My Favorite Martian is an American television sitcom that aired on CBS from September 29, 1963 to May 1, 1966 for 107 episodes (75 in black and white 1963–1965, 32 color 1965–1966). The show starred Ray Walston as Uncle Martin (the Martian) and Bill Bixby as Tim O’Hara.
This series was produced by Jack Chertok.
A human-looking extraterrestrial in a one-man spaceship crash-lands near Los Angeles. The ship’s pilot is, in fact, an anthropologist from Mars and is now stranded on Earth. Tim O’Hara, a young newspaper reporter for The Los Angeles Sun, is on his way home from Edwards Air Force Base (where he had gone to report on the flight of the X-15) back to Los Angeles when he spots the spaceship coming down. The X-15 nearly hit the martian’s spaceship and caused it to crash.
Tim takes the Martian in as his roommate and passes him off as his Uncle Martin. Uncle Martin refuses to reveal any of his Martian traits to people other than Tim, to avoid publicity (or panic), and Tim agrees to keep Martin’s identity a secret while the Martian attempts to repair his ship. Uncle Martin has various unusual powers: he can raise from his head two retractable antennae and become invisible; he is telepathic and can read and influence minds; he can levitate objects with the motion of his finger; he can communicate with animals; and he can also speed himself (and other people) up to do work.
Ostensibly an inventor by trade, Martin also builds several advanced devices, such as a time machine which can transport Tim and the Martian back to Medieval England and other times and places, such as St. Louis in 1849, the early days of Hollywood, or bring Leonardo da Vinci and Jesse James into the present. Another device he builds is a “molecular separator” which can take apart the molecules of a physical object, or rearrange them (a squirrel was made into a human). Another device can take memories and store them in pill form to “relearn” them later. Another device can create temporary duplicates, and another item which can levitate himself and others without the need of his finger.
Tim and Uncle Martin live in a garage apartment owned by a congenial but scatterbrained landlady, Mrs. Lorelei Brown, who often shows up when not wanted. She and Martin have an awkward romance from time to time but Martin never gets serious for fear of going home to Mars. She later dates a vain, cold-hearted, plain-clothes police officer, Detective Bill Brennan, who dislikes Uncle Martin and is highly suspicious of him.
The first two seasons were filmed in black-and-white (at Desilu), but the final season was shot in color (at MGM), resulting in minor changes in the set and the format of the show. In addition to the extraterrestrial powers indicated in the first two seasons, Martin seemed to be able to do much more in the final season, such as stimulating facial hair to provide him and Tim with a quick disguise, and levitating with his nose. Brennan’s boss, the police chief, was involved in many episodes in the third season, generally as a device to humiliate the overzealous detective.
In its first season, My Favorite Martian did extremely well in the Nielsen ratings ranking at #10. However, by the end of the second season, the show had dipped to #24. Still, the series was doing well enough to be renewed for a third season.
“Martin O’Hara’s” real name is Exigius 12½. Revealed in “We Love You, Mrs. Pringle,” it was heard again when his real nephew, Andromeda, crash-landed on Earth in the show’s third season. Andromeda, originally devised to bring younger viewers to the aging show, disappeared without explanation after this single episode and he was never referred to again. Andromeda was, however, a regular on the later animated series My Favorite Martians. Andromeda had a single antenna, which Martin explained was because his baby antennae had fallen out and only one adult antenna had come in so far. Ironically this is the reason for the series cancellation. In an interview with Starlog magazine, Ray Walston stated once CBS heard that Andromeda was to be a regular in the fourth season they soon announced the series’ cancellation.
My Favorite Martian was produced at the same time as other situation comedies featuring characters who could do extraordinary things, as a parody of the standard family situation comedy. The show was an example of science fiction comedy, differing from Bewitched and I Dream Of Jeannie in that the central character was a man, and he relied on science and advanced technology rather than magic.