Reading too deeply into these things since 1981
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ALF, "Fight Back"

When I decided to do these character spotlights, I didn’t give the concept much thought; I just figured they were ways to delay my misery and increase yours for another week. But now, as we near the end, I’m glad I wrote them. They’ve given me a lot of insight into the process of bringing a character to life — how to achieve that and, of course, how not to achieve that — and looking more critically at sitcom characters than the writers ever intended allows you to see the scaffolding.

It’s like that shot of Brian in the opening credits of the first two seasons. We can clearly see a stage light now, but back when the show aired, most televisions would have had a frame obscuring it. As much as I like to joke about the slapdash nature of ALF (ironic since every episode took approximately 12 weeks to shoot), viewers at home wouldn’t have seen that. Now, though, we can focus on more of the frame…and catch a little glimpse of how the show was made.

The character spotlights allow me to do that, too. To drill into details that the writers — in most cases, to their credit, correctly — assume people at home will have forgotten. Alicia Schudt, who is credited with writing three episodes of ALF, commented on my review of “Movin’ Out” to prove the point (with admirable good humor) that I’m recording and remembering details in such a way that allows me to pick up on inconsistencies that someone watching in the late 80s wouldn’t have. It’s the visible stage light all over again; I’m watching it a different way than anyone did at the time. Of course I’ll notice these things.

I see value in that, though. I write, too. (Maybe someday somebody will make fun of all the awful crap I’ve written on their own blog. I’d like to think I’ve written some good stuff, but, I assure you, I’ve definitely written more than my fair share of awful crap.) And knowing what makes a character work or not work — what makes a character a character — is important. It’s also not an exact science, which is why even the failures are constructive. Following the same steps as another writer doesn’t imply in any way that you’ll end up with anything as creatively successful.

The way these spotlights have fallen serves to illustrate that pretty well, and they do so totally unintentionally. We started with Kate, who was — by this show’s standards, at least — a strong and well-enough-defined character from the start. We moved on to Brian who at that point had twice as long to demonstrate his worth, and had shown us nothing. Then we did Lynn (like the mimes we are), who started as nothing, and then became something. Sure, she later settled into a kind of wasted neutrality, but there was a process of gradual characterization there that meant it was good that we waited to analyze her.

And now it’s time to strip Willie down and see what we find.

ALF, "A.L.F."

Willie, who has the benefit of being spotlighted after the final episode. In theory I could have written at length about a character before, only to have them prove me wrong in every subsequent week, or experience some sort of profound evolution that would render my entire spotlight inaccurate. But Willie…well, we’ve seen all of Willie. We know Willie best of all of them. Or…we should. He’s certainly had more screentime than any other human character on the show.

By now, we shouldn’t even need a spotlight. Right? You’ve all been reading about him for 99 episodes straight. Don’t you know who Willie is?

Clearly I’m being rhetorical. Willie is nobody. He’s nothing. He’s there, but he’s undefined. At least…for the most part.

See, all of these characters were undefined. That’s what happens when the writing is inconsistent. It falls to the actors to figure out who these people are, which is why Anne Schedeen, as Kate, shined so quickly and completely; she had a handle on Kate. The frustration that that character would feel with someone like ALF in the house — wrecking shit up, demanding her time and attention, endangering her family — was something Schedeen recognized and understood how to channel. As a result, Kate wasn’t just a name written next to some lines on a script. She was a character.

Andrea Elson — our easy runner up — initially portrayed Lynn as a name written next to some lines on a script…but eventually got the chance to tap into her natural warmth (most notably in season two) and immediately improved as an actor as a result. I doubt it was intentional or even necessarily the result of any hard work on her part, but once she “understood” something about Lynn, it made a big difference. Again, she was rarely great, but she absolutely grew, and the change was notable.

Benji Gregory was a kid. Yeah, I give him guff, but that’s because I sometimes like to tell jokes for you. In reality, he was just some child actor in the only job he’d ever have. He was shitty, but so are all child actors, except for that girl in Kick-Ass. Gregory — and, as a result, Brian — never grew because he was trapped on ALF and there was nobody there to help him grow, to teach him to grow, to coach him and guide him in any aspect of his performance. He’d read a line, and they’d shove him aside to reset the puppet trenches. Maybe he scratched his armpit during the reading. Maybe he was looking at the wrong character. Maybe he mispronounced or failed to emphasize the only important thing he had to say. It didn’t matter. They took whatever they got and moved on. How could the kid grow?

Then there’s Max Wright. Each of these characters were vague shells at best. Maybe they’d have the same desires or interests from one week to the next, but normally they wouldn’t. It was up to the actors to provide them with some kind of consistent voice and presence. Some kind of characterization. So Max Wright provided Willie with the only thing I’ll ever remember about Willie: the fact that he was a complete fucking asshole.

ALF, "Baby, Come Back"

He wasn’t supposed to be, of course. Hell, he was a social worker. He was a provider. He sheltered ALF. He provided exposition, transportation, financial consideration, or whatever else that week’s plot needed to get moving. But Max Wright proved how drastically a performance could affect the way a character is perceived and remembered. And he proved it by being a complete fucking asshole.

Wright’s personal concerns — to put it with supreme diplomacy — about ALF are well documented. While everybody involved hated the show, and each walked separately into the sea never to be seen again once they finished shooting it, Max Wright took his hatred to impressive levels. He verbally abused the crew, physically assaulted the puppet, stormed off after his final scene in “Consider Me Gone” without saying goodbye or even allowing a second take, and vented his frustrations by picking up homeless people for a crack ‘n’ blowjob jubilee.

I mean, yeah, I hate ALF, too, but even I think he took that a little too far.

And his (at least partially justified) dickishness bled through to the character. We already saw his interests and hobbies shifting on a weekly basis, and it took the better part of a season for the show to decide what the hell he did for a living, so it had to be up to the actor to give the character a distinctive personality. (Theory: the reason people who watched this show as kids don’t remember any of the human characters is that none of them had distinctive personalities. Second theory: that isn’t a theory.)

By default, then, that character became a complete fucking asshole.

Max Wright’s performance took the writers’ worst tendencies and threw them into sharper relief. It emphasized the bad things they wrote into the character and made any good ones ring false. Their carelessness looked almost calculated. Willie’s flaws seemed less like sloppy writing and more like deliberate characterization. Wright’s dickishness, in short, filled in the blanks, and made the character seem worse than he otherwise would have.

Whenever I mention Willie’s shitty personality here and people push back, I know that what they’re really saying is that he’s not supposed to be an asshole. That no matter what the character says or does, we’re not supposed to think of him that way. They’re claiming that that’s not the intention of the character.

And they’re right.

Which is why Willie Tanner isn’t a character at all; he’s a fascinating intersection of poor writing and awful acting. Willie is a character that’s been so carelessly assembled that there’s no way for the show to keep him in check. No matter what he was supposed to be…he’s something else entirely now, and there’s no getting him back.

We’ve seen that before. It’s sometimes charming, and you end up with The Room, in all of its hypnotic, ramshackle glory. But with ALF, you just end up with a sentient ballsack.

ALF, "Can I Get a Witness?"

Willie is supposed to be a normal guy. An average joe. Maybe slightly nerdy or socially awkward, but he’s meant to be a standard straight man. A sitcom dad who doesn’t always do the right thing, but has his heart in the right place. Wright’s performance, though, causes those aspects of the character to feel hollow and forced, and makes his flashes of assholishness — which are surprisingly frequent — feel genuine, simply because that’s what comes from a genuine place.

And, unfortunately for ALF, that’s how the character ends up being defined…not by what we’re told, but by what we observe.

That’s…a lot like real life, actually. It’s why when a presidential candidate gets stumped by an interviewer, we take away from the experience that he or she is unprepared for the job; the candidate claims to be prepared, but we’ve now seen otherwise. It’s why we all have friends or colleagues who talk about some selfless thing they did and we have to roll our eyes, because we know they aren’t selfless people, and just performed whatever minor gesture was necessary so that they’d have something to pat themselves on the backs for. Hell, it’s why we buy property from Ricky Roma and not from Shelly “The Machine” Levine.

Anyone can tell us anything…but it’s what we see, what we perceive, what we already know that shapes our perception.

We can, and do, separate what people tell us from what they show us, and we can do this with Willie. In fact, it’s probably a good exercise.

The show wants us to see Willie as a normal, relateable, well-meaning guy. That’s what it tells us he is, over and over again. But what do we actually see through his relationships with others? Does he say he’s compassionate, or does he demonstrate compassion? Does he say he understands, or does he demonstrate understanding? Does he say he cares, or does he show us his caring nature?

By their fruits, ye shall know them. So let’s get our lips around Willie’s withered old fruits.

His Family:

ALF, "The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face"

No, not the Tanners we know. We’ll get to them. For now, let’s talk about the Tanners we oddly don’t know: the ones Willie grew up around.

What’s his father’s name? His mother’s name? What did they do for a living? Are they alive or dead? The fact that we don’t know any of this, or anything else, is alarming, especially since we spent a number of episodes exploring Kate’s upbringing and relationships with her parents. Less so her father, for sure, but at least we knew the guy’s name and that he died. Willie never shared his parents’ equivalent information.

The fact that Willie never talks about them implies a kind of distance, and the fact that we never got an explanation for that distance implies that he doesn’t really care, or that he’s perfectly fine without them. (Compare to Jake, who also never talked about his mother…until we got an entire episode explaining exactly why that was, and which characterized and humanized them both in the process.)

Willie comes off as detached in general, manifesting itself as a complete disinterest in everybody he grew up with.

It gets even odder when we meet Neal, because we were told in “Night Train” that Willie had one sibling, and in “La Cuckaracha” that that sibling’s name was Rodney. When we meet Neal, it either implies that Willie forgot he existed, or that he had at least one sibling he deliberately cut out of his life and chose to never speak of. Either is believable. And let’s not forget that in Neal’s introduction (“He Ain’t Heavy, He’s Willie’s Brother”) Willie — whose occupation centers around helping people — opens the episode already bitchy and frustrated that his brother needs his help.

In “We’re So Sorry, Uncle Albert” we meet one of Willie’s uncles, who evidently was kind of a shit at some point but is super nice now. He drops dead on Willie’s property and Willie doesn’t seem to care. In “Mr. Sandman” we learn about Aunt Pat and Great Grandpa Silas, just in time to reveal that they’ve both been dead for some indeterminate number of years, which is good, because that means Willie never has to think or talk about them, either.

Family goes a long way toward shaping who we are. Great works in all media (The Sound and the Fury, The Royal Tenenbaums, Arrested Development) have been obsessed with that notion in both deeply dramatic and powerfully comic ways. It defines us. If it doesn’t define us, the gulf between us and our families defines us. It’s woven into our DNA in more ways than simple genetics.

But Willie isn’t there for his family, unless they force him to be there by pulling into his driveway in a Winnebago. He never speaks of them, which means we can’t conclude that the separation is a necessary thing on Willie’s part, as we were able to with Jake. And he doesn’t even seem to remember they exist until he hears that they’ve died, at which point he doesn’t reminisce about them but rather starts pawing through their possessions.

He tells us nothing, which wouldn’t on its own reflect poorly on him…but there’s a lot more of this spotlight to go.

His Colleagues:

ALF, "Movin' Out"

For whatever reason, Willie’s family isn’t all that important to him. But maybe it just seems that way because he doesn’t see them often. What about the people his interacts with on a daily basis?

Well, we can answer that. Every so often, we do see Willie at work, but we’ve never seen him interacting with the same person twice. Shit, both times we saw his boss (“Border Song” and “Some Enchanted Evening”) it was a different guy. So, once again, it’s impossible to see Willie as having formed any lasting bonds with any-fucking-body he’s ever met.

The few times we do see him interact with them, or hear about his interactions with them, Willie doesn’t come off well. We had our longest sustained look at this in “Movin’ Out,” in which he bitched about having to do the work that he was specifically hired to do, as a result of a promotion that he specifically angled to get, and was rude to colleagues who were struggling hard to do their jobs, with limited resources and a complaining bozo for a boss. In “Mind Games” he even complained about a coworker to Dr. Dykstra…because that coworker was, y’know, helping lots of people and doing great work that earned recognition. That sure ruffled Willie’s feathers.

And then there’s Jimbo from “Hide Away.” A colleague who just needed a friend, was clearly suffering, and certainly never did anything wrong, but Willie just sat around giving the guy the stinkeye, making fun of his poverty and loneliness, and acting put out about having to deal with him at all.

Maybe we just catch him on bad days, though, right? Maybe his colleagues have a better view of his behavior than we do.

And, hey, they do! So we can turn to “It’s My Party,” in which his coworkers have to actively guilt him into inviting them to his luau. Why? Because he never invites them anywhere or does anything for them. Bad enough, but here’s why that’s a problem: they evidently do favors and nice things for him, from driving him around when his car is being repaired to throwing him parties on his birthday.

In return, he leaves every day at 4 o’clock with both middle fingers in the air and “Go fuck yourselves” on his lips.

This is Willie.

Those in Need:

ALF, "Turkey in the Straw: Part 1"

Oh, and, hey, speaking of his job…what is it he does for a living, again? Some kind of barber?

Wait, no…it’s social worker, right? You know. One of those people who are there to help the less fortunate navigate their emotions, their crippling poverty, their ineffably sad and difficult existences? Well, Willie — as often as we hear about him receiving raises and promotions — tries to accomplish this in “Movin’ Out” by insulting a woman on the phone who can’t afford to feed her starving children…a problem caused directly by Willie’s incompetence.

I’ve said many times that Willie isn’t a social worker, as much as the show would love us to believe he is. Whether at work or in his personal time, the guy doesn’t act like a social worker. He cares about nobody other than himself, and seems to be the first person to throw up his hands and say “Not it!” whenever somebody needs help.

Seriously. In addition to his conversation with the woman I just mentioned — someone that it is his job to help, and someone who now has no money for food because Willie didn’t do his job — look at how he deals with others in need.

In “We Gotta Get Out of This Place,” Jodie — a blind friend of the family — is evicted from her apartment and has nowhere to go. Willie has no reason to turn her away, except that he’s an asshole, so that’s what he tries to do. In “Hungry Like the Wolf,” Willie hears a woman, a girl, or a dog (or some combination; it’s not clear) get hit by a car outside of his house, and he not only refuses to help them, but stops his wife from helping them.

And the homeless? Oh, the homeless…

In “Night Train” he watches a hobo jump to his death and doesn’t so much as shrug. In “Hungry Like the Wolf,” again, he ridicules and ignores a homeless man he meets in the park. And in “Turkey in the Straw” Willie demands his clothes back from Flakey Pete and kicks him out into a rainstorm…after arming himself to bash the guy’s head in if he didn’t cooperate.

The latter is especially unnerving, since Flakey Pete was polite, engaged Willie in conversation about a mutual hobby, and was no threat whatsoever. It’s Willie’s job to show compassion, but he never seems to show even basic humanity, taking back clothes he didn’t need and kicking the hobo out of a garage he wasn’t using.

The best part? In “ALF’s Special Christmas” we learned that when Willie was little, his family was homeless. Kindly Mr. Foley took them in, and that was one of little Willie’s most cherished memories. A man who owed the family nothing saw their plight, and welcomed them into his home. Willie looks back on that with fondness, but no self-awareness whatsoever as he continually kicks others while they’re down.

This is to say nothing of situations like ALF’s cotton ball addiction in “Hooked on a Feeling,” which is something Willie should not only be prepared for as a social worker, but should deal with every week of his career. For him to act like there’s nothing he can do to help ALF — and to insult his family when they suggest they should help ALF — just raises, again, the question of why the show made him a social worker in the first place.

It’s a sitcom. You’ll have situations like this every week. Why give Willie that job if he’s not the one who is going to deal with any of the problems that arise? This would be like creating a sitcom in which the father is a firefighter, and every week the kitchen is set ablaze while he acts like he doesn’t know what to do, and leaves his family to deal with it.

You could conclude a lot of things about that character, but you certainly wouldn’t see him as a good guy.

Crack:

ALF, "Try to Remember"

WILLIE SMOKES CRACK

His Wife:

ALF, "Come Fly With Me"

We’re told that Willie loves his wife. Which is great, because I never would have guessed that from his behavior.

When they share a couch or a bed, they don’t touch. They read separate books or face different walls. He doesn’t act like he’s fond of her, or even like he cares much about her. Compared to the Ochmoneks — who are always touching, laughing together, taking daytrips — it’s clear that Willie and Kate are not in love. They don’t even act like friends.

More specifically, he insults her education and her interests in “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark,” is rudely dismissive of her supportive comments to Neal at the end of “Love on the Rocks” (“I just expressed that, honey”), and refuses to help her with groceries or housework while she’s pregnant with Eric, culminating in ignoring her outright when she tearfully pleads with him to get ALF out of the room in “Having My Baby.”

Of course, maybe he treats her like shit but at least appreciates that he landed a woman way out of his league. Right?

Nah. In “Don’t It Make Your Brown Eyes Blue?” he laughed himself hoarse over the idea that anyone would find his hideous shrewhag of a wife attractive in any way, and made sure she knew what a ridiculous concept that was.

Furthermore, he blamed her for his own emotional hangups about Lynn having sex (“I Gotta Be Me”), ridiculed her suggestion to help a family member struggling with addiction (“Hooked on a Feeling”), and literally left her to be torn apart by a wild animal (“Hungry Like the Wolf”).

Come to think of it, this season provided Kate with plenty of opportunity to reconsider her marriage, as Willie ruined her birthday party in “We’re in the Money,” didn’t do anything for their anniversary in “Gimme That Old Time Religion,” and then forgot Valentine’s Day a couple of weeks later in “When I’m Sixty-Four.” In the case of their anniversary he gave up on trying to find a gift for her, because that would mean he’d have to pay his wife some kind of attention or something. In the case of Valentine’s Day he was at least gracious enough to take her out for a Whopper Jr.

His Kids:

ALF, "Baby, Come Back"

Man, can I just point out how hard it is to find pictures of Willie with the people I’m talking about? Like, he has plenty of scenes with them, but there are slim pickings when it comes to screengrabs he shares with them. Which is probably another reason Willie seems to be so detached from everyone else. Kind of an unintentional mirror of the way McMurphy and Nurse Ratched were deliberately not framed together in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, to emphasize their opposing viewpoints.

Anyway, Willie hates his fucking kids.

At least, I assume he does, based on how little time he spends with them, and how disinterested he seems to be in anything that’s happening in their lives.

Like, seriously. I am hard-pressed to think of any examples of times Willie demonstrated that he gave half a shit about either of them. (Eric doesn’t count. Nobody gave half a shit about him.) I guess he took Brian to Little League in “Lies.” In “Oh, Pretty Woman” he tried for about four seconds to convince Lynn that she wasn’t hideous beyond redemption like her mother.

And…

…what else?

This is a family sitcom. About a family. In which the family rarely interacts or has anything to do with each other. He’s their father for shit’s sake…and how often does he actually act like one? The rest of the time — including when he finds out that his daughter is being preyed upon by someone in a position of authority in “True Colors” — he couldn’t possibly care less.

The odd exception here? Jake.

Willie seems to like Jake. In fact, the few times they interact he appears to be genuinely fond of him. He’s welcoming to him, he kids around with him, and he demonstrates interest in what’s happening in his life. You know. Like you might expect him to do with his own son.

This is especially evident in “Fight Back,” when they bond over automotive repair, but it manifests itself in much smaller ways throughout the show, such as when Willie seems to have actually missed him in “Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow.”

I honestly do wonder if Willie and Jake developed more of a relationship in the fabled Monday scripts — the drafts that were evidently pretty good until Paul Fusco got his hands on them and crossed out every word that wasn’t “ALF” — but we’ll never know for sure.

Either way, we do know that whenever Jake does come over, Willie uses it as an excuse to remind his kids that he likes the neighbor boy much, much better.

His Friends:

ALF, "Wild Thing"

jk

Willie has no friends, which is crazy to me. Take some time to list any principal sitcom characters you can think of that don’t have any friends. While in some cases that might be framed as a joke — or a way to characterize that person as a curmudgeon — I can’t think of one example of a character who has associated in literally no friendly way with literally anybody throughout the entire literal course of a series.

And yet: Willie.

Kate keeps in touch with some old college friends, as we saw in “Tequila.” She also seemed to be on friendly terms with a colleague at the real estate office in “Changes.” Lynn had Julie, who we never met, and then Joanie, who we met in “Live and Let Die,” likely because the writers forgot her name used to be Julie. She was also friends with Randy, who first appeared in “Promises, Promises” and was so dumb he didn’t realize that you didn’t need to be nice to Lynn if you wanted to sleep with her.

And Brian? Yeah…even Brian. He became friendly with Spencer, the world’s weediest excuse for a bully, in “It Isn’t Easy…Bein’ Green,” and had honest to goodness friends in “Stairway to Heaven.” Okay, the latter was a fantasy sequence, but if it weren’t for fantasy sequences this kid would have no reason to get out of bed in the morning, so let him have that.

Shit, even ALF had friends. Loads of them. Like, more friends than I’d ever even want, despite the premise of the show being that ALF is a secret and can never, under any circumstances, meet anyone.

But Willie?

Willie associates with nobody. When Jimbo or Flakey Pete or Mr. Ochmonek or anybody else tries to engage him in conversation, Willie takes it as a personal insult that they’d think he’d deign to spend time with them. He’s not interested in getting to know anybody. In “Someone to Watch Over Me” he’s surrounded by neighbors he doesn’t know or care to know. He’s put out, in fact, by their request that he help the Neighborhood Watch…in spite of the fact that the Neighborhood Watch is there to keep him safe as well. (Those selfish damn social workers!)

The closest thing to a friend he had was Dr. Dykstra, who we met in “Going Out of My Head Over You.” There Dr. Dykstra seemed pleased and surprised to see Willie, implying that it’s been a long time since he’s heard from him. Sure enough, Willie’s only there because he needs something. And if you think I’m being too harsh, skip ahead to the good doctor’s final appearance in “Mind Games,” when Willie’s done with his services so he thanks the guy for his unpaid work and forced secrecy by calling him an irritating nuisance. Some friend.

The next closest thing he has to a friend? The Ochmoneks, oddly enough, who he repays for their kindness by making fun of them constantly, being rude to them, refusing to help them, refusing to thank them for the help they provide him, and just genuinely being an all-around fuckbag at every opportunity.

It’s implied in “Turkey in the Straw” that the families have known each other since Lynn was a child…at least a decade, then. Yet by the time of “Come Fly With Me,” Willie hadn’t even known Mr. Ochmonek was in the Korean War, which shows just how much interest he’s ever shown in the guy.

And that’s it. Even Willie’s friends aren’t his friends.

Well, with one exception, maybe…

ALF:

ALF, "Standing in the Shadows of Love"

ALF and Willie aren’t friends. They’re also not enemies, however often they may seem to be. (That’s down to the actors hating each other in real life, a friction that makes watching ALF pretty fascinating when you keep it in mind.) They’re…some combination of “friend” and “enemy.” If only we had a word that ties both extremes into one. I’d like to propose “enemiends.”

I’ve gone back and forth on whether ALF and Willie or ALF and Brian should have been the core relationship of the show. Frankly, either could have worked in deft hands with stronger writing. But ALF and Willie seems like it would be the more fruitful choice…especially since this show, as bereft of creativity as it was, still managed to do some interesting things with their dynamic. Brian, by contrast, was never more than an afterthought, no matter how much he might have been conceived of as a sitcom version of Elliott from E.T. (The crucial difference here: Elliott gave some shits.)

But ALF and Willie have a relationship, at least. And that’s something the latter has with nobody else. Not his coworkers, not his kids, not his neighbors, not his parents, not his brother, and not even his wife. Willie connects to nobody. E.M. Forster wrote a two-word epigraph for Howards End: “Only connect…” One imagines that the epigraph to Willie’s autobiography would be “Please leave.”

ALF gets in, though. ALF, oddly, matters to him. I don’t need to cite examples of the times Willie is drafted into ALF’s schemes, responsible for rescuing ALF, enabling ALF’s flights of fancy, opening up to ALF, playing games with ALF, arguing with ALF…

It’s not a well-drawn relationship, but it’s certainly a rounded one. Willie and ALF have their ups and downs. They share laughter and they get on each other’s nerves. They understand each other, even if they don’t necessarily agree with or like each other. They know each other.

Which means something.

ALF, "Isn't it Romantic?"

Sure, the show never let it mean anything interesting (at least not for long) but it bubbled to the surface anyway. By sheer virtue of these two sharing screentime as often as they did — notice how I had no trouble finding screengrabs of he and ALF together — a relationship was built, suggested, explored passively. It may have went nowhere, but at least it started somewhere.

And that’s what makes it odd that by the very end, “Consider Me Gone,” Willie couldn’t muster up the interest in a proper goodbye. Oh, sure, he was at ALF’s farewell party, and he gave a speech of the exact same degree of shitness that everyone else gave, but he was still miserable. Not miserable that ALF was leaving, but miserable because that’s who he always had been and always will be, regardless of who surrounds him, regardless of where he is in his life, regardless of how much he has or does not have.

He had no relationships with anybody, until he finally developed one with ALF. Which would be heartwarming in some hypothetical way if it weren’t for the fact that it meant absolutely nothing to him, and he is just as happy to see it go. (For hilarious contrast, watch the opening of Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday, which sees Pee-Wee’s hypothetical farewell to an alien friend we never even got to meet. That’s how you convey a parting that’s important to a character without necessarily having to develop that importance in the longterm.)

For the first and last time, someone had a relationship with Willie. And ALF ends with that someone being bayoneted in a field while Willie watches on, shaking his head when he hears his friend’s cries for help.

Sorry. “Friend.”

ALF, "Running Scared"

And that’s Willie. Not what we’re told about Willie, but what we actually see of Willie.

A complete fucking asshole.

Were there no examples running counter to what we’ve listed above? Of course there were.

Were they anywhere near as believable coming from Max Wright? Of course they were not.

Wright, for better or for worse, is the actor who brought Willie Tanner to life. As a result, we’ve spent four years with one of sitcom history’s most consistently miserable dicks.

But, hey, you’re free now, Max. ALF is over, and the big, bad puppet man will never bother you again.

You’ve got your career back, just like you wanted, and now you can land those choice roles and show the world exactly what you’ve got to offer.

Right, Max?

…Max?

ALF, "Looking For Lucky"

What?

May 1st, 2016 | Posted by Philip J Reed in Meta - (0 Comments)

Gravity's Rainbow

Another one of those “I know it’s quiet” updates. But mainly I didn’t want you to think that all my attention was on ALF, or that once that series ends the site will cease to publish anything.

I’ve been busy lately, which probably isn’t much of a surprise…but I’ve also been rereading Gravity’s Rainbow, my personal favorite novel…and it’s one that occupies one hell of a lot of mental bandwidth. In fact, I just finished it, and I’m still stuck thinking about it.

Each time I read the book I can hold the narrative thread a little longer than I did the previous time. It’s a complex tale, in which it’s rarely made explicit that you’re in the realm of fantasy, or hallucination, or a dream, or that the character you’re following now or hearing from is a ghost, or that you’re hearing from a character at all. It’s rarely clear when you drift backward into the past or lurch in the space between two commas into the future. In short, it takes a lot of attention to read…and it rewires your brain into a kind of functional paranoia.

It’s great.

This time I made it just about to the end, I think, before the thread started to fray on me. And because of that, I found myself being moved deeply by passages that never even registered with me before. Reading Gravity’s Rainbow is a new experience every time…a text that’s always appropriate to wherever I am in life…one which never changes, but which reveals different, important aspects of itself to me when — and not before — I need to find them.

That’s what’s been distracting me from writing.

BUT ANYWAY ALF.

Since we’re so close to the end here — just the stream, Project: ALF, and a handful of wrap-up features — I’m going to try my damnedest to keep those coming. Usually when it’s quiet here ALF suffers, too, but this time, since we’re essentially just saying goodbye at this point, I want to keep that going, and that may, for the next few weeks, be at the expense of other content.

One interesting thing is that Google Analytics reveals to me that my daily traffic has tripled in the past month. Since it’s been so quiet and since ALF is coming to a stop, I’d have honestly guessed it would have decreased, if anything. In fact, that’s why I haven’t been checking it. I thought it’d be depressing news.

So…welcome, new readers! And thanks to everybody for making this site a success. It goes a long way toward convincing me that I haven’t wasted all of my time on Earth.

More to come, stay tuned, u.s.w.

One disappointing discovery: I had read at some point that the fourth and final section of Gravity’s Rainbow had a different epigraph in early printings. Instead of the Richard Nixon quote, it featured a much longer one from Joni Mitchell. But I own a pre-release review copy, and it has the Nixon quote, as you’ll see above in a photo I just snapped to immortalize my disappointment.

I don’t know if the Mitchell thing is apocryphal or if there were two pre-release printings, but I can’t find any photographic evidence of it, and my empirical evidence runs contrary to it, so until I see otherwise I’ll assume it’s false.

Which is sad. I thought that would be a fun difference to be able to point to. NOW I CAN POINT AT NOTHING.

ALF Reviews: Season Four, Reviewed

April 28th, 2016 | Posted by Philip J Reed in alf - (15 Comments)

ALF, "Wanted: Dead or Alive"

Season four is far and away the worst season of ALF. There. That’s your review. It registered as shockingly awful to a guy who already hated the living fuck out of ALF.

Throughout the previous three seasons, ALF has been inane, idiotic, lazy, nonsensical, offensive, and irritating. Season four cranked all of those same dials to 11, and trimmed out any of the intermittently redeeming qualities as well, as though it was genetically engineered to be the worst possible version of something that was already pretty awful to begin with.

I can’t say I wasn’t warned, but I hoped against hope that I’d find something to enjoy here. I blame season three for my foolishness. See, people told me that season three was lousy, too, but I actually enjoyed it more than either of the first two seasons. It had some really strong episodes, I thought. Sure, it also had many really poor ones, but it was always at least interesting.

It kept me engaged. I may not have always liked what I was seeing — and may have outright hated a large portion of it — but it was…surprisingly watchable. And it led to what I honestly believe are some of the best reviews I’ve done. Good or not, the episodes gave us something to talk about, and in at least two notable cases, to debate.

So when I heard all of the negativity around season four, I figured it would be another season three situation: valid criticisms, for sure, but surely I’d still enjoy the journey.

Nope.

ALF, "We're in the Money"

Everyone told me that season four was the worst, and it was still horrid beyond the worst of my nightmares.

That’s really a shame. As much as I complain about this show, it’s not entirely bereft of merit. It’s had its good episodes. It’s had its brief flashes of cleverness. And it’s had some funny lines. Shit, it’s even had effective emotional moments. (Not many, of course…but they’re in there.)

I guess what I’m trying to say is that even this late in the game, ALF is not beyond salvaging. At least, it shouldn’t have been. The season four we got, though, seems to have been designed with the intention of ensuring that nobody in the audience miss the show.

The first three seasons were hit and miss, to put it politely. Mainly, as we’ve said, they missed. But season four didn’t even bother to swing. It was waiting out the game, and seemed like it just wanted to go home.

I’m not speaking about the writing, the acting, the visual presentation, or anything else specifically; I’m speaking of all of these things. If there’s one overarching feeling specific to season four, it’s exhaustion.

ALF, "Gimme That Old Time Religion"

But before we damn it for its crimes, let’s give season four its fair shake: there genuinely was good reason for them.

The show, at this point, was in a creative limbo. Season five would have seen ALF living at the Alien Task Force base, writing the Tanners out and effectively giving the show a soft reboot. He’d have new characters to bounce off of, new adventures to have, and could even re-live some of his old ones, since the new characters wouldn’t — in theory — have learned to handle him the way the Tanners did. (Of course, the Tanners never actually learned anything at any point, but it’s a nice thought.)

Exactly when the decision to move ALF out of the house was reached, I can’t say. Nobody else seems to know, either. But a few things point to it being reached fairly early in the season, if not before…mainly the fact that around a third of the episodes contain clear references to ALF moving on without the Tanners.

Really, if you ever decide to watch these episodes for yourself — you sick fuck — pay attention. Season four is full of characters thinking aloud about the possibility of ALF leaving, and starting over somewhere else. It’s possible this was coincidental, but pretty unlikely.

That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s overt foreshadowing…but it’s likely, to me, that the writers were working their own uncertainties about the future into the scripts. Not to any artistic end, and it may not even have been deliberate, but they were surely giving serious thought to what the show might become next season.

Because…well…what would the show be next season?

ALF, "Happy Together"

So ALF moves out. Fine.

Beyond that, what’s season five? Who will it star? What kind of characters will they play? What does the Alien Task Force base look like? Since the show will take place on the presumably secure base, will ALF be able to visit other environments, like he does now? Can there still be wacky neighbors? Will the fact that everyone ALF meets has the same job limit story possibilities? Can there be guest stars? If so, will they all have to play visiting generals?

What will the show be?

The writers didn’t know, and beyond “ALF moves out” there probably weren’t any definitive answers about the hypothetical season to come.

So the writers are uncertain not only about what the next season would include or not include, but what they’d be able to write about.

It’s on their minds. It bleeds into their scripts. Questions without answers, raised frequently, regardless of the actual plot unfolding behind them.

The writers, for once, are interested in something uniform, but it’s not something that excites them. It’s a cause of serious anxiety.

ALF, whatever it is or would become, is their job. They may not like it, but they know what’s expected of them. They can write for a nerdy old dweeb, a bitchy housewife, a horny teenager, and the kid who needs to ask an expository question once per episode lest they get sued for breach of contract. Oh, and any jokes they write had better go to the puppet.

ALF, "Make 'Em Laugh"

Fun? No. Rewarding? Of course not. But the expectations are clear. They know exactly what they’re getting paid to do.

…for now. Until season four ends, and they’ll have absolutely no idea what they’ll be writing next.

I have sympathy for them. Working on ALF they certainly never got the opportunity to shine as sitcom writers, but by this point they didn’t even know what sit they’d be writing the com for.

On top of that, a number of previously reliable characters were M.I.A. Jodie was nowhere to be found. Jake was gone. Dr. Dykstra appeared, but only in a holdover episode from season three. Season four, therefore, didn’t utilize any of the show’s most valuable supporting players.

I don’t know why. I’d have to assume it was either a lack of availability or interest on the part of those actors, but I can’t say for sure. Whatever the case, the writers felt the pinch, and depending on when they found out about their availability, they may have even had to scrap whatever ideas or scripts they already had for those characters.

That would go a long way toward explaining season four’s reliance on retreads of earlier plotlines. After all, get stuck with a sudden deadline for a replacement script, and what are you going to do? Easy: something you already did before.

“Live and Let Die” was a less funny “Funeral For a Friend.” “Make ‘Em Laugh” charted the same meta-territory as “I’m Your Puppet,” to vastly diminished returns. “Mr. Sandman” was a lazier riff on the same dynamic we saw in “Night Train.” “Hungry Like the Wolf” had the exact same plot as “Wild Thing.”

ALF, "Mr. Sandman"

The show was cannibalizing itself, running out the clock, worried about the future, disinterested in the present, and stuck with lesser characters that were added to the cast.

Yes, while the show went without its relatively strong players in season four, it gained a few new ones…and it was definitely a trade downward: now we had Neal, Robert, Eric, and Lucky II.

In the latter two cases, these characters had only one episode each that had anything to do with them. (“Baby, Come Back” for Eric, and “Live and Let Die” for Lucky II.) Eric at least appears — irrelevantly — in a few scenes throughout the season, but Lucky II literally vanishes from existence the moment after they introduce him.

One would be forgiven for wondering why they created Lucky II at all. At least Eric was the result of Anne Schedeen’s real life pregnancy; the character may have been worthless, but the necessity was clear. Lucky II, though, was an invention that the inventors themselves wanted nothing to do with. It’s weird, and I’m all ears if anybody has any theories.

More fruitfully, if no more impressively, Robert appeared in three episodes, and Neal appeared in five.

I’d be hard pressed to name any one of them that was worth watching.

ALF, "Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades"

Robert may have gone nowhere as a new character, but at least he was innocuous.

I don’t have any allegiance to Dean Cameron and I’m still not sure I’ve seen him in anything else, but he comes off decently in his episodes, especially when you consider how little he had to work with and how miserable the rest of the cast must have been by that time.

The puzzling thing about his character is why he was there at all, as he could have been playing a different character in all three of his appearances and it wouldn’t have made any less sense.

He initially showed up as a caterer in “It’s My Party,” was suddenly an elderly futuremime in “Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades,” and then was just a normal, horny mime in “I Gotta Be Me,” where he became the first character to canonically plow Lynn.

He was introduced, apparently, to replace Danny from last season as Lynn’s steady boyfriend, even though she appeared to be single in other episodes when the plot (or a needlessly filthy joke) required her to either be single or not to mind cheating on him.

Why Danny was replaced at all, I have no idea. It may have been another availability / interest issue. But once thing’s for sure: the show never knew what to do with Robert, or even what it wanted to do with Robert. Oh, and a second thing’s for sure, now that I think about it: his episodes were fucking garbage.

But none of this was his fault. If I ever met the guy I’d feel inclined to congratulate him on managing to stay alive beneath the crashing waves of ALF‘s horseshit.

So Robert was worthless and confusing, but not horrible.

Neal, however, is another story.

alfep407i

Neal is easily the most puzzling aspect of season four.

At the time, Jim J. Bullock wasn’t a huge star, but he was certainly a sought-after sitcom presence. In a way, therefore, it’s not inconceivable that ALF would want to shoehorn him in as Willie’s previously non-existent brother. (And that’s not “never-mentioned” brother. Neal genuinely did not exist before the writers invented him; prior to this we were explicitly told Willie had only one brother, whose name was Rodney.)

In every other way, though, it’s fucking baffling: why would you want to shoehorn anyone into this show when all of the funny lines have to go to ALF anyway?

Sure, Bullock brings with him a certain amount of prime time clout, but if he’s just going to stand there making faces while ALF delivers ostensible woofers, do you really need him there? Couldn’t it be anybody? God knows the bar for acting talent wasn’t set so high that you couldn’t have gambled on some cheap no-name to play this thankless role.

And then there’s the simple fact of introducing important new characters when you know your show is bringing in an entirely different cast next season. Why bother? What possible impulse could there have been to introduce Neal?

Well, by my calculations, there’s exactly one possible impulse.

It’s highly likely that Bullock was a network-mandated addition to the cast. With a recognizable name you get viewers, and ALF‘s viewers were dwindling. It’s a business decision, simple as that.

But assuming this to be the case, why did the show not take advantage of him? The network forces you to bring in new talent, and you’re not in a position to push back. You’re stuck with this person…but it’s a person with significant sitcom experience.

So, as long as he’s there, why not give him something to do?

ALF, "Break Up to Make Up"

Of course, that’s an odd thing to say when he seems to have a lot to do. Neal, as you know, drives the plot of every episode he’s in, barring “Break Up to Make Up.”

Yet, he still doesn’t do much of anything.

Part of the reason for this is his complete lack of characterization. He’s utterly indistinct, sweeps in from nowhere, and vanishes just as quickly. He’s not a different character in each episode, like Robert is; he’s a different character from scene to scene, and from line to line.

He’s horny, he’d funny, he’s nerdy, he’s cool, he’s popular, he’s a pushover, he’s a moron, he’s lonely, he’s a lady killer, he’s a friend, he’s a nuisance…he’s whatever he needs to be at any given time to make the smallest possible impact on anything that’s happening.

It’s even more confounding when you realize that Neal arrives with his own arc, making him the only character (aside from maybe Kate Sr.) that’s ever had an explicit motivation to do anything: he’s starting his life fresh after a divorce.

That’s where we meet him. And we spend some time with him as he builds this new life, finds a new home, and gets a new job. Then his conviction is put to the test when his ex-wife returns and wants him back…and also isn’t a fat cow!

Add that up and it sounds suspiciously like a narrative, which is why it’s almost impressive how inconsequential any of it feels. ALF was actively sapping the promise out of things by this point.

Ultimately, the fact is that the effort invested in this show was at its lowest level yet. The writing was lazy, the actors defeated, and any opportunities to evolve the show or raise the stakes — such as Neal joining the cast, Willie taking a new job, or Lynn moving out — were shrugged off. ALF had plenty of opportunity to do interesting things as it drew itself toward its unintentional close, and it seemed determined to follow through on none of it.

ALF, "Live and Let Die"

There is one very interesting exception to that trend, though: ALF’s change of heart about eating cats.

That, oddly, stuck. And I have no idea why.

It’s possible that there was pressure from the network here, too. Evidently that’s why ALF stopped drinking (much) beer after the first few episodes; I don’t know that anyone ever actually complained, but the fear that ALF might be imitated by children meant that the show more or less entirely ditched his alcoholic tendencies. (Interestingly, he didn’t stop setting fires, stealing cars, lusting after underage girls, or punching Willie in the dick. But…y’know. Don’t drink a beer, kids.)

Here, though, I’m not sure. Would the network really have been concerned that children would stalk, murder, and consume stray cats? And if they were, why were they not concerned until the fourth solid year of that joke being told and re-told?

Whatever the reason, ALF decided he wouldn’t eat cats anymore in “Live and Let Die”…and then never tried to eat one again. Or even expressed his desire to do so. At least, not outside of “Make ‘Em Laugh,” where it was clearly framed as both a joke and a reference to his former life on Melmac. As far as present day and present company were concerned, ALF was done with that.

It was a daring move, as “ALF eats cats” is one of the only things that ever stayed consistent about the show…and also one of the only things anyone remembers about it. The fact that ALF undid that little bit of trivia for about a quarter of its run is significant…and frustratingly so, because it didn’t replace it with anything.

This was an opportunity for ALF to grow, in some way. Eating cats was about he only thing he gave a shit about. Take it away and you have room to give the character something else to desire.

In short, you bury the cheap running joke for something better, more important, more interesting. After all, it’s not like there were many other ways to tell the same cat-eating joke again. Discarding it feels…brave, actually.

But, of course, nothing really changes.

ALF, "True Colors"

ALF stops talking about eating cats, but that’s it. There’s no new gag to take its place, no long-dormant character trait that comes to the fore in its stead.

It’s just one less thing ALF talks about. And I get the feeling that once the other writers are gone and Fusco has his own way, this aardvark creep will be back to craving cats in Project: ALF and all the other shit he’s in.

Still, I like the lack of cat-eating jokes. I like that a character grew in some way, even if it’s up to us to keep that change of heart in our minds, as the show never references it again.

But that’s almost the extent of what I enjoyed about season four. It pains me to report that.

One of the earliest pleasures of this review project was discovering that ALF could actually be pretty good, now and again. It wasn’t reliable, but it was something to tacitly look forward to, and to celebrate when it did happen. Every so often we’d get an episode that felt like it was beamed in from an alternate universe, in which ALF was not all that bad, really.

Season one had a few of those. Season two had a few of those. Season three had more of those. And even with my low expectations from this show, I thought I could count on season four adding another handful to that list.

But it didn’t.

By the time the season ended, only one episode really stuck out as being worth watching: “Lies.”

ALF, "Lies"

That one wasn’t a great episode. It wasn’t moving. It was, to be frank, not even interesting. But it was funny. It was silly. It was a welcome example of how to take a mundane situation — Willie forced to bluff his way through an interview with the media — and make it memorable.

I liked “Lies.” A lot. I’ll go to bat for that one. But it’s the only one in season four I can really say many nice things about, and that’s massively disappointing.

I joked many times throughout this series that it always seemed like we were watching first drafts, but season four really shows us what first drafts look like. The previous three seasons must have been second drafts at least, because I did not see true laziness or complete creative disinterest before this final batch.

This time around, none of the episodes felt like they mattered. I think that’s the problem. Granted, almost none of the previous episodes mattered to me, but I’d at least believe they mattered to somebody.

Here it seemed like writing enough pages to fill a cozy twenty minutes was enough. There was no desire to punch up the scripts, revisit them in the morning, or even check to make sure they made any sense.

So long as one scene followed another and eventually led to the end credits, it was good enough for ALF.

Which, I have to assume, is part of why there was no more ALF.

ALF, "Happy Together"

Ratings evidently fell in season four, and those fans who did continue to tune in weren’t getting whatever it is they used to like about the show. Even commenters here who still like ALF warned me against season four.

The tormented actors, the anxious writers, the confused plots, the frustrating additions and removals of characters, the reliance on the same tired jokes…it grated on viewers. It wore down their interest. Once they were sure they’d miss nothing, they stopped tuning in. For a long time, there were a lot of people out there who genuinely liked ALF. Season four tested and broke all of them.

The network had concerns, as you might imagine.

Brandon Tartikoff, then-president of NBC, tried to work actively with Paul Fusco to retool the show in a way that would win back viewers.

Fusco — shocker! — balked at the meddling, and refused, even though Tarikoff was the one who gave ALF a slot in the schedule in the first place. (In retrospect, Fusco was right to refuse the man’s assistance. After all, this guy was directly responsible for the success of Seinfeld, Friends, Cheers, The Golden Girls, Law & Order, The Cosby Show and other piles of crap nobody liked or remembers. What did he know?)

ALF coasted too long on good will, and when it finally needed some, it was gone. The show wasn’t greenlit for another season.

The show planned on reinventing itself with season five, and it foolishly used that as an excuse to skimp on season four, jogging in place until next season — the season it actually cared about — came along. By the time anyone saw that “To be continued…” message at the end of “Consider Me Gone,” the only valid reply would have been, “Who cares?” Viewers had just sat through twenty-four weeks of nothing happening. Why should they have been invested in what would not-happen next?

And, sure enough, nothing happened next. It was over. “Consider Me Gone” was an unfortunate and embarrassing cliffhanger without resolution.

But there was a shot at one. An offer to end the show properly was extended by Tartikoff, seen here breaking the news to ALF about season five:

ALF, "Make 'Em Laugh"

As commenter Justin mentioned last week, Tartikoff offered Paul Fusco a TV movie to serve as a proper finale to the show.

And, man, talk about a class act. After the way Fusco refused his suggestions, sunk the show, and ruined careers in the process (seriously, every principal ALF actor was quite happy to dive right into permanent obscurity), Tartikoff was still willing to give him a chance to end the show respectably.

Paul Fusco’s entire career seems to have been based on others treating him better than he ever treated them, investing in him in a way he’d never invest in them, and giving him a chance to spotlight his talents in a way that he deliberately prevented others from doing.

Somehow this was not sustainable.

alfep407l

Once again, poor timing had the final say. Tartikoff moved on, and his less sentimental replacement — quite rightly in my opinion — realized that NBC didn’t owe Paul Fusco a living, and canned the idea of any TV movie. And that was the end of the story.

At least, for the time being.

A TV movie — in the form of Project: ALF — still happened, but it happened six years later, on a different network.

That’s what we’ll be covering next…and last. It’s not a feature-length episode of the show, however. No, ALF the sitcom is officially dead. Project: ALF was a bid for reinvention…and its dire reputation means I can’t even pretend it might have succeeded.

But we’re going to give it a fair appraisal after all. It was one last gasp for ALF, so let it be one last gasp for this review series as well.

Roll on, Project: ALF.

ALF, "Consider Me Gone"

ALF, "Consider Me Gone"

This is it. The final episode of ALF. I’d take some time to cry or something, but I’m too busy masturbating and doing cartwheels. Thank fucking Christ we lived to see this day. Yes, I understand full well that I’m the one who exhumed this stinking corpse in the first place, but at long last we get to lay it back to rest. It’s time to say goodbye to all of the beloved characters we’ve gotten to know over the past four seasons. Ol’ Cracky. Sluterella. Bitchy O’Bitchbitch. And, of course, Lumpy. I’ll miss him/her/it most of all.

Oh, and ALF! The only character that ever mattered. But I wouldn’t worry about him! I’m confident he’s leaving sitcoms behind to conquer many other mediums.

I’ve never seen “Consider Me Gone” before. No, not even before writing this sentence. And I’m very much looking forward to it.

Why? Well, aside from the fact that it’s the final episode, there’s this one’s legendary schoolyard status.

See, I stopped watching ALF at some point well before the finale. “Do You Believe in Magic?” is my last memory of watching ALF, and while I could be wrong about never watching it again, it’s fair to say that if I tuned in after that, it wasn’t often. Another show I fell out of love with a few years later was Dinosaurs; I stopped watching that before its finale as well.

Why bring Dinosaurs up?

It’s not just the fact it and ALF were both prime time puppet-based sitcoms, though that’s an admittedly fun coincidence in this context. No, I bring it up because these are the two oddball shows with finales that absolutely flooded the rumor mill of the schoolyard.

By the time I’d given up on ALF, most of my peers had as well. Ditto Dinosaurs. But somebody kept watching, and when the finales hit, these remaining viewers told us of what we’d missed.

There weren’t enough viewers to elevate the discussions beyond rumor, though. Each of these shows had final episodes that were spoken about dreamily, like half-remembered myths, passed along orally, until they were many degrees removed from whomever who had actually seen them. Of course, by that point the person who had seen them had surely forgotten some things…had let his or her imagination fill in the details…the memory finding its own shape, itself now detached from whatever had actually unfolded on the television that night, when they were watching long after everybody else had moved on. Some lone messenger tuning in to a story nobody cared about…until, all at once, something sensational happened…and it was their responsibility alone to pass it on.

These were the days before Youtube. Now we can look up clips easily. Somebody can say, “There was some crazy episode of such and such,” and we can look up 100 reviews, commentaries, reactions, screenshots, and full episodes for the taking. That happened earlier this season, actually; I’d mentioned the episode of Too Close for Comfort in which Jim J. Bullock gets kidnapped and raped, and a friend of mine looked it up and posted a bunch of clips from it to Facebook…utterly shocked that it had actually aired.

There’s something to be said for that…the fact that he could immediately verify something I’d said, which originally he figured must have been made up or exaggerated. But there’s something to be said for not having that ability as well…for having to fill in a vague shape with your imagination…to hear about some incredible bullshit a show pulled which doesn’t gibe at all with what your understanding of what that show is…and let your mind determine what that might have looked like.

Similarly, but in a more literary context, Thomas Pynchon refers in a few of his novels to an old short in which Porky Pig unwittingly duels with a shadowy anarchist. When Pynchon wrote these books there was no Youtube, and the cartoon was not available through any official channels. (Nor did it run as part of any animation package in syndication. It was left behind, probably intentionally.) He wrote about the short knowing full well that very few readers would remember it at the time he was writing, and fewer still would be able to watch it. But now we can read a reference to the cartoon and not only verify immediately that it did exist, but set aside seven minutes and watch it in full before continuing on with the story. I did that a couple of nights ago when I found it mentioned in Gravity’s Rainbow…and, as such, I engaged with Pynchon’s writing in a way he never expected or intended. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Television lost its own mythology, trading it for accessibility. I’m not complaining, and I’d like to emphasize that that’s not necessarily a step in the wrong direction. But it is different. And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t value the experience I had, before we could load up a clip and prove somebody right or wrong. It made these things stand out more, because they occupied more mental bandwidth. Sitting and watching passively is one thing…giving some crazy concept free reign of your mind for as long as it takes to find peace is another.

ALF and Dinosaurs. Two finales that exploded heads of whatever remaining viewers there were, and which inspired both confusion and skepticism in my peers and me. But where Dinosaurs sounded subversive and daring, ALF just sounded idiotic.

ALF, "Consider Me Gone"

I haven’t seen the Dinosaurs finale, but I vividly remember hearing about it. Evidently it ended with the mass extinction of all the dinosaurs. And, well…shit.

This family we watched and enjoyed was now dead…which you’d think would be morbid enough. But all of their friends were dead, too. And all of their friends’ friends were dead. And everybody else on the planet was dead. I remember a friend of mine telling me about the news report that ended the episode. It sounded harrowing, but it also sounded pretty brave. I was impressed that they’d do that. As a kid I’d fantasize about seeing a show that would push the envelope that way…one that would dare to give a genuine “fuck you” to the audience. And in this case, it was a “fuck you” that was miraculously in line with its concept.

How else could Dinosaurs have ended? Well, I’m sure we could rattle off a thousand ways, but I’m asking rhetorically. It was a show about an extinct species, for crying out loud. It was basically a gleefully silly prequel to the life we were actually living there in our living rooms, watching it. When I figured out much later that the dinosaurs all had last names that corresponded to modern day oil companies, I was thrilled. The dark comedy of the characters’ eventual deaths was rooted so deeply in the show that it decided their very surnames. Dinosaurs may not have been a great show, but it had a brain, and it had the guts to shock its audience smartly, naturally, and memorably when it went off the air for good.

Then there was ALF, the finale of which also sparked conversation, but didn’t inspire the same kind of reverence. There was a lot more disbelief. It wasn’t a case of the show being impressively brave. It was a case of…well…why in shit’s name would they have ended it that way?

“Consider Me Gone” ends with ALF being captured by the Alien Task Force. Fine. I’ve just reviewed 98 episodes of this shit in sequence, so I know who those guys are and have some idea of how ALF could be delivered into their hands. As a kid, though, I watched ALF, and the Alien Task Force never registered to me as a threat, or even a presence. How could it? It was mentioned so infrequently, and we never really spent much time with any of the handful of characters who turned up to represent it. I had some idea that ALF was supposed to be kept secret, but even then he was constantly running around outside and meeting hobos so it obviously couldn’t have been that serious of a concern.

So when I heard about ALF‘s ending, I didn’t picture the Alien Task Force finally, slowly closing in. No, my mind was filled instead with visions of an episode that ended with some government agents suddenly, irrelevantly kicking down the Tanners’ door and hauling the alien away screaming.

And why in shit’s name would they have ended it that way?

Easy: they didn’t.

“Consider Me Gone” aired originally with a “To be continued…” message. (I’ve heard that this was removed from the DVDs, but it’s intact on the German release I have, for anyone interested.) There was supposed to be a season five. The Tanners would not appear in it, because fuck them, and the show’s action would move to the Alien Task Force base, where I guess ALF would tell racist jokes for that new cast instead.

Whatever bizarre bullshit “Consider Me Gone” pulled to get ALF out of the house and into some other environment, it wasn’t meant to stand as the series’ final punctuation. It was instead meant to keep viewers engaged and interested over the summer. Needless to say, it backfired horribly. The worst possible place to end any story is with your main character being hauled off for dissection, but that’s exactly where ALF ended. It bet huge on a tomorrow that never came.

So our final episode opens with ALF dicking around with the ham radio. He’s relying on the flawed “it’s already tomorrow in Australia” reasoning to get racing results ahead of time, when he hears a series of four beeps. It doesn’t sound like much to me, but he interprets that as Melmacian code. And then we get our intro credits for the last time…and it’s the first time — as far as I can remember — that our cold open ends without a laugh line.

ALF’s recognition of Melmacian code is left to stand on its own merits, or lack of merit. Instead of any comedy we get a strong narrative hook, and I like that they didn’t try to undercut it with a joke. Yeah, this show usually lacks laughs, but this time it didn’t even try for one, and there’s a sort of nobility to that.

Then the credits end and…

ALF, "Consider Me Gone"

Jesus Christ. Four credited writers and a separate story credit? That’s either a sign that we’re in for something wonderful — a true and impressive collaboration among whatever genuine talent there is in the writing room — or a cobbled together, shambling clusterfuck, hastily built from the final dregs of creative effort the show could squeeze from the writers’ withered souls.

Place your bets now!

ALF, "Consider Me Gone"

ALF deciphered the four beeps, I guess, and reveals that Skip and Rhonda — the only two other confirmed survivors of the Melmapocalypse — bought a planet somewhere and are signaling ALF to join them. Why Skip and Rhonda didn’t just come to the fucking house since they know exactly where he lives is beyond me. Yeah, I know there’s the whole thing about not wanting to be captured, but surely they could have flown by and dropped off a message or something instead of beaming some code into deep space in the hopes that ALF just happens to be listening at exactly that frequency at exactly that time.

Here’s something I’m not sure I ever considered before: why are Skip and Rhonda together? We don’t know how much time Melmacians had to flee the planet between whatever warning they got and its actual explosion, but somehow Skip and Rhonda ended up together, in the same ship.

This implies that Skip and Rhonda were…erm…with each other when the catastrophe (among other things) went down. I’m positive that’s not a deliberate suggestion of canoodling on the show’s part, but it sure dovetails interestingly with the otherwise odd choice of the comics to pair Rhonda with Skip at the end, rather than with ALF.

And, really, how else could she have ended up in his ship?

Well, here’s how: Skip, putting himself knowingly in danger, took the time to find and rescue her. Which sure as hell makes him a far better hero than ALF, who seems to have used his final moments on the planet to shovel souvenirs and knickknacks into his ship rather than rescue any of his friends, family members, colleagues, or, in this case, the woman he claims to love.

What a guy.

By the time of “Consider Me Gone,” Skip and Rhonda have been together, with only each other for company, for however many shitty years this show spans…and I think it’s safe to say they’ve fucked every which way from Sunday. So quite why ALF thinks he’ll get back together with her is beyond me. They never dated, he left her to die on an exploding planet, he blew her off without explanation when she and Skip came by to pick him up in “Help Me, Rhonda,” and he still thinks they have a chance together?

Rhonda, I don’t know you, but I can assure you you’re already doing better.

ALF, "Consider Me Gone"

Brian pretends he’s sad that ALF is leaving, and it’s even less believable than it would be if I pretended to be sad that ALF was leaving.

I can’t blame him too much, though; the entire cast is fuckawful here. Anne Schedeen has to keep trying to pretend she’s not excited that ALF will soon be out of her life…which is a funny concept, but she doesn’t sell it at all. She’s capable of selling it, but her heart is clearly not in this. Andrea Elson uncharacteristically slurs her lines. (If anything, she’s usually guilty of enunciating with unnatural clarity.) And Max Wright is even more detached than he historically has been…which isn’t just an assumption I’m making; it’s documented fact.

This is the episode he famously walked out on after shooting his final scene. No chance for a second take, no opportunity to try another approach, no possibility of picking up a line or shooting from another angle. Max finished his scene, walked off set, got into his car, and drove away. He said goodbye to nobody. He knew he’d never see any of these people again, and he was just fine with that. No attempt at a friendly farewell; he just stormed off, making it quite clear just how little he cared about them or what they’d do with their lives.

Trust me, I can understand the guy feeling frustrated with Paul Fusco. Or maybe some of the stagehands, since the show took so many miserable hours to shoot and he may have (rightly or not) held them accountable for that. I can even imagine him being angry at the writers if the thought the material was poor. But the fact that he didn’t even say a polite goodbye to his costars — who suffered weekly right along with him, and were in no way responsible for his negative experiences on the show — strikes me as unprofessional and more than a little dickish.

But back to the point: the guy was done with ALF. Completely and utterly over it. And though his costars seem to have left on better terms, this scene makes it clear that they weren’t any more invested in the show than he was at this point.

So Benji Gregory sucked nuts here? Big deal. For once he’s exactly as good as everyone else.

ALF says that he hasn’t made his mind up yet about leaving, and I guess that’s the big emotional crisis of the episode. He says, “Whatever I decide, I lose something.”

Which, meh, who cares. But it’s an interesting parallel to the real-life decision Paul Fusco must have had to make at some point this season. He decided, ultimately, that ALF would leave the Tanners behind…and therefore ALF would leave the Tanners behind. Season five would have seen both he and his show re-introduced in a new environment, with new dynamics and new characters to stand around looking bored while ALF delivered monologues to an invisible, theoretical audience.

Both Fusco and ALF had to make this decision. Each of them were absolutely certain they could do better somewhere else, without these people. They both chose to pick up the dice.

Each of them rolled snake eyes. The show was cancelled. The future was full of possibility, and neither of them saw any of it. They gambled everything, and lost it all.

ALF and ALF were finished.

ALF, "Consider Me Gone"

Then we get an establishing shot of the Alien Task Force Headquarters in Washington, D.C. By that I mean we see some stock footage of a radar dish spinning around.

Prior to this we had no reason to believe that this organization had more than one location, which “Running Scared” established as being in / on Edwards Air Force Base. Being as that location was significantly overstaffed — we never saw the same employee twice, and shit knows they never caught anything — you’d be forgiven for not believing there to be a network of locations…but, hey, here we are.

I wonder why ALF is finally detected by a location so far away from where he actually is. Why not have the Edwards guys be the ones who catch him? They’re right down the street. Just reveal that they’ve been combing all this time through the tips they’ve received, and noticed something similar about all of them. (Spoiler: it’s that every last fucking one of them had to do with the Tanner family.)

Have them put together all of the evidence and details and suspicions they’ve accumulated over the past four years and bring it all to a head with a full-scale investigation or raid on the family. In other words, show us that the Edwards gang weren’t just sitting around fingering their own assholes. They have only one job, and they have only one family of suspects. Show us that they’ve been taking their work seriously all the time that we’ve been dismissing them as ineffectual. Show us that something was happening.

But, no, instead a different location 3,000 miles away figures out where he’s hiding, a propos of nothing that happened in any previous episode. Fuck me.

ALF, "Consider Me Gone"

Inside the Alien Task Force base we meet another crew of idiots we’ll never see again. This crew of idiots we’ll never see again is led by one particular idiot we’ll never see again, played by Richard Fancy. He’s another one of those guys that’s been in everything ever made, but most significantly he had a recurring role on It’s Gary Shandling’s Show, and played Mr. Lippman in Seinfeld.

Here he plays Colonel Halsey, and I’m surprised they didn’t give him the rank of Admiral to go along with Uncle Albert. He says he hopes the signal they’re tracing is real, so that they won’t have to beg for funding anymore. It’s not especially funny, but I at least like that the show is admitting that this organization has operated for years without having anything at all to show for their work. And, y’know, THAT MIGHT POSE SOME ISSUES.

Of course, having to beg for funding might work with one location somewhere…some kind of government pilot program to see if the organization is worth rolling out on a larger scale, with the full understanding that it could just as easily be a bust and be discontinued. But now we see that the Alien Task Force operates nationally, with huge staffs and cutting edge technology from coast to coast, and I can’t imagine that “begging” can keep a massive drain on federal resources like that alive.

Anyway, they’re finally on to something, and Col. Lippman says he’s going to cockblock ALF if it takes every last taxpayer dollar.

ALF, "Consider Me Gone"

Back at the house, ALF and Brian reminisce about all the fun they’ve had together. I find it deeply amusing that by the final fucking episode these characters can’t reminisce about anything they really did together, because Brian’s never done anything. The writers need to manufacture memories, because doing actual callbacks requires there to be something we can call back to.

Instead we get a fond discussion of a bunch of shit we never got to see as viewers.

So they talk about all the fun they’ve had with KICK ME signs and fake fingers instead of anything that actually happened on the show. I wonder what a series of real callbacks would have sounded like. “Remember that time you stood over there and didn’t have any lines? Or that time you stood in that other place and didn’t have any lines?”

Brian asks if he can come along for season five, and ALF says, “Oh no. Oh, no no no. Jesus Christ no.”

ALF, "Consider Me Gone"

Then we get a reprise of the earlier scene with ALF at the radio, and overall it sucks just as much, but it’s shorter so I like it more. Skip and Rhonda transmit the same four-beep signal, which ALF translates into an entirely different message somehow. Evidently they are coming to get him at the stroke of midnight, and they want him to wear a trenchcoat and fedora because they need a third person for their Maltese Fuckin’ roleplay.

I don’t know why we’re hearing four beeps again, without different lengths or pitches or anything to signify a different message, but I guess the reason we’re hearing beeps at all is that the show didn’t want to pay anyone to voice Skip and Rhonda again.

Even though they’re the catalyst for “Consider Me Gone” happening at all, we never hear or see them, so that’s the only reasonable explanation, as far as I’m concerned, for why they’re communicating in code when they broadcasted in the clear back in “Help Me, Rhonda.” I guess digging their puppets out of storage would have taken too much effort, but the fact that they aren’t even voiced just seems cheap and careless.

Skip and Rhonda pressure ALF for an answer, and then they play the Jeopardy final answer music over the radio. That isn’t especially funny in itself, but I like that the music plays all the way through ALF discussing his feelings aloud. That’s a nice bit of resonance. It took a pretty dumb “Hey, I recognize this!” joke and made it an oddly fitting soundtrack for ALF’s personal dilemma.

It worked, I’ll give it that, and it’s probably the one truly good flourish in the entire episode. It’s certainly the only salvageable moment I was able to identify.

Anyway, ALF decides to leave forever. As you do after trying to make conversation with Brian.

ALF, "Consider Me Gone"

Back at the ATFDCHQ, one of the idiots we’ll never see again says that the signal they were tracing wasn’t from space at all…it was from Earth!

Holy shit! That’s…

…um…

…who cares, then?

They don’t know what the signal meant. They say they still haven’t cracked the code. So it’s literally just a ham radio operator somewhere on the planet. Like, that’s it. That’s what they determined. They get excited because they established that it’s nothing to get excited about.

They act like this is some crucial, urgent thing to investigate and stop, because it’s clearly an alien and they need to catch it. Good thing they read the script, I guess. Otherwise there’s no way they could have known it was an alien communicating with other aliens, and not some janitor calling for a lunch break.

Like, honestly, this is fucking absurd. Why not have the characters say, “We’ve confirmed that it’s broadcasting into deep space!” or something? Granted, that’s logistically horse shit, but at least it makes a kind of sense, and it would explain why they’re so intent on cracking the code.

Instead, literally all they determine is that someone, somewhere, is using a ham radio. They should be jizzing their pants several times a day if that’s enough to get them excited.

Anyway, Admiral Halsey yells at them for a while about how they’d better damned well catch this alien. He says, “I want this show to end, and I want it to end now, because no way am I coming back for another week if fucking Max Wright doesn’t have to.”

ALF, "Consider Me Gone"

At the house the Tanners throw a going away party for ALF. Jake, Jodie, Neal, Kate Sr., Dr. Dykstra and anyone else who befriended him over the past four seasons isn’t invited, because then they’d have to pay some others actors. Eric and Lucky II aren’t invited because they’re buried under the porch.

Lynn says goodbye to ALF with some big emotional speech that…kind of sucks.

Andrea Elson just about sells the tears, but not much else. Her whole point is that thanks to ALF she’s not shy anymore and will always be open to new ideas. Which is odd, because I never thought she was shy to begin with, or closed to new ideas in any way. She does mention she used to have braces, though, and I’ll give her that; she did, in fact, used to have braces.

She gives him her locket, which moves ALF deeply, in spite of the fact the locket never existed before and was only invented for this scene because there’s literally nothing else specific to her character that she could give him. (If only he’d left a week earlier, she could have given him her virginity.)

ALF, "Consider Me Gone"

Then it’s Brian’s turn to act like he’s going to miss anything about this shit.

He can’t even pretend to have character traits the way his sister just did, so he gives ALF some shitty drawing instead, showing that they’ll live on different planets now, or whatever. Very insightful, kid.

He asks ALF if they’ll always be best friends, to which ALF says nothing, which I find hilarious.

ALF, "Consider Me Gone"

Then Willie and Kate give little speeches. Willie’s sucks dick, but Kate’s has a nice moment where she says that ALF’s residency has taught them “incredible survival skills.” I liked that.

They give him a chunk of wood from when he crashed into the garage. It looks more like a piece of driftwood than some busted (perfectly good) lumber, but it’s actually a pretty cute gift, tying back nicely to the pilot. There’s a little plaque on it, which says, “To ALF. If you ever drop in again, please use the front door. Love, the Tanners.”

Which I also like! Two things I liked in quick succession. Who would have thought?

The speeches seem overlong and undercooked…the sorts of things used to pad out an episode that’s already made very clear that the only thing that will matter is the ending. The characters are really just treading water until midnight, and it shows…but the piece of wood from their garage has sentimental meaning to all of them and to the show.

I like that. It’s everything the locket and the drawing weren’t. It’s something that matters, beyond our being told that it matters.

ALF, "Consider Me Gone"

Then it’s ALF’s turn to eat some time. He thanks the Tanners briefly, and spends the rest of his speech bitching about how he couldn’t walk around on Earth, meeting people. So I guess he didn’t watch this show, either; he met people all the fuckin’ time, he just didn’t call them back is all. Jesus Christ, the guy meets more people than I do.

He does say he’ll be able to walk around socializing on his new planet, which sounds like it makes sense until you realize that he’ll be one of only three residents and he’s known the other two for hundreds of years. Who does the fuck does he think he’s going to meet?

ALF, "Consider Me Gone"

Anyway, it’s time to leave, and Kate waits for everyone else to go to the car before she hugs ALF.

And…man, I have to admit, that was pretty adorable. It’s easily the most moving thing in the whole episode. Probably because Kate was so anti-ALF to begin with…and also because Anne Schedeen is a good enough actor to make us believe in this moment against our better judgment. I mean, I still don’t like ALF, and nothing would make me happier than to see him get bit in the throat by a rattlesnake the moment he steps outside, but that was nice.

It’d be a lie to say the show’s earned this moment, but it works well enough in isolation, and there’s something inherently sweet about two rivals setting aside their differences to wish each other well.

Except only one rival actually does that: Kate. ALF doesn’t do jack shit; he’s just some asshole moving away. But, whatever. Don’t take this away from me. I need something.

Kate leaves, ALF stands in the dark for a while, and then he bitches, “Four years and they give me a stick.”

They sure did, ALF, you ungrateful dick. Now go fuck yourself with it.

ALF, "Consider Me Gone"

Then we get an establishing shot of the Capitol Building in D.C., after which we cut to the Alien Task Force. So…is the Alien Task Force operating out of the fucking Capitol? Is it underneath it in some kind of bunker? What the…

…okay. Okay. It’s ending, Philip. Let it go. Let it happen.

If the Alien Task Force wants to operate on Capitol Hill, it can operate on Capitol Hill. Don’t ask questions. Let this show end god dammit…

ALF, "Consider Me Gone"

The idiots we’ll never see again say that they cracked the code: it’s an alien alright! Which they probably should have determined before they spent literally all day monitoring an innocuous ham radio signal on the opposite coast and let it go, Philip, let it go, let it go please, the show is ending, let it end…

Unfortunately Admiral Halsey couldn’t get a berth so he can’t go to sea. He tells his staff to notify LA and have them intercept the alien space craft that’s coming. So, I guess Edwards Air Force Base will be handling this after all? Edwards isn’t in LA, but it’s close enough, and I’d sooner believe that than believe there’s another branch of this pointless, wasteful government agency in the city proper.

The DC guys say that the alien is going to rendezvous with some other aliens at 2400…but that’s wrong.

Skip and Rhonda specified midnight, and midnight is commonly referred to in military time as 0000. I’ve heard people use 2400 before, though, so I’ll let it pass. What I won’t let pass is the fact that Skip and Rhonda meant midnight in LA, which isn’t 2400 or 0000 for the guys in DC. For them it’s 0300 the next fucking day. And since this very episode opened with jokes about timezones you’d think this would factor into what’s happening in some way LET IT GO PHILIP GOD LET IT GO PLEASE

ALF, "Consider Me Gone"

On the way to the rendezvous point, ALF says he needs to pull over and take a shit, and Willie tells him to suck a dick. I love that even as he’s saying goodbye to this guy forever, Willie can’t bring himself to be anything but an asshole.

All he wants is to be free of ALF forever, and he’s as good as there, but he still has to act like a jerk and ruin the farewell. Come to think of it, that might not have been in the script. That could easily have just been Max Wright, who treated his own farewell to ALF the same way.

We cut to the Alien Task Force again — the DC one, even though we established that LA is handling this, let it go Philip — and see Skip and Rhonda approach on the radar. Actually, we just see them represented by a big yellow smear, so as you can guess that’s really thrilling to watch.

Why did they bother establishing the DC branch of the Alien Task Force if season five would have kept ALF with the LA people anyway? Why not introduce them properly in order to ease the transition into season five? Why are we showing one group of agents working to capture him just so we can replace them with a completely different group of agents at the end of the episode?

Then we see some government guys staking out the field where the Tanners pull up, and they talk in exaggerated Texas accents even though we’ve established LA is handling this Philip let it go.

ALF, "Consider Me Gone"

If that’s the midget, he’s in the most horrifying ALF suit yet. Holy Christmas dammit.

I don’t know. The camera is too far away and it’s much too dark to say for sure, but this might not be an ALF suit at all. It could be that larger, standing puppet from “Tonight, Tonight,” which would mean Paul Fusco is operating ALF from a big hole in the ground. How much restraint did the crew demonstrate by not burying him alive the moment he lowered himself in?

ALF tries to steal the VCR or something. Willie bitches for a while about how ALF only “had two suitcases” when he arrived, which is bullshit on several levels; we’ve seen loads of Orbit Guard boxes and his spaceship was so full of junk we were still learning about all the shit he salvaged instead of his family even late this season but let it go let it go philip this is not important let it go

Anyway, this is it. The big finale that was intended to be a cliffhanger. Again, a “To be continued…” notice was displayed when “Consider Me Gone” first aired, which suggests that the show wasn’t officially cancelled until after that.

I’d imagine that the cancellation came through pretty soon afterward, though, as season five would have required all new sets and actors in addition to the scripts, and I’ve never heard anything about any of those things being developed.

Being as that stuff would have needed to start pretty far in advance to have a brand new season shot and edited by the fall premieres in September, it’s safe to say that ALF was axed very soon after this episode traumatized every young fan it had.

ALF, "Consider Me Gone"

We watch the Tanners hug ALF in complete silence for like two fucking minutes.

I don’t even mean “they don’t talk.” Well, I do mean that. But I also mean there’s no music or anything. No sad soundtrack. No wistful reprise of the main theme tune. Just…nothing. Like the episode wasn’t finished being edited.

We just sit and watch unbroken footage of sequential hugging. Why? Was the episode that fucking short?

Then the family all runs away and we see a spotlight on ALF. It’s Skip and Rhonda! Yay! ALF is going home!

Except that some vans approach, and Skip and Rhonda implicitly say, “Fuuuuuuuuuck this.” They fly away without him as the government closes in. In another nice callback to the pilot, members of the Alien Task Force are biologically incapable of looking up, so nobody notices this.

I love that the entire episode is about ALF reconnecting with these two assholes who just fly close enough to give him the finger and then tear off into the night.

ALF, "Consider Me Gone"

Then we get the funniest damned moment in the entire episode: Brian panics when he sees the Alien Task Force surrounding ALF. He says, “Dad, do something!” And Willie shakes his head no.

It’s a fucking riot. I’m sure it’s not an intentional joke, but the fact that Willie’s response to someone yelling for help on ALF’s behalf is just, “Nah, I’m good…” is a perfect end to the series as far as I’m concerned.

ALF, "Consider Me Gone"

Anyway, they got ALF. And that was the last scene so I’m done.

That’s all I was contracted to do. You want more, do it yourself.

*storms off*

*gets in car*

*pulls into traffic without looking*

ALF, "Consider Me Gone"

ALF, "Somewhere Oacver the Rerun"

Just a quick update to say that ALF Wiedersehen: The ALF Reviews Finale Stream has a Facebook event page, if you’re into registering for things that way.

It’s by no means mandatory that you register. All you need to do is show up here, at this very site, on May 20 at 7:00 P.M. Eastern. By registering on the Facebook page, though, you’ll get a little notification before the event starts so you don’t forget. You can also leave trolly comments there to make me realize how much of my life I’ve wasted on this.

One other nice bonus: the Facebook event page will do all that pesky timezone calculation for you, so you don’t have to dig out the astrolabe.

Anyway, that’s it for now. This week we publish the review of the final episode of ALF, and then we start wrapping up for good. The live stream is our big farewell bash, so don’t miss it.

You can view more details about the event here. I’ll see you there! At least, I’d better.

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