My Favorite Martian was a science-fiction sitcom that aired on CBS from September 29, 1963 to May 1, 1966. The series starred Ray Walston as a Martian named Uncle Martin and Bill Bixby as Los Angeles Sun newspaper reporter Tim O’Hara. Uncle Martin was a very human-like extraterrestrial who crash-landed his one-man spaceship near Los Angeles, California. Stranded, Uncle Martin, who was an anthropologist back on his home world, had to learn how to survive on planet earth while attempting to make repairs to his ship.
Tim O’Hara spotted Uncle Martin’s crash-landed ship while on his way home from the Edwards Air Force Base, where he had visited to report on the test flight of the X-15 hypersonic rocket-powered aircraft. Uncle Martin’s vessel had nearly been hit by the X-15, causing it to crash.
Tim then took his new Martian friend in as his roommate. That’s when he gave him the name Uncle Martin in an attempt to hide his true identity. Uncle Martin refused to reveal his alien traits to anyone other than Tim. The last thing he wanted was to incite panic or draw unwanted publicity.
Tim agreed to keep Uncle Martin’s identity a secret while he attempted to make the needed repairs to his ship.
Beyond just being from another world, Uncle Martin had various strange and unusual powers. For one thing, he could raise from the top of his head two retractable antennae. He could also make himself completely invisible, read minds with telepathy, levitate objects, communicate with animals, as well as manipulate time by freezing objects or people in place or speeding himself up to do work.
For it’s first season, My Favorite Martian did extraordinarily well in the Nielsen ratings. For it’s inaugural season, My Favorite Martian ranked #10. By the end of the second season, however, the series had fallen to #24. Even so, the series still was doing well enough to be renewed for a third and final season. Sadly, the show would continue to nosedive in the ratings throughout it’s third season, eventually leading CBS to cancel the series.
Join Facts Verse as we take a look at the numerous reasons why, despite starting out strong, My Favorite Martian ultimately failed to draw in the number of viewers that the network had hoped for. Keep watching to see the scene that took My Favorite Martian off the air for good.
The Addition Of A New Character Killed The Series
Since My Favorite Martian had struggled to draw in viewers throughout it’s second season, the producers of the series decided to bring in a fresh new character for season three in hopes of bringing new viewers to the floundering series.
At that point, the writing was already on the wall. Unless major changes were made to the show, it was unlikely to make it past it’s third season. But saving My Favorite Martian from the ax of network cancellation proved to be more difficult than expected. For one thing, if you make too drastic of changes to a show, you risk alienating – pun intended – your core audience. If you don’t, however, make the necessary changes to breathe new life into an aging series, you can pretty much count on it eventually going the way of the Dodo.
For Season three, not only did the show make the jump from black and white to color, but the writers of the series also introduced a new character named Andromeda to the cast. These change-ups were made while the production of the series moved from Desilu studios to MGM studios.
The star of the series, Ray Walston, was beginning to feel the intense pressure of having to keep up with a fast-paced TV series. He was also starting to feel type-cast as a Martian. So, when script editor Marty Roth pitched the idea of introducing the young Martian character Andromeda to the series, Walston felt like all of his wishes were coming true. The plan was to give Walston and Wayne Stam, the young actor who was chosen to play Andromeda, alternating episodes.
That way Walston could have time to pursue work and projects independently from the series. The plan was initiated with the episode ‘When You Get Back To Mars, Are You Going To Get It’, which eventually aired as the 24th episode of the show’s third season.
Wayne Stam was a 14-year-old seasoned stage actor who showed tremendous potential with his seemingly natural grasp of comedy and character. As Andromeda, Stam seemed to be right at home in his character, seeing as how the direction had called for a lovable yet strong-willed Martian teenager.
Stam, a Washington D.C.-native, was immediately signed to a multi-year contract. On paper, he seemed perfect for the role. The contract even included provisions for Andromeda toys and merchandise. Unfortunately, all viewers ever got to see of Andromeda was just one episode. The character was neither heard from or seen on-screen again after that one-off affair.
Ray Walston, who later claimed that he hated the series, was ready to move on. So, the Andromeda episode was held back until the end, and My Favorite Martian inevitably ended shortly after it was aired.
While you’d think that would have spelled the end for Andromeda, the character made later appearances in the pages of the My Favorite Martian comics. On top of that, a few of the never produced scripts that were planned for season four were adapted into the Saturday morning My Favorite Martians cartoon that aired on CBS from 1973 to 1975.
Although Andromeda would be featured in the animated spin-off series, the voice of the character was provided by Howard Morris, an actor who is best known for playing Ernest T. Bass on The Andy Griffith Show. The voice of Uncle Martin was provided by Jonathan Harris of Lost In Space fame.
Stam ended up graduating from Arcadia High School near Pasadena, California. While he was still a student there, he performed on stage in a theater production of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. While he never returned to television in any kind of prominent role, Stam remained dedicated to acting. He went on to form a theater troupe and directed workshops and plays at various colleges in and around Southern California. Later on, he became a high school drama teacher at Carlmont High, Glendora High, and San Dimas High.
Real quick – if you’re enjoying this video so far, give it a like and subscribe to the Facts Verse channel for more content like this. We put out at least a video a day, so there should be more than enough content to keep all of you TV junkies out there satiated.
Ray Walton’s Hatred For My Favorite Martian Explained
As we previously mentioned, actor Ray Walston came to resent his role as Uncle Martin on My Favorite Martian. While that role is what he became famous for, coincidentally, it was also the one that he later wished he had never taken.
Walston started acting in 1939. When he landed his role as Uncle Martin, there was nothing else on TV quite like My Favorite Martian. It aired on CBS years before shows like The Addams Family, The Munsters, and Bewitched premiered. In fact, it wouldn’t be until 1965 for Star Trek: The Original Series to make it’s debut.
While Walston was no doubt excited to take part in such a groundbreaking series, he quickly became frustrated after signing on to the role as he noticed that it brought his career to a virtual standstill. When the news finally broke that the series was canceled, Walston couldn’t have been more pleased.
He later told reporters that being on the show was a lot like being in prison. When it ended, he finally felt free.
Before playing Uncle Martin, Walston had an up-and-coming acting career. In fact, he had already been honored with a Tony Award for his role in the Broadway play Damn Yankees in 1955. However, after appearing in My Favorite Martian, Walston couldn’t seem to find any decent on-screen roles to play. After the show came to an end, he returned to stage acting for quite a few years before eventually making his comeback in television and film.
It was because of this that Walston said in 1986 that he wished that he had never even heard of Martians and spaceships. He further revealed that he hated the show as it almost put an end to his professional career.
In addition to My Favorite Martian, Walston also appeared in two critically acclaimed films. In 1960, he appeared in The Apartment. The film ended up winning the coveted Best Picture Academy Award that year. Likewise in 1973, he performed in The Sting. Once again, that film was given the Best Picture award.
It would be a full two decades before Walston would return to television. In 1992, He scored the role of Judge Bone in the CBS drama series Picket Fences. That role earned him three Emmy nods, of which he won two.
After spending more than six decades devoted to acting, Walston passed away from natural causes at the age of 86 on the 1st of January, 2001. Bill Bixby, the actor that played Tom O’Hara died of prostrate cancer on November 21, 1993.
My Favorite Martian started off strong, but the series failed to retain the magic that made it so successful at the outset and eventually ended up getting canceled. While that fate is something that has happened to countless TV series over the decades, it’s fascinating to hear behind-the-scenes details related to why the show ultimately failed. From the swing-and-a-miss that was Andromeda to the way that Ray Walston loathed his lead role, it seems as if there was very little that anyone could have done to save the show from it’s inevitable fate.
Were you a fan of My Favorite Martian? If so, were you surprised to learn that Ray Walston went on to hate the series with a fiery passion? Let us know in the comments.
If you’ve enjoyed this video, take a moment to show us a little support by giving it a like and subscribing to the Facts Verse channel if you haven’t already. While you’re at it, tap the bell to turn on notifications. That way, you can keep up with all of our latest and upcoming content without missing a beat.
As always, thanks for watching. We’ll see you soon with more videos covering some of your favorite classic television shows, films, and stars.