My Favorite Martian

Not MY Favorite

That would of course be Devil Girl From Mars.

Well, I’ll be darned, another so-so TV Land retread from Disney. How do they come up with these crazy ideas? Oh, that’s right – they just check the list of cheap old properties they’ve optioned and see what they can squeeze a few dollars out of.

Jeff Daniels stars as TV news producer Tim O’Hara, a born loser hung up on his rich bitch co-worker (Elizabeth Hurley, who is pretty funny here despite her unexplained British accent), while ignoring another pretty crew member (Darryl Hannah, looking like she’s had a few too many tans on her fair complexion). One night Tim sees a UFO, accidentally takes it home (!), and has his home invaded by the spaceship’s renter (Christopher Lloyd).

It’s a careless, fluffy affair throughout – generally by-the-numbers for Disney features of this type. Plenty of f/x for f/x sake. Lloyd has an embarrassingly bad “funny” sidekick – an animated living spacesuit voiced by Wayne Knight that too often louses up promising scenes. At one point a mutated Hannah actually eats a security guard and no one bats an eye.

All this is too bad because I’ve always been fond of the original series. The chemistry between the would-be playboy newsman Bill Bixby and Ray Walston’s laconic and slightly snooty intellectual martian was a winner, and often made the show very entertaining despite the fact that every week featured much the same plot. Ray and Bill may have spent half their time sneaking into offices to reclaim lost martian technology, but the wit was always sharp. To me, it played like a sitcom spinoff to The Outer Limits.

Thankfully, Walston shows up to reclaim the concept at the end, adding a note of much-needed class to the feature. Disney would do well to try to pay more attention to story and character (as they did in Toy Story and Mulan) and forget trying to make art reflect marketing surveys.

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