Much to Tim's horror, Martin suggests that Earth children should be deep-frozen until adulthood. This act, he surmises, would spare them the unhappiness of being relatively unproductive, ...
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Much to Tim's horror, Martin suggests that Earth children should be deep-frozen until adulthood. This act, he surmises, would spare them the unhappiness of being relatively unproductive, not fully formed beings. Since Tim says Martin is being unscientific by not having this theory proved, Martin wants to test his theory on an Earth child. He decides to at least observe a child, a problem child at that, and enlists the aid of an orphanage which has an out-child program. His charge, Doris, ends up being someone with whom he has a lot of fun and visa versa. However she eventually sees differently when she stumbles on his report on her/deep-freezing and the fact that she is just an experiment to him. So Doris runs away. But after Martin finds her, he admits that he was wrong about the sadness and non-productivity of children and wrong to use Doris, a precious person, as an experiment. Written by
Excellent Script from Blanche Hanalis, Though Marred by a Silly Sight Gag
Blanche Hanalis was easily the finest writer who worked on scripts for "My Favorite Martian," demonstrating time and again that the show could rise above its "out of this world" premise with characters who came to life. Along with "Nothing But the Truth" from early in Season 2 and "We Love You, Miss Pringle" from near the end of this season, "Martian Report #1" fills out a trilogy of Ms. Hanalis' best work. This episode just misses being as good as the other two, however, because it is marred by a silly sight gag at the end that undermines some of the good will that the script had theretofore earned.
The premise is quite simple: Martin suggests that earth children should be "deep frozen" until adulthood to avoid the difficulties of childhood. He explains to Tim that Martians have no childhood, and being "frozen" would spare them the difficulty of not fully understanding the world around them until they are fully grown. (Some of this premise was undermined near the end of the series when the producers introduced Martin's real nephew, Andromeda, in perhaps a vain effort to revive interest in the series, but . . . never mind.)
Spurred on a bit by Tim's skepticism, Martin decides to "study" a real earth child, named Doris (Katie Sweet), whom he and Tim agree to foster from an orphanage. At first, Martin treats her like a lab rat as he compiles the eponymous report -- and Doris responds as one might expect, with defiance and endless mischief. But as he spends time with her, and begins to treat her not just as the subject of an experiment but as a child, Martin softens up and discovers, as most parents do, that the wonder is not the influence that parents have on children, but that which children have on parents. The scene between Martin and Doris in her bedroom after Martin gives her a piggyback ride to bed is a surprisingly poignant moment in what was supposedly a silly comedy series -- though all of Ms. Hanalis' episodes featured at least one moment like this.
The episode's crisis comes when Doris stumbles upon Martin's report. Even though Martin has had second thoughts about both its premise and the whole idea of "studying" a little girl, there's enough of the cold scientist in the report to break her heart, and she runs away. This sets the stage for another moving scene, when Martin has to confront her and apologize for his thoughtlessness.
But along the way, this episode has one of those special effects moments upon which "My Favorite Martian" too often relied. Searching for Doris in an old house during a thunderstorm, an electrical jolt supposedly turns Martin (and later Tim) into see-through skeletal figures. It's an effect that is at once mildly amusing and deeply cringe-inducing -- it adds only a little to the story, but the special effects are particularly bad for "Martian" -- and that's saying something. The skeletons that are supposed to be Martin and later Tim look like the producers borrowed a couple of ape skeletons from a museum -- the skulls in particular are not remotely the same size as Ray Walston's or Bill Bixby's, and there are painfully obvious threads holding them up like the marionettes that these skeletons, in effect, really were.
Still, that silliness is nevertheless redeemed by the rest of the script. Katie Sweet, who played the little girl, does a good job for a child actress -- she conveys the sense that she's a real little kid and not acting. There's also an amusing scene that, unlike the skeletons later on, works very well, involving familiar character actor Olan Soule as a social worker checking on Doris' welfare -- when Martin grabs onto Mrs. Brown to make it look like she's much more involved in Doris' care than Mrs. Brown really is. So, all things considered, it's a worthwhile episode that that one one scene in the old house doesn't damage too much.
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