I came across this picture while doing research on some of the blog posts I’ve been working on lately. I’ve always been a snob about the Gary Marshall franchise of 70’s comedy sitcoms, but I guess I’m feeling a little nostalgic. I’m writing on the Paramount lot now, since my day job is here – and kind of my night job as well, since I write when I can. I’m going to search for this doorway. It has to be somewhere on the premises.
Nanu Nanu, Earthlings.
I’ve been binge watching old episodes of Mork and Mindy on YouTube like it’s the second coming of Orange is the New Black, so please accept this greeting. The phase of Ork flows through me.
Having been a teenager during the original ABC-TV airing of Mork and Mindy, I ignored the sensation that was the ‘Man from Ork’. In my pimply view, Mork was a show for children, and I had just completed my hard earned years of childhood, ready to shed all things babyish for other things – like The Clash, REM, boys and makeup.
Having turned my nose up at the Mork phenomenon in the past, I’m stunned by how sweet and funny I find it today. Yes, the show fell into the network television trappings of triteness, but it was also light fluffy fun mixed with some tear jerking moments.
What can you say about Robin Williams that hasn’t already been said? It’s no surprise that this otherworldly talent crashed onto the scene portraying an innocent alien. He was sharp, physically quick as lightening, athletic, mentally agile, handsome, achingly sweet, and he exploded forth with hilarious outbursts obviously unscripted.
Williams was also surrounded with an extraordinary cast. Tom Poston, who dutifully played M&M’s downstairs neighbor Franklin Delano Bickley, has always been a welcomed addition to any sitcom. His timing and sardonic wit felt comfortable, like bedroom slippers. Pam Dawber, forever the all American girl (with the enviable hair and figure) was so lovely, warm and happily receptive to Williams’ maniacal pace, you have to give her mad props while witnessing her Mindy keeping up with his Mork. Dawber and Williams also had a warm, close friendship and their admiration for each other clearly shows. That alone makes me go all syrupy inside, knowing how Hollywood egos (I’m looking at you, Laverne and Shirley) can make for juicy stories in the whose-trailer-is-bigger-than-mine category.
My personal favorite is Robert Donner, who portrayed their eccentric friend Exidor. The writers on staff must have had a blast coming up with incredibly funny lines and insanely wild situations for him. Exidor made Mork’s strange behavior seem normal, perhaps even symbolizing the insanity of earth and its inhabitants. It’s obvious Exidor was a mentally ill man, and one has to wonder if his character could be written as well today with the PC police in full force.
The show was also heart warming. Mork’s innocence allows him to be a sensitive receptor to the human experience, fumbling his way through various emotional channels and situations that make up mankind. In the end, he connects with his big fat commander Orson (a dig on Orson Wells?) to tell him what he’s learned about our species. Falling in love, kissing, running away, feeling inadequate, loneliness, death and loss – he covers all the bases as the spaceman on the outside looking in, no matter how odd the circumstance may be. And there are plenty of crazy odd things he encountered.
Last night, I stumbled upon the weirdest episode of M&M ever. It was the season premiere of season two entitled “Mork in Wonderland”. Mork ends up taking cold medication that makes him shrink and disappear into another strange world where no laughter is allowed. All the characters are parallel opposites of familiar celebrities and people Mork knows in Boulder, Colorado, especially Mindy – who is now a more subdued version of herself named Mandy. Mork tries to get to the big bad dictator/king (an evil version of Exidor) who has put a ban laughter, by playing the fool in his court. After painfully dealing with the death of Mandy, he returns to earth to reconnect with Mindy, who was mourning what she thought was the death of Mork. With his experience earned, the show ends with another cosmic commentary by Mork to Orson about life and death that made me a bit weepy.
Orson: Mork, I know this may be painful, but tell me exactly how you felt when Mandy…passed on.
Mork: Hmm. Well? I felt anger at first. Then anguish. And a sense of deep loneliness.
Orson: I can’t even fully comprehend one emotion. All those emotions at once. It must cause insanity.
Mork: Well it does, at first sir. Then you have time to think and you realize the good side. You realize that love can extend beyond universes, and even beyond death.
Until next time, this is Order of the Good Write, signing off.