Mork to Nick

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Nanu! Nanu!

Mork & Mindy is back in prime-time thanks to Nick at Nite. The cable network of baby boomers began airing reruns last of the classic 1978-82 ABC sitcom.

Williams, the loveable alien from the planet Ork, showed off the comic genius of Robin Williams.

Williams, who had appeared in 1977 on NBC's series of "Laugh-In" specials, introduced the character of Mork on a February, 1978 episode of the sitcom "Happy Days." The Mork character was so popular, ABC gave him his own series that fall.

Every episode began and ended with Mork reporting to his Orkan leader, Orson, who had sent Mork to Earth to observe the behavior of "crazy" humans. When his egg-shaped space ship landed in Boulder, Colo., he was befriended by Mindy (former model Pam Dawber), who allowed Mork to live in her attic. Her father (Conrad Janis) disapproved of the living arrangement, but her hip grandmother (Elizabeth Kerr) loved Mork.

Each week the sweet, naive alien with the colorful wardrobe would get into some kind of trouble, much to Mindy's dismay. Because Orkans would always do things opposite from humans, Mork would sit on his head and wear three-piece suits backwards. Mork's expressions of "Nanu! Nanu!" and "Shazbat" became part of American slang.

"Mork and Mindy" was a huge hit during its first season. ABC tampered with its success during its second season by moving the series from Thursdays to Sundays, opposite the venerable "All in the Family." The storylines became more "meaningful" and Janis and Kerr were dropped from the cast.

Audiences didn't like the new Mork. When the ratings began to falter, ABC moved the series back to Thursday night. By the third season, Janis returned as Mindy's father.

Tom Poston also was a regular, playing Mork and Mindy's grouchy downstairs neighbor, Mr. Bickley, and Robert Donner made frequent appearances throughout the series' run as Mork's friend, a crazed prophet named Exidor.

By 1981, the show was running out of steam. That fall, Mork and Mindy got married, and Mork gave birth to a son named Mearth, played by Williams' idol, Jonathan Winters. Despite the zany chemistry between Williams and Winters, "Mork and Mindy" bid adieu to TV audiences in 1982.

Williams has gone on to become one of Hollywood's top film stars, receiving Oscar nominations for "Good Morning, Vietnam" and "Dead Poets Society."

Pam Dawber starred in the comedy series "My Sister Sam" and is currently developing another comedy series for CBS. Winters can be seen on ABC's new comedy "Davis Rules."

"Mork and Mindy" airs Monday-Friday at 8 p.m. It will be preempted the week of March 18 and returns March 25 at a new time, 8:30 p.m.

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