Popular Culture Review 29.1 (Spring 2018) - Page 135

actor died of a cocaine and heroin overdose.  Williams’s marriage to first-wife Valerie Valardi, with whom he had a son named Zak, was failing.  As his life became more complicated, so too did his performances.  Mork and Mindy become closer, leading to more dramatic moments.   By the end of the first season, amid the wild gags, the show addresses life experiences, relationship issues, and empathy.  For example, only when Mork and Mindy get stuck in a dilapidated cabin in the frigid cold and fear they will die can they express what they mean to one another, prompting Mork to report to Orson that people can’t always communicate their feelings.  In another episode, when Orson tells Mork he wants to transfer him to another planet, Mindy expresses her sadness, telling Mork that she does not want him to leave.  Mork concedes that he, too, is developing feelings for her and decides to stay.  In a particularly telling episode, “Mork’s Mixed Emotions,” Mork struggles with his feelings, claiming that Orkans have no emotions, and vows to Mindy, “I’m closing off my emotions forever.”  She replies, “If you study human beings, you’ll find we cannot exist without emotions. People really need their emotions.”   When Mork cannot handle his emotions and goes berserk, Mindy feels guilty, and her father tries to console her, saying, “You were only trying to help Mork be like other human beings.” The second season takes Mork’s desire to discover humanity a step further, offering a glimmer of the movie Robin Williams.  In an episode titled “Dr. Morkenstein,” Mork gets a job as a security guard in a science museum, where he reprograms a robot to be his friend and then becomes distraught when the robot dies.  This episode, in which Mork cries inconsolably, marks a sentimental turn in the series. In a subsequent episode, when Mork thinks he is allergic to Mindy, he is afraid of getting too close.  He learns that through closeness, maybe love, he’s experiencing a new emotion and tells Mindy, “You helped me be more human.”  By the third and fourth seasons, this trend continued and Williams seemed more intent on showing his dramatic acting chops.  By then, as Garry Marshall ascertained, “I knew that Robin started dreaming of making movies.  It is difficult to maintain the momentum on a sitcom when your star has one foot out the door and the rest of the cast know it” (Marshall 108- 109).  One show in particular foreshadows Williams’ cinematic fame.  In one of the most compelling episodes of the series, “Mork Meets Robin Williams,” journalist Mindy aspires to get an interview with actor Robin Williams, who bears a shocking resemblance to Mork.  Mindy lands the interview and learns that Robin Williams can’t say no.  Mork understands, as he describes to Orson, “what it is like to be famous on Earth.  When you are 135