Why Robin Williams Felt ‘Happy Days’ Spinoff ‘Mork & Mindy’ Failed

by Liz Holland
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(Photo by Peter Kramer/Getty Images)

Robin Williams was an absolutely iconic force as an actor and comedian. The Chicago born legend began pursuing work as a stand-up comedian in San Francisco and Los Angeles in the 70s. However, his true rise to fame was thanks to a lead role he landed on “Happy Days.” 

The role led to a spinoff called “Mork & Mindy.” The offshoot series follows the story of an alien from a planet called “Ork.” The alien, Mork, was sent to earth to study the beings that live there. While he’s on earth, he meets Mindy, who takes him in. They become friends and roommates– and eventually more. The ABC sitcom ran from September of 1978 to May of 1982, and initially saw great success. 

However, between moving time slots and atypical script changes, the series declined and came to an end after 4 seasons. In an unfortunate series of events for the fans of the show, the final episodes of Season 4 were already wrapped when the show’s creators found out it was not being renewed for a 5th season. This left a lot of loose ends open, and prevented the show’s writers from giving the sitcom a natural ending. 

Robin Williams on ‘Mork & Mindy’

Despite the show’s unfortunate end, it catapulted the rest of Robin Williams’ career. Although the beloved actor passed away in 2014, “Pioneers of Television” recently uploaded footage from an interview with the late star.

In the interview, Williams talked about why he believed “Mork & Mindy” came to a close. Williams said, “As the show went on, we had –y’know the first year was good, the second year was good. And then the network… they got kind of greedy…we were in a kill zone with ‘Happy Days’ and ‘Laverne & Shirley’ and the night was really strong. And then I think [the network thought] ‘We’ll take other nights! We’ll divide and conquer.’ So they put us on different nights.”

Moving the show slot meant ratings went down, and in an effort to jack them back up, the network got creative. “Literally one of the episodes was myself, Raquel Welch, and two Playboy bunnies. Former Playboy centerfolds, I think literally. There are a lot of little kids who went through puberty watching that episode,” Williams laughed. He continued, “We lost I think a lot of the audience at [that] moment. Then I was dressed as a Denver Bronco cheerleader and at that point it was just, Okay, we’re starting to go away from the innocent mark to like, this is bizarre…. It was this thing of you saw it changing.”

Jonathan Winters’ Interesting Addition To the Show

Williams also shared anecdotes of Jonathan Winters’ time on the show. Winters’ portrayed Mork’s son in the final season, which added another bizarre quirk to the show. “I think by that point the show was in such a point that the people who still hung in with us were hung in because they were fans of comedy,” the actor reflects. “The rest are going, ‘Why does he have a– whatever age Jonathan was at the time–60 year old kid? I’m not watching this anymore, this is crazy. What kind of meds are they on?’ Everything!” Williams joked. 

Although the show didn’t last, Robin Williams went on to act in several movies and TV shows, including iconic 90s film “Jumanji.” The star passed away in 2014 by suicide, and is survived by his wife Susan Schneider, and his three children.

Outsider.com