Happy Days and Mork And Mindy

Happy Days (1974-1984)
Mork And Mindy (1978-1982)
Type: Spin Off
Group 4

    Mork And Mindy was the second truly huge Happy Day's spin off. It started off white hot but quickly cooled, only having a four year run.

    Mork was an alien from the planet Ork played by comedian Robin Williams. He was introduced in an episode of Happy Days in which he had come to Earth to take back a human to Ork. He picked Ritchie. Ritchie's friend Fonzie engaged Mork in battle to save Ritchie - his cool versus Mork's alien powers. If Fonzie lost, he would have to go with Mork. Fonzie did lose and was taken away by Mork! At this point Ritchie woke up. It had all been a horrible dream! Then the doorbell rings, he answers it and its Robin Williams playing a stranded motorist who needs to use the phone. Ritchie freaks out... The End.

    Okay, not the end. Mork was such a great character they decided to spin him off into his own show. Only they needed to ditch that whole "it was just a dream" thing and that "he took Fonzie off" idea. He was now less of a threat. In point of fact I've just discovered that the episode of Happy Days featuring Mork's first appearance had a scene added after its first airing to try to account for the whole "it was just a dream" thing and to lead into Mork And Mindy. The scene had Robin Williams outside the Cunnigham house dressed as the guy who asked Ritchie to use the phone. Only it turns out that guy actually was Mork! Now alone, we see Mork report back to Orson, his superior on Ork. He says he convinced Ritchie everything that had happened was a dream and that he was leaving both Ritchie and Fonzie alone. We never hear Orson but Mork repeats what Orson is telling him, that he has a new mission in Earth's future he was being assigned to. Thus a cleaner slide into the spin off Mork And Mindy... kind of.

   Why "kind of"? Well if he already had Ritchie convinced it was all a dream anyway, what was the point in coming back in disguise afterwards? Why bother? Because that was how the episode originally ended so whaddya gonna do? I'm guessing this new scene probably was added to the very first repeat airing the episode got and that while they had Mork ANd Mindy's concept in place they didn't have all the details nailed down. Yes Mork talks to Orson but not in the way he would normally do so on Mork And Mindy - no going into a weird trance and going inside his head. And like I said we don't hear Orson so I'm betting that part wasn't even cast yet. Kinda weird quick fix scene to tag on really.

    So Mork was spun off into his own series. In it, Mork returns to Earth in the 80's (Happy Days was set in the 50's and 60's). He has been sent to Earth to study human's and human emotions. Orkans lock off and do not use there emotions. He quickly met and began living with a young woman named Mindy McConnell in Boulder, Colorado.

    Within the first few episodes, Mork And Mindy quickly did a crossover episode with Happy Days and another Happy Day's spin off, Laverne And Shirley. Mork tells Mindy he has been to Earth before several times. He has her basically plug herself into his head and proceeds in flashback to show her one of these visits. In it, he returns to Milwaukee to learn about human dating. As Fonzie is the expert, he goes to him. Fonzie quickly arranges for Mork to have a date with Laverne of Laverne And Shirley. Hilarity ensues. No really. No sarcasm there. With Robin Williams, Penny Marshall and Henry Winkler playing around together as three of the most famous characters in TV history, how can you go wrong?

    Mork And Mindy burned out fairly quickly though for a number of reasons. First and foremost, this type of show (alien visiting Earth) never seems to last long. The problem is that the initial premise is that the alien is sooo very different and has to learn our ways. After a couple of years though, the alien has grown as a character, learned our ways and the central gimmick is gone or at least diminished. Mork and Mindy tried to fix this by doing an episode where Mork had become so human they had to medically treat him to make him more Orkan. This felt wrong. Again, the character has grown and evolved away from that fun starting point but to see someone who HAS grown have that growth stripped from him seemed wrong.

    Another problem that shorten the shows life was a change in attitude. In the first season, the show was about Mork and Mindy living together. Mindy's father knew Mork was an alien and disapproved of the situation. Dad and Mindy's hip grandmother ran a music store. Most of the action centered on these characters and Mork's learning more and more about humans in an innocnet but edgy sort of way.

    The following season though, the show decided to get more "hip". Gone were Dad and Grandma. Now Mork and Mindy had two new friends named Remo and Jean who ran the New York Deli. In keeping with Robin Williams sometimes raunchy humor, the shows humor went more adult. Only problem is that lots of the shows fans were kids. Back in elementary school, everyone watched the show. With the humor going more blue, many parents were less inclined to make it a family viewed show. There was one episode with Raquel Welch playing a sexy alien who had come to capture Mork. Another episode had Mork joining the Denver Bronco's cheerleading squad. It culminated in Robin Williams on the field at a real game in drag wearing a cheerleader outfit. The episode got huge amounts of hype and promotion. The network was then stunned when the episode scored numbers much much lower than expected.

    Both the above reasons caused the show to lose viewers and it never got back the audience it had that first year no matter what fixes were tried. Dad and Grandma were brought back, Mork and Mindy got married, Mork got pregnant and gave birth to Johnathan Winters... nothing ever brought the ratings back to where they had started.

    The initial Happy Days episode featuring Mork was itself inspired by a classic episode of The Dick Van Dyke show in which the Earth is being taken over by an invasion of aliens only to have it revealed it was all one of Rob Petrie's dreams.

Other Happy Days Crossover Links
Happy Days and Blansky's Beauties
Happy Days and Joanie Loves Chachi
Happy Days and Laverne And Shirley
Happy Days and Love American Style
Happy Days and Out Of The Blue

Other Mork And Mindy Crossover Links
Mork And Mindy and Laverne And Shirley
Mork And Mindy and Out Of The Blue

Other Mork And Mindy Non-Crossover Links
Mork And Mindy and Laverne And Star Trek

Click here to return to main Crossover List

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