My Favorite Martian: History And Review of Classic 1960s TV Show

My Favorite Martian History

Photo: CBS Television, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The classic science fiction series known as My Favorite Martian was first aired with CBS on September 29, 1963. It ran for nearly three years (until May 1, 1966), for a total of 107 episodes ever filmed. During the first two seasons, it featured seventy-five episodes in black and white while the final season’s thirty-two episodes were in color. The main stars of the show were Ray Walston, who played the alien character “Uncle Martin O’Hara” and Bill Bixby as “Tim O’Hara.” They, along with the main format of the series, were created by John L Greene and produced by Jack Chertok.

The Story

The series begins with the humanoid Martian alien nearly colliding his solo-run spaceship with the North American X-15 rocket plane, owned by the United States Air Force. Young reporter, Tim O’Hara, encounters the 450-year-old alien after returning home from doing a report on that X-15 at its Edward Air Force Base. Upon witnessing the silver spacecraft crash land, O’Hara meets the Martian and brings him home, introducing him as “Uncle Martin” as a means to protect the alien’s true identity. In return, the Martian refuses to reveal any of his alien traits before other human beings, trusting only O’Hara to keep his information secret.

Posing as uncle and nephew, the two live in O’Hara’s garage apartment that’s owned and rented out by the widowed Mrs. Lorelei Brown (played by Pamela Britton), a former officer of the United States Naval Reserve’s women’s division known as WAVE. In the meantime, O’Hara agrees to try and help the alien repair his crashed spaceship so that he can return home. During their time together, O’Hara learns the Martian can levitate different objects, read and influence people’s minds, as well as become completely invisible at will. He can also communicate with many different animals, render people and objects frozen in place, and adjust either his own or other people’s speed levels to accomplish tasks faster than normal.

My Favorite Inventor

Uncle Martin has also been seen as an inventor. Throughout the series, viewers watched him build a number of devices, including a time machine. Some of the adventures the two characters experience together through that time machine included a medieval visit to England and the earliest days of Hollywood.

Another invention credited to Uncle Martin is a molecular separator, which could adjust an object from one form into another. There is also a device that can take away a person’s memory, store it in a pill, and keep it aside for later use should the need come about to remember whatever was forgotten.

Awkwardness

O’Hara’s landlady, Mrs. Brown, featured a rather interesting habit of always showing up at the most inconvenient times possible, which often resulted in the two main characters having to quickly improvise to protect Uncle Martin’s true identity. At one point during the series, a rather awkward off-and-on romance between Mrs. Brown and Uncle Martin ensues until Martin’s refusal to commit more into their relationship ultimately sees Mrs. Brown become romantically involved with Detective Bill Brennan (played by Alan Hewitt). Detective Brennan was a rather obnoxious character that displayed serious trust issues against Uncle Martin O’Hara and would often complain to his police captain, (played by the actor Roy Engel).

The Martian Family Tree

According to the show’s story, Martin’s real name is Exigius 12 1/2, which is revealed in an episode titled “We Love You, Mrs. Pringle.” This name would be brought up again when the alien’s nephew, “Andromeda,” crashes onto Earth’s surface during the latter half of the third season. Andromeda was played by Wayne Stam and with the intent to use the actor’s youth to attract a younger audience in hopes to boost the series’ ratings. However, Andromeda only appeared in one episode and inexplicably disappears from the show without a trace, having the final eight episodes finish off as if nothing ever happened.

Behind The Scenes

George Greeley is credited for the composition and performance of My Favorite Martian’s theme music. It served to be an influential piece for Brian Wilson from the Beach Boys to record and perform their big hit single “Good Vibrations.”

The early script work for the series written by Jack Chertok was not something the network was impressed with, so they hired Sherwood Schwartz to help Chertok out. Chertok’s focus on Tim O’Hara was replaced to focus more on the Martian as a character that’s a “fish out of water” on a “backward planet.”

In the pilot episode, the character known as Mrs. Brown’s daughter, Annabelle, was originally penned in to be Tim O’Hara’s love interest. However, she was removed so the series could have O’Hara carry out a playboy lifestyle instead. In addition to this change, the pilot’s version of Mrs. Brown as an intelligent woman from the military was very different from what the rest of the series’ episodes portrayed. Throughout the rest of the series, Mrs. Brown came across as flighty.

For the first two seasons of My Favorite Martian, the episodes are filmed in black and white at Desilu Studios. When it was shot at MGM Studios for the third season, it forced a series of minor changes to the set, as well as the overall format of the show. Now with color available, this allowed Walston’s character to do much more such as pulling off better disguises and alien-like gestures.

My Favorite Martian Ratings and Reviews

When My Favorite Martian first premiered in 1963, it was the first fantasy-style situation comedy featured on any North American television channel. It seemed to serve as an inspiration for additional sitcoms such as Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie to realize their own brand of pop-culture success when they began to air. During the first season of My Favorite Martian, it did very well with the Nielsen Ratings as it ranked in tenth place overall in 1963. However, the second season saw the series drop considerably but, still did well enough to at least earn a third season of production. When their ratings dropped even further and former fans admitting they lost interest in the series due to too much redundancy in the storylines, My Favorite Martian was canceled.

 

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