Saturday, 20 August 2016

Retro Review: The Mork & Mindy Animated Series (1982)

1982
Mork & Mindy/Laverne & Shirley/Fonz Hour
Cast: Robin Williams, Pam Dawber, Conrad Janis, Ralph James, Frank Welker, Shavar Ross, Mark L. Taylor, Stanley Jones 
Production: Hanna Barbera, Ruby-Spears Productions 























Produced by Hanna-Barbera & Ruby-Spears Productions in association with Paramount Network TV, the Mork and Mindy/Laverne & Shirley/Fonz Hour is an half-hour animated cartoon series featuring animated versions of characters from the TV shows, Mork & Mindy, Laverne and Shirley and Happy Days, which are all part of the same franchise. This Saturday morning cartoon only lasted for one season on ABC back in 1982, & launched right after the cancellation of the sitcom and was an attempt at further diversifying the Mork & Mindy brand, with particular emphasis on kids. The show was divided into 2 segments: Mork & Mindy and Laverne and Shirley with Fonz. 

Robin Williams (the first of many voice-over credits to his name, and in the animated Mork, a voice-over role many people have forgotten) and his co-star, Pam Dawber voiced their respective title characters: in this version, Mork is a teenager sent to earth from the Planet Ork to enrol at Mt. High and to observe the lives of teenagers on earth. The plot and premise is practically the same as it was in the sitcom television series and has the Orson end- of- episode life lesson, only it features teen versions of Mork and Mindy. Mindy's dad, Fred and Mindy herself are the only earthlings who are aware that Mork is an alien. The other characters are Eugene and Hamilton who were all featured in the sitcom, though Principal Caruthers who is another character, wasn't from the show. The other addition to the cartoon series was a 6-legged pink dog, resembling a poodle named 'Doing' (pronounced as 'Doyng') who hails for Ork, voiced by Frank Welker (Fred in Scooby Doo).

As for the show itself, each of the 26 episodes lasts for approximately 10 mins. 

Mork & Mindy always had that cartoony-esque feel to it that would have been ideally suited for animation, so when I'd discovered that Ruby Spears made a cartoon based on the show, at first I was shocked because I didn't know this had happened. 

The main problem I had was the length of this segment: 10 mins is not enough, nor sufficient and thus, I felt that had it been a standalone cartoon at 20 mins, the cartoon would have been better that way. Because of this, the episodes weren't entirely great. The stories just weren't interesting enough. I think the Mork & Mindy animated series would have benefited greatly if it had some of the writers from seasons 1 and 2 of the original series to pen the episodes. 

The character designs, despite what a lot of people have said about them, are fantastic though: I liked them a lot. I have to give props to Hanna-Barbera and Ruby Spears for retaining the original looks of the characters from the sitcom; colourful & I just love how design -wise they all look great, artistically and visually. Mork and Mindy especially; they made them look like Robin Williams and Pam Dawber. With Mindy, it seems they taken a note out of Daphne from Scooby Doo and made her look very pretty. The music is very cheery in tone and reminiscent of the sitcom show. Another difference I noticed was Mork saying ''lil' mama' on several occasions. I don't know if this is to indicate his youthfulness or it was just something the creators thrown in, to attract a younger audience that this show was aiming towards. & though on the ABC sitcom, Mork was rather offbeat and manic, it wasn't until the animated version of Mork & Mindy, Robin Williams's improvisational skills and off-the-wall humour had to be 'toned down', due to the limits of animation during that time. Because of that also, as his character is supposed to be a teenager, he acted and sounded more 'normal' and regular, if that is the right word for it than his TV counterpart.  



I contemplate that a lot of people have said this show was terrible and was a poor attempt to cash- in on the success of shows like Mork & Mindy, Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley by Ruby Spears and Hanna- Barbera. A lot of shows and TV actors had cartoons based on their characters during the 1980s: very, very few were successful and yet very, very few of them were relatively good. 

And yet, is the Mork & Mindy cartoon really as bad as many people say it is? Not really. The animation I thought wasn't too bad (this was the early 1980s when it was still developing and not having reached its full potential); although with Robin Williams's ad-libs, sometimes, the animation didn't necessarily match up with them, & because of that, whenever Mork said something, his mouth would look out of place. 

If you're interested in seeing and watching an animated Mork & Mindy show, then it's worth giving this one a shot. You may dislike it or like it, but either way, this show existed. 


Overall:








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