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DVD SAVANT

My Favorite Martian
The Complete First Season


My Favorite Martian
The Complete First Season

Rhino
1963 / B&W / 1:33 flat full frame / 17 hours / Street Date May 23, 2004 / 14.95
Starring Ray Walston, Bill Bixby, Pamela Britton, Ann Marshall, J. Pat O'Malley

Reviewed by Glenn Erickson

Rhino's 3 disc set is the full first year of a popular 60s TV show that did indeed set a template for light comedy sitcoms revolving around a fantasy idea. It seems to be a partial spinoff of the Jerry Lewis version of Visit to a Small Planet, or perhaps the Disney film Moon Pilot. Ray Walston's Martian is an anthropologist marooned in Los Angeles but befriended by a local reporter, Tim O'Hara (Bill Bixby). Hijinks ensue, as they say.

The Martian, or Uncle Martin as Tim calls him, is an amiable fellow who just needs to collect some rare futuristic materials to make his broken spaceship work again. As established in the first episode, Tim takes risks to help Martin, and in return the Martian uses his advanced powers to help Tim with whatever problems come along. Martin can read minds and become invisible at will, enabling most episodes to get easy laughs from objects manipulated on strings. None of it is very taxing for the effects department. When extra cuteness is needed, Uncle Martin talks to whatever dog is handy. He understands dog language and can use them as his helpers.

In a ratio of about four to one, the episodes deal with Tim's problems while Martin's mission to get his spaceship going are left on the back burner. There is a nice show where the ship is accidentally sold to an amusement park owner, who turns it into a kiddie ride. But more often than not Tim is asking Martin to help him get a newspaper story or settle some romantic problem. All sitcoms have "the neighbors" and in this case it's Tim's landlady and her daughters, one of whom starts out as his girlfriend in the pilot but is soon replaced by Ann Marshall's Angela Brown. The stories all stay within a very simple domestic framework. J. Pat O'Malley is on hand as Tim's editor, always there to motivate a story or suspect that Tim is up to something.

Ray Walston found his calling in extravagant character roles, starting with his greatest The Devil in Damn Yankees. My Favorite Martian was his bread & butter show, and he's charming in every episode. His invisibility gag is always preceded by the sprouting of a pair of low-tech antennae, a silly gag that never allows to get old.

Bill Bixby was an amiable talent also capable of carrying a show that needed steady likeablilty. To say that the work here is undemanding isn't quite fair, as even a casual sitcom needs to maintain its own consistent tone. Sheldon Leonard gave the show its start and did make it special enough to last three strong years.

The pilot episode is about as close as the series gets to science fiction. Martin's ship is damaged by colliding with an X-15 rocket plane. When Tim breaks the story, the FBI arrest him, hold him without charges and threaten worse if he doesn't reveal the source of his information. The head G-Man is played by Simon Oakland, a major-league character actor clearly doing Sheldon Leonard a favor. Nothing in the script objects to the draconian actions of the Air Force and the FBI. It was a different time.

The pilot episode establishes a strong link of friendship between Martin and Tim. If anything, the shows are slow and a bit on the bland side, but they're the kind of pleasant and reassuring entertainment people wanted to tune into after dinner on a Sunday night.


Rhino's DVD of the first season of My Favorite Martian is quite a bargain. The 37 shows are arrayed on three discs with no extras, but they're beautifully mastered and in perfect shape. They also did not seem to be time compressed (for the record, I watched eight of the episodes). The B&W looks handsome and each show is indexed with several chapters. Here's a rundown of the titles:

Show list:

1. My Favorite Martin 2. The Matchmakers 3. There Is No Cure for the Common Martin 4. Russians "R" in Season 5. Man or Amoeba 6. The Man on the Couch 7. A Loaf of Bread, a Jug of Wine and Peaches 8. The Awful Truth 9. Rocket to Mars 10. Raffles No. 2 11. The Atom Misers 12. That Little Old Matchmaker, Martin 13. How to Be a Hero Without Really Trying 14. Blood is Thicker than the Martian 15. Poor Little Rich Cat 16. Rx for Martian 17. Going, Going, Gone 18. Who Am I? 19. Now You See It, Now You Don't 20. My Nephew the Artist 21. Hitchhike to Mars 22. Uncle Martin's Broadcast 23. An Old, Old Friend of the Family 24. Super-Duper Snooper 25. The Sinkable Mrs. Brown 26. Martin and the Eternal Triangle 27. Danger! High Voltage! 28. If You Can't Lick Them 29. Unidentified Flying Uncle Martin 30. How Are You Gonna Keep Them Down on the Pharmacy? 31. Miss Jekyll and Hyde 32. Who's Got the Power? 33. Oh, My Aching Antenna 34. The Disastro-nauts 35. Shake Well and Don't Use 36. A Nose for News 37. Uncle Martin's Wisdom Tooth

The three discs are cleverly mounted in a single keep case with a cover done up in a green glittery 3-D effect. The Rhino house brand is called Retro Vision.


On a scale of Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor, My Favorite Martian: The Complete First Season rates:
Movie: Good
Video: Excellent
Sound: Excellent
Supplements: none
Packaging: 3 discs in Keep case
Reviewed: September 22, 2004


Savant has also reviewed the Second Season of My Favorite Martian.




DVD Savant Text © Copyright 2007 Glenn Erickson

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