Mork & Mindy
This Fantastic Comedy series on ABC, spun off from an episode of Happy Days, introduced the world to the comic genius of Robin Williams.
Williams played Mork, a visitor from the planet Ork. After his egg-like space vessel landed near Boulder, Colorado, Mork bonded with a pretty Earth woman named Mindy McConnell (Pam Dawber). After they became romatically involved late in the series, Mork and Mindy married, and Mork promptly laid an egg out of which was born their son Mearth (Jonathan Winters).
The supporting cast started off being mainly Mindy's father and grandmother, and in later seasons added a small circle of friends along with a curmudgeonly downstairs neighbor and a self-styled prophet named Exidor.
Every episode ended with Mork's report to Orson, the being who sent him to Earth, on Mork's latest lesson in Earth culture.
- An Aesop: Although it's typically more for Mork than for the viewer, but it has known to be for the viewer sometimes.
- Alien Among Us: Since it is a spin-off, aliens are also presumably canon in Happy Days, they just do not make an appearance. Which is just strange.
- Aliens in Cardiff: Well, in Boulder. But that still isn't New York or Los Angeles.
- Aliens Speaking English
- All Just a Dream
- Amusing Alien: Mork, natch.
- And Knowing Is Half the Battle: Depending on how you look at it, some of the reports to Orson can be seen as this, although it's a subversion in that it's not addressed to the viewer directly.
- Animated Adaptation: In which they gain a six-legged pink dog. The Eighties were a... special time.
- Badass Cape: In the episode 'Watcher of Earth,' an alien named Xerko came to Earth and challenged Mork to a battle. Before the battle, he put on a Badass Cape... only to tear it off in an exaggerated twirl.
- Belly Buttonless: After Mork and Mindy get married and have sex for the first time, Mork proves he had laid an egg by showing his navel -- since he's an Orkan he doesn't have one from the natural gestation process. Other than all the times he'd shown his belly before that episode and we'd seen it.
- Bizarre Alien Biology: The Orkans are chicken-descended bipeds who age backwards, drink through their fingers, and whose males lay eggs; they also possess odd powers, allergies and reactions.
- Blowing a Raspberry: This show had recurring a elder character from Mork's planet who's name was pronounced by blowing a raspberry. This leads to the wonderful parting line from Mork and Mindy at the end of his first appearance as he turns to leave:
Mork: We'll write!
- Boxing Lesson
- Blunt Metaphors Trauma
- The Cast Showoff
- Catch Phrase: "Nanoo-nanoo", "shazbot" and other "alien" words used by Mork.
- Celebrity Paradox: Averted thoroughly when Mork meets Robin Williams.
- Characterization Marches On/ Retcon: People who see Mork's original appearance on Happy Days after watching this series are likely to be shocked at what a Jerkass he originally was and that his appearance was said to have been All Just a Dream in that episode. Oddly enough All Just a Dream was a hurdle that another Happy Days Spin-Off, the long forgotten Out Of The Blue which featured an angel as its protagonist, had to overcome as well.
- Citizenship Marriage
- Color Me Black: Mork uses his Orkan powers to turn a bunch of racists into Latino, Black and Asian, among more exotic changes. They were expies of the KKK, so they didn't know it until they took their white hoods off.
- Broken Aesop: Well, maybe not broken. Dinged a little. In an episode about how racism is bad, they really should have resisted the urge to use the stereotypical "Asian music" sting when one of the women takes off her hood and is revealed as Chinese.
- Corpsing: Often. It's really hard to keep a straight face when Robin Williams is around. One especially noticeable example was in an episode homaging It's a Wonderful Life. Mork is supposed to be invisible and inaudible as he observes Mindy's life without him. Pam Dawber makes a valiant but ultimately futile effort to keep a straight face to Robin's antics.
- Apparently, Robin liked to do this deliberately. In an interview, Pam mentioned one time where he stood offstage completely naked just to mess with her.
- Crazy Cultural Comparison: Much of the humor comes from this.
- Crazy Homeless People: Exidor
- Crossover: The first episode featured a flashback to Mork getting dating help from Fonzie. Said date turns out to be Laverne.
- Mork also appeared in an episode of another Happy Days spinoff, Out of the Blue.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Some jerks make fun of Mork's son Mearth, and suddenly the joking, light-hearted alien is scary serious. A sobering reminder that Mork is indeed not from around here.
- Before Mearth was born, Mork had his Crowning Moment of Awesome when he gave a Karmic Transformation to a group of racists who were terrorizing Mindy because she had some Polish heritage.
- Establishing Character Moment: How Williams got this character back on Happy Days. He went to the audition for a "alien character". When he was called to the auditioning, they found him sitting upside-down (like Mork in the show) and that was pretty much enough to give him the role.
- Every Episode Ending: "Mork calling Orson. Come in, Orson..."
- "Come in, laser breath!": Although not in the earlier episodes, and even then, it was initially only done on occasion.
- Everything's Better with Chickens: Orkans are implied to have evolved from some sort of space chicken. This explains the constant egg motif, but not the fact that they sit on their face, or drink with their fingers, or anything else about them.
- Executive Meddling: The new time slot, plus the second season onward featured major changes to try and appeal to a younger crowd. Not to mention trying to make Pam Dawber add more jiggle to the show, which she fortunately refused to do, with Williams' support. Ratings plummeted, and suits were sent scrambling to fix things.
- Fantastic Anthropologist
- Fantastic Comedy
- Foreign Cuss Word: Shazbot!
- Functional Magic: Much of what Mork could do.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Named for Williams' efforts to sneak all manner of things past the censors on this show.
- Harpo Does Something Funny: Williams' improvisation proved to be so persistent and good, it was actually better than what the writers could do, so they budgeted minutes in the script with "Robin goes off here."
- Human Aliens
- Human Outside, Alien Inside: Orkans can drink with their finger (and use various Psychic Powers focused through their index fingers), have three hearts, physically age backwards, and are hatch from eggs which come from the male's bellybutton.
- Humorless Aliens: Mork has a hard time with the concept of humor.
Oh, humor! AR! AR!
- I Am Not Spock: Williams has joked that after he won the Oscar for Good Will Hunting, it only took a few weeks for people on the street to begin calling him "Mork" again.
- Imported Alien Phlebotinum: The occasional piece of Orkan technology, such as the hand-held device that temporarily aged Mork so that he could provide Mindy's grandmother with a date.
- Incredible Shrinking Man: The second season premiere, Mork in Wonderland, has Mork shrinking into a micro universe after he takes a cold pill.
- Innocent Aliens: Mork.
- Interspecies Romance: Between the title characters.
- Jeopardy Thinking Music
- Lampshade Hanging:
Mindy: Oh, Mork; what Earth concept have you misunderstood this week?
- Left Hanging: The final episode of the series has the titular duo lost in time and space being chased by a vengeance-crazed Venusian with no resolution in sight.
- Merlin Sickness
- Mister Seahorse: Orkan males lay eggs.
- Mind Screw: The episode where Mork meets Robin Williams. Really.
- Name and Name
- No Sense of Humor: In early episodes, Mork identifies people making In-Universe jokes by saying "Oh, humor - Ar-Ar!" And almost as often he does that when people aren't joking.
- Once an Episode: Every episode ended with Mork broadcasting his experiences to Orson, saying, "Mork calling Orson; come in, Orson. Mork calling Orson...come in, Orson..."
- Pardon My Klingon: Slightly lampshaded when Mork is thinking of revealing himself as an alien in season 1:
Mindy's Dad: And people will follow you around saying "Shazbot!!"
- Mindy once mentioned Robin Williams was in town for a show (!). Mork cracks up at the name, and whispers to Mindy what "robin" means on his world. Apparently it's disgusting.
- Running Gag: Mork teasing Orson about his girth in his debriefings.
- Shout-Out: Orson is a pretty clear reference to Orson Welles.
- Spin-Off: Of Happy Days. Mork lampshades this on a later Days Clip Show in which he teaches Orson about Human relations.
Mork: Mork calling Orson! Come in Orson
- Split Personality / Literal Split Personality: In an early episode Mork attempts to turn himself into The Spock but it backfires, releasing all his emotions as separate personalities instead.
- Standardized Sitcom Housing: Mostly averted: Mindy's upper-floor apartment in an old Victorian house had few of the usual features of a typical sit com home.
- Star-Making Role: Robin Williams launched into the stratosphere from here.
- Straight Man: Anyone not named Robin Williams. Or Robert Donner (Exidor).
- Talkative Loons
- Telepathic Spacemen
- The Voice: Orson
- Younger Than They Look: Robin Williams was only in his late-20s when the show was being made. He looked more like he was in his mid-40s, at least. Pam Dawber, who was also in her 20s, looked a little more age appropriate but definitely sounded older than she really was.