Harold Hill (who is really “Greg”) is a con-artist who goes into River City, Iowa after hearing on a train about how Iowans are a tough sell. The salesmen on the train, not realizing Hill is on board, talk about how salemen going into towns where Hill has already been get tarred and feathered. They decide he'd never make it in Iowa. When the train stops, a young salesman says “I might just have to try Iowa.” One salesman says he doesn't recall the other man's name. “I don't believe I dropped it,” replies the young man, who flashes his suitcase that says “Prof. Harold Hill” as he dashes out of the train.
Once in town, “Prof.” Hill, as he likes to be known, convinces the towns people they need a boys band to eliminate the corrupting influence of a pool table that has just been added to the town (“You've got trouble, trouble right here in River City. That's starts with a 'T' and that rhymes with 'P' and that stands for 'Pool'”). He convinces most everyone other than town librarian Marian, who researches Hill's claim of coming out of the Gary, Indiana Conservatory class of “Ought Five.” In the mean time the Mayor (who owns the billiard and pub) orders the Board of Education to get Harold to reveal his credentials, but he is able to escape when he introduces the previously feuding board to the pleasure of singing in a barbershop quartet. From then on, he can slip way by just singing the first few words of a song, because the board gets wrapped up in the enjoyment of singing.
While his desperate plea for Marian's attention goes without any response in the rousing song “Marian the Librarian” (which I quoted the other day), Marian, who worries about becoming an “old maid” but is too picky to have anything to do with the men in River City, starts to fall in love with Harold. This seems to come about when she sees how Harold's efforts have turned her little brother, who has barely talked for years, into a happy singer.
Harold starts to have second thoughts after he discovers that his cunning tricks didn't get by Marian, who researched Gary, Indiana and found out it wasn't built until “Ought Six.” Harold and Marion, while apart for the moment, sing “76 Trombones” and “Goodnight My Someone” respectively, and then trade songs half way through. Harold is in love, but is fighting that with the realization he needs to jump on the 9:10 train and get out of town before getting caught.
While Harold plans to leave as soon as he collects all of his money, a fellow salesman, who has been trying to track him down since the train ride at the beginning of the play, throws a ratchet into the plans when he tells the town that Harold is a fraud. Marian finds Harold and warns him, but Harold realizes he can't bear leave. “For the first time in my life, I got my foot caught in the door,” Harold tells Marian. While the town prepares to attack Harold, Marian speaks up and notes all the joy the dancing and music Harold has encouraged brought to town, even if his main claim (to be a great conductor capable of starting a boys' band) is a lie. When the mayor asks anyone who agrees with Marian to step forward, people start stepping forward, including the mayor's wife (he tells her to go back, but after hesitating, she refuses). Someone does ask “where is the band” and on cue the children march out ready to play. While Harold realizes that it's hopeless to get them to play (since his “Think” system of thinking about the music to play is a fraud), Marian encourages him to lead the band and almost magically, they play. Harold is vindicated as he leads the band through the tune of “76 Trombones.”
1. Titanic (1997) $600,779,824
2. Star Wars (1977) $460,935,665
3. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) $434,949,459
4. Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) $431,065,444
5. Spider-Man (2002) $403,706,375
6. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The (2003) $377,019,252
7. Passion of the Christ, The (2004) $370,025,697
8. Jurassic Park (1993) $356,784,000
9. Shrek 2 (2004) $356,211,000
10. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The (2002) $340,478,898
11. Finding Nemo (2003) $339,714,367
12. Forrest Gump (1994) $329,691,196
13. Lion King, The (1994) $328,423,001
14. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001) $317,557,891
15. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001) $313,837,577
16. Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002) $310,675,583
17. Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) $309,125,409
18. Independence Day (1996) $306,124,059
19. Pirates of the Caribbean (2003) $305,411,224
20. Sixth Sense, The (1999) $293,501,675
21. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) $290,158,751
22. Home Alone (1990) $285,761,243
23. Matrix Reloaded, The (2003) $281,492,479
24. Shrek (2001) $267,652,016
25. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) $261,970,615
26. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) $260,031,035
27. Jaws (1975) $260,000,000
28. Monsters, Inc. (2001) $255,870,172
29. Batman (1989) $251,188,924
30. Men in Black (1997) $250,147,615
31. Toy Story 2 (1999) $245,823,397
32. Bruce Almighty (2003) $242,589,580
33. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) $242,374,454
34. Twister (1996) $241,700,000
35. My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002) $241,437,427
36. Ghost Busters (1984) $238,600,000
37. Beverly Hills Cop (1984) $234,760,500
38. Cast Away (2000) $233,630,478
39. Lost World: Jurassic Park, The (1997) $229,074,524
40. Signs (2002) $227,965,690
41. Rush Hour 2 (2001) $226,138,454
42. Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) $219,200,000
43. Ghost (1990) $217,631,306
44. Aladdin (1992) $217,350,219
45. Saving Private Ryan (1998) $216,119,491
46. Mission: Impossible II (2000) $215,397,307
47. X2 (2003) $214,948,780
48. Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002) $213,079,163
49. Back to the Future (1985) $210,609,762
50. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999) $205,399,422
51. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) $204,843,350
52. Exorcist, The (1973) $204,565,000
53. Mummy Returns, The (2001) $202,007,640
54. Armageddon (1998) $201,573,391
55. Gone with the Wind (1939) $198,655,278
56. Pearl Harbor (2001) $198,539,855
57. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) $197,171,806
58. Toy Story (1995) $191,800,000
59. Men in Black II (2002) $190,418,803
60. Gladiator (2000) $187,670,866
61. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) $184,925,485
62. Dances with Wolves (1990) $184,208,848
63. Batman Forever (1995) $184,031,112
64. Fugitive, The (1993) $183,875,760
65. Ocean's Eleven (2001) $183,405,771
66. What Women Want (2000) $182,805,123
67. Perfect Storm, The (2000) $182,618,434
68. Liar Liar (1997) $181,395,380
69. Grease (1978) $181,360,000
70. Jurassic Park III (2001) $181,166,115
71. Mission: Impossible (1996) $180,965,237
72. Planet of the Apes (2001) $180,011,740
73. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) $179,870,271
74. Pretty Woman (1990) $178,406,268
75. Tootsie (1982) $177,200,000
76. Top Gun (1986) $176,781,728
77. There's Something About Mary (1998) $176,483,808
78. Ice Age (2002) $176,387,405
79. Crocodile Dundee (1986) $174,635,000
80. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992) $173,585,516
81. Elf (2003) $173,381,405
82. Air Force One (1997) $172,888,056
83. Rain Man (1988) $172,825,435
84. Apollo 13 (1995) $172,071,312
85. Matrix, The (1999) $171,383,253
86. Beauty and the Beast (1991) $171,301,428
87. Tarzan (1999) $171,085,177
88. Beautiful Mind, A (2001) $170,708,996
89. Chicago (2002) $170,684,505
90. Three Men and a Baby (1987) $167,780,960
91. Meet the Parents (2000) $166,225,040
92. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991) $165,500,000
93. Hannibal (2001) $165,091,464
94. Catch Me If You Can (2002) $164,435,221
95. Big Daddy (1999) $163,479,795
96. Sound of Music, The (1965) $163,214,286
97. Batman Returns (1992) $162,831,698
98. Bug's Life, A (1998) $162,792,677
99. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) $161,963,000
100. Waterboy, The (1998) $161,487,252
1.) I Love Lucy — How can you not love Lucy? This is the classic comedy, a timeless combination of humor and personality to create plots you can rewatch and still laugh.
2.) I Dream of Jeannie — Jeannie is funny — simple as that. It seems to me that IDOJ is one of the last in the great line of 50's and 60's comedies. Just months before it ended All in the Family came on the air and changed sitcoms forever — but that light hearted innocence was still alive and well before that.
3.) The Beverley Hillbillies — How can you not like them? They are funny and truly do exhibit the kindness one encounters in the Ozarks. If only Granny wasn't so busy making moonshine! I've even seen their car (it is down in Holister, MO), so how can I not mention them?
4.) Leave it to Beaver — This is another timeless classic. It accentuates the “typical” American household and doesn't seem all that dated even though it ended its run the better part of half a century ago.
5.) The Cosby Show — Yeah, I have at least one comedy I like that isn't older than I am. Cosby will surely be one of the enduring classics of the last two decades.
Runners up: All in the Family (I don't like how it changed “the sitcom” forever, but I'll admit it, I like it); Gilligan's Island; The Jeffersons; Sanford & Son; Home Improvement.
Since the pilot episode is being skipped over on primetime (they appear to be airing even numbered episodes this time around, they aired odd numbered ones since Jeannie arrived on TV Land in June), let me give you the executive summary if you are a new (or soon to be) fan. This is a spoiler for the pilot episode, but since it won't be airing again for some time, you may want to read this so that you know how things got started.
Captain Anthony “Tony” Nelson (Larry Hagman) is in the Air Force, serving as an astronaut at NASA in Coco Beach, Florida. During an problematic rocket launch during the pilot, the orbiter that Nelson is in fails to get into space and crashes next to an island. On the (not so proverbial) desert island, he finds an interesting bottle and uncorks it. To his surprise smoke pours out of the bottle and a 2,000 year old genie named Jeannie (Barbara Eden) appears. Jeannie had promised herself that should would forever serve the person who rescues her and immediately seeks to grant whatever wishes Captain Nelson had.
After wishing Jeannie to learn English (she only knows Arabic), Tony is rescued by a search plane looking for him that Jeannie blinks onto the right path (Jeannie folds her arms and “blinks” to make things happen). Before the plane gets to him he wishes that Jeannie is free to do whatever she wants and leaves her on the island (or so he thinks). Jeannie has other intentions and rolls her bottle into Nelson's bag.
After arriving back at Coco Beach, Nelson's first indication that Jeannie came along is after Nelson and his fiancee walk into his house for dinner. Jeannie comes into the room, which needless to say leads toward the eventual demise of Nelson's engagement, much to his chagrin (he finds he can't get rid Jeannie — how do you get rid of magical being that doesn't want to leave?). While Jeannie will generally grant her “master's” every wish, she will not grant his wish for her to leave (since his one wish was that she be free to do whatever she wants, she doesn't have to do what he wishes even though she normally does) — she wants to marry him instead.
This and a few other events lead NASA's psychologist, Dr. Alfred Bellows (Hayden Rourke) to suspect that the crash landing has somehow caused Captain Nelson to be psychologically disturbed. In one of the few times Nelson in anyway acknowledges his having a genie to Bellows, he chases the garbage truck after throwing away Jeannie's bottle with Jeannie in it (even though he wants to get rid of her, he isn't a cruel guy and so he doesn't want her to be crushed and left in a garbage dump). The good captain doesn't rerelease Jeannie from the corked bottle until after Dr. Bellows leaves, so this appears to be some kind of hallucination on the part of Nelson in the eyes of the doctor. As Nelson dug furiously through the garbage truck before finding the bottle, Bellows assures him that he doesn't need to dig in the truck since NASA can get him all the trash he could possibly want.
This pretty much sets the stage for the whole show. Dr. Bellows begins monitoring Captain Nelson's erratic behavior (caused by trying to cover up Jeannie's magic), despite Nelson's attempts to suggest that his digging in the trash episode was only to “fool” Dr. Bellows into thinking he was crazy. From this point on Nelson decides it would be better not to reveal the fact that he has a genie to anyone (a few people will learn eventually, but that's another story).
Also introduced in this episode is Army* Captain Roger Healey (Bill Daily), Nelson's partner in space program projects. Healey is an all around nice guy, but he's one sandwich short of a picnic — he lacks common sense and always is one step behind what is going on. While Nelson is far more serious than Healey, they get along well most of the time, and Healey is Nelson's best friend.
So, that's it. The stage is set. These few concepts and conditions manage to put everything in motion that made I Dream of Jeannie's plot for five years and 139 episodes. Don't let all of the details overwhelm you, unlike some series — take Star Trek as an example — if you don't remember everything you won't be lost. Things will just make a bit more sense faster if you know how everything happened.
* It is often overlooked that Healey was in the Army and Nelson was in the Air Force. However this is the trivia answer as to why Nelson and Healey have different color uniforms (you'll notice this in the color episodes).