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Mork and Mindy

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Mork and Mindy was a half-hour sci-fi-based situation comedy broadcast from 1978 until 1982 on the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) television network. The series starred Robin Williams as Mork, an alien who had come to Earth from the planet Ork, and Pam Dawber as Mindy, his human comedic foil. Mork travelled in an egg, and at the end of every show would report to his boss, Orson, a wise old alien who was never seen, but did reply to Mork's comments.

This series was Robin Williams's first major acting break. Though the show was a spinoff of Happy Days, which was set in the 1950s, Mork and Mindy was set in the 1970s Boulder, Colorado. The comedian Jonathan Winters appeared in later episodes as the couple's infant son.

The series was hugely popular in its first season, the Nielsen ratings were very high, near #1. However, the network brass sought to "improve" the show in several ways. This was done in conjunction with the use of counter-programming, a technique in which a successful show is moved opposite a ratings hit on another network. The show was moved, among other places, against The Waltons on Thursday nights; and 60 Minutes on Sundays.

The second season saw an attempt to seek the younger viewers. The character of Mindy's father sent off to tour as a conductor with an orchestra, and he took her grandmother with him on the road (her mother had been established to have died years before). In their place were introduced new, younger cast members and a more disco-like theme. Also, the main focus was no longer Mork adjusting to the new world he was in, but began to focus on the relationship between Mork and Mindy on a romantic level. The network execs also are rumored to have tried to get Pam Dawber to add "jiggle' by wearing padded bras and more revealing clothes. She refused, and Robin Williams supported her decision.

The changes proved to be fatal to the series. Ratings were down and never recovered. Several efforts were made to get back to the core of the series, including bringing back Mindy's father and grandmother.

When this failed to help ratings, many wilder ideas were tried to try and capitalize on Williams' comedic talents. Jonathan Winters, one of Williams' idols, was brought in as "Mearth from Earth", the child of Mork and Mindy (now married). Due to the different Orkan physiology, Mork laid an egg, which grew and hatched into the much older Winters. Orkans apparently aged "backwards' explaining Mearth' appearance. Winters and Williams used their manic and improvisational comedic talents, often making up things as they went along. In many scenes, Pam Dawber had to bite her lip to avoid laughing and ruining the taping.

Later attempts included the use of guest stars. Raquel Welch appeared as another alien, from a species that were enemies of the Orkans. All these ploys could not fix the problems that resulted when the studio brass "fixed" what had been working in the beginning. Mork and Mindy crashed and burned in its fourth season, and was cancelled.

Robin Williams remained successful afterwards by working in movies, including Robert Altman's flop Popeye, and an award-winning role in Good Morning, Vietnam. Pam Dawber, made several attempts at a movie career, including the flop The Girl, the Gold Watch, and Everything. She was fairly successful in the later series My Sister Sam, but shortly after the show was cancelled her young co-star Rebecca Shaefer was gunned down by a stalker outside her home in Hollywood. Due to the tragedy and the high-profile murder case that followed, the show has never been rerun in syndication. Dawber hasn't had a real starring role since.

The Victorian house from the show is located at 1619 Pine Street, just a few blocks away from the Pearl Street Mall.

External links

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