Robert Donner refused to give Exidor his own TV show

The popular Mork & Mindy character was supposed to get a spin-off. The actor shot the idea down.

Robert Donner is a character actor who, for most of his career, was best known for playing villains.

Apart from a recurring role as Yancy Tucker on The Waltons, Donner was a dependable heavy in Hollywood.

But then in 1978, after 20 years of playing heavies, Donner was cast to guest star in an episode of Mork & Mindy as a colorful character called Exidor.

Exidor is introduced as a street preacher whom Mork befriends. He wore robes and led a cult called "The Friends of Venus," and in Donner’s view:

"He’s a stranger in paradise," Donner told United Press International in 1979. "Mork is from another planet who finds strange things on Earth. Exidor comes from Earth and finds things on his own planet which are strange. They have common ground."

Audience reaction to Exidor was surprising.

The character was so popular that he was brought into 22 episodes, and within a year of his first appearance, ABC was ready to green-light a spin-off show for Donner’s fanatic street preacher.

To say Donner doubted the success of a show based on Exidor would be an understatement.

He told United Press International that "I’ve been pretty outspoken about the suggestion that Exidor should spin off into his own series. I think the idea is crazy."

Donner felt Exidor was simply too weird to carry his own show. He felt the preacher would exhaust any audience that tried to tune in week after week.

"Exidor is a genuinely far-out character," Donner explained. "He comes into every scene in Mork & Mindy on the ceiling, and you can’t get any higher than that. He’s fine for every third show or so. A little of anyone as strong as Exidor goes a long way. I’m not sure he could hold an audience every week on his own."

In the end, Donner got his way, and Exidor did not have his own spin-off show.

That didn’t mean that Donner was done with the character, though. He was still recognized as Exidor everywhere he went.

"In the more than 20 years I’ve been acting, I’ve never received anything nearly as comparable in public recognition," Donner said.

On Mork & Mindy, Exidor got married off to another wacky character played by Georgia Engel, best known for playing Ted Baxter’s bubbly wife on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

The premise of Exidor’s show was planned as an offbeat Honeymooners, tracking the adventures of the newlyweds and in Donner’s opinion, that premise would "surpass the insanity yet seen on television."

It wasn’t that he thought Exidor was a bad character, though. Donner loved playing Exidor and saw in him the same qualities he liked playing in the villains he created for decades.

"I am an effective heavy for the same reason that makes Exidor what he is," Donner said. "The common denominator is that a true villain or a true nut believes his cause is just. Exidor doesn’t even know what his cause is, but he believes in it."

So even though he pooh-poohed the spin-off for Exidor, Donner did understand what ABC saw as potential in his most famous character.

"I must admit Exidor is a joy to do," Donner said.

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JoeGuenther 27 months ago
Exidor like Larry,Darryl,and Darryl on Newhart worked best in limited appearances. LDD were on too often in my opinion. Remember. This is the same network that dumped the Mork & Mindy premise (the father and grandmother were gone) after the first season and moved the show to Sunday nights to be paired up with Out of the Blue.
Beatseeker 27 months ago
why don't you show mork on your network? it's a winner...
JamesB 27 months ago
I liked "Mork and Mindy" in its first season, as waiting for whatever Robin Williams would do next was the main reason to tune in! I was in college and most people didn't have TV sets, so groups would gather in the "TV room" for this show. I never cared for the show's plot or stories, and despite Robert Donner's talent, "Exidor" simply used up screen time from Robin Williams.
JoeGuenther JamesB 27 months ago
Mork is on Antenna tv. The network really screwed up a good show. Robin Williams said in interviews the first season was built around his comedy act. That's why the first season was so good. Don't forget. Exidor worshipped OJ Simpson.
JDWJDW2 27 months ago
I always liked Mork and Mindy and would enjoy seeing it added to METV. I seem to remember one episode where Richard Donner's character says something about worshipping OJ Simpson and he puts on a football Jersey. I used to watch Mork and Mindy just so I could see Pam Dawber. I thought she was freaking cute.
MrsPhilHarris 27 months ago
Weirdly I don’t remember him on the show. I think I only watched a season or two.
Coldnorth 27 months ago
He kinda had Spock’s hair cut
Michael 27 months ago
So this photo must have been taken in Mindy's father's music store. And that store disappeared after the first season.
Runeshaper 27 months ago
Exidor sounds like a really interesting character! I definitely would have watched a spin-off.
WordsmithWorks 27 months ago
Donner was correct. The novelty of Exidor would have worn thin if he had to carry a show. The recurring role on "Mork and Mindy" was a better showcase.
RobertM 27 months ago
I remember thinking of Exidor as the "neighborhood weirdo", as well as a line about the religions he'd tried: "I tried Judaism--I even tried Punch and Judaism".
BrianSmith59 27 months ago
Georgia Engel did NOT play Ted Baxturds' wife! Why would such a sweet person marry thatwerpeon?
Wiseguy BrianSmith59 27 months ago
What planet are you from?
You do realize that "Ted Baxter" is a fictional character, right? So you are lobbing a third-grade insult at a person who doesn't really exist.
CoreyC 27 months ago
Robert Donner was very smart. he was known as Exidor and Yancy on The Waltons. Character actors become typecast.
LoveMETV22 27 months ago
Too funny saw Robert Donner on Saved by the Bell this morning. Although in his bio its shown as "Good Morning Miss Bliss". Same show but ran as part of their syndication package.
Michael LoveMETV22 27 months ago
It was one year with Hayley Mills and set in Indiannapolis. Disney cancelled it, so NBC turned it into a slightly different show, "Saved by the Bell".
LoveMETV22 Michael 27 months ago
Thank You, I had to do a double glance, although Donner is distinguishable from others. But thank you so much for the extra info.
Zip 27 months ago
Contrary to Donner and most posters on here, I think Donner made a mistake by not striking while the iron was hot and getting his own show. Whether it failed or not, it would still have set his name up higher on Hollywood hill.
I think he might have been too narrow in his thinking. Yes, Exidor was outrageously strange, but as what usually happens when a one-note character gets their own show, the character is "toned-down" to be more palatable for the long haul of a series. It happened with Vicki Lawrence and her Mama character, and she still is making big bucks off of that character.
Personally I think Donner missed an opportunity that presented itself, and from what I have learned in my own life, that is sometimes cause for regret.
Pacificsun Zip 27 months ago
The problem is (from a writer's standpoint) you have to have a setting (premise) to showcase a character like that. The reason the weird characters (associated with M & M) worked at all (like Jonathon Winters, etc.) is because they fit into to "universe" of Mork to begin with, and could be explained in that way.

With every eccentric character you have to balance it with a straight character. Like My Favorite Martian and others.
Barry22 27 months ago
Exidor was best in small doses.
CoreyC Barry22 27 months ago
Agreed Exidor is an eccentric wacky character and give him a solo show would fail fast.
LoveMETV22 27 months ago
Not Topic: I wonder what happened with the
"Dave Coulier might be the biggest cartoon fan of all time" story. It's gone?
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JHP Pacificsun 27 months ago
Hey now! It works for those well educated weather persons:)
LoveMETV22 Pacificsun 27 months ago
LOL - When you said:
"I think the writers must be watching the Olympics".
As the quiz posted today 2/9 was:
" Where were the Olympics held the year these shows premiered?"
Pacificsun LoveMETV22 27 months ago
Good idea for a quiz!
texasluva Pacificsun 27 months ago
Found your thread to send movie. Unforgiven. Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman. Gene Hackman. Answeres to come soon.
LoveMETV22 27 months ago
jmo....I think Donner made a wise choice. He continued acting after M&M. Did his decision alter his career offerings afterwards ? Great actor on the whole. M&M was a good launching pad for Robin Williams though.
Michael LoveMETV22 27 months ago
When Pam Dawber was on NCIS last year, one of the other characters refers to her as "Mindy", then the character's real name.
Coldnorth LoveMETV22 25 months ago
When you type M&M I want M&ms.
LoveMETV22 Coldnorth 25 months ago
Well here you go:
Coldnorth LoveMETV22 25 months ago
Thanks I needed that
Andybandit 27 months ago
I never saw a lot of Mork and Mindy episodes. I have no clue who Exidor is. Sounds like a character on Star Trek or Buck Rodgers.
Michael Andybandit 27 months ago
That's why the character is interesting. He was as"out of it" as Mork the alien, but was an earthling. They got along because of that commonality.
Pacificsun Michael 27 months ago
Not with any criticism intended, because they were hilarious, but those characters who were "out of it" like Reverend Jim on Taxi and others, was code for being high all the time. No doubt the "with it" writers of the day had their fun with them!! Mork/RW just gave a green light for all of that!
AnnieM Pacificsun 26 months ago
Rev. Jim, yes, but I never thought of Exidor as being high. I always thought he was schizophrenic. Probably mostly due to a poor soul in my town who was usually seen wandering around downtown, and riding on city buses, having conversations with 'people' only he could see, much like Exidor. The kicker was he actually resembled Robert Donner a bit, which just added another layer of odd to the whole thing.
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