This Fantastic Comedy series on ABC, spun off from an episode of Happy Days, introduced the world to the comic genius of Robin Williams.Williams played Mork, a visitor from the planet Ork. After his egg-like space vessel landed near Boulder, Colorado, Mork bonded with a pretty Earth woman named Mindy McConnell (Pam Dawber). Late in the series, they became romantically involved, got married, and Mork promptly laid an egg out of which was born their son Mearth (Jonathan Winters).The supporting cast started off being mainly Mindy's father and grandmother, and in later seasons added a small circle of friends along with a curmudgeonly downstairs neighbor and a self-styled prophet named Exidor.Every episode ended with Mork's report to Orson, the being who sent him to Earth, on Mork's latest lesson in Earth culture.
This series provides examples of:
Acting for Two: During one episode, Mork and Mindy interview Robin Williams.
And, apparently, "robin" is a dirty word in Orkan.
Badass Cape: In the episode 'Watcher of Earth,' an alien named Xerko came to Earth and challenged Mork to a battle. Before the battle, he put on a Badass Cape... only to tear it off in an exaggerated twirl.
Bizarre Alien Biology: The Orkans are chicken-descended bipeds who age backwards, drink through their fingers, and whose males lay eggs; they also possess odd powers, allergies and reactions.
Blowing a Raspberry: This show had recurring a elder character from Mork's planet whose name was pronounced by blowing a raspberry. This leads to the wonderful parting line from Mork and Mindy at the end of his first appearance as he turns to leave:
Mork: We'll write! Mindy: As soon as we figure out how to spell [blown raspberry]
Broken Aesop: In "Mork and the Bum Rap," Mindy asks the bum, Godfried, why he doesn't take on responsibility. Godfried reminisces about getting married, raising a couple of kids and then sending them through college. He said he did that, that's why he's a bum!
Characterization Marches On/ Retcon: People who see Mork's original appearance on Happy Days after watching this series are likely to be shocked at what a Jerkass he originally was and that his appearance was said to have been All Just a Dream in that episode. Oddly enough All Just a Dream was a hurdle that another Happy Days spinoff (the long-forgotten Out of the Blue, which featured an angel as its protagonist) had to overcome as well.
Broken Aesop: Well, maybe not broken. Dinged a little. In an episode about how racism is bad, they really should have resisted the urge to use the stereotypical "Asian music" sting when one of the women takes off her hood and is revealed as Chinese.
Corpsing: Often. It's really hard to keep a straight face when Robin Williams is around. One especially noticeable example was in an episode homaging It's a Wonderful Life. Mork is supposed to be invisible and inaudible as he observes Mindy's life without him. Pam Dawber makes a valiant but ultimately futile effort to keep a straight face to Robin's antics.
Apparently, Robin liked to do this deliberately. In an interview, Pam mentioned one time where he stood offstage completely naked just to mess with her.
Cousin Oliver: The rare middle-aged variation in Jonathan Winters.
Drunk on Milk: Mork does not react well with either carbonation, or ginger.
Establishing Character Moment: How Williams got this character back on Happy Days. He went to the audition for a "alien character". When he was called to the auditioning, they found him sitting upside-down (like Mork in the show) and that was pretty much enough to give him the role.
"Come in, laser breath!": Although not in the earlier episodes, and even then, it was initially only done on occasion.
Executive Meddling: The new time slot, plus the second season onward featured major changes to try and appeal to a younger crowd. Not to mention trying to make Pam Dawber add more jiggle to the show, which she fortunately refused to do, with Williams' support. Ratings plummeted, and suits were sent scrambling to fix things.
Show retoolings included "resetting" Mork so that he forgot everything he forgot about humanity and Earth, and later had the most bizarreCousin Oliver ever with a middle-aged Jonathan Winters.
Harpo Does Something Funny: Williams' improvisation proved to be so persistent and good, it was actually better than what the writers could do, so they budgeted minutes in the script with "Robin goes off here."
Human Outside, Alien Inside: Orkans can drink with their finger (and use various Psychic Powers focused through their index fingers), have three hearts, physically age backwards, and are hatched from eggs which come from the male's bellybuttonnote Prior to that, they were artificially grown in laboratories using test tubes.
No Sense of Humor: In early episodes, Mork identifies people making In-Universe jokes by saying "Oh, humor - Ar-Ar!" And almost as often he does that when people aren't joking.
Once an Episode: Every episode ended with Mork broadcasting his experiences to Orson, saying, "Mork calling Orson; come in, Orson. Mork calling Orson...come in, Orson..."
Pardon My Klingon: Slightly lampshaded when Mork is thinking of revealing himself as an alien in season 1:
Mindy's Dad: And people will follow you around saying "Shazbot!!"
Mork: If only they knew what that meant...
Mindy once mentioned Robin Williams was in town for a show (!). Mork cracks up at the name, and whispers to Mindy what "robin" means on his world. Apparently it's disgusting.
In the episode with Rick and Ruby, Mork sang an entire verse of "This Heart Is Closed for Alterations" in Orkan.
Physical God: Mork possesses super strength and telekinesis as well as mind-control powers, can freeze time, can control earthly elements (like wind) to some extent, and is capable of raising people from the dead.
Prop Recycling: Mork's Red Spacesuit is the same jumpsuit worn by Col. Green in the Star Trek episode The Savage Curtain, While In an episode in which Mindy and Fred pretend to be aliens to throw off a nosy reporter, Fred wears a spacesuit helmet seen in the episode The Tholian Web.
Put on a Bus: Mindy's Dad and Grandma in the second season, in favor of a bunch of new characters - most of who were in turn Put on a Bus the 3rd season.
Sleep Cute: In the episode "Sky Flakes Keep Falling On My Head", Mork and Mindy fall asleep huddled together in Exidor's literally falling-apart summer home to keep warm from the snow. Unfortunately, because they fell asleep, their fire went out...
Spin-Off: Of Happy Days. Mork lampshades this during an appearance in a later Happy DaysClip Show, in which he tells Orson about the insights into human relations he's gained from Richie and Fonzie.
You Look Familiar: Johnathan Winters made an early season guest shot as a human before becoming Merth in the final season.
Younger than They Look: Robin Williams was only in his late-20's when the show was being made. He looked more like he was in his mid-40's, at least. (He had a well-publicized addiction to cocaine at the time, which may have contributed to his prematurely aged look.) Pam Dawber, who was also in her 20's, looked a little more age appropriate but definitely sounded older than she really was. Although it's also a weird case of Dawson Casting , as in the second episode of Season 1, Mindy states that she is 21 years old. Dawber was 27 when the series started.
Fridge Brilliance: Orkans age in reverse, so one more reason for Robin Williams to get the part was that he was young, but he looked older.