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HTF DVD REVIEW: I DREAM OF JEANNIE COMPLETE SERIES SET


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#1 of 16 Timothy E

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Posted November 27 2008 - 05:44 PM

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Studio: Sony
Year: 2008
Rated: Not Rated (PG-Rating Canadian Home Video)
Film Length: 3,138 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese
Subtitles: Spanish, Portuguese



Release Date: November 11, 2008

The Series
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I Dream of Jeannie is an exceptional 1960s sitcom presenting the hijinks of astronaut Major Anthony Nelson and his genie in a bottle (Jeannie) discovered by him on a desert island following his space capsule’s return from orbit.

Major Nelson (Larry Hagman) is constantly bedeviled by Dr. Bellows (Hayden Rorke), who suspects something strange is going on with Tony Nelson but has little idea that Jeannie (Barbara Eden) is the cause of the strange goings-on surrounding him. Major Healey (Bill Daily) is Tony's best friend at NASA and he is in on the secret regarding Tony and Jeannie.

Jeannie is a great example of capturing “lightning in a bottle” (pun intended) since the writing, acting, and production of this series represented a perfect storm of excellence in every aspect of its production. I Dream of Jeannie was created by famed novelist Sidney Sheldon, who also wrote most of the series’ episodes. To this day, Larry Hagman is not given credit fairly for his comedic acting abilities. His seemingly spontaneous reactions to Jeannie’s magical surprises and his seemingly effortless awkwardness and pratfalls lend much humor to the series. Barbara Eden is perfectly cast as the naive, wilful, and affectionate Jeannie. Bill Daily’s Major Healey and Hayden Rorke’s Dr. Bellows also add great humor to the series in their roles as assistant and foil, respectively, to the schemes wrought by Tony and Jeannie.

The series ran for 5 full seasons from 1965 through 1970. This complete series set includes all 139 episodes from the show on 20 single-sided DVDs. The face of each DVD is nicely decorated with cartoon artwork consistent with the animated opening credits of the series, and the menus are also expertly designed to match the cartoon style of the credits. The disc contents appear to be identical to the DVDs in the single season sets that were already released, with the only difference being that the faces of the discs are numbered 1 through 20, rather than 1 through 4 for each separate season release.

This complete series set has been repackaged in a rectangular clear plastic case which also has cartoon artwork that matches the series’ credit sequence. Within the case is visible a cardboard replica of Jeannie’s multi-colored bottle, complete with a cardboard stopper. The discs are held in an accordion style cardboard sleeve. The cardboard bottle is apparently designed to sit upright after being taken out of the box with the accordion sleeve holding the DVDs placed to fit in the base of the “bottle.” A limited edition set of baseball card style collector’s cards is also included with this set. The cards have photographs and trivia on one side with listings of the episode titles in order of airdate on the other side of the cards.

As much as I am thrilled by the obvious love and effort expended in making this package aesthetically pleasing, I remain very disappointed in its impractical design. It looks fantastic but remains very difficult to access. The box packaging has the bottle sitting at a 45 degree angle, and the box art is designed beautifully to display pink smoke floating out of the top of the bottle, along with cartoon figures of Major Nelson and Jeannie. The box packaging opens at the side and is basically held in place only by clear stickers. I could simply discard the clear package and have the bottle sit upright on my shelf, but the clear package is so attractive that I could not bring myself to throw it out, if that is the intent. If I am to store the cardboard bottle upright without placing it in the box package, and I do not discard the box package, I am needlessly taking up a lot of space on one shelf. Although the cardboard bottle is very attractive, it is also very flimsy. Even though my set was carefully packaged for transit through the mail, I discovered that one seam of the cardboard bottle had been completely torn even before I opened my set. Some clear tape fixed this easily but a consumer should expect the contents to remain in mint condition before the package has ever been opened. This excellent TV series deserves 5 stars out of 5 but 1 star is deducted here for the faults in the packaging.

It would also be nice if the extended, unaired version of the pilot episode were included with this set. The extended version has approximately 4 minutes of footage that was cut from the original network airing, and also has subtitles on the screen when Jeannie is initially speaking Farsi after being released from her bottle by Tony. That sequence is one of the scenes that was shortened when it was aired on the networks. The extra footage is known to still exist so one would hope that the studio might include it in future collections.

Video
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The studio has done an exceptional job in restoring the audio and video elements of this series. The video elements are pristine. The minor dirt and debris that are normally present even after restoration of TV series from the 1960s are invisible here.

I Dream of Jeannie was produced in black and white for its first season and in color for its remaining seasons. When the first season set was released, consumers were given a choice between purchasing the first season in black and white or in a colorised version. The first season episodes in this set are the colorised versions. The colors in those first season episodes look fine for the most part, except in a few scenes in which flesh tones seem a little abnormal, but not to the point of distraction. The series was produced in black and white in its first season purely for economic reasons and not for artistic statement. Although I prefer the colorised versions of the first season episodes, I recognize that some fans prefer to see the show as it was originally aired, and their only recourse is to purchase separately the back and white first season set. It would be great if both color and black and white versions were offered on the same discs.

Thankfully, the studio has retained the original credits and theme song music from the first season, which was changed at the beginning of the second season to the theme song that most of us remember today. I enjoy the fact that the Screen Gems bumper following the closing credits has been retained in the first season episodes but disappointed that it was eliminated in the remaining seasons on this set.

Although this series ran for 5 years , every episode from the second season on has a copyright notice of MCMLXVI in the opening credits, which is how this series has been seen in syndication ever since it left the air in 1970. Extra effort from the studio would have been appreciated in restoring the opening credits for each of the succeeding seasons, rather than tacking the 1966 version of the credits on to every episode airing through 1970.

On the plus side, each episode has a running time averaging 25 to 26 minutes which suggests that the episodes here are the complete network versions, rather than the edited syndication prints that were shortened by 2 to 3 minutes in syndication to provide more time for commercials. There are rumors floating around in the blogosphere about an episode or two missing a few seconds of footage but I can find no proof to substantiate it. If anyone has any concrete evidence of this, I would welcome them to post it in this thread.

Audio
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The audio is offered in Dolby Digital 2.0 sound in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. Closed captioning for the hearing impaired is also available. The sound quality is excellent, especially for a television show from the late 1960s.

A couple of episodes have allegedly had their soundtracks completely restored after certain elements of the original laugh track had deteriorated beyond repair. These episodes had received minor criticism when released in the individual season sets for not sounding true to their era. I agree that the laugh tracks on 1 or 2 episodes at most seem a little off, but not to the point of diminishing my enjoyment of those episodes, and most fans would be unable to identify which episodes were restored in this manner.

Special Features
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The only special features consist of an audio commentary by Larry Hagman, Barbara Eden, and Bill Daily on the pilot episode, as well as a round table discussion by them from 2005 which includes separate interview footage by series creator Sidney Sheldon.

Contrary to rumors, the 2 I Dream of Jeannie revival TV movies are not included in this set. Although I enjoyed the TV movies when they aired, I believe that they suffered from Larry Hagman's absence, although Barbara Eden made a fantastic effort without him. It still would be nice to see these movies released on DVD.

Conclusion
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The series itself deserves 5 out of 5 stars. Although the packaging of this complete series set is beautiful, it frustrates easy access of the discs. A complete series set consisting of more than one season demands, at minimum, a booklet indexing the episode titles to the discs in the set. Otherwise, it is trial and error to locate a particular episode. Although the trading cards included with this set list the episodes in order, you are forced to keep all of the cards in the correct order, and then shuffle through them to locate the episode for which you are looking. The single season sets of I Dream of Jeannie have the episodes listed in order on the back of the clamshell disc packaging, and this packaging has unfortunately been replaced by the accordion style sleeves holding the discs in this set. In spite of a few flaws, I heartily recommend the individual season sets of this series without reservation. I cannot say the same for this complete series set, unless the flaws in this set are outweighed in your opinion by the admitted attractiveness of the packaging. Unless this box set will sit unopened on display, you are much better off purchasing the season sets separately.

#2 of 16 LizH

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Posted November 27 2008 - 09:50 PM

Hey, Sony!


Where are the TV-movies "I Dream of Jeannie: 15 Years Later" and "I Still Dream of Jeannie"?


It's not a "Complete Series" without them!








Personally, I liked the movies. I thought they lent an entirely different dynamic to the series. Posted Image

#3 of 16 Paul_Scott

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Posted November 27 2008 - 11:07 PM

This was released concurrently with a Good Times complete series set. In contrast to the Genie set, though, the packaging for GT is about as basic as could possibly be. All seventeen disc are stacked on a spindle in a flimsy plastic tray, and then enclosed in a simple cardboard box. As someone else described it, it's about as ghetto as you can get...and you know something? I love it! No chance for a floater, no extravegant packaging that looks pretty but takes up precious shelf space or makes it difficult to access the discs (if I need disc 17, I just remove the first 16 stacking them face down on the table, no big deal.) And these six seasons all fit on the shelf in a box the width of a VHS clamsell case. I've seen the Genie packaging. Cute at first glance, but a big "no thank you" from this collector. I'll wait to bite on a good deal on the individual boxes, and in the process be able to score the B&W season.
Gotta say how tired I am of function trailing so far behind form with all these special box sets. These are from the same brainiacs that have to make every 9 out of 10 pieces of jacket art a variation of the 'three bigs heads over the title' style of graphic design.

#4 of 16 buttmunker

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Posted November 28 2008 - 08:22 AM

The TV movies have no place in this set, as this is the complete series, which means Seasons 1 thru 5. Whatever followed, whether good or bad, are not part of the "series," and are thankfully omitted from this set.

This is something I want so bad (Santa, you listenin'?), and purposely held off on buying the individual sets in order to have a compact complete series set.

Besides, those TV movies stink because it doesn't have the original cast. What good is it if Larry Hagman can't reprise his role?! Why bother making a movie? That never made sense to me. It only means that medocrity is an acceptable art-form. Posted Image
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#5 of 16 LizH

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Posted November 28 2008 - 09:49 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by buttmunker
Besides, those TV movies stink because it doesn't have the original cast. What good is it if Larry Hagman can't reprise his role?! Why bother making a movie? That never made sense to me. It only means that medocrity is an acceptable art-form. Posted Image


You might as well say "Bewitched" ended after Dick York left.


The fact of the matter is that they're a part of the show and they should be released (Why bother doing them otherwise?)

#6 of 16 Osato

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Posted November 28 2008 - 10:39 AM

Thanks Timothy for reviewing this set. I purchased season 1 and 2, but was thinking of picking up the entire series. I'll continue with the season box sets.

This show is great fun and my wife and I really enjoy watching it.

They should release the tv movies and put out better extras however.

#7 of 16 David*P

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Posted November 28 2008 - 06:25 PM

I agree that the two TV movies, no matter how inferior to the 139 original episodes, are still a part of IDOJ history by virtue of having BE as Jeannie and Jeannie II and Bill Daily as Major Healey and in the first one, Hayden Rorke as Dr. Bellows.

In addition to those two movies, the Jeannie cartoon series should've been included as well, even though it has NOTHING to do with the series other than the fact that the girl genie is named Jeannie and lives in a very similar bottle.

I caved in and purchased this Complete Series set and I regret doing so simply for the fact that I miss having the episode guides from the backs of the slim cases and also the convenience of storage with the individual box sets. I will say the the bottle packing is cool and mine seems to be very sturdily built but it's just awkward to not be able to shelve it with my other DVD sets.

And yes, I sold back my season sets (aside from the black and white 1st season) in an attempt to recoup some of the money I spent on the Complete Series.

#8 of 16 LizH

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Posted November 28 2008 - 06:45 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by David*P
I agree that the two TV movies, no matter how inferior to the 139 original episodes, are still a part of IDOJ history by virtue of having BE as Jeannie and Jeannie II and Bill Daily as Major Healey and in the first one, Hayden Rorke as Dr. Bellows.


I can rattle off a few duds from TOS as well.

While I admit that there were areas that could've been improved, they weren't bad movies by any means.


Quote:
In addition to those two movies, the Jeannie cartoon series should've been included as well, even though it has NOTHING to do with the series other than the fact that the girl genie is named Jeannie and lives in a very similar bottle.


There's a rights battle surrounding the cartoon.

Sony/Columbia owns Jeannie, the show, and the concept while Hanna-Barbera/Warner Bros. owns Corey Anders, Babu, and the rest of the cast (IOW, releasing this show to DVD would be a most expensive undertaking. Posted Image )

#9 of 16 David*P

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Posted November 28 2008 - 07:57 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by LizH
I can rattle off a few duds from TOS as well.

While I admit that there were areas that could've been improved, they weren't bad movies by any means.

There's a rights battle surrounding the cartoon.

Sony/Columbia owns Jeannie, the show, and the concept while Hanna-Barbera/Warner Bros. owns Corey Anders, Babu, and the rest of the cast (IOW, releasing this show to DVD would be a most expensive undertaking. Posted Image )

Oh, I agree! There were some Major duds from TOS...."Jeannie at the Piano", "My Son, the Genie" and of course, the all time worst "My Master, the Chili King"...I would much rather either of the TV movies than these episodes.

And thanks for the info about the cartoon.

#10 of 16 JohnMor

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Posted November 29 2008 - 01:20 PM

Thanks for the review, Timothy. RE: the 2nd Season sound, it wasn't just laugh tracks that were replaced. Several episodes had the music cues and sound effects replaced as well. Do you know if these are the same discs as in the separate second season set? I am assuming so, but I would upgrade if that has been corrected, because whoever did the music and effects replacements did a HIDEOUS job and it's very distracting to me.

And I agree that the movies have no place in the set. They should be released for those that want them, but they are NOT part of the series.

Quote:
You might as well say "Bewitched" ended after Dick York left.

Huh? It was still the same production. It wasn't a completely different production 15 years after the fact with basically just the star and a couple of other cameos.

#11 of 16 Timothy E

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Posted November 29 2008 - 04:32 PM

I also have the second season set so I compared the episodes in question and the versions in the complete series set sound identical to me to those in the second season set.
I will not diminish anyone's perception if the music cue and sound replacement sound false to their ears. The music cue, sound effect, and/or laugh track replacements on a couple of episodes are not perfect to my ear either but I still believe that most people will not notice the difference. I have been a fan of this show for 35 years and I must admit that I might not have noticed the differences if I had not been informed beforehand that a couple of episodes were subject to restoration in this manner.
Since I also want to see these episodes the way they were originally telecast, I can sympathize with anyone who finds the audio distracting in those episodes. We are fortunate that there are only a couple of episodes in the entire series that have this issue.

#12 of 16 NeilO

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Posted December 02 2008 - 03:36 AM

Wow! This was one of my favorite series, though I was watching it in syndication. Since the complete series set can probably be found on sale for less than buying each of the individual series together, I'll probably eventually get this complete set. Thanks for telling us about the first season color situation.

#13 of 16 Timothy E

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Posted March 17 2009 - 09:29 AM

This set is selling for $69.99 at Amazon.com for the entire day of March 17, 2009.

#14 of 16 Osato

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Posted May 06 2010 - 11:36 AM

 The Costco store in my area has the set for $69.99. I originally intended to try and get the individual sets, but seasons 3-5 continue to hover around $30 a season! 

So.. I might be caving and picking up the complete series set. 


#15 of 16 GlennH

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Posted May 06 2010 - 03:08 PM

This thread should probably be moved to the TV on DVD section of the forum.


#16 of 16 Osato

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Posted September 07 2010 - 01:47 PM

Just a quick note for those still looking to pick up the I Dream of jeannie series. You can still pick up seasons 1 and 2 in 1 package at Target for $20. Amazon had the other seasons on sale for $15 as well. I ended up completing the series by picking up 3-5 there.
 

Costco is no longer stocking the complete series set.
 

So I suppose now that I have finished the series, any day now we will get a blu ray announcement right?
 

: )






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