There are many shows that I’m aware of that I never really watched. They are more references than anything else, usually because they seem silly. Occasionally, I check them out merely from curiosity. I’m talking about shows like My Mother the Car and Manimal. Although, Manimal was a total flop. Those shows are slightly less interesting. The ones that have some legs and last more than a season seem more intriguing. The other day, I decided to throw on the pilot of My Favorite Martian. It was 100 percent out of curiosity. I figured it would be bad. I figured I might laugh at it. Instead, much to my surprise, My Favorite Martian completely exceeded my expectation.
Now, bear in mind my expectation was “not good.” I’m not saying My Favorite Martian is an all-time great sitcom. The episodes I watched were pretty good, though. I was genuinely entertained. That was not what I expected at all, based on everything I knew, and also everything I had heard.
Like many early sitcoms, and My Favorite Martian debuted in 1963, it had a high-concept premise. Tim O’Hara is a young newspaper reporter in Los Angeles who, one day, stumbles upon a Martian who has routinely been visiting Earth for decades as an anthropologist. His ship is wrecked, so he can’t leave. The Martian has a ton of powered and advanced technology. He can make himself invisible, read minds, and talk to animals. Tim and the Martian make a pact in the pilot where the Martian will help Tim with work, and life, using his powers while Tim will provide cover for the Martian while he works on fixing his ship. Thus, the Martian becomes Tim’s Uncle Martin.
Now, I’ve only seen a few episodes, and in classic old sitcom fashion they churned out 107 episodes of My Favorite Martian in three seasons. Maybe they can justify why Martin had to stick around for so long. That seems easy enough. All I know is early on the premise feels fresh and the logic, such as it is, makes sense. I think part of what really helps is that the actors playing Tim and Martin are really good. Martin is played by Ray Walston, who I had seen before but could not recognize on sight. Tim, meanwhile, is played by a young Bill Bixby. Yes, the man who would play David (don’t call me Bruce) Banner on The Incredible Hulk. He was a really talented straight man sitcom actor.
So if you’ve heard of My Favorite Martian, and assumed it was a silly, lousy sitcom, I am here to tell you that I disagree. In fact, I might even watch more episodes in the future.