Friday, May 4, 2018

Doubling down on the stupidity: The Mork & Mindy/Laverne & Shirley/Fonz Hour (1982)

ABC cancelled Fonz & The Happy Days Gang after 2 seasons, and without a plausible ending to the series. No matter. Fonzie (Henry Winkler) clearly made it home, as he was added to Laverne & Shirley in The Army for its 2nd & final season. Unfortunately, Mr. Cool (Frank Welker) tagged along, if but because Hanna-Barbera, Paramount, & ABC hadn't figured out yet that he was twice as annoying as the poster child for toon apathy in those days, Scrappy-Doo.

Worse, the network commissioned Ruby-Spears to develop an animated version of Mork & Mindy after that series had finished a 4 year run. Taking implausibility to insane proportions, it was decided that Mork (Robin Williams) would go further back in time to when his future wife, Mindy (Pam Dawber), was in high school.

And, if you thought this was crazy, consider that H-B & R-S were also joined together when ABC decided that Scooby & Scrappy-Doo would be paired with The Puppy's Great Adventures for another hour-long block. Don't ya wish they pink slipped the marketing nerds who thought these were great ideas?

Ok, The Mork & Mindy-Laverne & Shirley-Fonz Hour was doomed from the get-go, as whatever magic was generated on Tuesdays (Happy Days & Laverne & Shirley) wasn't there, and Fonzie & Cool were like square pegs in a round hole.

Could this have worked better? Of course, by separating the component parts.

1. You come up with the definitive series finale to Fonz & The Happy Days Gang as part of a TV-movie to set up Fonzie joining Laverne & Shirley on their Saturday show......but not in the Army. Trying to stretch out a 2-part Laverne episode without one of its key ingredients (Vicki Lawrence) didn't work the first time around, and yet it was renewed, probably at the bequest of some know-nothing network suit.

2. The Mork cartoon could've actually been a continuation of the live-action series, with Mork & Mindy married and raising Mearth (Jonathan Winters, who'd later come to work for H-B), and coming up with story ideas that couldn't be used on the parent show. If ABC hadn't figured out that the ratings from the evening shows weren't fully translating on Saturday mornings, why double down on the fool's follies?

Anyway, this video not only includes the open for the block, but bumpers narrated by Winkler & Williams, a network interstital, and two sets of closing credits.

It's like ABC thought that just because Happy Days Gang, a comedy-adventure knockoff of Josie & The Pussycats in Outer Space, was a hit, then adapting the others into animation would work, too. I've heard of being a little slow on the uptake, but this was ridiculous.

Rating: D.


Silverstar said...

The Laverne & Shirley portion of this series wasn't helped by the fact that on its' live-action counterpart, bruised egos and tensions on the set were ta an all-time high. For years, Cindy Williams felt that the show's writers and producers favored Penny Marshall's character Laverne, resulting in Williams exiting the show right before its' final season. As a result, neither Marshall nor Williams lent their voices to the 2nd season of their cartoon show. Not a good thing for a show which relies heavily on celebrity appeal.

As for the Mork & Mindy cartoon, another person who was allegedly not a fan of it was Robin Williams himself, despite his lending his voice to the thing.

hobbyfan said...

I'm afraid you have incorrect information in re.: Laverne & Shirley's 2nd toon season. Cindy Williams & Penny Marshall did work on the show that season, and apparently this was the other reason why Henry Winkler was brought in, to be a sort-of buffer.

Silverstar said...

My mistake.

magicdog said...

I remember this show and boy was it bad!

Mr. Cool makes Scrappy look better in comparison!

IIRC, Robin Williams did NOT voice Mork for the animated series. I remember there was an interview with the VA (who I admit was pretty close to the real deal). Pam Dawber DID do her character though.

hobbyfan said...

Don't know where you got the info, but it was definitely Robin Williams reprising as Mork, and making his cartoon debut.