|Mork and Mindy debuted in primetime in September 1978, a Happy Days spinoff that soon found an audience of its own. The sci-fi meets lowbrow sitcom became the most popular new show of the season and brought instant fame to then-obscure manic comic Robin Williams. Williams’ gift for improvised, riffing wackiness made him a sort of human cartoon, and in 1983, the show’s creators decided to make it official with Saturday morning’s The Mork and Mindy/Laverne and Shirley/Fonz Hour, animated by Ruby-Spears for Hanna-Barbera Productions.
In the cartoon version, Mork was a teenager sent from Ork to Earth to learn the ways of earth teens. As in the primetime show, Mork was befriended by Mindy McDonnell, her music-loving father Fred, and neighbor Eugene. Orson, another carryover, oversaw things from Ork. New blood came in the form of Mork’s six-legged Orkan dog, Doyng, who helped keep things lively at Mount Mount High.
Laverne and Shirley With the Fonz was a continuation of the previous season’s Laverne and Shirley in the Army, which had the ladies enlisted at Camp Fillmore. This season found The Fonz joining the cast, along with dog pal Mr. Cool, as head of the camp’s motor pool. The company drill sergeant was a pig named Sgt. Squealy.
Robin Williams, Pam Dawber, Conrad Janis, Ralph James, Penny Marshall, and Henry Winkler all reprised their primetime roles, but it wasn’t enough to keep the show from bidding a fond “Nanu Nanu” after only one season.