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"Mork & Mindy" Pilot (1978)

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Mork & Mindy: Pilot

8/10
Author: Scarecrow-88 from United States
10 September 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Inspired by the loss of a wonderful actor, comedian, humanitarian, and performer, Robin Williams, I wanted so badly to go back to Mork & Mindy and revisit the show that made him a star. Robin Williams' physical abilities, expressions, "sound effects", impressions, and child-like innocence (think of his alien as a babe introduced to a new world, and his response to the mores, behavior, and lessons on humanity are what provided so much delight) are so kinetic, energetic, vigorous, wild, over-the-top, lively, unpredictable, and endearing, you couldn't help but smile or laugh at something he'd do at some point in each episode. The pilot special has Mork sent to Earth because his sense of humor clashed with the emotionless planet of Ork. "Exiled" to Earth to research humans and communicate through the mind back to leader, Orson (which he would lovingly mock the weight of), on what he has learned and experienced, this show had a unique premise that could have easily been a crash and burn disaster had it not been for the marvelous chemistry of cutie-pie Pam Dawber (she works at her father's musical instrument shop in Boulder, Colorado) and Williams. Pam is innocuous and sweet, providing her home "temporarily" to Mork as he spends time in this new world, reacting to the customs and ways of life he encounters. The pilot includes Mork "going back in time" to when he met the Fonz so he could learn "mating rituals" between men and women; the Fonz calls on Laverne (Penny Marshall; her work with Williams is spectacular) for help in kissing. Just seeing Fonz and Mork in the same scene together is an absolute hoot…the Fonz' discomfort as Mork seems in such desperate need of information is just a treat. Geoffrey Lewis has a hilarious scene as the sheriff, "encouraged" by Mindy's father (Conrad Janis), during a boozing at his store at the sad thought of his daughter having a "man" living with her (basic "society is in moral decline" and the yearning for "the old days") to address Mork, as he tries to intimidate and interrogate the visitor from another world. Mork's difference in how he "sits down" (standing on his head!), drinks (with his fingers!), looks at eggs (eggs are a mode of space travel for Mork's species!), salutes (with his fingers), "beeps" and "honks" when responding and reacting to people, situations, pop culture (he does a number of familiar impressions, notable to television audiences of the time) all provide countless moments to enjoy and remember. This character was at times quite manic, off-kilter, and bombastic; Williams was firing on all cylinders. Madcap doesn't begin to describe Williams' Mork. Pam was his "better half": a true friend who would be there for Mork through thick and thin. We see how Mindy comes to Mork's defense when he's facing an insanity hearing that could lead to his being sent to the loony bin…how Mork, speaking in a Southern attorney's voice, ruffles the feathers of the court-appointed psychiatrist, leading to the reveal of his affair with the stenographer, has to be seen to be believed. Just the opening episode tells you of what was in store. Great comic stuff, right here. Williams was a genius. A loss of him will always be felt…he had that type of significant impact. The bit with the backwards suit and Williams' hand sign exchange with a local kid are highlights.

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