Mork & Mindy: Wikis

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Mork & Mindy
Mork & Mindy.jpg
Title card (first season)
Format Sitcom / Science fiction
Created by Garry Marshall
Starring Robin Williams
Pam Dawber
Elizabeth Kerr
Conrad Janis
Jeffrey Jacquet
Jay Thomas
Gina Hecht
Tom Poston
Jim Staahl
Jonathan Winters
Country of origin  United States
No. of seasons 4
No. of episodes 95 (List of episodes)
Production
Running time 24-25 Minutes
Broadcast
Original channel ABC
Original run September 14, 1978 – May 27, 1982
Chronology
Preceded by Love, American Style
Happy Days
Related shows Laverne & Shirley
Blansky's Beauties
Out of the Blue
Joanie Loves Chachi
The New Love, American Style

Mork & Mindy is an American sitcom broadcast from 1978 until 1982 on ABC. The series starred Robin Williams as Mork, an alien who comes to Earth from the planet Ork in a large egg-shaped space ship. Pam Dawber co-starred as Mindy McConnell, his human friend and roommate. Mork and Mindy married in the show's final season.

Contents

Premise and initial success

The series was a spinoff from the sitcom Happy Days. The character of Mork (then-unknown Robin Williams) first appeared in the season 5 episode "My Favorite Orkan" (a take on 1960s sitcom My Favorite Martian) where he attempts to take Richie Cunningham back to Ork as a human specimen, but his plan is foiled by Fonzie. The character proved to be popular enough with the audience to rate a series of his own. In Mork & Mindy, Mork resides in Boulder, Colorado in the current day (1978) as opposed to the Happy Days late 1950s setting.

Mork's egg-shaped spacecraft lands on Earth, with a mission to observe human behavior. Mork is assigned his mission by Orson, his mostly-unseen and long-suffering superior (voiced by Ralph James), who has sent Mork to Earth to get him off Ork. To fit in, Mork dresses in Earth clothing (a suit, which he wears backwards). He befriends 21 year old Mindy (Pam Dawber) after she is stranded one evening after an argument with her boyfriend. Mork offers assistance, and Mindy, not seeing his back or the on-backwards suit, assumes he's a priest, mistaking his wardrobe gaffe for a priest's collar. Mindy is taken in by Mork's willingness to listen (unknown to her, he's simply observing her behavior as part of his mission), and the two become friends. They walk back to her apartment, when Mindy sees his backwards suit and Mork's rather unconventional behavior for a priest. She asks him who he really is, and the innocent Mork, having not learned how to lie, tells her the truth.

After discovering Mork is an alien, Mindy promises to keep his true identity a secret and allows him to move into her attic. However, Mindy's father, Fred (Conrad Janis), expresses outrage that his daughter is living with a man (particularly one as bizarre as Mork). Fred's mother-in-law, Cora (Elizabeth Kerr), presents a much less conservative view, and approves of Mork and the living arrangement. Mindy and Cora also work at Fred's music store where Cora gives music lessons to a young black child named Eugene (Jeffrey Jacquet), who becomes Mork's friend. Also seen occasionally was Mindy's snooty old friend from high school, Susan (played by Morgan Fairchild).

Storylines usually centered on Mork's attempts to understand human behavior and American culture as Mindy helps him to adjust to life on Earth. At the end of each episode, Mork reports back to Orson on what he has learned about Earth. These end-of-show summaries allow Mork to comment humorously on social norms.

Mork's greeting was "Na-Nu Na-Nu" (pronounced "nah-noo nah-noo") along with a hand gesture similar to Mr. Spock's Vulcan salute from Star Trek combined with a handshake. It became a popular catchphrase at the time, as did "Shazbot" (SHOZZ-bot), an Orkan profanity that Mork used. Mork also said "kay-o" in place of okay.

This series was Robin Williams' first major acting break and became famous for Williams' use of his manic improvisational comedic talent. Williams would make up so many jokes during filming that the scripts eventually had specific gaps where Williams was allowed to perform freely. In many scenes, Dawber apparently had to bite her lip to avoid corpsing and ruining the take.

The series was hugely popular in its first season. The Nielsen ratings were very high, ranking at #3 behind Laverne & Shirley (#1) and Three's Company (#2), both on ABC, which was the highest rated network in the US in 1978. The show even garnered slightly higher ratings than the show that spawned it, Happy Days (#4).[1][2] However, the network management sought to "improve" the show in several ways. This was done in conjunction with what is known in the industry as counterprogramming, a technique in which a successful show is moved opposite a ratings hit on another network. The show was moved from Thursdays, where it outrated CBS' The Waltons, to Sundays where it replaced the cancelled sci-fi series Battlestar Galactica. The show now aired against two highly-rated shows: NBC's anthology series The Sunday Big Event and CBS' Archie Bunker's Place, the revamped continuation of All in the Family.[1]

Second season

Robin Williams and Pam Dawber as Mork and Mindy

The second season saw an attempt to seek younger viewers. The characters of Fred, Cora and Eugene were dropped from the regular lineup. Susan made no further appearances after season one. It was explained that Fred went on tour as a conductor with an orchestra, taking Cora with him on the road. Fred and Cora make return appearances in later episodes. Eugene and Susan were not seen or mentioned again.

New cast members and a disco-like version of the first season's gentle theme tune were added. Among the new supporting characters were Remo and Jean DaVinci (Jay Thomas and Gina Hecht), a brother and sister from New York City who owned a new neighborhood deli where Mork and Mindy now spent a lot of time. Also added as regulars were their grumpy neighbor Mr. Bickley (who was seen occasionally in the first season and ironically worked as a verse writer for a greeting-card company) portrayed by Tom Poston, and Nelson Flavor (Jim Staahl), Mindy's snooty cousin who ran for city council.

The show's main focus was no longer on Mork's slapstick attempts to adjust to the new world he was in, but on the relationship between Mork and Mindy on a romantic level.

In a two-part second season episode, Raquel Welch appeared as Captain Nirvana of the Necrotons, an alien species of beautiful women that were enemies of the Orkans.

Due to the abrupt changes to the show and the new timeslot, ratings fell dramatically. It was quickly moved back to its previous timeslot and efforts were made to return to the core of the series, but ratings never recovered.

Decline

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Third season

For the third season, Jean and Remo were retained as regulars.

Mindy's father and grandmother were returned to the series. (The show acknowledged this attempt to restore its original premise, with the third season's hour-long opener titled "Putting The Ork Back in Mork").

Several new supporting characters were added to the lineup. Joining were two children from the day-care center where Mork worked. They were the intellectual Lola and the gluttonous Stephanie. Also added was Mindy's close friend Glenda Faye "Crissy" Comstock (Crissy Wilzak). Crissy lasted one season as a regular.

When these ideas failed to improve ratings, many wilder ideas were tried to attempt to capitalize on Williams' comedic talents.

Fourth season

In the fourth season, Mork and Mindy were married. Jonathan Winters, one of Williams' idols, was brought in as their child, Mearth. Due to the different Orkan physiology, Mork laid an egg, which grew and hatched into the much older Winters. It had been previously explained that Orkans aged "backwards", thus explaining Mearth's appearance and that of his teacher, Miss Geezba (portrayed by then 11-year-old actress Louanne). Other attempts included the use of special guest stars. However, due to the continuing ratings slide, Mork and Mindy was canceled after its fourth season, on May 27, 1982.

Happy Days connection

Actor-director Jerry Paris was inspired to create the character of Mork after directing an unusual and memorable episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show in which van Dyke's Rob Petrie believed the Earth had been surreptitiously invaded by walnut-eating aliens who stole humans' thumbs and imaginations.[3] When he moved on to direct Happy Days, he introduced Mork in a similarly atypical season-five episode titled "My Favorite Orkan".[3][4] In it, Richie tells everyone he has seen a flying saucer, but no one else believes him. Fonzie tells him that people make up stories about UFOs because their lives are "humdrum". Then, while Richie's at home, Mork walks in. He freezes everyone with his finger except Richie and says he was sent to Earth to find a "humdrum" human to take back to Ork. Richie runs to Fonzie for help. When Mork catches up to him, he freezes everyone, but finds himself unable to freeze Fonzie due to The Fonz's famous and powerful thumbs. Mork challenges Fonzie to a duel: finger vs. thumb. After their duel, The Fonz admits defeat, and Mork decides to take Fonzie back to Ork instead of Richie. Then, Richie wakes up and realizes he was dreaming. There is a knock on the door and much to Richie's dismay, it is a man who looks exactly like Mork except in regular clothes asking for directions. When production on Mork & Mindy began, an extra scene was filmed and added to this episode for subsequent reruns. In the scene, Mork contacts Orson and explains that he decided to let Fonzie go, and was going to travel to the year 1978 to continue his mission.

Fonzie and Laverne of Laverne & Shirley appeared in the first episode of the show. In this segment, Mork relays to Mindy his trip to 1950s Milwaukee where Fonzie sets Mork up on a date with Laverne.

Mork returned to Happy Days in an episode in 1979. Mork tells Richie that he enjoys coming to the 1950s because life is simpler and more "humdrum" than in the 1970s. Fonzie sees Mork and immediately tries to run away, but Mork freezes him and makes him stay. He eventually lets him go, but not before Fonzie asks Mork to reveal two things about the future: "cars and girls". Mork's response is "In 1979... both are faster." The episode is mostly a retrospective in which clips are shown as Richie and Fonzie try to explain the concepts of love and friendship to Mork.

Episodes

DVD releases

Paramount Home Entertainment and CBS DVD have released the first three seasons of Mork & Mindy on DVD in Regions 1, 2 and 4.

DVD name Ep# Release dates
Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
The Complete First Season 25 September 7, 2004 October 29, 2007 September 19, 2007
The Second Season 26 April 17, 2007 April 7, 2008 March 6, 2008
The Third Season 22 November 27, 2007 September 1, 2008 September 4, 2008
The Fourth Season 22 2010 TBA TBA

Syndication

In the United States, Nick at Nite reran the show from March 4, 1991 to November 27, 1995.[5] The show has also aired on FOX Family Channel in the late 1990s.

Ratings

  • 1978-1979: #3
  • 1979-1980: #27
  • 1980-1981: #49
  • 1981-1982: #60

Recurring characters

  • Susan Taylor (Morgan Fairchild), Mindy's snooty ex-friend from high school. In the episode "Mork's First Christmas," a glimpse into why Susan is such a shallow person was shown. As she and Mindy are turning out the lights to the apartment, Susan comments that it seems like Mork's first Christmas, wherein Mindy says that his family never celebrated Christmas. As Mindy enters her bedroom, Susan turns out the light saying (out of Mindy's earshot), "Mork and I have a lot in common." (This part of the scene is usually cut during reruns.)
  • Exidor (Robert Donner), an eccentric man (with possible mental illness) who regards himself as a prophet. He is often seen wearing a flowing white robe with a blue sash. He knows that Mork is an alien but nobody believes him. He was the leader of a cult called The Friends of Venus, of which he was the only member; he regularly engaged in conversations with imaginary members of his cult (such as "Pepe" and "Rocco"), but he was the only person who could see them. Later, since the Venusians had abandoned him, he began to worship O.J. Simpson. He also had a plan to become "Emperor of the Universe" by becoming a rock star—but his musical instrument of choice was the accordion. Exidor appears to be something of a squatter, as on at least two separate occasions he turned up in homes not his own. Once, Mork visited Exidor at a very nice apartment where he supposedly lived with his imaginary girlfriend and her sister. Another time, he turned up "on vacation" in Mindy's family home, where he apparently believed there was a beach in the living room closet. ("Everybody out of the water! Can't you see that fin?") This character became highly popular with audiences and prompted wild applause from the studio audience when entering a scene.
  • Mr. Sternhagen (Foster Brooks), Mindy's boss when she got a job at a local TV station. He is overbearing and demanding of Mindy when sober, but occasionally turns up drunk and cheerful. (Brooks was a comedian noted for his "drunk" act.)
  • Glenda Faye "Crissy" Comstock, Mindy's friend played by show producer Crissy Wilzak Comstock.
  • Todd Norman Taylor a.k.a. TNT (Bill Kirchenbauer), an obnoxious and unattractive womanizer. He later teaches Mork to drive at the "FastLane [as in 'Life in the...] Driving School."
  • Cathy (Shelley Fabares), Fred's new younger wife.
  • Lola (Amy Tenowich), the young philosopher, and Stephanie (Stephanie Kayano), the chubby girl who loves to eat. They are two children from the daycare center Mork later works at.
  • Billy (Corey Feldman), also a daycare center child, wants to be like his namesake Billy the Kid. Mork introduces him to the Orkan hero Squellman the Yellow.

Filming locations

1619 Pine Street, Boulder, Colorado was used for the external shots of Mindy's house on Mork & Mindy

In an interview with Garry Marshall on June 30, 2006, Pat O'Brien mentioned that Mork & Mindy was filmed on Paramount stage 27, the former studio for his infotainment program The Insider.

The house from the show is located at 1619 Pine Street, just a few blocks away from the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder. This was also used in the show as Mindy's actual address in Boulder, as shown in the episode "Mork Goes Public."

The same house was later used for exterior shots on the series Perfect Strangers, where the cousins Larry and Balki lived with their wives. In addition, it was used in three episodes of Family Matters as Myra's house.[6]

Spin-offs and adaptations

References

  1. ^ a b Brooks, Tim; Earl Marsh (2003). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows. Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-345-45542-8. 
  2. ^ Screen Source: Top TV Shows, 1970's
  3. ^ a b Weissman, Ginny; Coyne Steven Sanders (1993). The Dick Van Dyke Show. Macmillan. p. 60. ISBN 0312087667. http://books.google.com/books?id=yw4clpRWbg4C&pg=PA60&dq=%22danny+thomas%22+walnuts+thumbs&ei=iLwdS4qSOpi0MIXZ8PEI&cd=3#v=onepage&q=%22danny%20thomas%22%20walnuts%20thumbs&f=false. 
  4. ^ "Happy Days: My Favorite Orkan (1978)". Internet Movie Database. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0596274/. Retrieved 2009-12-09. 
  5. ^ Nick at Nite Log - 1985-present
  6. ^ "We're Going to Disney World (Part 2), "Crazy For You (Part 1)", and "Crazier for You (Part 2)"

External links


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