Garry Marshall Marvin Kitman - Essay

Marvin Kitman

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Mork and Mindy] is one of the few shows intelligent people are not ashamed to admit they watch. I have seen it myself maybe 11 or 12 times already—such is my pursuit of duty and love of scholarship….

Born on the planet Ork, [Mork] came to the United States in an egg. Mindy—supposedly the normal one—is a typical American girl. Funny things can happen when their cultures clash.

This is a very original premise, especially considering that it was thought up by Garry Marshall and family. Marshall is the man responsible for Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley—the blockbusters of the mid-'70s—and numerous mutants. All of these were created by a highly complicated technological process known as Marshall Moronics. Here is how it works: A bunch of Marshall's relatives (his father, his sister Penny, his brother Tony) clone around the swimming pool until they come up with an idea, which then becomes an immediate success because it is from the Happy Days people. In fact, Mork's first appearance was in an episode of Happy Days last season…. Mind you, I'm not complaining. Things could be a lot worse. A Marshall Moronics clone was in the cards for this season, and better Mork and Mindy than "Lenny and Squiggly."

Some seasoned sitcom critics contend that M&M is a rip off of My Favorite Martian, the mid-'60s hit. But I don't buy that. The program is too good; it reminds me much more of the Conehead family, who make occasional appearances on NBC's Saturday Night Live….

Although unlike the Coneheads, Mork makes no bones about his origins and is proud of his emigré status, he too is in the process of assimilating. Even upon arrival in his egg, his mind was filled with American ideas and concepts, such as "surf's up" and "gusto."…

Peculiarities and all, I find Mork a completely believable character. In fact I'm sometimes convinced that he really exists…. (p. 19)

Marvin Kitman, "Na-No, Na-No," in The New Leader (© 1979 by the American Labor Conference on International Affairs, Inc.), Vol. LXII, No. 3, January 29, 1979, pp. 19-20.