Monday, November 26, 2012

He Dreamed Of Jeannie

Every story that TigerBlog saw this weekend about the passing of Larry Hagman at the age of 81 referred to him first and foremost as J.R. Ewing from the show "Dallas."

TB never was a big fan of "Dallas," and he probably watched less than an hour of the entire series. He definitely did not watch the famous "Who shot J.R." episode, which drew 83 million viewers, still the second-most ever for a TV show, behind only the final episode of "M*A*S*H."

As an aside, TB did watch the last episode of "M*A*S*H" and thought it was pretty good, way better than the last episode of, say, "Seinfeld," though nowhere near as good as the greatest final episode of them all, "Newhart."

If you never saw it, "Newhart" was a sitcom in which the hilariously dry Bob Newhart played an innkeeper in Vermont who was married to Mary Frann. This was not "The Bob Newhart Show," where he played a psychiatrist in Chicago who was married to Suzanne Pleshette.

TB read on the day of the final episode of "Newhart" a preview that it was the most creative ending to a TV show ever, and, as a fan of the show during its run, he was going to watch anyway. With about five minutes to go, it looked like it was okay but nothing special; it wasn't until the very, very last scene that it caused TB to think then, and now 22 years later, that it was in fact that cleverest moment in TV history.

If you've seen it, you know what he means. If you haven't click on the lick above and watch it.

Anyway, where were we? Oh yeah. Larry Hagman.

When TB thought of Larry Hagman, he thought not of J.R. Ewing but of Major Anthony Nelson and the show "I Dream Of Jeannie," which, along with "Gilligan's Island" was the first sitcom love for TB.

In the realm of classic TV shows that would never remotely fly today, "I Dream Of Jeannie" featured Barbara Eden as the title character and Hagman as her "master," who doubled as an astronaut in Cocoa Beach, Florida.

Jeannie, of course, would constantly get Tony into and then out of all kinds of trouble, all to the befuddlement of Colonel Bellows.

Jeannie and Tony eventually get married, and of course there was some, uh, chemistry that existed on the show that young TB never picked up on. For him, it was a harmless TV show about a guy who could get anything he wanted literally with the blink of an eye - and all he usually got was trouble.

And now that guy is gone, at the age of 81. His mother was Mary Martin, who played Peter Pan on Broadway. And, in a rarity for his profession (or any other for that matter), he was married to the same woman for 58 years.

TB figured he'd go with a little pop culture nostalgia after a Thanksgiving weekend that saw very little Princeton athletic action, especially here on campus.

It doesn't exactly pick up this week either, as only two teams play home games in the next week, though they do have two each.

The women's hockey team is home Friday against Union and Saturday against RPI. The women's basketball team is home against Rutgers Thursday and UMBC Sunday.

There are a handful of away events, including in men's basketball, where the Tigers are at Wagner Wednesday and Kent State Saturday.

The last few weeks featured the fall/winter overlap and are among the busiest of the year at Princeton. The schedule between now and the end of first semester exams is the slowest of the academic year.

After that, the winter teams will sprint through their Ivy schedules while spring teams will begin practice and then shortly after that competition.

One of the best parts of working in college athletics is the way the job is radically different depending on the time of year. Not only Saturdays, after all, are created equal.

Here at Princeton, the calendar is even more uniquely designed.

These days, it's not particularly fast-paced. Not to worry, though. There are some quality events between now and the end of the holidays, and it'll all pick up quickly after that.

In the meantime, there was a time to slow down and remember Larry Hagman - and his role not as an oil baron but as an astronaut who fell in love with the Jeannie in the bottle.

For TB, it brought back memories of days long gone.

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