Dulcy, Henry and Stanley - Mrs. Browns' sister and her husband and son - come for a visit. Henry is a computer hardware expert and as such believes that everything has a scientific ...
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Dulcy, Henry and Stanley - Mrs. Browns' sister and her husband and son - come for a visit. Henry is a computer hardware expert and as such believes that everything has a scientific explanation. Stanley is a typical boy with a vivid imagination, which Henry, with a heavy hand, tries to suppress. Stanley sees Martin's spaceship entering the garage, which he wildly exclaims to his father, who chastises him for making up lies. In Henry's mind, there are no such things as space ships or Martians. Martin feels guilty since Stanley was only telling the truth. To get Henry to be less rigid in his thought, Martin does some unexplainable trickery in Henry's view. Henry then has a better understanding of his son's way of thinking. Written by
"Nothing but the Truth" is another episode demonstrating that the first two seasons of "My Favorite Martian" were its best. And it is also one of the three finest episodes of the series, along with "Martian Report #1" and "We Love You, Miss Pringle," both from later in the second season. What all three episodes have in common is that they came from the pen (or typewriter) of a remarkable writer, Blanche Hanalis, who sadly is mostly forgotten today (her listing in IMDb, for example has no biography except for her dates of birth and death) even though she had a hand in many memorable television productions.
Hanalis had already written one episode for "Martian" the previous season and would eventually submit eight scripts, but she never did better than in this episode and in the two named above. What all three episodes share is a light use of Uncle Martin's Martian powers and instead an emphasis on character development and interpersonal relationships. In "Martian Report," Uncle Martin coldly writes about a little foster child whom he and Tim take in for a time, failing to realize -- until it's almost too late -- that she's still a person with feelings. "Miss Pringle," arguably the show's high point, is about an old teacher of Tim's who is about to be forced into early retirement. She's one of those people who would rather be right than well-liked -- even though she often does good that goes unseen.
And then we have this episode, in which Mrs. Brown's sister Dulcy, brother-in-law Henry, and nephew Stanley come for a visit. Their sheepdog George tells Martin (don't ask) that the boy's father, an early computer engineer/programmer, doesn't want to let Stanley have a real childhood. So, Stanley is permitted nothing that comes from the imagination -- only facts, figures, and what can be perceived by the senses.
In many ways, this episode resembles the 1947 Christmas comedy-drama "Miracle on 34th Street," in which Macy's employee Doris Walker similarly prohibits her little girl from any fantasy life whatsoever. While that might not be a bad philosophy for an adult, it's terribly confining for a child, and in both stories someone with magical powers -- Kris Kringle in "Miracle" and Uncle Martin in this episode -- encourage the child to explore that part of life, too.
And maybe not just for kids: Ray Walston has a lovely scene in which he points out to Stanley that Isaac Newton's imagination led him to see beyond the apple that fell onto his head, instead picturing great objects whirling in space, and eventually coming up with the theory of gravity. Or that Ben Franklin's imagination led him to fly that kite in a storm, leading to confirmation that lightning was a form of electricity.
The Franklin story is likely just a myth, but Henry certainly treats it as a fact -- scolding Martin for filling Stanley's head with rubbish, and telling him that Franklin caught a terrible cold in the storm and almost died. Henry is played with just the right touch of brittleness by the late Don Keefer, who also is remembered as the fellow who stood up (at least for a while) to the monstrous, conscienceless child played by Billy Mumy in the "Twilight Zone" episode "It's a Good Life." Of course, like Kris Kringle in "Miracle," someone has to set both Stanely -- and Henry -- right, and Martin is just the person to do it. It's here (and only here) that Martin's talents as a Martian comes into play, a welcome relief from the many episodes in which the entire plot revolved around Martin's powers creating havoc that then had to be undone.
Besides a well-written human interest story, the episode features the only appearance of Mrs. Brown's sister, played by Yvonne White. She and Pamela Britton have a lot of fun acting like two variations on Mrs. Brown's usual ditsy personality, to the point that Martin's mind-reading seems to have gone haywire when he picks up similar readings from both of them at the same time. Another bonus is a comical turn by Stafford Repp (later to play Chief O'Hara in "Batman") -- already playing a police officer!
A final note: besides her contributions to "My Favorite Martian," writer Hanalis also had a role in developing "Little House on the Prairie" for television, wrote the scripts for the two nuns-and-schoolgirls comedies "The Trouble with Angels" and "Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows" from later in the 1960s, and wrote many memorable television movies -- such as "The Children of An Lac" about actress Ina Balin's effort to rescue Vietnamese orphans before the fall of Saigon, or a biography of activist Margaret Sanger played by the late Bonnie Franklin. What these all had in common with her three best "Martian" scripts was that Hanalis managed to create sympathetic characters and stories that gently conveyed a message while being neither preachy nor cloying. More than 50 years later, her best "My Favorite Martian" screenplays stand like redwoods among much of television's forgettable scrub brush of those days.
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