Shabu the Genie is a sassy, black genie featured on the ABC fantasy comedy JUST OUR LUCK (1983-84).
Shabu’s master was Keith Burrows (Richard Gilliland), a young but wishy-washy white weatherman (later reporter) at KPOX-TV Channel 6 in Venice, California.
Keith found Shabu in an old green bottle that he purchased at a flea market after he accidentally cracked the bottle – while jogging – and had to buy it. Later, at home, Keith’s cat smashes the bottle and out pops Shabu, a 3000 year-old genie. He had been imprisoned for 196 years before Keith opened the bottle.
Although, Shabu swore allegiance to his new master as mandated by tradition, the hip, Shabu resents his new master’s modest lifestyle compared to his former living large days in a royal palace with the likes of Cleopatra, King Arthur and Napoleon. So, instead of respecting his master, he uses his magical powers to pull practical jokes and embarrass him at work, at home or in sensitive social situations.
Occasionally, however, Shabu helps Keith with his personal and work related problems. Once, Shabu helps liven up a party thrown to impress the station manager so Keith could keep his job, and another time, Shabu imbues Keith with a heapin’ helpin’ of “charisma” after being told his screen presence was lacking (“You just stick on the screen. Like old gum!”)
Other people to cross Shabu’s path includes Keith’s superior, program director Meagan Huxley; Meagan’s fiancé, Nelson Marriot, the station manager; Professor Bob, the station’s weatherman who replaced Keith; Jim Dexter, the news anchorman; and Keith’s neighbor, Chuck.
NOTE: According to T. K. Carter “Shabu doesn’t have a master because he doesn’t believe in master….I made it clear that I won’t do that jive routine, acting like some cat in a black El Dorado, drinking a Kool-Aid daiquiri with a hat as big as a house….When Shabu pops out of the bottle, he’s wearing a Bill Blass raw silk suit. You’re not going to see me wearing a lot of jewelry and stuff.” After the program aired, The NAACP intervened with the show’s development insisting on such changes as the concept of “master” and “servant” being dropped; the inclusion of additional black script writers and an extra black actor to appear on the cast, namely, Leonard Simon as Jim Dexter. Despite all the efforts to make this show click, the series was canceled after eleven episodes.
Shabu the Genie
c/o Keith Barrow
KPOX-TV Channel 6
Just Our Luck (IMDB)