Reading too deeply into these things since 1981
Header

ALF Reviews: “I’ve Got a New Attitude” (Season 1, Episode 15)

January 23rd, 2014 | Posted by Philip J Reed in alf

ALF, "I've Got a New Attitude"

Well, lucky us. Kate Sr. is still around…making this her third episode. She’s actually the only side character apart from Mr. Ochmonek to reach the three episode mark, and she did them all in a row. Huh. So this must be that Kate Sr. Trilogy I’ve heard so much of nothing about.

The other side characters just get introduced, wave to the camera, and then ride off into the sunset. Technically I should be happy that Kate Sr. is still around for that reason alone; this is a kind of progress. But she still isn’t much of a character, and since the previous two episodes were practically identical in terms of their themes and conflict, I’m not especially glad to see them tapping the same well a third time.

Anyway, Willie and Kate carry boxes around while ALF lays naked on the couch watching them. If you had to distill the entire narrative essence of ALF down to three seconds of footage that would loop forever, this would have to be it.

Kate Sr. is moving out, and Willie wonders aloud if her new apartment can fit all of these boxes because it’s so small. I was going to complain about the clunkiness of Willie’s exposition, but the real problem is that Kate Sr. arrived with a briefcase, yet is somehow leaving with more than a whole apartment can potentially fit.

Also, later on we see the apartment and it’s fucking massive. It’s like a penthouse. This isn’t the only time that the episode will tell something that we can contradict as simply as by opening our eyes, and that’s puzzling to me. I can understand using a word like “small” in the script, and then seeing the set was built differently…but wouldn’t you drop the word “small” in that case? Why not make a tiny alteration to the script in service of not coming across like you aren’t paying attention to your own show?

And the more I think about it, the shittier Kate Sr. seems to me for turning up like that and just moving in. I know Estelle kicked her out (that Estelle!) but how long did she expect to keep up the lie? Did Kate Sr. intend to say every week that Estelle broke another bone? She might have been in a tight spot, but a lie like the one she told should only buy her a few days…what the hell was her long-term plan?

ALF asks Willie to lick a stamp for him, and Willie angrily replies, “Can’t you lick that yourself?” I’m only pointing this out because I’m genuinely shocked this line hasn’t made it into a Mr. Meatloaf video. What are you waiting for, internet?

It turns out that ALF ate the chocolates Willie was going to give to Kate for Valentine’s Day. So, here. This is the ALF Valentine’s Day special, I guess.

ALF, "I've Got a New Attitude"

Kate Sr. enters the room and announces that the painters aren’t finished in her new apartment, so she will have to stay with the Tanners longer than expected. Oh, excellent. All three episodes of the Kate Sr. trilogy have the same premise. Exactly what I was hoping for.

ALF is tired of having Kate Sr. around, and, buddy, I am on your side. Not that the show was better without her, per se, but it was at least bad in different ways. With three episodes in a row based around the same “Kate Sr. is staying longer than expected” setup, it’s getting claustrophobic. Sure, ALF wrecking the car or Willie skydiving or the family getting stuck in an RV didn’t lead to episodes any better than these…but at least they were bad in unique and interesting directions.

I wouldn’t harp so much on the fact that three episodes in a row have the same premise, except for the additional fact that this isn’t the first time this has happened: earlier this season we had three episodes in a row about ALF falling in love. That’s two long stretches of identical plotlines, and this is only episode fifteen! It’s not bad enough that they pad out every installment of the show…they also have to pad out the season as well?

Anyway, ALF is mailing a canned ham to Sally Field. Willie comes over and tells ALF that he is not to send any meat to celebrities, and if you listen closely you can actually hear Max Wright mentally composing his suicide note.

ALF, "I've Got a New Attitude"

Some guy comes in — Kate Sr.’s new neighbor, as we learn — and I could have sworn to God the family called him Wizard Beaver. Even by ALF standards though that’s absurd, so I looked him up and sure enough his name is actually Whizzer Deaver. Which…isn’t any better? Ah well; I tried.

Anyway he comes in so everyone has to pretend ALF is a chicken because WHO CARES THIS WAS A VERY POPULAR SHOW DO YOU HEAR ME

Whizzer Deaver looks kind of like the guy who played Doug on Flight of the Conchords and Gale in Breaking Bad, but I’m sure I recognize the actual actor from something I can’t put my finger on. His name is Paul Dooley and if you look him up you’ll see he’s been in about ten million things. This is unquestionably the worst.

Whizzer “Wizard Beaver” Deaver is helping Kate Sr. move her boxes into her new apartment, which will certainly make the painters very happy. He’s only in the living room for about a minute but he manages to say an incredible amount of things in that short time that make it overtly clear that he wants to plow Kate Sr. It’s actually really creepy how direct and persistent he is, but everyone acts like it’s charming and sweet.

I think the writers were going for something like William Powell playfully toying with Myrna Loy in The Thin Man, but because this is ALF and cleverness and subtlety have no place here, Whizzer Deaver seems like he’s barely able to keep himself from hopping on the couch, wetting his pants, and screaming, “I WANT TO PENETRATE YOUR DEAD WOMB.”

Whizzer and Willie go out and come back later on, laughing it up. I can’t imagine a pair of human beings with whom I’d less like to spend a night on the town. The Whiz brings Kate Sr. some flowers, but then he offers them to Kate Jr., and then he takes them back and offers them to Kate Sr. again, and I’m pretty sure we’re supposed to see him as some hilarious, smooth, middle-aged casanova. Really he’s just coming across like a horny idiot.

ALF, "I've Got a New Attitude"

There’s a really strange moment when Whizzer asks if there’s anything that still needs to be moved. Kate Sr. says that all that’s left is her suitcase, and some things “over there,” indicating stage left. Yet as she does this there’s a pile of boxes visible right behind her…the same boxes Willie and Kate were moving earlier that belonged to Kate Sr. This is why the syndication edits don’t bother me. Yes, I’m sure sometimes a line is cut that makes a little more sense of things. But here we have a woman standing in shot with some boxes that we’re supposed to pretend aren’t there. If the show couldn’t couldn’t be arsed to move some boxes out of the way so that their scene made sense, I don’t have faith that another two minutes of alien hijinx would make things much better.

One of the things Kate Sr. pointed at is a clarinet in a case, which Whizzer picks up and Kate Sr. tells him to back off and takes it away from him. She then wipes his finger prints off of it, and says it belonged to her dead husband. Well, hey, that’s fine, but if she didn’t want him touching it why did she specifically point to it when he asked what needed to be moved?

Willie miraculously remembers that Whizzer Deaver is the name of a man he used to see at a club playing the clarinet. Must have been a hopping club, there, Willie. Whizzer says yes, that was him, and offers to bring his own clarinet over so the family can have a “jam session.” In my experience jam sessions don’t involve a room full of strangers staring blankly at one man huffing through a woodwind, but I’m no Whizzer Deaver.

Kate Sr. slaps down the whole idea though, making it perfectly clear that she would never, under any circumstances, go to bed with a man Willie looks up to. Her philosophy on romance is very similar to my own.

ALF, "I've Got a New Attitude"

Later on everyone’s in the kitchen. ALF is eating jellybeans or something and Willie is fixing the toaster ALF ruined by cramming a pickle in it. THIS WAS A VERY POPULAR SHOW DO YOU HEAR ME

Everbody tries to pressure Kate Sr. into having sex with the guy who helped her move, and as someone who helps old ladies move all the time, I can tell you that this is a perfectly common arrangement. She refuses, and ALF interjects that she is “saving herself for a corpse.”

He’s referring to her dead husband, who she still misses like a big fucking idiot!!! Anyway, we find out that her husband’s name was Sparky…and though I didn’t mention it and can’t remember which episode it was now, there was a joke in a previous story where Willie brought a hamster named Sparky home to ALF, and returned it immediately because ALF wanted to eat it. Needless to say, it was hilarious. But now I have to wonder why Willie named a hamster after his wife’s dead dad.

ALF reveals that he has the ability to speak with the dead, and he’s been in contact with Sparky. (The dead man, that is…not the forgotten hamster.) Hey, why not. It’s not even in the top 200 most ridiculous things I’ve heard in this show, so fine. ALF is a medium. Who cares anymore.

He proves his otherworldly communication abilities by telling everyone Sparky’s favorite food. After this air-tight evidence that ALF can communicate with the world of the dead, everyone asks ALF to channel Sparky later that night so that they can talk to him, too. I’ll give the Kate Sr. Trilogy this much credit: when her character first showed up at the house, I had no idea they were building toward a climax in which a puppet summons the ghost of her dead husband.

The next thing we see is this:

ALF, "I've Got a New Attitude"

Of course. What else could it have been?

Willie asks ALF if that’s their goldfish bowl on the table, and ALF says it is, but the goldfish is fine as long as nobody flushes the toilet. I’m sure glad the writers invented a Tanner family goldfish for that joke.

Someone asks where Brian is, and there’s another zinger as we hear the toilet flush, because he took a shit onto the goldfish and killed it.

Brilliant stuff, ALF. Just pure class.

This whole scene is a perfect encapsulation of everything wrong with this show. What’s the logic here? Why are they letting ALF hold a seance in their living room? Why do they believe he’d have the ability to speak with the dead? He’s never been magical before…but all of a sudden they are willing to go along with this schtick as if it’s in any way reasonable?

I guess I’d be willing to believe that they’d tentatively let him get away with saying that everyone from Melmac can communicate with spirits, but they don’t get suspicious when the ceremony looks exactly like it does in some late-night 1950s B-movie? Isn’t that a pretty clear giveaway that this fuckdicker is just doing what he does all the time? Screwing with everyone and wrecking up their lives because they keep giving him the express opportunity to do so?

Why is nobody in this show a human being?

ALF, "I've Got a New Attitude"

ALF tells everyone to join hands and close their eyes, and then he moans and groans for a while as he slips into a trance. I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed almost nothing about revisiting this show, but this scene is ranking right up there with his music video for making me wonder why I’m doing this. I’m once again overcome with embarrassment for even having this on my computer screen. I feel like I deserve to have the principal of my old school, my boss, and every one of my ex-girlfriends walk in on me right now and see this. See that this is what’s become of me.

ANYWAY THE SEANCE IS GREAT and we find out that Kate Sr.’s last name is Halligan, which is therefore, at least presumably, Kate’s maiden name as well. I like that this awful show needs to drag us through these absurd, unbelievable situations of spirits and mysticism and occult mumbo-jumbo before it gives enough of a shit to reveal even the most basic things to us about the characters involved. We can have an episode with ALF and Willie trapped together in a car and learn literally nothing about them from anything that they say, but strap Willie to a rocket and fire him at the moon and have ALF travel through time to save him and that’ll be the scene in which we learn that Brian’s middle name is Frank.

ALF, "I've Got a New Attitude"

Anyway, ALF contacts Sparky, and everyone hears his disembodied voice speaking from above. I don’t actually believe that it’s possible to communicate with spirits, or even that there are spirits, but I do know that this is emphatically not how a seance works. If we could just look up at the sky and speak verbally back and forth with dead people, not only would we not need a medium at all, but there’d be no question whatsoever about an afterlife.

Think about that. If you could walk into a room with a bunch of friends, look up at the ceiling and talk to your dead grandfather, would there be any room for questioning life after death? What’s more, it would be easy to document. Set up a camera, ship a copy to James Randi, and collect your million dollar prize. The entirety of human civilization would change, knowing that we go somewhere after we die, and that all we have to do to learn about that place and prepare for it is verbally ask a dead guy.

And yet…nobody in the Tanner family seems to react. What would you do if a ghost started talking to you? …okay, I admit, I don’t know what I’d do either. But I’d sure as hell do something. I wouldn’t sit quietly at a table and wait for him to stop so that I could get on with the rest of my night. This would be a life-defining moment, and very likely the most significant thing I’d ever witness. For the Tanners, though, this is treated like just another night in.

The lack of imagination in this show is absolutely dumbfounding.

ALF, "I've Got a New Attitude"

Anyway, it’s not a real seance (which is odd since it was so very convincing), and it unravels when the voice of Sparky Halligan starts speeding up and slowing down. Willie looks under the table and finds his tape recorder, at which point he angrily shouts, “You’re a fraud!”

See? This is the problem. I know the seance was fake and therefore much of what I said above shouldn’t mean anything…but the Tanners believed it was real. They believed they were talking to a ghost and they still didn’t react. If Willie stood up and said, “I knew it…what a waste of time…” that would be one thing. Instead he reveals that he fell for it, as did everyone else, and yet they still didn’t see this as anything worth getting excited over.

I understand none of what I’m watching.

Everyone yells at ALF…but, really, shame on them for being such idiots. ALF explains that he learned all of his facts about Sparky from digging through Kate Sr.’s things, but that doesn’t explain whose voice was on the tape, nor how he knew what Sparky sounded like. Kate Sr. confirmed that it was her dead husband’s voice…so how in the world did ALF record him saying things like “I’m dead now, go sleep with that guy who played Doug on Flight of the Conchords“?

This makes no sense whatsoever. Yes, ALF can fake a seance. No, ALF cannot fake a seance using a cassette tape that can’t possibly exist and goes completely unexplained. At that point he might as well be able to actually speak to the dead. God this show is awful.

ALF, "I've Got a New Attitude"

We then cut to an exterior shot of Kate Sr.’s apartment building, with a dubbed line announcing that she has a delivery.

Then we immediately cut to this shot, where the box is already inside her apartment and the door is closed:

alfep15k

This is really weird. They hired a guy to say the line about the delivery, so why didn’t they open the scene with her signing for the box or something? Why have the line spoken off-camera, and then immediately cut to the box already being inside the apartment? It’s really weird to me. There was no sound of a door opening or closing…just the unseen delivery man, and then, bam, Kate Sr. with the door closed, not even very close to the box that was just ostensibly handed to her.

But that’s not all…

Guess what’s in the box, assholes!

ALF, "I've Got a New Attitude"

It’s ALF! He felt so bad about lying to manipulate her into sleeping with the neighbor she barely knows that he mailed himself to her apartment so he could continue manipulating her into sleeping with the neighbor she barely knows.

ALF gives a speech to her about moving on, and he uses the destruction of Melmac as his own personal example. While that’s meant to give Kate Sr. the strength to face life without her husband, all it really does is make ALF seem like a pretty massive dick for getting over the annihilation of his entire civilization in a couple of episodes.

ALF, "I've Got a New Attitude"

There’s somebody at the door, and since there’s only one character unaccounted for it has to be Whizzer Deaver.

I know I said that name might not be any better than Wizard Beaver, but I’m starting to think it’s actually worse. If it was really Wizard Beaver then I could just assume the writers were trying to be funny, and failing as ever. It wouldn’t even stand out in the grand scheme of things. But with Whizzer Deaver were they just trying to give him a normal name? This is what they came up with? Is it that hard to call this guy Jim or something and move on? God knows we’ll never see him again.

The Deav brings her a Valentine’s Day gift, which reminds me, oh shit, this is a Valentine’s Day special. Don’t ask me how I forgot, what with all the Valentine’s Day staples we just saw, like summoning the dead, clarinet jam sessions, and shitting on goldfish. I must be thick as a brick.

Whizzer flirts some more and Kate Sr. agrees to go out to dinner with him, which seems like a great idea to me, since it’s so easy to get into restaurants at dinner time with no reservations on Valentine’s Day.

ALF, "I've Got a New Attitude"

ALF for some reason sits quietly in the box while they’re gone, wondering what he’s supposed to do since there’s still a few minutes left in the episode and nobody wrote any more lines for him.

In the scene just before the credits ALF is delivered back to the Tanner house, and the same delivery man shows up to drop the box off. This time we see him, and they even made a JACKRABBIT COURIER jacket for him to wear, which means I’m even more confused about why they didn’t show him before. They had a costume for him but still just had him do some clumsy, shittily-edited overdub? I honestly feel sometimes that ALF goes out of its way to do the stupiding fucking thing possible.

Anyway great episode. 10 out of 10. Fuck you.

MELMAC FACTS: On Melmac there was a sport called Klaneball, which was like hockey but without skating or a puck. There were also four classes of postage: 1st Class, 2nd Class, Fish, and Ham. Oh, and everyone on Melmac could talk to the dead…or at least convince a family of morons that they could talk to the dead by sticking a flashlight in a fishbowl.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 You can leave a response, or trackback.

14 Responses

  • Sarah Portland says:

    “ALF reveals that he has the ability to speak with the dead, and he’s been in contact with Sparky. (The dead man, that is…not the forgotten hamster.) Hey, why not. It’s not even in the top 200 most ridiculous things I’ve heard in this show, so fine. ALF is a medium. Who cares anymore.”

    *crosses fingers* ALF in a gypsy costume, ALF in a gypsy costume… *scrolls down to next screencap* Hooray! I am not disappointed.

  • Jeff says:

    “If the show couldn’t couldn’t be arsed to move some boxes out of the way…” Is “arsed” a word I don’t know, or did you mean parsed…?
    .
    It amuses me when you hope against hope that the show might actually be improving. First of all, it’s comical when your dreams are crushed! Secondly, I see it as akin to those who try to make Christianity more tolerant, more LGBT friendly, more inclusive of women, etc. I don’t want to see it reformed. I want to see it die off. (Just as I wouldn’t want to “reform” my cancer; I would want to eliminate it.) The irony is, we already know ALF endured for several seasons. We can’t hope for it to be cancelled. We just can’t!

  • Tane says:

    You know, is sad that the writers of the show couldn’t really make up a name other than “Sparky”, so they had to use it again, probably absolutely forgetting the name of another character, I mean, if at least there was some reference to it in the dialog, you could assume that as the writers being very sick people and thinking that naming every dead character “Sparky” is funny, but without that, you might as well think that they used the worst random name generator to come up with things like “Sparky” or “Whizzer Deaver”.
    Also, and excuse me if i’m mistaken, what does the name of the episode has to do with anything that happened in the episode itself?, again, I can be wrong, but I think you said that the naming theme of the episodes were popular songs, the thing i’m asking about is why do we have things like “Keepin’ The Faith” and “Baby, you can ride my car”, which obviously had to do with the episode’s “plot”, even if it was just to make a stupid pun (that might as well be considered the episode’s “plot”), and then we have things like “Pennsylvania 6-5000” or this one, that don’t really fit with anything that happened into the episode, again, I’m sorry if I’m wrong, I would appreciate if someone explained it to me…. If it really has an explanation and is not just another case of the work of the best writers in the history of universe

    • Philip J Reed says:

      The title had me puzzled, too. I think “I’ve Got a New Attitude” references Kate Sr. changing her stance on dating. I don’t know. It’s pretty stupid, and a hell of a reach unless I’m also missing something.

      “Pennsylvania 6-5000” is a reference to the Glenn Miller song, which itself is (or was) a telephone number, which I’m explaining not because it’s a brilliant reference but because that’s the best I can do.

      I guess it could be a very loose double reference, since the episode is about ALF dicking around on the phone (though they might as well have called the episode 867-5309 for all that matters) and the fact that the White House is on Pennsylvania Ave. The phone number in the title wouldn’t reach Pennsylvania Ave, though…it would reach Pennsylvania state. And ALF doesn’t call the White House anyway…he calls Air Force One. …and he doesn’t use a telephone, he uses a radio frequency.

      The more I think about that, the more ridiculous the title gets. And considering the fact that it was already ridiculous, that’s impressive.

      • Tane says:

        Oh, alright, thanks for explaining it, still, I think the writers just chose a random song from a list, and then made the entire episode’s plot based around it, which could explain why there’s nothing “alien” in most of the episodes.

        • Philip J Reed says:

          I think you are exactly 9000% right. Most of the titles are so loose as to be absolutely meaningless. It’s kind of interesting that somebody on staff was a big enough music buff to make sure that they all (or that most of them) were song allusions, but there comes a certain point where you’re just being cutesy for the sake of it.

  • Mese says:

    I will right away snatch your rss as I can not in finding your e-mail subscription hyperlink or e-newsletter service. Do you have any? Please let me understand so that I may just subscribe. Thanks.

  • Mark Moore says:

    Wait. ALF mailed himself? Twice? How?!

    Also, regarding the recording, years ago, I downloaded a trial version of a voice-changing software. You could enter a recording of yourself as well as a sample of a “target” voice, and the software would convert what you were saying into that voice. It was glitchy as hell and crashed often, but I got it to work a few times. I recorded a long-winded speech where I praised myself, entered a sample of my friend’s voice from an old audio tape, and ended up with a recording of my friend praising me. It was pretty convincing. Melmac could have had an advanced version of this software, and ALF could have happened to have it on his ship’s computer.

    Why he’d then transfer it to an audio tape is beyond me, though.

  • kim says:

    yeah, this episode certainly goes into the realm of the absurd and bizarre. at the point where ALF dresses up like gypsy and does a seance i asked myself he same question “what the hell am I watching?” but despite as silly as that scene is, i still find it funny to this day, but why did he to go though all the trouble to create a fake seance just to help dorothy get over her dead husband? why doesn’t he just flat say what he wants too? like he did in the last part of the episode.
    btw, the voice on the tape recorder is some what explained, dorothy said her husband sounded just like teddy ruxpin, so we assume ALF used that for sparky’s voice but how ALF got a talking toy to say the right words and record them to tape is beyond me.

  • Julio-J says:

    Well, I’m commenting for third time… THE SAME DAY! I’m doing a marathon of your reviews, as you would have noticed by now. The guy who delivers Alf-in-a-box actually appears, and it’s some kind of weird Bee Gee who tells Dorothy that he and his wife are searching for a place to live similar to hers, and then asks if he can measure the place! Dorothy kicks him out and that’s all. You missed nothing, but try to remember you are not watching the full version everytime something like this happen.



Leave a Reply to Jeff Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *