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Mork and Mindy

Updated on February 26, 2015

TV Improv from the 70s

I remember the late summer of 1978, working to save enough money to go back to school. Many days were long and difficult. My friends and I left behind by those that had their finances lined up for classes, were always looking for something to do to take our minds off of what we thought were big issues at the time. Along came this wacky television show with a guy on it that was absolutely nuts. A bunch of us would get together every Thursday night to see what he would do next. We would laugh our heads off at this crazy show and we wouldn't think of missing one. Mork and Mindy was a bright spot in our day in day out lives. I hope this lens brings back fond memories for you and maybe even a laugh or two. Thanks for stopping by.

Na-Nu Na-Nu

Mork and Mindy was considered a science fiction sitcom when it made its debut in September 1978 on ABC. Robin Williams starred as the alien Mork from the planet Ork and Pam Dawber co-starred as his earthling friend and roommate Mindy McConnell.

The show was a spinoff of Happy Days the sitcom set in the 1950s. In season 5 of Happy Days, the then unknown Robin Williams was introduced as Mork from Ork. He was sent to bring a human specimen back to Ork and of course he chose Richie Cunningham. Mork's attempt was thwarted by...wait for it...Fonzie! The whole fiasco turned out to be a dream which began a slippery slope for television shows for years to come (Bob Newhart excepted). But I digress.The episode was so popular and Williams' character so fresh that a new series was formed around Mork. The spinoff was not set in the 50s like Happy Days but was contemporary.

In Mork and Mindy, Mork was sent to earth to observe life here and report back to Orson. When he first lands he is discovered by Mindy who has had an argument with her boyfriend. Mork has tried to dress like an earthling but gets it all backwards and results in Mindy thinking he is a priest. She is taken by Mork's skill at listening not knowing that he is merely observing her every word and action. They become quick friends and head back to Mindy's apartment where she sees his wardrobe issues and asks who he really is. Mork hasn't learned about lying yet so he tells her the truth and Mindy believes him, shows him compassion and allows Mork to move into her attic.

The theme of most of the episodes centered around Mork trying to figure humans out while interacting with Mindy, her father Fred, her Grandmother Cora and Mindy's stuck-up high school friend Susan who was played by Morgan Fairchild. At the end of each show Mork would report back to Orson who had sent him to earth. Mork's reports were always a humorous comment on the times and their obsurdities.

Na-Nu Na-Nu was Mork's Orkan greeting accompanied by a spock-like hand sign. I can remember using the phrase at the time along with shazbot which was an orkan profanity. Robin Williams was so funny in this role, it played to his improvisational skills and as the writers got more comfortable with him they would leave holes in the script for Robin to fill with his zaniness. The cast often had a hard time not ruining the takes with their laughter.

Mork and Mindy was on the air for four seasons from 1978 -1982 The first season was by far the most popular. The show was the number three show on television that year behind Laverne & Shirley and Three's Company all were on ABC. As the show's ratings began to fall they tried various guests in an attempt to get a boost. They also Married Mork to Mindy and went so far as to cast Jonathan Winters as their son on the premise that Orkans age backwards. Winters was one of Robin Williams' major influences. The show was canceled after 95 episodes but can still be seen through syndication or on DVD.

1978 Title Sequence

Julia Child Impression Episode


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