Nanu nanu, everyone! It’s time for Throwback Thursday, ScienceFiction’s ongoing column dedicated to the great science fiction of the past. Of course with a greeting like “nanu nanu”, today’s throwback is going to be a classic television show, ‘Mork & Mindy’.
Whether you hate or love Robin Williams, this is the show that launched his career as an impressionist and all around energetic (if not a little bit insane) comedian.
‘Mork & Mindy’ is basically the ‘3rd Rock from the Sun‘ of the 70s (or rather, ‘3rd Rock’ is the ‘Mork & Mindy’ of the 90s), and centers on an alien named Mork coming to Earth in order to study and observe humans … the the truth is that Mork has a sense of humor, which is frowned upon on his home planet Ork.
Each episode deals with Mork learning how to assimilate with Earthen “quirks” and ends with a life lesson that he transmits back to Ork as a research/field report. While it’s funny, it’s always a poignant commentary on the lives we lived during that time period.
For today’s audience, the show may come off as a bit too cheesy and smaltzy, but we are a people have have lived through thirty years of Robin Williams’ sense of humor. It’s no longer new or edgy as it was in 1978, and I think that his less polished comedic improvisations show. However, for the time, the show was on the cutting edge of surreal comedy.
Well, at least it was for the first two seasons or so. Poor network programming led to its downfall in the fourth season, and while Mork and Mindy got married and gave birth to a fully adult Jonathan Winters (Mearth), they never really got the rating the first season garnered. Still, the series is well worth the watch, both for the crazy alien antics of Robin Williams and for the outsider’s perspective on our past.