While this may be a new Golden Era of television, with streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon creating groundbreaking, thrilling television such as The Handmaid’s tale, Sense8, and The Man in the High Castle, it could also be called the Era of the Reboot.
Some writers and studios are taking risks on great adaptations or original content, but more and more of TV line-ups are like looking at a random TV Guide from the past 30 years. With Charmed, Dynasty, Twin Peaks, and Will and Grace barely scratching the surface of older shows being renewed for modern audiences (be it for good or ill), we at TGON decided that, rather than fight the wave of “reimaginings” that we should lean into it by looking at some classic television shows and determining whether or not they could be rebooted for a modern audience, as well as if they should.
Each week, we’ll look at a classic show, and decide if the premise can be adapted for today’s viewers (and still be recognizable as the same show), and whether it should be revamped, or left “perfect” as it is.
We’ve talked about genies and detectives, but this week we’re going to dive into aliens and decide if Mork & Mindy could be brought into modern-day, or if we should leave it as is.
Mork & Mindy debuted in 1978 as a spin-off of Happy Days and starred Robin Williams as Mork, an alien from the planet Ork, who is sent to Earth to observe humanity and report back. Orson, his commander, sends Mork because Orkans don’t have a sense of humor, and Mork won’t quit making jokes. The show ran for four seasons, with its first being it most highly rated. When he first lands, he meets Mindy, a young woman who had a fight with her boyfriend, and mistaking Mork for a priest, talks his ear off about it. When she asks him who he is, Mork tells the truth and she does what any sane woman would do… invites him to live with her.
The shows starts off following Mork and watching Williams’ comedic genius as he tries to adjust to and observe humanity, but eventually shifts to a more romantic undertone which, along with cast changes, led to its decline in ratings and eventual cancellation. The show became less about Mork’s observations and more about the romance between the two leads.
Could it be revamped?
Theoretically, a show like Mork & Mindy could be brought back and be successful. The idea of a fun, comedic show centered entirely about people connecting to “the other” in a non-preachy, fun way is really tempting. Seeing ourselves (as Americans as well as just human beings) through the eyes of someone who has never been here and whose job it is to observe, holding no malice or ill-will towards humanity would be great. The premise of the show isn’t one that would have to be completely upended to be more socially palatable to modern audiences, and as long as it didn’t take itself too seriously and (in my opinion) didn’t stray into the romance trap the original did, a whole new generation could run around saying “Na-nu Na-nu” again.
Should it be revamped?
In theory… the idea of a show like Mork & Mindy could and would be great, in a time when everyone’s differences are highlighted as a negative, and “the other” is deemed more as something to be feared rather than something to learn from. In theory. In practice, I just don’t think it’s possible to do. The problem with revamping Mork & Mindy lies entirely with its star. Robin Williams was and is so beloved and adored the world over, that to recast his first major role feels sacrilege and wrong. When I was talking to my husband about shows to review, Mork & Mindy came up and at first I got so excited, because of all the reasons I stated: A friendly alien sent to learn about us and at the same time teaching us not to be afraid of people who are different? Sign me up! Then I remembered all over again that Robin Williams wouldn’t be Mork, and the excitement died. Robin Williams was that show. His humor and improv talent were so much a part of it that there is no separating the two. As much as the idea of something like it appeals to me, I don’t think I could ever get behind a revamp of Mork & Mindy without the real Mork from Ork.
What do you think? Should we all say KO to a modern-day Mork & Mindy? Or like me, do you think there is no way to reboot the series without Robin Williams? And, if you have a show you think could or should be rebooted, email your show to firstname.lastname@example.org!