Magical Girlfriend (III) – Jeannie

Cory Anders discovers the genie Jeannie while surfing one day. Havoc then reigns. Or at least as much havoc as a 70s Hanna-Barbera Cartoon will have.

Hideous capture, isn’t it?

One of the most important thing to remember about the Magical Girlfriend trope is that the Girlfriend always causes problems for her love interest.  She doesn’t mean to cause problems.  It’s just that she has so little control over her powers.  Or that she’s not familiar with the social mores of the “real world”.  Or that she really, really likes to do property damage, and what’s the big deal, exploding buildings are so much more interesting than ones that just stand there.

But the one area where the Magical Girlfriend excels at giving headaches at is when she discovers a rival for her lover’s heart.  That’s when it really hits the fan.  It might be the most innocent of situations, something easily mistaken as a guilty moment, or the louse could really be pulling something.  It doesn’t matter.  HAVOC WILL REIGN UPON THE EARTH AND ALL WHO BEHOLD IT WILL RENDER THEIR GARMENTS, POUR ASHES UPON THEIR HEAD, AND WAIL PITEOUSLY.

Or something to that effect.  Depends on the attitude of the story’s creators.

Which leads us to today’s review.  Or whatever this is.

Jeannie is the story of High Schooler Cory Anders and his adventurers with the genie named Jeannie.  Cory wants to live a regular life, while Jeannie wants to help her Master with all of her powers.  Combined this with Cory being a bit girl crazy and Jeannie saddled with Godzuki a nit wit Junior Genie named Babu, and you have a potentially good series.  Unfortunately it’s a Hanna-Barbera cartoon, which means it misses it’s mark by a good country mile.  Especially when you consider the creators decided to add a laugh track to the cartoon.

Urg.  Laugh tracks.

By rights, I shouldn’t remember this show at all.  It’s been years since I even thought of it.  Brother Eric and I watched it all the time (not in its original run, I hasten to add) and there’s some fond memories attached to it.  But, then again, I have found memories of The Smurfs for God’s sake.  What does that mean?

Last week I was doing a bit of research on the show this cartoon spun off from (I Dream of Jeannie) and found myself reminded of its existence.  As You Tube is the Great Reminder of Things Gone Past for the Internet, I thought I’d go see what I could find out about Jeannie.  I mean what could it hurt, right?

One of these days I’m going to learn better.  Because the first thing I saw was the original opening.  I have it below, but be warned: the theme song might cause damage to your ears, your mind, and maybe even your immortal soul:

No way in hell was I going to watch that cartoon again.  It belonged to another age.  One where I was dumber and more easily amused.

And that was where I planned to stand on the issue.  I’d refer to it in my Magical Girlfriend essay (yes, this series was going to be another one-off essay), make some derogatory remarks, and that would be that.  All would be happy.

Only morbid curiosity got the better of me.  I watched an episode (Surf’s Up).  And as the show went on, I spent a good deal of the time, rolling my eyes.  Like so many Hanna-Barbera cartoons, if any of the characters had a lick of sense, none of the events in the story would have happened.  You could call each moment right before it happened, and while you might not get the specifics, you’d be well in the ball park.  I was going to stop watching.  I was.

Then it happened.  Cory is riding down the street with his friend Henry Glopp and Cory’s chick of the episode.  On the way they spot Jeannie in the air behind them, tailing them.  As I implied in the opening, our girl is an extremely jealous individual.  Cory guns his motorcycle and tries to ditch her.  Not the wisest thing to do, but oh well.

An even worse capture of Jeannie in action

Jeannie is having none of that.  She speeds up herself.  To do so, she gets into the position you see to your right.  That’s right.  Jeannie pretending to be on a motorcycle while still sitting crossed legged.

I was hooked.

What I learned is this.  If your expectations are low… real low… there’s a lot of fun to be had with this cartoon.  Jeannie, as played by Julie McWhirter, is a very winning character and I found I could easily root for her, despite the fact most of the problems caused in the series were her fault.  Babu is not nearly as annoying as most Scrappies, thanks to Joe Besser‘s stellar work.  The only real weak link here is the guy playing Cory Anders.  Which is shocking considering Mark Hamill plays Cory, and he’s something of a Cartoon God these days.

Bottom line:  If I catch the show on TV, I’ll watch it.  If it comes out on DVD, I might even buy it.  But that’s me and my lack of good taste.  Your mileage may vary.


13 Replies to “Magical Girlfriend (III) – Jeannie”

  1. He was pretty entertaining as a Stooge, too–a fairly good mix of Shemp and Curly.

    Of course, Joe, Curly Joe, Shemp and even Larry are fine comedians in their own right, but everyone suffers in comparison to Curly.

    Wow, way to go off-topic. Sorry about that.

  2. Err…

    You know, as I read your review and thought back to our halcyon days when we were much easier to entertain (I vividly recall enjoying The Snorks and The A-Team as well…), something occurred to me.

    Is it just me, or does Jeannie have… well, almost exactly the same plot (but none of the charm) as Urusei Yatsura?

    I mean… UY is of course the pinnacle of the Magical Girlfriend trope, and no HB show can even come close to its greatness. Bearing that in mind… if Jeanie=Lum, Cory=Ataru, and Babu= a functionally retarded version of Ten…

  3. You’re trying to kill me, aren’t you? That’s what this is. A MURDER ATTEMPT!

    The simularities are there because it’s a MAGICAL GIRLFRIEND STORY. That’s it.

    Comparing the two like that hurt my brain. No hurt Cullen’s brain, Eric.

  4. No, seriously – the quality level isn’t there, but the setup is almost exactly the same, going beyond the simple confines of the trope itself. Nothing in the MGF trope, for instance, requires the guy to be a lech.

    Even if Jeannie is nothing remotely close to UY in entertainment value or quality, they have more than just the trope in common.

    It sometimes seems like I live to make you miserable, doesn’t it? I can assure you that this is not the case; making you miserable is just a hobby for me, not an occupation.

  5. Eu gosto dessa serie..para min é a melhor…pena que nunca lançaram em dvd..e a finalidade dos cartoons é divertir e não escrever uma tese!!

    1. Babel Fish has failed me with this one. However, between it and another translator service, what I think Roberto here is saying is:

      I like this series .. For me … is the best penalty ever released on dvd .. and purpose of cartoons is [to have] fun and [not] to write a thesis!

      As you can see, there’s something lost in translation.

      Equally lost, apparently, is the fact I like this cartoon too.

      And a part of the reason for writing the “thesis” was to share its existence with others. As well as share the fun I have had. Surely that’s not a bad thing.


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