You can go through the history of television and you’ll find one classic TV show inspiring another. Most of the time, those pretenders to the television throne are found out pretty quickly by the audience and, through low ratings, are shown the door. Other times, however, the imitator brings enough original to the table to make it a success in its own right. That was — and is — certainly the case with Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie.
Bewitched, which ran on ABC from 1964-72, stars Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha, who happens to be a witch (and a really old one at that, though she looks great) and falls in love with a mortal named Darrin Stephens (Dick York, then Dick Sargent). The pair marry and begin their new life together as husband and wife, with her revealing what she is on their honeymoon. He’s stunned at first, but recognizes that she’s still the same woman he fell in love with and they move on through life together, experiencing all the craziness that the magic-filled side of the family will bring. Despite Darrin’s demands they live like mortals (sorry, dude, no one’s listening).
Over at NBC, I Dream of Jeannie ran from 1965 to 1970, and there is no question that the inspiration for the show came from Bewitched as well as the Tony Randall movie The Brass Bottle. In the show, Larry Hagman (destined to be shot years later as J.R. Ewing on Dallas) plays astronaut Tony Nelson, who finds his space capsule has landed on a deserted island. There he finds a bottle that he wipes the dust off of, unleashing a cloud of smoke that transforms into Barbara Eden…or, rather, Jeannie. Freed after being cooped up in there for 2,000 years, she offers herself in servitude, which he rejects once she magically arranges a rescue. Instead, he offers to set her free, but, she gets back into her bottle and stows away in his backpack and heads home with him to Cocoa Beach, Florida. Naturally, she reveals herself and what follows are years of comic chaos.
No doubt you’re wondering about the shows’ similarities, and we’re happy to provide the answers in the form of the following (friendly) competition. Witch against genie, evil twin against evil twin, baby against doggie (seriously, we ain’t kidding) and so much more.
Let the Classic TV face-off begin (you just have to scroll down)!
Be sure to check out and subscribe to our Classic TV & Film Podcast for interviews with your favorite stars!