|My Favorite Orkan ("Happy Days" episode)|
Mork (Robin Williams), an alien from the planet Ork, arrives on Earth and tries to take Richie back to his native planet as an example of an average "humdrum" human, but Fonzie stands in his way in "My Favorite Orkan" on Happy Days (Season 5, episode #22).
January 28, 1978
"The Mork & Mindy Special"
"My Favorite Orkan" is the 22nd episode of the fifth season of the television sitcom Happy Days, making it the 110th episode overall. It is notable for occurring during the shark-jumping season of the show's run, as well as introducing Robin Williams to a larger audience. The actor's popular appearance in this episode led to the spin-off series Mork & Mindy, which was based on his character.
Mork (Robin Williams), an alien from the planet Ork, arrives on Earth and tries to take Richie back to his native planet as an example of an average "humdrum" human, but Fonzie stands in his way.
No one believes Ritchie Cunningham when he said he saw a UFO in the sky, but it isn't long before Mork shows up at his door, looking to drag a humdrumm specimen like Ritchie back to his home planet of Ork. A showdown occurs when Fonzie gets involved.
"My Favorite Orkan," its title in reference to Ray Walston's 60s series MY FAVORITE MARTIAN, might have disappeared into the ether of forgotten episodes were it not for the casting of newcomer Robin Williams in the role of Mork from Ork, a name brilliant in its simplicity.
Garry Marshall hired him on the spot after Williams sat on his face, and no doubt incorporated his own touches into the character, a visitor from the distant planet Ork, whose mission on earth is to bring back living specimens. Richie insists he saw a flying saucer but the gang are certain that his 'humdrum' life has led him to exaggerate something out of thin air, but later encounters a stranger in a one piece red spacesuit who removes his helmet and calls himself Mork.
Introduced to the Cunningham TV set with a zap from his lethal finger, Robin Williams proved to be an instant hit, creating a language of gibberish that audiences responded to, especially the swear word 'shozbot.' At first Richie is delighted to meet a genuine alien, until learning that Mork has come for him, someone average, humdrum, to take back to Ork for a 'bleam,' which lasts for 2000 years.
Fleeing to Arnold's for a showdown with the Fonz, Mork's finger cannot conquer the almighty thumb, but finally wins because Fonzie doesn't want his friends hurt. The original ending had the whole thing turn out to be a dream, but in preparation for the series MORK & MINDY a new one was shot, depicting Mork's latest assignment, from the late 50s to the late 70s, opposite the charming and lovely Pam Dawber. The conclusion of the next season ("Mork Returns") would be a compilation episode, the only other one to feature Williams, now a star in his own right.
Producer Gary Marshall had taken his son to see Star Wars, and the boy asked to make an episode of Happy Days with aliens. Marshall pitched it to the writing team, which was less-then-thrilled at the prospect. Comedian John Byner was originally cast as Mork. Anson Williams said it was the worst Happy Days script he'd ever read, and in the biopic Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of Mork & Mindy, Byner was depicted as thinking the material was stupid.
Robin Williams was suggested for the part of Mork by someone on staff when John Byner abruptly quit. Garry Marshall called him in to read and Williams started off the interview by sitting on his face. This became one of Mork's regular gags, and Williams comic energy quickly won him the part and invigorated the entire cast and crew. "We just started rehearsing like normal," commented Henry "The Fonz" Winkler, "and then Robin Williams opened his mind and his mouth and, I'm telling you, you forgot where you were. I had one job and one job only: to keep a straight face."
On the night of the taping, writers were there feverishly coming up with new material to feed to Williams, and network executives were in attendance to witness the studio buzz about this whacked-out episode. It was a sensation. In short order, Marshall cobbled together footage of Mork with Pam Dawber from an unsold pilot and sold the network on green-lighting a variation of The Odd Couple with the alien and the girl next door. Neither Williams nor Dawber had any knowledge of the show until it was a done deal.
- Mork's costume was recycled from an episode of Star Trek, adorned with new triangles on the front and back. A tailor-made costume was created for Williams when he got his weekly series.
- Mork's character went through a slight metamorphosis between this episode and his regular series.
- This includes the first mention of the word "bleam," which is an Orkan measurement of time equaling 2,000 years.
- The title is a send-up of the popular 1960s sitcom "My Favorite Martian," which was featured the pairing of an earthling (Bill Bixby, The Incredible Hulk) and a man from Mars (Robin Williams' Popeye costar, Ray Walston).
- Robin Williams reportedly received more mail for his portrayal of Mork than any one-time guest-star in television history.
- References to The Wizard of Oz are rampant throughout Mork & Mindy, and they begin here with an "it was all a dream" ending.
- Although it was revealed that Mork's appearance was Richie's dream, this was explained away by a tag scene added to the syndication print in which Mork converses with Orson about taking up residence on Earth in 1978.
- Morgan Fairchild happened to be on the Paramount lot when Henry Winkler grabbed her and told her to watch Robin Williams perform. Later, she was thrilled when her agent said she'd been offered a part on the show as condescending sexpot Susan Taylor.
- Fonzie: I don't wanna hear nuthin' about my buddy Richie, cuz what he says you believe. You think that this face right here lies?
Richie: Fonz, I just saw a flying saucer.
Fonzie: Hey, what, are you nutso?
- [Mork pulls off his space-helmet]
Richie: What do you do? Do you just use that to scare people with?
Mork: No, keeps the rain off my head.
- Richie: What do the men wear on Ork?
Mork: Oh, same thing our females do. Nothing.
Richie: Your females wear nothing? What do they look like?
Mork: Would you like to see a picture of me and my girl?
Richie: Yeah, sure!
[Mork holds out his hand]
Richie: Ah, oh, which one is you?
Mork: Can't you tell?
Mork: That's why we don't bother with clothes.
- TV Announcer: We'll return to The Andy Griffith Show after these messages!
Mork: I like that boy, Opie. Why does an Earth boy have a Martian name, though?
- Mork: I like feathers but I find them fattening.
- Ron Howard as Richie Cunningham
- Henry Winkler as Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli
- Marion Ross as Marion Cunningham
- Anson Williams as Warren "Potsie" Weber
- Don Most as Ralph Malph
- Erin Moran as Joanie Cunningham
- Al Molinaro as Al Delvecchio
- Scott Baio as Chachi Arcola
- Tom Bosley as Howard Cunningham
- Robin Williams as Mork from Ork
- ↑ Mork & Mindy. tvguide.com. Retrieved on June 14, 2015.
- ↑ Happier Days: Paramount Television's Classic Sitcoms by Marley Brant, p. 92
- ↑ 'Happy Days' Cast Reveals How Robin Williams Got Cast as a "Martian" in Show's "Worst Script"
- ↑ Pioneers of Television: Remembering Robin Williams
- ↑ Jay Thomas interviews Pam Dawber
- ↑ Morgan Fairchild remembers her friend Robin Williams