So last evening I was watching I DREAM OF JEANNIE—something that I’ve been known to do off and on for literally half a century now. Only this was an episode that I didn’t remember at all. The episode is titled, “My Master the Ghost Breaker” and it is easily the most unusual episode of this series that I’ve ever seen.
I DREAM OF JEANNIE was created in 1965 by future bestselling novelist Sidney Sheldon. For those few unfamiliar with the series premise, astronaut Tony Nelson lands on a deserted island beach and discovers a gorgeous, all-powerful female genie who falls in love with him. He takes her home where she lives in a bottle and causes our stalwart, all-business hero all sorts of problems, not the least of which is how to keep her a secret from the military. Only his fellow officer, Roger Healy, knows of her existence and he’s constantly trying to get her to grant his most hedonistic wishes!
Every episode had a basic formula. Jeannie appeared in her harem-like garb, used magic that caused some problem for Major Nelson who had to try to fix things while living up to his military duties and yet still keeping her a complete secret.
Every episode, that is, except THIS one.
This one starts with Major Nelson and Major Healy out of uniform. They’re speaking with Jeannie—who is wearing a colorful mod miniskirt rather than her traditional costume—when someone comes to the door. Rather than the usual routine of having her hide, the door is opened and Tony simply introduces Roger and Jeannie to the British solicitor who comes in (acted in a horrible accent by crass US stand up comic Jack Carter). The Major finds out that he has inherited an estate in England from a late Uncle he only ever saw once when he was a child. The three immediately fly to England, presumably by plane since the attorney goes with them. How were both military officers able to get away so quickly and easily? How was Jeannie able to get a ticket with no ID or last name? No clue.
Almost immediately they meet the butler, Smedley...although the credits call him Chauncey. He tells them their rooms are prepared and they settle in for the night. To avoid the question of where she will sleep, Jeannie turns to smoke and goes into her bottle which is left downstairs—the first of only three brief times she uses her powers in this entire episode, the second being simply when she exits the bottle!
Tony and Roger are freaked out by ghostly happenings overnight and presume it was Jeannie but it wasn’t. She’s more scared than they are! The next morning, a man arrives who claims to be the real owner of the estate. He demands our heroes vacate the premises immediately. They throw him out.
They figure out that the solicitor and the butler are behind it all and that night, Tony disguises himself as a ghost to scare them instead! Jeannie inadvertently wraps herself in a white sheet due to the cold house and everyone thinks she’s a ghost.
Eventually, the man who claimed to own the house arrives, just in time for Tony to explain how the two crooks had tried to scare him away so they could keep the money from the already sold estate! The sound of a creaking door leads to footprints appearing out of nowhere and a real ghost seemingly sitting in a chair. Tony and Roger presume it to be Jeannie...only it isn’t. It’s apparently the real ghost of Tony’s grandfather!
Tony is left as the owner of this haunted English estate which is never mentioned again. The next episode finds everyone back in their assigned roles as they would stay until season 5 when Jeannie marries her master and everyone gets to formally meet her, even though they don’t find out about her magic.
I presumed IMDB would have something to say about this unusually atypical episode but no. Nor did Steve Cox’s book on I DREAM OF JEANNIE. I noted the name of the writer as someone whom I had never heard of and therefore jumped to the conclusion that he was simply someone unfamiliar with the characters. IMDB, however, reveals that name to be a pseudonym of the show’s creator, Sidney Sheldon!
So what’s the story behind this episode’s un-JEANNIE-like script? Anyone?