8/23/15

The Boob Tube #51: I Dream of Jeannie (S5 E13)


"Jeannie, the Matchmaker" (Season 5, Episode 13) aired December 16th, 1969.  Despite it being  Jeannie's last season with the gags getting a little well-worn, it still has all the mojo of the original episodes, if not more so.  They'd really honed the situational chaos down to an art by the fifth season, yielding some genuine comedy gold.  And it doesn't hurt that there's lots of miniskirts to be found amid the over-the-top shenanigans.  Great fun lies ahead - read on!




The Setup:  Major Nelson feels bad.  He's been spending so much time with Jeannie doing husbandly things (they're married now), that he's neglected his ol' buddy Roger. His best friend has been coming round looking for some companionship, only to be turned down time and again.

Jeannie feels bad for Roger.  Perhaps the solution is to get him hitched.

Let the comedy unfold...


Jeannie goes to a computer dating service to find Roger a good woman.  She gives his description to the mousy clerk Lavern Sadelko (Elaine Giftos): "....good looking, an astronaut, charming, intelligent, sensitive..."  He sounds too good to be true.


Laverne plugs the data into the high-tech computer to find out the perfect match for Roger.  Surprise! The name she claims it spit out is "Laverne Sadelko".

 "Why, that is you," says a surprised Jeannie.


Instantly, the mousy office rep lets her hair down and is transformed, springing into action to bag her an astronaut...


Even hiking the miniskirt way up - which was pretty impressive.

I primarily know actress Elaine Giftos as Reuben's stewardess girlfriend, Bonnie Kleinschmidt, on The Partridge Family. However, she has been on a million TV shows throughout the 70s including Kolchak, Quincy, Hawaii 5-O, and into the 80s with Matt Houston, What a Country, Knight Rider, etc.  This episode of Jeannie was her first acting role.


Meanwhile, Tony has been given an assignment by General Schaeffer (Vinton Hayworth): set his niece Patricia up with Roger.  She needs to find a good man, a gentleman, an old fashioned guy. Although that description doesn't fit Roger at all, Tony has to agree to the setup.


Tony takes the General's niece to Roger's favorite lounge, Armando's - far, far from any wild night life. The last thing he wants is for any appearance of impropriety.  Unfortunately, Patricia seems to be a bit of a wild child - not at all what he expected from the niece of the old general.


Patricia is played by Janis Hansen.  You probably recognize Janis as Felix Unger's ex-wife on The Odd Couple.  She was also Sister Katherine Grace in Airport (1970).  Before acting, Hansen was a bunny at a Playboy club.


Tony can't find Roger anywhere, so he leaves Patricia alone while he searches for a pay phone.  As luck would have it, Roger arrives and saddles up next to her - completely unaware she is supposed to be his date.

Patricia knows exactly who he is; however, and is all over him.


Things are about to get even more complicated as Jeannie shows up with Laverne at Armando's to match her up with Roger.  To her horror, she spies him getting up-close-and-personal with Patricia, so she sends Laverne to the powder room while she handles it.


Roger isn't exactly thrilled to be interrupted while making great headway at the bar.  Worse, Patricia is a real bitch to Jeannie, telling her to go take a Mickey Finn and get lost.

"Mickey Finn?  Who is he?" asks Jeannie.  Roger explains it's a drink that "knocks you out for a couple hours."

Jeannie is pissed.  Take note of Patricia's drink - an angry genie has turned it into a Mickey.  This isn't going to be good.


Laverne emerges from the powder room and spots Tony who's only just come back from the pay phone. Since he's in an astronaut uniform, she naturally assumes he's Roger, the match made in heaven - and goes after him with a vengeance.

Man, to have been an astronaut in those days is to have lived the dream.


Chaos really starts to set in when Patricia konks out from Jeannie's magical Mickey. This isn't how Tony envisioned the date night to turn out for the General's niece.  But things only get worse from here.

Laverne takes a sip of Patricia's drink, and she's out cold too.  Now that Tony and Roger have two passed out chicks on their hands, it's perfect time for these folks to enter Armando's...


Dr. Bellows, his wife Amanda (Emmaline Henry) and, of course, General Schaeffer.  This is the very definition of situation comedy.


The eternally clueless Dr. Bellows sees Roger carting out Laverne, but is oblivious to what's really going on.  Roger plays it off Weekend at Bernie's style, pretending to dance with the KO'd Laverne.


Next, General Schaeffer decides to have a talk with Tony.  As you might imagine, the General's catatonic niece makes things a bit awkward.  But Major Nelson is able to play it off well enough, and tries to slip out with KO'd Patricia.

But not so fast...


Amanda Bellows wants to dance with Tony, and Dr. Bellows wants to have a dance with the General's niece.  This, my friends, is a textbook example of why I love pre-All in the Family sitcoms. The situations get more and more out of control via compromising positions, misunderstandings, and unhappy coincidences - all leading to preposterous crescendos. Only Three's Company, perhaps, kept this flame alive in the 1970s.

.

Chaos ensues: Tony hands Amanda Bellows to General Schaeffer, Roger dances with Dr. Bellows, and Tony escapes with Patricia.  This is sitcom choreography at its finest.



Tony hands off Patricia to Roger and gets the hell out of Dodge.  He needs to get home to Jeannie and put this nightmare in the rearview mirror.  Two problems: (1) Tony left his hat at Armando's, and Bellows plans to return it to him tonight, and (2) Laverne is in the backseat of his car!


When a groggy Laverne arrives on the Nelson's doorstep, Jeannie pieces things together.  Laverne, now understanding that Tony is not Roger, wonders where the hell is her dream date.

Then Roger arrives with the still-KO'd General's niece.


Another complex arrangement of situational comedy moving parts:  Laverne is destitute that Roger is with another woman, but Jeannie, in an effort to get Roger with his soul mate, zaps Patricia out of his arms and into Tony's.  Quickly pairs Roger and Laverne and leads them into another room for a romantic dinner.


Of course, this leaves poor Tony alone with Patricia wondering what the hell to do.  I will take a moment to pause here and ask: is dealing with girls who've passed out from drinking a drug laced alcoholic beverage appropriate sitcom material? I think it does seem to be wading in some uncomfortable waters, which, I'll admit, is one of the reasons I chose this episode to start with.  Moving on...


Eventually, Tony demands that Jeannie wake up Patricia (note Roger and Laverne having a romantic dinner in the background).  But this creates yet another problem... now that they're both conscious, which girl will Roger prefer?


Let's not forget that Jeannie is squarely in Laverne's corner, still believing the computer calculated she'd be best for Roger.  So, she has one final plan up her sleeve...


...she puts a mustache on Patricia.  Obviously, this repels Roger, but it happens right when General Schaeffer and Dr. and Mrs. Bellows arrive to deliver Tony's hat.  Tony acts fast and cuts out the lights.  [insert commercial break]

When the commercials are over, and the lights come back on, Patricia's mustache is gone, She demands to go home, and even Laverne has had enough and gets far away from this crazy mess.

With the madness finally over, Roger, Tony and Jeannie are all that are left.  Perhaps, Tony can finally reconnect with his old friend, play cards, and make this story come full circle.  But, Roger gets a call from a girl and splits, leaving Tony and Jeannie to smile and kiss.

This is the way sitcoms are supposed to end. A riot from start to finish, all wrapped up with a neat bow at the end.  Until next time - cheers (and watch what you drink!)

 

8 comments:

  1. voiceofthe70sAugust 23, 2015

    Even after all these years I remembered that character name "Laverne Sadelko". Just one of those great names they occasionally came up with on shows in those days.

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  2. Retro HoundAugust 23, 2015

    You mentioned Three's Company two posts in a row. How many can you make it and keep it in context?

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  3. When Frazier cut loose it could do bedroom farce and chaotic situation more than justice. The latest iteration of The Odd Couple also has promise in this area.
    What sets Tony apart from Darren Stevens was his ability to contribute to the solution instead of just blustering over the problem. I think you mentioned that a few weeks ago. This episode was a good example of that behavior. Love the minis and love that computer!

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    1. Exactly...FRASIER at its best was doing excellent sitcom farce...THREE'S COMPANY was three or more people doing their worst Rip Taylor impersonations at each other, and the performances better than the scripts. JEANNIE was at least a little better than that, though not enough...the cast definitely helped...and a nice distinction you make, between Tony the reasonably foolish and Darren the utterly blithering idiot.

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  4. Giftos was one of those Professional Hippie Chicks like Jill Banner who always showed up on cop shows and sitcoms at the time. I believe the Janis Hansen Playboy Bunny Thesis has been disproved several times, as well as the Brasil 66 myth. But holy cow look at the color! and the legs! Only Star Trek had more...

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    1. Hansen was so a Playboy Bunny you moron. I looked it up on Wikepedia.
      (just talkin t)o myself

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  5. Bill Daily had the idea for this episode, and co-wrote it with Don Richman, although James Henerson- the show's head writer at the time- recalled that Bill got considerable help in fashioning a script out of his idea.

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