Remembering Robin Williams: Mork And Mindy’s Window Scene

Mork and Mindy was a popular American show from the late 1970s.  The opening theme was a series of clear melodies with a soothing harmony.  Quite a contrast to My Favorite Martian’s, disjointed, unsettling theme from the 1960s.  America had changed and its view of alien beings had changed.  The world of the 1970s was one of unprecedented freedom, acceptance and the belief in the unlimited potential of a human individual.  Suddenly, discrimination diminished.  All ethnicities, religions, people of various sexual orientation flourished.   Julian Beck’s Living Theater was thriving on the streets and experimental art became the norm.  To be sure, the 1960s began the reform movement on TV and beyond;  Bewitched(in 1964) was the first TV sitcom to show a couple in the same bed and was redolent of intimacy and passion.  Poetry of Richard Brautigan and others were gaining prominence. The generation gap was getting wider.  But the 60s was an explosive age, an eruption from the stale, too-well role-defined, authoritarian world of the 1950s, while the 1970s was an age where the rebellions and upheavals settled into a new, but still discernible pattern.

Mork and Mindy took the American audience by storm in 1978, when a young, short, athletic, comic actor cavorted as an alien from the planet Ork.  He was juxtaposed with the more refined, careful, Mindy McConnell(Pam Dawber), who worked in her Dad’s music store in Boulder, Colorado.  Together, their slow evolving relationship of mutual discovery and respect, formed the main subject of the show.

Mork comes from an emotionless planet and has been sent by leader Orson to observe earth habits.  Mork communicates his observations to Orson through his brain and these comments usually conclude the show.  They are often quite provocative and thought-provoking.

Through Mindy, Mork gains an appreciation of emotions and their consequences, reaching an apex with the manic “Mork’s Mixed Emotions.”  His first love is a mannikin named Dolly whom he worships and reveres.  However, Mindy teaches him that there is something rather special about a woman’s touch that Dolly does not have.  And so begins the growing intimacy that Mork and Mindy share in their developing awareness of their mutual feelings.  The episode blends slapstick humor, exaggeration, sadness and wistfulness in a blend that only Robin Williams could deliver in his quiet innocence.  And he provides this special mixture throughout the series.

The famous Window Scene from “A Mommy for Morky” epitomizes Williams’s capacious artistic talents.  Mindy has met an old boyfriend, who once broke off an engagement.  However, she is attracted to him, and agrees to go out with him to various restaurants, causing Mork to blurt out:  “Is this the guy you’ve been eating around with?”  Mindy tells Mork that she’s serious about her boyfriend, with marriage a distinct possibility.  Mork  is jealous and sad, but cannot admit these feelings.  Mindy’s boyfriend is anxious to have children, but Mindy questions what kind of mother she’d be.  Mork has never had a mother, only a Nanny computer that attended to his needs.  Since Mork has a time machine that will transform him into a three-year-old(which he sets for 10 minutes), he decides to use it for such a purpose; so that he can experience a Mommy and Mindy can experience what it’s like to be a mother.  Before our eyes, Robin becomes a three-year-old with tantrums, irresponsible playfulness, and seemingly inexhaustible energy and Mindy learns how difficult it is to be a mother.  When Mindy leaves with her boyfriend, the scene turns dark, and we can feel Morky’s despair at being left alone.  With tears in his eyes, he runs toward the window, shouting:  “Mommy!  Mommy!’  As he looks through the window, we see the tear-streaked face of a lonely child.  Suddenly, as if by an unseen magic, Mork changes back to a young man, and his:  “Goodbye, Mindy” is delivered in a subdued, sad, almost resigned manner.  The young boy’s dependent need for his mother has been juxtaposed with a man’s growing dependence on a love he, too, cannot do without.  It is a piece of TV magic that only Robin could have brought off, because throughout his life, the child never departed.  It often raised its head  in its sheer innocence, playful exuberance, and delight in its surroundings.

At the conclusion of the episode, it was usual to hear Mork stating to Orson:  “This is Mork signing off.”  Alas, forever, Robin.

A Flowering Of Peaches And Motherhood: Bride In Her Unlucky Year(32)

Ryoko Shinohara as Akiko.

In the Japanese 12 part series Bride in her Unlucky Year(Hanayome wa Yakudoshi), peaches play a major role in determining characters’ futures.  Akiko, a former news announcer, is in her 32nd year; her unlucky year.  First, she loses her job to a younger girl, whose only advantage is her beauty.  Then, she is given an ultimatum:  to pose as a fake bride in the country for a television program or work in a warehouse.  After phoning a number of ex-boyfriends, who might suit her purpose, and not finding any takers, she comes across Ichirou Azuchi, whose family owns a peach orchard, although Ichirou himself owns a lingerie store in Tokyo.  The series features the common Japanese themes of city versus country and  modern sophistication versus traditional values.  Akiko decides to go to the Azuchi home to apply for a three-month bridal training program.  Her first confrontation is with her mother-in-law to be, the commanding matriarch of the Azuchi clan.  But all Azuchi sees is a lady in simple dress selling peaches at a stand.  She tastes one of the peaches and finds it delicious.  Thus begins her slow accommodation into the Azuchi household.    As Akiko sees the love her domineering “Mother”  has for each individual peach, she begins to realize that despite an austere exterior, “Mother” has a kind heart.  When Akiko helps out in the orchard, she learns to value each person’s unique contribution.  But most of all, she feels the need to heal the breach that has separated mother and son for twelve years, largely due to a misunderstanding.  When Ichirou yells at his mother:  “You can only love peaches, you can’t love people!”, he fails to realize that to her they are one and the same.  Each of her three children were given their own peach tree at birth, and Ichirou’s mother takes special care of each of them.  So, Akiko’s bridal training course involves the taking care of peaches, which are to be nurtured and saved at all cost.  Although, she is unmasked as a fake bride, while using the family for a show, her concern for all family members; her braving a typhoon to help “Mother” save the peaches, and, especially, her healing of the rift between Momoko and her son Teechan, earn her a permanent place on the Azuchi farm. And Ichirou is now a much more mature husband.  Such is the power of peaches and motherhood.