Mork & Mindy: Show information


 

Mork and Mindy

First telecast: September 14, 1978
Last telecast: June 10, 1982

Broadcast history:

                                                                               

Date
Network
Day and Time
Sep 1978-Aug 1979
ABC
Thu 8:00-8:30
Aug 1979-Dec 1979
ABC
Sun 8:00-8:30
Jan 1980-Feb 1982
ABC
Thu 8:00-8:30
Apr 1982-May 1982
ABC
Thu 8:30-9:00
May 1982-Jun 1982
ABC
Thu 8:00-8:30
 
 
Mork & Mindy was a spin-off from an episode of Happy Days seen in February 1978, in which an alien from the planet Ork landed on Earth and attempted to kidnap Richie.  So popular was the nutty character created by Robin Williams that Williams was given his own series in the fall of 1978, and it became an instant hit.

Mork was a misfit on his own planet because his sense of humor (he was heard to call the Orkan leader, Orson, "cosmic breath").   So the humorless Orkans sent him off to study Earthlings, whose "crazy" customs they had never been able to understand.  Mork landed, in a giant eggshell near Boulder, Colorado.   There he was befriended by pretty Mindy McConnell, a clerk at the music store run by her father, Frederick.   Mork looked human, but his strange mixture of Orkan and Earthling customs--such as wearing a suit, but putting it on backwards, or sitting in a chair, but upside down--led most people to think of him as just as some kind of nut.   Mindy knew where he came from, and helped him adjust to Earth's strange ways.   She also let him stay in the attic of her apartment house, which scandalized her conservative father, but not her swinging grandmother, Cora.

After a season of simple slapstick and big ratings, both the producers and the network unfortunately got a little cocky and violated one of television's cardinal rules:  "Don't tamper with a hit."   In the process of doing so, they almost destroyed the program.   The producers decided to shift to more "meaningful" stories, opening the second season with a strange, surrealistic episode in which Mork shrunk away to nothing and dropped into a never-never world filled with caricatures of good and evil.   At the same time practically the whole supporting cast was changed.   Simultaneously ABC decided to move the series from its established Thursday time slot to Sunday, to prop up their sagging schedule on that night.   Understandably confused, viewers deserted the show in droves and it lost nearly half its audience.

By December 1979 ABC and the producers were scrambling to undo their mistakes.  Mork went back to Thursday, and stories got less complicated.   Mindy's father, who had been dumped (along with the grandmother), returned for the third season.   He was supposed to have sold the music store and gone on tour as an orchestra conductor, fulfilling a lifelong dream.  Now he, but not Cora, was back full-time.   Other changes in the second and third seasons included the addition of brother and sister Remo and Jean DaVinci, recently arrived from the Bronx.   Remo ran the New York Deli and was helping put Jean through medical school.   Nelson was Mindy's cousin, an uptight young social climber with grandiose political ambitiions;  Mr. Bickley was the grouchy downstairs neighbor (He had been on before, but his role was enlarged); and Mork's friend Exidor was a crazed prophet and leader of an invisible cult, the Friends of Venus.  Mindy, a journalism student, got a job at local TV station KTNS, where her boss was Mr. Sternhagen.

All of this brought back some of the lost viewers, but Mork & Mindy never recaptured the enormous following it had during its first season.

The fall of 1981 brought the most surprising developments of all.  Mork and Mindy were married, and honeymooned on Ork--which proved to be full of bizarre creatures.  Shortly thereafter Mork gave birth, by ejecting a small egg from his navel.  The egg grew and grew and finally cracked open to reveal a full-grown Jonathan Winters!  Mearth, as they named their first child, weighted 225 pounds and looked middle-aged, but babbled like a baby, calling Mork "Mommy" and Mindy "Shoe."   Since things were backwards on Ork, he would gradually grow younger (instead of older) and never want for affection in his waning years.

Despite some hilarious scenes between Robin Williams and his idol Jonathan Winters, the series was by this time losing audience rapidly and left the air at the end of the season.   It had succeeded primarily because of the versatile talents of Williams, who mugged, mimicked, and delivered torrents of one-liners and Orkan gibberish.  At the end of each episode he reported back to his leader Orson, on Ork, twisting his ears and signing off, "Na no, na no"--good-bye in Orkan.



 
Series summary from The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows: 1946-Present

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