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.
Mork & Mindy: The Third Season
finds the titular pair still working on their offbeat relationship but growing closer all the time in love and regard for one another. The season begins with the threat of Mork (Robin Williams) being recalled to his home planet Ork after he undergoes a personality change from too much Earth exposure. The wildman from another planet is suddenly acting like a bland suburbanite, upsetting Mindy (Pam Dawber) and requiring a visit from a revered Orkan elder (actually a boy, played by Vidal Peterson) who will either restore the real Morks character or take him back. "Mork the Prankster" finds the ever-curious extraterrestrial learning about the concept of practical jokes, then so offending Mindy with a prank gone bad that she moves out and must be convinced to take him back again. In "Mindy Gets a Job," Mindy applies for and receives an entry-level job at a Boulder television station, then finds herself having to go on-camera to do the news broadcast alone during a blizzard. When she runs out of steam during her report, Mork leaps to the rescue, giving Williams a prime opportunity to improvise his way through a stream of feverish free-association. In the season finale, "Reflections and Regrets," Mindy tells Mork about her greatest sorrow, and he sets about trying to ease her pain while also letting her know how he truly feels.
Of course, there are a number of episodes that concern Morks heightened sense of justice and fairness, including "Dueling Skates," in which Mork challenges a champion skater to a race in order to save the day care center where he works. "Mork, the Monkeys Uncle" begins with Mork kidnapping a chimp from a zoo after concluding the primate was being mistreated. "Gunfight at the Mork-ay Corral" focuses on Morks effort to teach a young boy (Corey Feldman) about the virtue of non-violence. Finally, there are plenty of comic storylines that simply encourage Williams to display his genius, such as "Mork Meets Robin Williams," in which character and actor have a hilarious, face-to-face interview encounter. "Alas, Poor Mork, We Knew Him Well," is a very fun show about Morks neurotic reaction to an insurance salesmans pitch about death from natural disasters. Mork & Mindy: The Third Season has a number of episodes from among the best of the old Garry Marshall-created sitcom. --Tom Keogh