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The Hollywood Reporter had high praise for Robin Williams‘ first major role.
The late actor and comedian’s performance as Mork, a zany alien who visits Earth, in Mork & Mindy was lauded following the ABC sitcom’s premiere in September 1978. “Central to any review of this series is star Robin Williams as Mork, whose unique blend of off-the-wall voices and gestures couple with the plot like meringue does with lemon,” THR’s reviewer Richard Hack wrote in a television column on Oct. 3, 1978.
The Garry Marshall-created series, a spinoff of Mork’s occasional appearances in Marshall’s Happy Days, was nominated for an outstanding comedy series Emmy and won Williams a best TV actor Golden Globe and an Emmy nomination. Its first season drew 60 million viewers each episode.
“I will never forget the day I met him and he stood on his head in my office and pretended to drink a glass of water using his finger like a straw,” Marshall told THR. “That first season, I knew immediately that a three-camera format would not be enough to capture Robin. So I hired a fourth cameraman.”
Read THR‘s original 1978 review of the show below:
MORK & MINDY (ABC, Thursday, 8-8:30 p.m.) is one of those series which suffers at the hand of its own description— “Mork, from the planet Ork, has been sent on a mission to observe Earth’s more primitive society and report back to his leader. In Boulder, Colo., he is befriended by Mindy, who lets him live in her apartment attic.” Taken at face value, this comedy from executive producers Garry Marshall and Tony Marshall for their Henderson Production Co., in association with Miller-Milkis Prods. and Paramount TV, should be a mixture of silly one-liners mixed with a healthy scoop of physical slapstick.
Lucky for us all that nothing seems to have been taken at face value here. Mork and Mindy surfaces as this season’s most innovative comedy, shedding a new spotlight on that old chestnut — human nature — and allowing it to glow in its own built-in comedy. Because Mork isn’t human, our frailties are as much a subject of curiosity as anything else. Not knowing enough himself to be critical, Mork accepts what he sees on face value and turns the whole shady business of living into a series of misunderstandings which aim right for belly laughs, and hit the target. And, presumably, producers Dale McRaven and Bruce Johnson realize the rich vein they’ve tapped, and will continue to mine humor for years to come.
The real success of Mork & Mindy, however, is not solely limited to its concept. Central to any review of this series is star Robin Williams as Mork, whose unique blend of off-the-wall voices and gestures couple with the plot like meringue does with lemon. Regulars Pam Dawber (as Mindy), Elizabeth Kerr (as Mindy’s Grandma) and Conrad Janis (as her conservative father) all add their own pieces to the puzzle, but it’s Williams who supplies the game table, light and refreshment. He’s not so much directed by Howard Storm as he is allowed the freedom to perform; an interesting difference which a less secure director would find impossible to perceive.
It’s sometimes silly and sometimes serious, but always strongly laced with a curiously genuine catalogue of emotions — so rare in sitcoms in the past few seasons. A sure pick hit — period.
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