They colorized Jeannie!

On my first date with Andrea, way back in 1988 (“Did you hear Michael Keaton is going to play Batman?!”), we double-dated with my friend Bruce and Andrea’s roommate Katie. We spent part of the night at a bar called Monsour’s in the “Sliberty” section of Pittsburgh, drinking and dancing in their cheesy backroom disco. At one point the DJ announced a trivia contest. The first person to answer it correctly would win an LP. His question was, “In what year did I Dream of Jeannie premiere on TV?”

I had a pretty good educated guess. I knew that shows like Batman and Star Trek, both of which premiered in 1966 (which I knew because I’ve been a big fan of both and because I was born in 1966), were prominently marketed as being “In Color.” And I knew, from watching too many reruns on TV in my childhood, that the first season of I Dream of Jeannie was in black-and-white. A major studio sitcom like Jeannie would not have premiered in black-and-white at the same time that the networks were premiering their shows in color. So Jeannie premiered in 1965 or earlier — but not much earlier, because by its second year Jeannie was in color, which was still new enough in 1966 that it formed a major part of a show’s promotional campaign; and because it was descended from a line of shows in the ordinary-guy-living-with-someone-or-something-magical genre (including Mister Ed, My Favorite Martian, and Bewitched), a genre that was itself no older than the 1960’s.

So 1964 or 1965. I guessed 1965 — and I was right! I won the LP. (I forget what it was.) Andrea was duly impressed. “And today that woman is my wife.”

(Nowadays I would just google the answer under the table with my Hiptop, but back then men were men.)

Today too I have season 1, disc 1 of I Dream of Jeannie at home from Netflix. We watched a couple of episodes yesterday, and they were in color! Alas, a trivia fact with which I wooed my wife has gone down the memory hole.

At least it makes sense to colorize Jeannie, with its faux-Persian costumes, genie-magic visuals, Florida setting, and parade of Playboy-era sex kittens (on the arm of bachelor astronaut Roger Healey). And to this untrained eye the colorization looks well done. But I will never understand what possessed someone to colorize Dynamite Hands. Dynamite Hands is the first of two “features” in Movie Movie, a film that harks back to the days of seeing double features for a nickel. Dynamite Hands is an affectionate parody of every morality play ever set in a boxing ring (notably Body and Soul). It’s the “B” picture before the main attraction, Baxter’s Beauties of 1933, a Busby-Berkeley-style musical. George Burns introduces the films by saying that, back in the old days, movies were in black-and-white — “except sometimes when they sang, it came out in color.” Dynamite Hands was in black-and-white and Baxter’s Beauties was in color — only someone colorized Dynamite Hands for cable TV, making a liar of George Burns.

Idiots.

2 Replies to “They colorized Jeannie!”

Leave a Reply