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Retro : TV's Favorite Martian Returns : TNT STAYS UP ALL NIGHT FOR 10 EPISODES OF '60S SERIES

July 25, 1993|SUSAN KING | TIMES STAFF WRITER

TNT's popular "100% Weird" usually showcases such offbeat film fare as "Queen of Outer Space," with Zsa Zsa Gabor in the title role, or Judy Tyler and Bobby Troup in "Bop Girl Goes Calypso." On Friday, "100% Weird" highlights a small screen oddity: the CBS sitcom "My Favorite Martian."

"Our Favorite Martian: All Night Time Travel With 'My Favorite Martian' " features 10 episodes from the 1963-1966 series dealing with travel or adventure.

"My Favorite Martian," which premiered on Sunday, Sept. 29, 1963, starred Bill Bixby as Tim O'Hara, an earnest young reporter for the fictitious Los Angeles Sun. While on assignment, Tim discovered a friendly Martian (Ray Walston), whose one-man spaceship had crashed on Earth. Believing he had the news scoop of the century, Tim took the dazed Martian back to his rooming house. This Martian had special powers: He could make himself invisible, was telepathic, could move things with a simple wave of the finger and possessed incredible scientific knowledge. He also had retractable antennas.

But because he looked human and spoke English, no one believed Tim's new roommate was an extraterrestrial. So Tim befriended the Martian and passed him off as his Uncle Martin.

The series also starred Pamela Britton ("Anchors Aweigh") as Lorelei Brown, Tim's landlady. During the first season, Ann Marshall was featured as her daughter, Angela. Alan Hewitt joined the cast in the second season as Det. Bill Brennan, Brown's boyfriend.

"My Favorite Martian" was an instant hit and placed in the Top 10 during its first season. But, as the novelty wore off, viewership eroded. "My Favorite Martian" slipped to No. 24 in its second season and dropped out of the Top 25 in its third and last.

Bixby, who has gone public about his battle with cancer, later went on to star in the popular CBS series "The Incredible Hulk" and is the principal director of the NBC comedy "Blossom."

Before he landed the role of Uncle Martin, Walston was a well-known Broadway musical-comedy star, having played the Devil in the 1955 "Damn Yankees." He also starred in the 1958 film version and played Luther in the 1957 film adaptation of "South Pacific." Last year, Walston appeared in the film "Of Mice and Men"; he has a recurring role as a judge on CBS' "Picket Fences."

The episodes being featured on "100% Weird" are: "Go West, Young Man," Parts I and II; "The Time Machine Is Waking Up That Old Gang of Mine"; "Martin Meets His Match"; "Pay the Man $24"; "Time Out for Martian"; "Martin of the Movies"; "Tim and Tim Again," and "Double Trouble."

"Our Favorite Martian: All Night Time Travel With 'My Favorite Martian' " begins Friday at 10 p.m. on TNT.

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