Martin is an American sitcom that aired for five seasons on Fox from August 27, 1992 to May 1, 1997. Reflecting the rising popularity of the Fox network throughout the 1990s, Martin was one of the network’s highest-rated shows during the sitcom’s run.
Set in Detroit, the series stars Martin Lawrence in the role of Martin Payne, a disc jockey with a girlfriend named Gina Waters. Martin works for the fictional radio station WZUP and later for local Public-access television station Channel 51. A common theme of the series is Martin’s selfish and free-spirited nature. Episodes often center on Martin’s inappropriate behaviors and incessant smart mouth towards his friends, neighbors, and whoever else finds themselves in his presence. When all is said and done, however, Martin loves his family and friends—it just takes dire situations for him to show it.
As the series progressed, plotlines saw Martin eventually move on to become the host of the talk show Word on the Street, which aired on the small Detroit public-access television station Channel 51. He retained this position until the series’ final episode, in which he and Gina prepared to move to Los Angeles, from where his show would be syndicated nationally. The move coincided fortuitously with Gina’s promotion by her boss Mr. Whitaker to head up his company’s new Los Angeles headquarters, after having shut down the Detroit office. Pam, whom Whitaker let go two episodes earlier due to this consolidation and downsizing, went on to pursue a career in the music industry as an artists & repertoire (A&R), executive at Keep It Real Records. (This plotline is the subject of a backdoor pilot episode that was included in the Martin series for a planned sitcom on Fox starring Tichina Arnold to be called Goin’ for Mine (Episode 129, “Goin’ for Mine”). This sitcom never materialized, however.) And at series’ end, Cole proposed to his even more dimwitted, but attractive and devoted girlfriend Shanise (portrayed by Maura McDade), and they made plans to move into their own place. The only actor to appear in every episode as the same character is Thomas Mikal Ford as Tommy.
In early episodes, Lawrence began with a monologue of him speaking directly to the camera and audience from the darkened radio studio.
In 1997, Tisha Campbell filed a lawsuit against her co-star Martin Lawrence and the show’s producers for sexual harassment and verbal and physical assaults, and she did not appear in most of the season five episodes. The explanation in most of the episodes Campbell did not appear in was that Gina was “out on business”, though in the two-part episode “Going Overboard” it was stated that Gina had arrived too late to board the boat for the trip alongside everyone else. HBO Studios eventually settled the case with Campbell so that the show’s last season could be completed. Campbell did return to the Martin set to film the two-part series finale of the show under the condition that she would not share any scenes with or interact in any way with Martin Lawrence. In the episode, Martin and Gina kept entering and exiting the sets at different times and the storyline was adjusted so that the characters were both part of it but never crossed paths.
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