To think that a mere episode of Happy Days touched off a cultural phenomenon.
Viewers were introduced to a wacky alien named Mork (Robin Williams, ex-The Richard Pryor Show), who wanted to bring back a human to his homeworld, Ork. Of course, Fonzie (Henry Winkler) would have none of that, but it turned out to be a sort-of dream. Or was it?
It wasn't long before ABC decided that Mork merited his own series, set in the present day, hence the debut of Mork & Mindy, which premiered in September 1978, airing on Thursdays, occupying the slot formerly held by Welcome Back, Kotter. Instead of returning to Milwaukee (although he'd do that early on for a 1-shot), Mork now settles in Boulder, Colorado, his egg-shaped spacecraft crashing in a wooded area. Ultimately, he finds shelter with Mindy McConnell (Pam Dawber), who just came out of a bad relationship. Mindy's father (Conrad Janis, ex-Quark), a music store owner and orchestra leader, wasn't too keen on the newcomer at first, which was normal, but his mom, Mindy's grandmother (Elizabeth Kerr) didn't seem to mind.
Still, Mork had a mission, to observe life on earth, and report telepathically to Orson (Ralph James), whom he'd often greet with "Your Immenseness", implying that Orson was a rather large being, a subtle jab at film legend Orson Welles, whose girth had grown in recent times after his movie career had ended.
By the end of season 3, however, Mork & Mindy had become husband & wife, as they had--predictably---fallen in love. In a bizarre twist, it would be Mork that became pregnant with child, and, bizarrely, on Ork, children begin as fully grown adults. In this case, Mork's offspring, Mearth, was played by comedy legend Jonathan Winters, whom Williams looked upon as an idol. The series ended after 4 seasons, but ABC, unwilling to let go, decided to green-light an animated version for the Saturday morning crowd, and commissioned Ruby-Spears to produce the cartoon, which retconned Mork & Mindy to high school. Predictably, the unofficial 5th season was a dud and the series finally came to an end. The cartoons have been tucked away in Paramount's vaults ever since. I have a review of the cartoon on my other blog, Saturday Morning Archives.
Hulu takes us back to season 1 and "Mork Goes Public", in which Mork decides to reveal himself and collect a reward from a magazine in order to help Mindy pay her college tuition. Jeff Altman guest stars. Seeing Mindy pretend to be a "Catwoman from Mars", albeit in a costume inspired by Filmation's 2nd Batman series, is worth the price of admission alone.
Last I knew, the Hub had the cable rights to the series, so check your listings.