Jeannie sees a pair of slippers in a museum that she believes is her own from 2000 years ago, and decides to take them back in "My Master, the Thief." Vic Tayback guest stars in "This is Murder." In "My Master, the Magician," where Jeannie's magic forces Tony to tell Dr. Bellows that he is an amateur magician. Finally, in "I'll Never Forget What's Her Name," Tony comes down with amnesia and falls in love with the first person he sees and even wants to marry her... but can Roger stop this?

The following is a breakdown of all of the episodes on the set, including the running times:

Disc 1:
1. The Lady in the Bottle (25:35)
2. My Hero? (25:30)
3. Guess What Happened on the Way to the Moon? (25:36)
4. Jeannie and the Marriage Caper (25:38)
5. G.I. Jeannie (25:41)
6. The Yacht Murder Case (25:39)
7. Anybody Here Seen Jeannie? (25:35)
8. The Americanization of Jeannie (25:39)

Disc 2:
9. The Moving Finger (25:41)
10. Djinn & Water (25:29)
11. Whatever Became of Baby Custer? (25:23)
12. Where'd you Go-Go? (25:31)
13. Russian Roulette (25:34)
14. What House Across the Street? (25:32)
15. Too Many Tonys (25:29)
16. Get Me to Mecca on Time (25:20)

Disc 3:
17. The Richest Astronaut in the Whole Wide World (25:39)
18. Is There an Extra Jeannie in the House? (25:39)
19. Never Try to Outsmart a Genie (25:38)
20. My Master, the Doctor (25:20)
21. Jeannie and the Kidnap Caper (25:29)
22. How Lucky Can You Get? (25:42)
23. Watch the Birdie (25:40)
24. The Permanent House Guest (25:29)

Disc 4:
25. Bigger than a Bread Box and Better than a Genie (25:38)
26. My Master, the Great Rembrandt (25:41)
27. My Master, the Thief (25:41)
28. This Is Murder (25:30)
29. My Master, the Magician (25:30)
20. I'll Never Forget What's Her Name (25:42)


Packaging:

The interesting thing I noticed about this set (and I noticed it in the menu design and navigation as well, you'll see more about that in the next section) is how similar this set is to the Bewitched DVD sets that were released, yet at the same time, neither seems to resemble a typical Sony DVD set. It seems as if Sony has a separate set of (higher) standards for DVD sets of these shows than they do for their other shows.

The packaging, of course, is of the same standard. The front of the box has various pictures of Jeannie on it (the pictures are in black and white on the black and white version and in color on the colorized version). On the back of the box, there is some basic information about the first season. The box is all in a blue and pink color scheme.

Inside the box, much like Bewitched, there are two double slim cases, with one contains Discs 1 and 2 and the other containing Discs 3 and 4. The artwork on the slim cases has pictures similar to those on the cover; with the pictures in black and white on the black and white set (presumably the colorized version has color pictures on it). The back of each slim case has episode descriptions for the episodes within, and the descriptions that are included are very good descriptions, and more detailed than the ones that were on the Bewitched sets. The only things missing are guest stars and original airdates.

The artwork on the discs is very nice and colorful (it appears to be some sort of Persian style geometric design on each disc), with a picture of Jeannie on Disc 1, Major Nelson on Disc 2, Major Healy on Disc 3, and Dr. Bellows on Disc 4. The disc breakdown is as follows: episodes 1-8 on Disc 1, 9-16 on Disc 2, 17-24 on Disc 3, and 25-30 on Disc 4.


Menu Design and Navigation:

The menus are very nicely done. The first thing that you'll notice on each disc, after the Sony logo, is that there is music playing, and the music that is playing is the I Dream of Jeannie theme song that we are all familiar with... which is NOT the version that was used in the first season! Perhaps this is a good indication that other seasons are on the way, though... and also, I think using this theme for the background music on the main menu is a good idea because the theme song used that is used on the color episodes define the series much better than the version from the first season. The music is actually a much shortened version of the theme song though, and it loops forever, so you will get tired of hearing it after about 60 seconds. The main menu is animated too, like Bewitched, with Jeannie going into her bottle and the main menu options coming up, with the bottle on the beach. The options included on the main menu are Play All Episodes and Episode Selection, though Disc 1 has an option to play the first episode with commentary on the main menu, and Disc 4 has an option for the interview featurette and the obligatory bonus previews.

Selecting Episode Selections takes you to a menu where you, well, select episodes. The menu is designed to appear like it is inside of Jeannie's bottle, and you move around from pillow to pillow to select the episode--yes, I know that sounds odd, but basically, pictures from each episode are on pillows (with titles below the pictures of course), and you select the episode you want in that way. Once you select the episode, it plays right away, although there is an FBI warning before the first episode you watch each time you put a different disc in the player (this time it can't be fast forwarded through, Sony is very inconsistent about how they handle the FBI warnings). There are no scene selection menus, but there are chapters. The chapters are placed appropriately throughout the episodes, though there isn't one immediately after the opening credits.


Video and Audio Quality:

I was very impressed here. This show is 40 years old, and it doesn't even look nearly that old on the DVD set. The picture quality on the black and white version is very clean and there are no flaws that could be found. In fact, a common problem with these older shows is grain, yet I couldn't find much grain at ALL within the set (the only exceptions being on stock footage such as when the outside of a building is shown). The audio quality on the set is equally superb, with no flaws being noted at all. The show is 40 years old, so obviously, the audio is presented in mono. I've found that often times, when a studio uses the word "remastered" on DVD sets; the term loses its meaning because there are no obvious signs that it is any better than what we are used to, but the episodes on these DVDs are definitely remastered, and it shows in the video and audio quality. The black and white version is closed-captioned for the hearing impaired.

Each episode runs at around 25:30 minutes; exact times are shown in the episodes section. One thing I can't figure out is why the Screen Gems logo is missing from the episode. It is fully intact on TV Land, why would it be gone on the DVDs? Sony doesn't exactly have a track record one way or the other on including original closing logos, but they DID include the Embassy logo on 227 and Who's the Boss?, so why not Screen Gems on this and Bewitched? Also, there is one strange thing I noticed about the episodes. When they fade to black for the commercial breaks on some episodes, there is often a longer than usual pause there, sometimes like 6 seconds. Usually these pauses aren't that long on DVDs! It isn't really an issue that affects the set, however.

The studio did not make the colorized version of this set available to Sitcoms Online, therefore we don't really know what that is like. However, it is probably safe to assume that this version is very similar to the colorized versions of Bewitched that Sony released last year, since the colorization was done at the same as the Bewitched colorization, by the same people, and since the episodes were produced within the same studio in the exact same time era. The colorized set also includes some language features that are not available on the black and white set; in addition to the closed-captioning, it includes Spanish and Portuguese audio tracks, as well as Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.


Special Features:

The special features aren't plentiful, but the ones that are included are rather nice. The first one is a commentary track on the first episode, "The Lady in the Bottle." Basically, it has the three major stars of the show (Barbara Eden, Larry Hagman, and Bill Daily) commenting on the show, and particularly the first episode. It is interesting to see, though, that they don't even seem to really REMEMBER the first episode too well. They often seem surprised at things that happen in the episode, and sometimes comment that they never remember seeing particular parts. Of course, I guess after 40 years, it isn't possible to remember EVERYTHING, and they say that stars don't really watch their own shows anyway. The commentary is not one of those dull commentaries either, as the stars tend to talk almost all the time throughout it. They present a lot of interesting trivia in the commentary too, such as how Barbara Eden had to learn how to speak phrases in Farsi with a professor from UCLA for the first episode.

The other special feature can be found on Disc 4, and it is entitled "I Dream of Jeannie - Out of the Bottle" (14:24). This is an interviews special feature, with Barbara Eden, Larry Hagman, and Bill Daily discussing the show in general in the same studio. In addition, there are some interview segments with Sidney Sheldon in a separate studio. They talk about a variety of things regarding the show, and of course, the belly button controversy comes up in the interview.

While the special features on the set were good, I wish that there were more... for example, why didn't they do more commentaries? Why couldn't they make the interviews longer? With Sony's track record, I'm not expecting improvements on future seasons; in fact, I'm expecting fewer special features on future releases. But it would still be nice to have a little bit more. Of course, don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about the special features on here--I just want more of what I (and other DVD fans) crave.


Final Comments:

This is such a fun show to watch. Personally, I've always had a SLIGHT preference for Bewitched over this show, but this is a great show, too. This show often seems fresher than Bewitched too, since Bewitched has typically received more airtime in syndication than I Dream of Jeannie, so sometimes you can be watching an episode of I Dream of Jeannie and it feels like a brand new episode. And this set is a good set too... there could have been more special features, but considering how the studio (Sony) has a reputation of releasing sets that have almost no special features, this was a decent effort.

There will be an I Dream of Jeannie feature film released sometime this year (September 2006 according to IMDb, but that is always subject to change) with Kate Hudson as Jeannie and Jimmy Fallon as Major Nelson, so I don't see any danger of Sony abandoning the series with the first season. Instead, I'd expect the second season to be released around the time of the theatrical release of the movie, and perhaps the third season when the movie is released on DVD & video, and then there will only be two remaining seasons left to get through to complete the series. Of course, those aren't Sony's official plans or anything, they are just my guesses.

So unless you happen to have your own genie that can blink up a copy of this DVD set, you'll want to go out and buy this set--in your choice of either black and white or color... or maybe even both.


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)

Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
Special Features: 2.5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 5/5
Overall: 4.5/5

-- Reviewed by skees53 on 03/06/06

To purchase the Black & White DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000E33VZ4/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20

To purchase the Colorized DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000E33VZ4/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20


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