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Mork & Mindy

Entry updated 30 January 2021. Tagged: TV.

US tv series (1978-1982). Miller-Milkis Productions, Henderson Productions, Paramount Television/ABC. Created by Garry K Marshall, Dale McRaven and Joe Gauberg. Produced by Marshall. Writers include McRaven, Bruce Johnson, April Kelly, Ed Scharlach and Tom Tenowich. Directors include Bob Claver and Howard Storm. Cast (highly selected) includes Pam Dawber, Ralph James (voice), Conrad Janis, Elizabeth Kerr, Tom Poston, Robin Williams and Jonathan Winters. One 50-minute pilot episode followed by 92 25-minute episodes. Colour.

Filling the gap in Television sitcoms about Aliens viewing Earth between My Favorite Martian (1963-1966) and ALF (1986-1990), although its premise is more in line with Gore Vidal's p;ay Visit to a Small Planet (performed 1956; 1960), Mork & Mindy was a spin-off from Happy Days (1974-1983); Mork from Ork (Williams) first appeared in this 1950s-set sitcom in an episode entitled "My Favorite Orkan" (first shown 28 January 1978). Response to Mork – an innocent in very 1970s multicoloured braces, bewildered and amazed by the entire Universe, and given to cries of "Nanu Nanu" – was so positive that Garry K Marshall developed a series around him, in which he arrives on Earth in a giant-egg Spaceship, remotely mentored by fellow Orkan Orson (James), who is named after Orson Welles. He ends up in Boulder, Colorado, where he moves in with Mindy McConnell (Dawber) despite the mild disapproval of her father Fred (Janis) and grandmother Cora Hudson (Kerr), and gets a job in their music store. Although early episodes present Mork as a childlike, innocently transgressive, presexual character, network meddling sentimentalized the concept after the first season, permanently damaging the show's ratings. The writers eventually had the couple marry and Mork give birth, in the backwards Orkan fashion, to the middle-aged Mearth (Winters), who grows younger. Often trite in its moralizing, the show was sometimes inspired in its skewed vision of life on Earth; and Robin Williams (1951-2014), not yet the major screen personality he became, was allowed to demonstrate his improvisational versatility as a clown: scripts routinely contained blanks for him to fill with ad libs. [KN/JC]

see also: Satire; Swearing.

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