Hello from our alien friends The Neighbors!
Years ago, forty, to be exact, a short run television series took the American airways by storm. It was called My Favorite Martian, staring Ray Walston (Boothby from Star Trek, Next Generation) and Bill Bixby (the original Hulk). A human-looking alien in a one-man spaceship crash-lands near Los Angeles.
The ship’s pilot is, in fact, an anthropologist from Mars and is now stranded on Earth. Tim O’Hara, a young newspaper reporter for The Los Angeles Sun, is on his way home from Edwards Air Force Base (where he had gone to report on the flight of a new plane) back to Los Angeles when he spots the spaceship coming down. There is a near collision with the spaceship, causing it to crash.
Tim takes the Martian in as his roommate and passes him off as his Uncle Martin. Uncle Martin refuses to reveal any of his Martian traits to people other than Tim, to avoid publicity (or panic), and Tim agrees to keep Martin’s identity a secret while the Martian attempts to repair his ship.
Uncle Martin has various unusual powers: he can raise from his head two retractable antennae and become invisible; he is telepathic and can read and influence minds; he can levitate objects with the motion of his finger; he can communicate with animals; freeze people or objects and he can also speed himself (and other people) up to do work. Naturally, he has little knowledge of Earth or American customs, and as a result, hilarity ensues.
Since I have been around for a while, the new series, The Neighbors, reminded me of My Favorite Martian. However, in The Neighbors, instead of one lost alien, an entire community comes to Earth to live among humans. Instead of mixing with humanity, they live in a gated community.
They use books and sports heroes to provide them with their cultural compass to human relations. Each alien member of the community has the name of a sports figure. Dad alien (Simon Templeman) is Larry Bird, Mom alien (Toks Olagundoye) is Jackie Joyner Kersee, and the children are Reggie Jackson (Tim Jo) and Dick Butkus (Ian Patrick).
This time, instead of a damaged space ship, the bad news for our alien friends is something as benign as a communications device without a charger. Naturally, with no charger, they get the equivalent of a low battery signal, and no contact from home.
Their first encounter is with a family that moves into the community and into the very first house that has come up for sale in ten years. The Weavers only real hope when they move into the very attractive neighborhood is that the neighbors be normal.
They first notice the very odd behaviour of their neighbors when they first encounter them in their driveway. Everyone has pie. What a pleasant welcome. Debbie Weaver (Jami Gertz) says it best, “We are living among a cult of golf cart driving pie makers. My God, Marty, what are we going to do?”
In the real world, I would suggest leaving, but we know that will not happen. Debbie’s next remark about dinner the next evening is, “It better not be weird.” Too late, it definitely is weird. The alien family with the many different last names does not eat. Instead, they spend a lot of time reading. This alone is odd in a society that spends most of its time watching television and surfing the net.
Marty (Lenny Venito) assumes that their neighbors are European. It seems that Europeans throw their dinner plates and cutlery out of the window instead of washing it. Debbie handles that odd behaviour quite well. She barely misses a beat as she and Jackie discuss careers vs. Being a stay-at-home wife and mother. It seems that Jackie is a straight out of the sixties mom.
As they continue to speak, we also learn that Larry was the one who was pregnant with their two alien children. Now that is a biological experience I would find appealing. Men can be the incubators for a change.
Out in the living room, the men are discussing careers. Larry is independently wealthy. Of course, Marty also discovers that Larry’s wife does what he tells her. We know that is not going to go over well. Marty’s expression when he learns that Jackie is a Stepford Wife, is priceless.
Upstairs, the kids are getting to know each other better. Apparently, Reggie Jackson and Dick Butkus do not have beds.
Dick Butkus also knows one trick that sends both of the Weaver children screaming down the stairs. Larry Bird has the best line of the show so far; “Oh dear, I am afraid that little Dick may have exposed himself again.”
Moments later, the Zabvronian clan arrives at the Weavers. Time to come clean. Again, the reaction of Mom and Dad Weaver is perfect.
Explanations are in order, admits Jackie, who informs the Weavers that, “We hail from the planet Zabron. A decade ago we were deployed to investigate if Earth would make a nice home should temperatures on our planet continue to rise.” Being the nice neighborly aliens that they are, Larry Bird and Jackie say they will not stop the Weavers from telling the world about them should they wish. But it would be better if they could trust the Zabronians and stay. They could learn much from each other.
The next morning, while the Weavers worry about if they should call the police, flee, or stay, Jackie and Larry Bird discuss their own problem, should they pay the high price to recharge the poopod. Larry decides the price is too great and dismisses his wife. This does not go well.
Larry shows up at the Weavers, “Jackie Joyner-Kersee kicked me out”. Naturally, things escalate somewhat. Debbie Weaver walks out to commiserate with Jackie and Larry Bird commiserates with Marty. The conversations are a bit odd, but there is definitely an understanding growing out of the relationships.
Jackie asks Dick Butkus to go out to the garage and prepare the poopod. Debbie is impressed with Dick’s obedience until Jackie says that she will miss him. Apparently, according to Larry, Dick will be sent far into the future where he will be raised by his own grandchildren, “he will have a wonderful, happy life, but we will never get to see Dick Butkus again.”
Max Weaver sees Dick in the garage and tattles on him to the two dads. When they figure out what’s up, they rush to the garage to save Dick. Debbie reaches Dick first, hollering at him to stop. Startled, he tosses the poopod and Debbie catches it.
Marty, Larry Bird and Jackie show up moments later. Jackie asks Debbie to give her the poopod, at which point, Jackie smashes it on the garage floor. Fortunately, Larry Bird is glad that Jackie destroyed the poopod. Hopefully, the rest of the group feels the same way about losing communications with their home planet.
Marty has a good speech at the end of the episode, “they cut my salary three years in a row now, I’m forty-five, I’m never going to be what I hoped I was going to be, I know that. So I reached – for a townhouse on a golf course. I reached. I figured that, at least this way, when Amber left for college, she’d be leaving a home with marble counter tops”. Fortunately for Marty, and the continuation of the story, Debbie agrees. Marty did good.
Larry Bird and Jackie Joyner-Kersee overhear the conversation. The Weavers are staying. Zabronians, rejoice! “Yay….”
I have to admit, I am enjoying this show, especially the music the producers have chosen to include, “Good Morning” and, ”We’ll Meet Again”. With this show, we will definitely meet again.
Episode Two – The Mall:
It seems that Debbie Weaver has a few reservations about living next to aliens. The episode opens with Debbie and Marty out for a job around the neighborhood. They are fitting in well and the alien neighbors are being friendly and pleasant, until, that is, they reach Larry Bird and Jackie Joyner-Kersee’s home.
The two are making off with their kids. Fortunately, it was a dream…actually, a nightmare. Every nightmare that Debbie has is followed by a discussion with the neighbors, “You have my word as a mother that we would never do anything to harm you or your children.”
Debbie seems to be developing a few phobias as well. She thinks that Jackie Joyner-Kersee is spying on her. Oddly, that is exactly what Jackie believes that Debbie is doing. Even more, Larry Bird does not have as high an opinion of Marty as he might hope. So, they decide that they will have as little to do with the Weavers as possible.
I like this switch around. During the first episode, we learned about the Weavers experience with meeting aliens for the first time. This second episode, the roles are reversed and it would seem that humans are not as exciting and impressive as we think we are.
It would seem that the alien children have other ideas. Dick Butkus arrives at the door of the Weavers dressed in a classic golfing outfit. He would like Marty Weaver and family to convince his parental units to permit him and his sibling, Reggie Jackson, to attend public school. How fun. They will fit right in – not.
Debbie makes a point that, “neighbors look out for one another. They help each other. They do not abduct one another…” Larry Bird, getting a bit miffed, rebukes Debbie, “would you get off it, we don’t want your dumb children”. I agree, Larry Bird. They are rather dumb.
Debbie, again attempting to make everyone feel at home, leads the kids in applause. Doing so, of course, leads the kids to follow suit which results in slimed humans. The kids have taken on their natural form. “Yep,” Marty adds, “they’re going to blend right in.”
Everyone is going to the mall. As they get into the family car, the kids are screaming at each other. Debbie tries to get them to speak more quietly until Marty yells at the kids, “Max! (Max Charles) Everyone’s miserable. It’s called being a family. Get in the car!” Gee, I wonder where the kids learned to yell at each other…hmm, that’s a tough one.
Poor Larry Bird must inform his community of alien inhabitants about the perils he and his family will now face.
They must leave the safety of the gated community, not to obtain much needed supplies, or to intercede in an intergalactic war, no, instead, they must venture forth to obtain clothing so Reggie Jackson and Dick Butkus will not be seen as nerds.
Since they cannot travel to the mall in a golf cart, Marty tells Larry and family that they are traveling in the family car. True to form, a simple ride to the mall becomes a frightening experience, “We’re going to die, we’re going to die!”
Marty assures Larry and family that his vehicle is one of the safest on the road. He then runs over one of the aliens. This is slapstick at its finest. No one is hurt and they continue to the mall, a wondrous place to explore and marvel over.
Our alien family learn about escalators, overweight people eating junk food and the strange behaviour of a mother and daughter if, at any time, they choose to go shopping together. Apparently, it is not pretty!
This was a wonderful episode that has set the stage for more adventures by the aliens we have come to love known as The Neighbors! Tune in on ABC each week and follow this fun science fiction comedic series when we continue our analysis of The Neighbors!
We look forward to seeing more of you here at our review site dedicated to our wonderful aliens friends known as The Neighbors!
Please feel free to leave a comment here, click an icon below to share this interview with your friends, or you can visit and follow me on Twitter by clicking on my avatar to the right.