The 20 Specials of Christmas: Mork & Mindy

Baby Jesus, this is a weird Christmas special.

“Mork’s First Christmas” is exactly what it sounds like. Being an alien, Robin Williams’ Mork has never had a Christmas. He learns what Christmas is about. He gives bad gifts. He learns it’s the thought that counts. Everyone hugs.

But what makes it so absolutely weird is the moments the special takes from the comedy comedy to get real for a moment. Unlike most Christmas specials — even bad ones — “Mork’s First Christmas” has no idea how to handle it’s touching moments. The driving force behind the rest of the series, Robin Williams’ shtick proves so hard to transition from that the show simply drops everyting to get a message across.

For example, early in the special, Mork is rattling off the reasons he’s terrified of the disease of “Christmas.” Which Mindy counters with a solemn monologue on the life of Jesus Christ. It’s an incredibly awkward moment, and the laughs are brought to an immediate halt. But the monologue itself is so stilted and Robin Williams’s response is so subdued that you can almost hear the studio executives forcing the writers to incorporate more emotion.

Another such awkward halt comes at the end of the episode. After everyone has a good laugh at Mork’s horrible hand-made gifts, he tells Mindy and her family that he has another gift.

He then projects their favorite memory into their heads.

Yeah.

The moment is so weirdly touching and real that it sucks the life out of the episode. You feel tricked into watching twenty-three minutes of terrible comedy to feel bad for not having more love in your life.

But is that what Christmas is all about?

Also, the whole special is vaguely-grey-area-legal available on YouTube. Huzzah!

Mike Drucker is a lovely man with many positive characteristics. He has written for Saturday Night Live, The Onion, McSweeney’s, and Nintendo. He’s also a stand-up or something, I guess.

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