Fifty Years Later, My Favorite Martian Still Out of This World!

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Favorite Martian Ray Walston Bill Bixby MPI DVD Critical Blast

Never mind Matt Damon. The Martian at the top of my list will always be Exigius 12 and a half -- but every else just calls him Uncle Martin.

With his lengthy and historical life span, his pithy wisdom of the ages, and his technology that was so advanced as to be indistinguishable from magic (HT: Arthur C. Clarke), MY FAVORITE MARTIAN was a trendsetting show. While it only lasted three seasons, it predated both BEWITCHED and I DREAM OF JEANNIE -- shows with similar constructs, similar effects, and featuring producers and directors whose names also conveniently appear from time to time in the credits of MY FAVORITE MARTIAN. (In the third season, Martin's "levitating finger" is put out of commission, so he decides to try using his nose -- something he says he saw on one of our American television shows.)

The pairing of young Bill Bixby as Tim O'Hara and Ray Walston as Martin made for a perfect television comedy team. Bixby, not known for his physical comedy in his other shows, really gets a chance to play here, and he does it well. Walston's deadpan expressions and timely cutting remarks made him a top-notch straight man. Together, they get into and out of one crazy situation after another, almost always in the name of protecting Uncle Martin's martian secret.

The premise of the story is that Tim O'Hara, a newspaper reporter, stumbles across Martin's crashed ship and, being a generally good guy, rescues him and nurses him back to health. Initially thinking he can win a Pulitzer for discovering a martian, he is restrained by Martin's common sense that nobody would believe him -- and his own compassionate morality.

The parts to Martin's spaceship supposedly won't be invented for a number of years, effectively stranding him while he does repairs. However, Martin must have perfected the art of miniaturization, for he packed into the ship (which barely was large enough to hold him) more luggage than the Howell's took for a three-hour cruise. These gimmicks and doohickeys often served as the plot driver for stories, like the two-parter that has them thrown back in time by Martin's time machine. The device gets used even later in the season when Tim screws up the timestream in order to get a story. One wonders why Martin didn't use the device to jump into the future and acquire his needed parts.

Complicating the mix is Tim's landlady, Loralee Brown (Pamela Britton) and her teenaged daughter Angela (Ann Marshall). Tim, the young bachelor, is sometimes the object of Angela's misplaced affections, while Martin is often seen being subtly keen on Loralee.

Now, thanks to the folks at MPI Home Video, a new generation of fans can come to appreciate this Jack Chertok creation with the release of MY FAVORITE MARTIAN: THE COMPLETE SERIES. All 103 episodes (two season in original black and white, with the third in color) are brought together on 16 discs. The seasons are segregated in their own clamshell cases, and the entire thing is snugly held in a colorful cardboard slipcase.

If this were only the episodes, I would still be satisfied with this set. However, the production team has gone above and beyond with this release, culling the television (and radio) archives for rare appearances by Bixby and Walston in promotional ads and talk show interviews (including LET'S TALK TO LUCY, a radio interview series conducted by Lucille Ball). There are plenty of the typical type of bonus content, including behind the scenes features, on-set home movies, interviews with the extant cast members and shots of the special effects. But what I truly appreciated most were the two pilots included in the set for Jack Chertok shows that didn't take off -- THE RELUCTANT EYE and THE MAN IN THE SQUARE SUIT. This is the television equivalent of finding old stock certificates in Grandpa's trunk in the attic -- a real gem of entertainment history!

If you love classic television, or just long for the days when you didn't have to censor it so much for children, I can't recommend a better set than this one. My eight year old (who loves BEWITCHED on AntennaTV) is enjoying the heck out of this set, and I can see the old gleam of "Maybe I could go to Mars some day" dreaming that I used to have when I was his age. MY FAVORITE MARTIAN is still out of this world.

5.0 / 5.0