I Dream of Genie
|"I Dream of Genie"|
|The Twilight Zone episode|
|Episode no.||Season 4
|Directed by||Robert Gist|
|Written by||John Furia, Jr.|
|Featured music||Fred Steiner|
|Original air date||March 21, 1963|
Howard Morris: George P. Hanley
|“||Meet Mr. George P. Hanley, a man life treats without deference, honor, or success. Waiters serve his soup cold. Elevator operators close doors in his face. Mothers never bother to wait up for the daughters he dates. George is a creature of humble habits and tame dreams. He's an ordinary man, Mr. Hanley, but at this moment the accidental possessor of a very special gift, the kind of gift that measures men against their dreams, the kind of gift most of us might ask for first and possibly regret to the last, if we, like Mr. George P. Hanley, were about to plunge head-first and unaware into our own personal Twilight Zone.||”|
George P. Hanley, a down-on-his-luck office worker, is given an antique lamp at an antique store. Upon being unable to give the secretary Miss Ann Lawson his gift for her birthday, George heads home where he is greeted by his pet dog Attila. When George rubs the lamp while cleaning it, he is offered one wish by a genie summoned from the antique lamp. The genie (dressed in modern garb except for his old-fashioned shoes) explains that the traditional three wishes have been discontinued due to misuse by wishers. Rather than make a rash wish, George carefully considers the three most popular options.
He wonders what it would be like to wish for love. While he imagines marriage to Ann, transformed into a beautiful, successful actress, he soon discovers that she is obsessed with her acting career, living the very public life of a starlet, and always trying to keep her face and hair in perfect condition. He imagines a dashing lead actor vying for her attention and realizes that he would eventually lose a wife like that.
The next day, Hanley sees his friend Roger go into E.T. Watson's office. While Roger is in E.T. Watson's office, Hanley decides whether or not wealth is a proper wish. Hanley imagines life as bored tycoon with excessive amounts of money and chooses not to make this wish. After that imagining, Roger comes out and tells Hanley that he has been promoted to Head Bookkeeper.
After walking Attila, Hanley's final thoughts are on wishing for power. He imagines being President of the United States and being paralyzed by indecision when faced with a global UFO crisis. After that imagination, Hanley and Attila are told by a man to get off of his stoop as the two of them return to Hanley's apartment. Realizing that he's not really cut out for any of the things that most people would wish for, Hanley decides to make a truly original wish and starts to call out the genie to tell him his original wish.
In the next scene, a homeless man in an alley finds a genie's lamp in a garbage can. As he thoughtlessly polishes it a little and puts it back, a genie emerges from the lamp and offers him three wishes on the condition that the lamp be returned to the alley afterwards for another needy person to find. As the homeless man is stunned at this, the genie turns around and it is revealed that the genie is actually Hanley. It is also shown that Attila has joined Hanley in his job as well.
|“||Mr. George P. Hanley. Former vocation: jerk. Present vocation: genie. George P. Hanley, a most ordinary man, whom life treated without deference, honor, or success, but a man wise enough to decide on a most extraordinary wish that makes him the contented, permanent master of his own altruistic Twilight Zone.||”|
Unlike most episodes involving genies' or wishes, the protagonist in this episode declines to make any wishes at all. The narrative circles around the concept of his imagination of what may come to pass if he had made a wish rather than the traditional approach of showing each wish backfiring after being made. At the end of the episode, the protagonist has actually become a genie.
- Aladdin - another piece of speculative fiction centralizing around the idea of genies and granting wish
- Pessimism - the abiding ethos of the episode, in which Hanley is unable to imagine himself happy even in a scenario where his every wish has been granted in theory
- DeVoe, Bill. (2008). Trivia from The Twilight Zone. Albany, GA: Bear Manor Media. ISBN 978-1-59393-136-0
- Grams, Martin. (2008). The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic. Churchville, MD: OTR Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9703310-9-0