Sherwood Schwartz Remembers "My Favorite Martian"

 

Best known as the creator of Gilliganís Island in 1964 and later The Brady Bunch in 1969, Sherwood Schwartz also wrote for legendary entertainers Red Skelton and Bob Hope. In 1963, CBS approached Mr. Schwartz for his input on their new series, My Favorite Martian, which was under development at that time.

Mr. Schwartz is credited with being the Script Consultant for seven episodes of "Martian." When I asked him about his association with the series, he generously and graciously took the time to explain how he happened to become creatively involved.

Here is Mr. Schwartzís account of his contributions to My Favorite Martian:

Mr. Schwartz: "I had done some successful reconstruction work on a few series for CBS, and they sought my opinion from time to time.  

"CBS had bought "My Favorite Martian" on the basis of the pilot film and ordered 13 episodes. However, they told me they were having trouble with the new episodes. They asked me to look at the pilot and give them my thoughts. My thoughts were very simple. "My Favorite Martian" was a great pilot, the best I had ever seen up to then, and I wondered what their problems could be. Then they asked me to view three new episodes that were being readied to follow the pilot. They asked me to look at their episodes, not yet completed. It was apparent at once to me what the problem was. They had started out with a great fish-out-of-water concept, a Martian who is lost on the earth world of ours. That was the magic of the pilot episode: the Martianís efforts to cope in our society.

 

 "However, the next episodes that I saw, as I put it to CBS, ĎYou might as well call this show "My Favorite Tim" instead of "My Favorite Martian," because all the problems were Timís (Bill Bixby)í. Tim was having a problem with his girlfriend; Tim was having problems with his boss; Tim was having problems with the landlady, etc. Gone was the wonder of a Martian in dealing with earthly problems. That was the focus of the pilot. To put it really simply, the focus of the show had changed from the Martianís problems, to Timís problems.

 

"CBS asked me what could be done about that, because a dozen or more scripts had already been written under the guidance of the executive producer, Jack Chertok. I read the scripts and found that five or six could be saved with some rewriting but the balance would have to be abandoned. I felt it was impossible to salvage them considering my approach to the series, which CBS agreed with. I brought back the writers who had written the scripts that could be saved, to change them appropriately. Then I gave out assignments to writers to fill out the thirteen week cycle.

 

"Meanwhile, Bill Bixby asked me to lunch when he realized what I was doing with the show. I thought he might be upset because the focus was now more on Ray Walston instead of him. But Bill recognized and understood the difference, and he just wanted to tell me how pleased he was with the relationship of the characters, and the stories that would result.

 

"Jack Chertok, who resented me initially because I was pushed on him by CBS, felt I challenged his authority. But Jack soon came to appreciate what I was doing. In fact, he wanted me to produce a new series he was preparing. However, I had my own new series I was about to start, "Gilliganís Island," and I had to leave for Hawaii to shoot the pilot film as soon as I finished casting.

 

"To sum up my involvement with "My Favorite Martian," the only thing I did was put the train back on the track after it had been somehow derailed. Itís always been a mystery to me how that could happen because the pilot was such a wonderful blueprint! All they had to do was follow it!"

***

Mr. Schwartz recalled working with writer James Komack on ĎMartianí on page 32 of his book, "Brady, Brady , Brady" (10/27/10)

 

7/12/11 I was saddened to learn of the passing of Producer/Writer Sherwood Schwartz. Mr. Schwartz graciously contributed this interview in 2003 and his kindness will always be remembered.

JH Harison 

 

Sherwood Schwartz Interview on the Archive of American Television website

"Emmy TV Legends"

 

 

My warmest and sincerest thanks and appreciation to Mr. Schwartz for generously taking the time to share this wonderful account of his connection to "My Favorite Martian."

(2003) JH Harison

Please note that the contents of this text may not be reproduced without my permission.

jhharison@gmail.com

 

 

 

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