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SHAZBOT: A genie. A witch. An alien ... and a reporter.

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Mork (Robin Williams); Mindy (Pam Dawber); and Frederick McConnell (Conrad Janis) in a 1978 episode of "Mork & Mindy."
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OKLAHOMA CITY – Was waiting for a locksmith today when I decided to watch Antenna TV, a free channel (I don’t have cable) and I caught three reruns from classic TV that I grew up with: The Partridge Family, I Dream of Jeannie, Bewitched and Mork & Mindy.

So, I flip on Antenna TV and a 1972 episode of The Partridge Family is wrapping up. Titled “I Am Curious, Partridge,” Danny writes articles for the local newspaper about Keith (the late David Cassidy) and mom (Shirley Jones) that are more fiction than fact, and irritate the family, naturally. Made me think of the whole “fake news” situation that has reached fever pitch in recent weeks.

THE GENIE: I also had a chance to watch most of the I Dream of Jeannie episode, from October 1967 and titled “My Master, The Weakling.” This is the episode where insult comedian Don Rickles plays an overzealous fitness instructor whose been told to whip Majs. Nelson and Healey – the two NASA astronauts – into shape. As an aside, future Starsky & Hutch actor David Soul appears as an orderly in this episode.

THE WITCH: This was followed by a rerun of a 1969 Bewitched episode titled “Samantha, The Bard.” This is where Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery), wakes up speaking in rhymes. She is forced to find Dr. Bombay on a mountaintop in Tibet to get cured. Interesting, in light of my current reading on Tibetan mysticism and travel through the Himalayas.

THE ALIEN: And finally, the most interesting episode of the three (I'm not counting The Partridge Family episode) was an October 1978 episode of Mork & Mindy titled "Mork Goes Public." 

Local Boulder, Colorado ace reporter Clint Mullet (Jeff Altman) is working on getting a scoop about recent UFO sightings in the Boulder area. Mullet is told that Mindy McConnell (Pam Dawber) was in the vicinity of some recent flying saucer sightings, and that her ex-boyfriend was there as well. His "nose for news" tells him that an alien is in the area. He comes by Mork & Mindy's house and begins nosing around. Mork (Robin Williams), unfamiliar with Earthly ways, is befriended by the reporter and even offered a lot of money if he helps him get this world-shattering scoop - proof of alien life visiting Earth. Of course, Mork is an alien, and with Mindy's dad experiencing financial difficulties, he tries to reveal his "alienness" to Mullet.

But Mindy and her dad (who is wearing space suits recycled from two different episodes of Star Trek, which had been off the air for nine years by then) want to protect Mork because they know what revealing him as an alien would do to him, and, in all likelihood, they would never see "Mork from Ork" ever again. So, they dress as "aliens" as well, to make it appear to the reporter that they were all crazy. The ruse worked.

I rarely get to watch classic television, or much television at all these days. But I was struck by the "otherness" of these three shows. The first about a genie. The second about a witch and her husband and family. And the third about a well-meaning, goofy alien. All three are "the other." And in the Mork & Mindy episode, a journalist is trying to get to the bottom of a mystery that by 1978 was returning with great fervor as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Star Wars and other sci-fi films and shows (like In Search Of ...) were gaining popularity in the culture once again. It certainly had a young Andrew hooked. And does to this day!

I grew up watching all of these shows. Mork & Mindy during its original run and the other two as reruns. They were all familiar faces growing up. And now, here I am, the curious, investigative reporter-turned-writer who is going to be writing about genies and witches and aliens and all manner of supernatural and paranormal subjects. 

It was as if I was meant to see these three shows (and a bit of Partridge Family, because I am a big music guy and happened to be listening to their greatest hits record over the weekend) today to remind me what I need to be preparing for as 2018 comes more clearly into view.

I am ready.

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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