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ALF Reviews: The ALFies! (Season 1)

April 24th, 2014 | Posted by Philip J Reed in alf

The ALFies

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the first installment of The ALFies! It’s like an awards show, but in text. And about ALF. And I’m presenting this shit in my boxers.

Anyway, I figured I’d do this after each season to sort of exorcise myself of whatever pent up frustrations remain. Of course, since you guys bought me the fucking German ALF boxed set (16 DVDs, y’all…) I’m going to have to go back and re-watch season one at some point so that I can review the scenes cut from syndication.

…I’m never going to escape this, am I?

So sit back and enjoy The ALFies, brought to you by Pizza Barge, Jackrabbit Courier, and that hideous god-damned ALF figurine I found on Google images that’s going to serve as my award statuette and probably try to touch you in the middle of the night.

Without further ado…

The ALFie for…

BEST ACTOR

ALF, "Strangers in the Night"
THE MIDGET


ALF is by turns awful, embarrassing, and boring…but one actor manages to make me feel warm and attentive every time he turns up. I don’t know his name, and I probably never will, but that’s okay. To me, he’s the midget.

It’s this poor guy’s thankless job to shuffle around the deadly trenches carved into the floor of every set in a poorly ventilated ALF costume, under the hot studio lights, in a mask that keeps shifting so he can’t see through the eye-holes. If that guy’s not a trooper, I don’t know who is.

The best part about a midget appearance is that it means the show thought it was important to let us see ALF’s entire body for some reason. Of course, there are plenty of reasons you’d want to show a character’s entire body at some point…but ALF never has him do anything but waddle around silently.

His face might be covered, but I’d like to think his misery shines through. And, for that, I believe he might be my soul mate. Either way, he’s the best actor in the cast of ALF. By a fucking landslide.

The ALFie for…

WORST ACTOR

ALF, "A.L.F."
THIS DUMBASS GUY


Alright, alright, to be honest, I think the secretary or whatever she was in “Try to Remember” was a lot worse, but I don’t think I wrote anything about her in that review and I’m pretty sure that gives us all the right to pretend she never existed. In the pilot, though, whoever played the Alien Task Force Honor System Patrolman was pretty awful.

I get the feeling he was trying to channel a kind of cold, dangerous character that would vivisect ALF right there in the living room, but on camera it just comes off as though he wandered in from some totally unrelated — and equally awful — show that was filming a few soundstages away.

And while it’s not his fault, it’s difficult to separate his portrayal from the idiocy of standing around politely outside while the Tanners scream and whoop and holler about where to hide their alien, then not making any attempt to search the premises, and then taking their word for it that they aren’t harboring an alien and literally never bothering them again.

It gets even more ridiculous when we find out that at this point in the episode, the fucking UFO is still on the roof. I really hate the Alien Task Force, you guys.

The ALFie for…

WORST FAKE TV SHOW

ALF, "Weird Science"
CONSUMER ED’S SCAM REPORT AND GRADE SCHOOL SCIENCE FAIR JUBILEE


Most of the shows in the ALF universe are real. Sesame Street, The Bob Newhart Show, Wheel of Fortune…which is what makes it so strange that whenever a TV show needs to function as part of the plot, the ALF writers betray their ignorance of how their own medium works.

Obviously they’ve seen other shows, since they keep referencing them and all, but when it comes time to create one, they end up with One World to Hope For, which is a soap opera with not only the most nonsensical title but the most impossible production schedule, as they wait for a writer they’ve never met with no credits to his name to send in unsolicited scripts that they then rehearse, film, edit and air within the course of a single morning.

But even that’s not as egregious as whatever the fuck thing Consumer Ed hosts. It’s a segment on the local news, and when it’s first mentioned in the episode we’re told that he helps swindled consumers expose the folks who scammed them. But, hey, this is ALF, and rather than rewrite that part of the episode since it doesn’t relate in any way to the plot, they just have Consumer Ed show up in Willie’s living room and film a segment about the grade school science fair Brian is in.

One World to Hope For isn’t a patch on this, because in that case it just seemed like an atrocious mishandling of a soap opera. Here Consumer Ed’s show is set up to be one thing…and then shifts gears entirely and for some reason becomes something totally incompatible with what it’s supposed to be doing.

It’s nonsense. And it makes me pee.

The ALFie for…

BEST LINE THAT MAKES ME LAUGH EVERY TIME

ALF, "Oh, Tannerbaum"
IT’S THE DAY BEFORE CHRISTMAS. I’VE HIDDEN ALL THE EGGS.

This has nothing to do with the show at all. In context, it’s not really that funny. It’s also not overtly terrible, so I guess by default it does actually rank as one of my favorite lines.

But now I can’t even think of this stupid joke without laughing, due to the technical problems we had during the Xmas live stream. I tried to show the ALF Xmas special, along with some other specials (such as Major Dad and the hilarious tale of dog death that was Lassie‘s yuletide contribution), but some bizarre audio feedback happened on Twitch’s end, and everything said in the show looped endlessly, even as the video moved forward.

As you can imagine, this turned into aural chaos after only about 10 seconds, and only got worse from there. Since I had no clue what was going on, I had to restart the episode what had to be a dozen times in the hopes that it would eventually fix itself. The chat room expressed its appreciation for getting to hear ALF’s egg joke over and over again while I scrambled to get my own fucking Christmas special to work.

It was hilarious. My stomach hurt from laughing. And then someone ratted us out and Twitch banned my channel so that I couldn’t show any more Xmas specials.

But we’ll always have those eggs.

The ALFie for…

MOST EFFICIENT CHARACTER IN THE WHOLE OF THE UNIVERSE

ALF, "A Little Bit of Soap"
THAT ESTELLE!

ALF had an irritating habit of introducing characters that we’d never see again, and who also didn’t have much of anything to do in the episode they did get to appear in. The bookie from “The Gambler,” the secretary from “Try to Remember,” Willie’s coworkers from “Strangers in the Night” and “Border Song” (two different batches of coworkers, of course), and so on.

That’s why it was such a relief when the show finally introduced a character in “Mother and Child Reunion” that actually Got Shit Done.

No, not Kate Sr. (But can I take a moment to express my genuine joy over the fact that you guys have taken to calling her Kate Sr. as well?) I’m referring to Estelle, the never-seen presence that set three sequential plotlines into motion. That’s approximately seven more plotlines than anyone else in ALF ever set into motion.

Additionally, she did this by kicking Kate Sr. out of her house, because she was tired of the daily bullshit. That also earns Estelle an honorary ALFie for most relateable character.

The ALFie for…

BEST CHARACTER, PERIOD

ALF, "Looking For Lucky"
LITTLE GIRL WHO WANTS TO KILL ALF

“Looking For Lucky” may have been only the third episode, and a heaping pile of shit, but by the end of the season there was no character I liked more than the little girl who wanted to kill ALF.

She showed up with Deuce Bigalow, demanded ALF’s immediate execution, and then disappeared forever.

Which is probably for the best. I mean, how do you top that?

The ALFie for…

BEST SCENE CUT FROM SYNDICATION (PRESUMABLY)

ALF, "Don't It Make Your Brown Eyes Blue?"
WILLIE’S MUSIC VIDEO

So, okay. As of right now I don’t have the uncut German DVDs (though I will hopefully be getting them a few days after you read this…thank you, fans!), so I can’t confirm that this is any good at all. But on my review of “Don’t It Make Your Brown Eyes Blue?” commenter stevieray said:

the uncut version of this episode ends with Willie in the garage trying to make his own music video for Kate, while singing “Saturday night’s alright for fighting.”

…and, yeah, that sounds way funnier than anything that made it into the version I saw.

Willie singing an Elton John song for his music video makes perfect sense from what I know of his character (erm…”character”), and the fact that he picks something that’s not even slightly romantic is just another layer of comedy. It would also be a nice way to apologize for all of the “lol my wife is an unfuckable hag” material we got in the episode.

We’ll see. Maybe this sucks as much as anything else, but I at least like the idea…and that’s more than I like about most things this show has done.

(For what it’s worth, commenter Jerod found a version of the scene in Spanish. It’s worth A LOT.)

The ALFie for…

BEST CHARACTER WHO TOOK AN IMPORTANT SHIT OFF-CAMERA

ALF, "Pennsylvania 6-5000"
THE 40TH PRESIDENT OF THESE UNITED STATES


There was a surprising amount of competition for this very specific award. Brian shat on (and killed) a goldfish. Kate Sr. took a great big dump while wearing her kitchen apron. And Mrs. Ochmonek crapped merrily away while ALF flew a motherfucking plane.

But no shit could ever be as important as the shit taken by the leader of the free world, which is why President Ronald Reagan sweeps this one.

In “Pennsylvania 6-5000,” ALF calls the Oval Office, which, as every American schoolboy knows, can detach itself from the White House and take to the sky in the form of Air Force One. It is here that Ronnie takes a shit that lasts for several days, but doesn’t interfere with his ability to converse with a puppet about the nuclear demolition of a fictional planet.

Ever the trooper, President Bonzo extends diplomacy to a space alien while curling one out. That’s true multitasking, and we’d expect no less of a true patriot. Taking a true dump.

God bless America.

The ALFie for…

BEST PICTURE OF WILLIE THAT MAKES IT LOOK LIKE THE CRACK HOBO SUCKING HIM OFF JUST BIT DOWN

ALF, "Lookin' Through the Windows"
THIS ONE

This is not only a picture of Willie that makes it look like the crack hobo sucking him off just bit down; this is the best picture of Willie that makes it look like the crack hobo sucking him off just bit down.

The ALFie for…

WORST FLASHBACK OR FANTASY SEQUENCE

ALF, "Jump"
WILLIE GRADUATES WITH THE GUYS WHO FUCKED HIS WIFE, OR SOMETHING

You know how they say that dreams are only interesting to the person who is having them? Well, Willie’s dreams aren’t even that interesting to him. In the Christmas episode, for instance, he has a nightmare that his family is wearing different clothes from when he saw them last. DREAM BIG, WILLIE

But it’s “Jump” that contains the worst of these stupid-ass time-killing nonsense sequences of bullshit. Here, Willie dreams that he’s getting a diploma in a high school gymnasium that’s flying, I guess. And Joe Namath is there, to brag about how much time he spent in a younger version of Kate’s snatch.

Then some other guys who fucked his wife stand around while ALF does a soft-shoe and holy shitfire is this show garbage.

The best part? There was no point to any of it.

It seems like Willie’s dream is all setup for him making his big decision to skydive — since that’s the climax of the entire sequence and all — but he already decided that before he went to bed. There was no narrative purpose to this whatsoever, so I guess that just means the ALF writing staff thought the scene would coast on the inherent sex appeal of Max Wright in a mortar board.

The ALFie for…

CREEPIEST SEXUAL MOMENT

ALF, "Keepin' the Faith"
THE TERRY FAITH FACIAL

In a show that featured ALF humping Willie’s leg, plying Brian with alcohol when nobody else is home, and hiding under the bed so that he can listen to Kate and Willie fuck, it would take one hell of a scene to stand out in the creepiness department.

And that’s why they made “Keepin’ the Faith.” (At least, I assume that’s why. There’s sure as hell no other reason I can think of.)

Lynn pulls her hair back. ALF tells her to get on her knees. He moans sickeningly as he gives her a facial, and she begs him not to get it in her eyes.

It’s fucking disgusting. I can’t say conclusively that any of this was intentional, but I can say conclusively that it was nauseating to watch. And yet it still wasn’t the worst sequence in the show so far. No no. That comes later…

The ALFie for…

WORST MOMENT

ALF, "Don't It Make Your Brown Eyes Blue?"
“YOU’RE THE ONE THAT’S OUT OF THIS WORLD (SWEET BAYBEH!!)”

…or right now.

Yep. The creepiest sexual moment concerns ALF and Lynn, and the worst moment overall concerns ALF and Lynn. What a shocker.

This time around, it’s ALF writing a song about — and self-producing a video for his song about — sticking his Melmacian cock in this teenage girl and grinding his seed into her ’til the sun comes up.

It’s also godawful. Like, unlistenably bad. Adding some actual jokes to the song or the video might not have helped much — since, all together now, this is ALF — but it would at least let us know that the writers weren’t taking this crap seriously. Instead the lack of jokes lets us know that they were taking it seriously, and that’s just depressing.

They also aren’t content to let us suffer through “You’re the One That’s Out of This World (SWEEHT BAAYBAAAY)” just once. Nope. We also have to watch the damned thing again during the end credits.

And then, in the clip show, Brian picks up the tape and puts it back into the VCR, which represents the only time I’ve genuinely wished I could reach into my television screen and break a small child’s fingers.

This is a bad show at its absolute distilled worst. And it’s just season one. We have 74 episodes of depths to plumb, and I have a bad feeling that one day I’ll wish that the show was only this bad.

The ALFie for…

BEST WARDROBE

ALF, "Lookin' Through the Windows"
MR. OCHMONEK

Mr. Ochmonek sweeps this one easily. While he might technically possess a bad wardrobe, it’s at least consistent. I could walk through a department store and pick out the shirts Mr. Ochmonek would like…and I’m not sure I could do that with any other character on the show.

For whatever reason, the wardrobe department bothered to give Mr. O a sense of personal fashion, and it helps him feel more like a real human being because of it.

Look in your own closet. While you’ll definitely find a few outliers (some professional clothes to wear to job interviews, something nice that you wore to a wedding, etc.), the odds are pretty good that you’ll see a lot of things that have something in common, be it a color, a style, or anything, really.

That’s because you’re a person, and people have preferences. They gravitate toward the things they like, and accumulate them when they have the option of doing so.

Mr. Ochmonek accumulates certain types of outfits, and that makes him stand out. Everyone else just seems to wear “clothes.” And that’s just…inhuman.

The ALFie for…

MOST OVERTLY ABANDONED PLOTLINE

ALF, "It Isn't Easy...Bein' Green"
DR. POTATO FAMINE

Here’s another one I’ll have to wait for the DVDs to find out, I guess, because for all I know Dr. Potato Famine did indeed come to the shattered end that the episode so artfully set up with all the subtlety of a fork to the eye.

But since I can only work with what I’ve seen, I found it really odd that this toy was repeatedly presented to us as being rare, expensive, and fragile…and was then placed precariously on the edge of a table…

…and then there was a song and we never heard anything about it again.

Even if the uncut episode features a scene of the good doctor smashing to the floor — or tumbling into the puppet trench — I’m going to be disappointed, because what I really want to know is Dr. Potato Famine’s backstory.

Is he from a cartoon that exists in the ALF universe? If so, how did that show escape intellectual property litigation from Transformers? And what, exactly, is Potato Famine a doctor of?

Fuck Melmac Facts. I want to learn more about this dollar store robot that some stage-hand dipped in brown paint.

The ALFie for…

MOST USELESS MAIN CHARACTER

ALF, "Pennsylvania 6-5000"
BRIAN

Don’t get me wrong, Lynn was a pretty close second, but I’m pretty impressed by just how worthless Brian Tanner manages to be.

After all, he’s a little boy who lives with an alien. Isn’t that…kind of awesome? Or, shouldn’t it be? E.T. is the prototypical example of how this relationship should go; their bond should be deep, immediate, and beyond words. American Dad! toys with this as well, locking Steve and Roger into a solid — if not necessarily healthy — permanent brotherhood.

Children are excited and fascinated by the unknown and the unknowable. Everything from the mysteries of space to prehistoric fossils to simple sleight of hand is evidence of a universe beyond explanation. It’s where imagination lives. And so when an alien, or a robot, or a dinosaur, or a wizard, or an elf, or anything else turns up at a little boy’s doorstep, that’s more than life-changing. It’s world defining.

Except, for some reason, in the case of ALF, where the creature just moves in and nobody cares.

Sure, Brian mopes when ALF takes steps to leave the Tanner house with some other Melmacian refugees, but beyond that it doesn’t seem like the kid really cares that he cohabitates with a living, breathing space alien. The exact kind of thing that fuels the wildest dreams of his classmates lives in his laundry room, and his life goes on as normal.

ALF has no idea what to do with what could have been the central relationship of the show, and so it stuffs Brian out of sight and hopes nobody realizes that he’s missing. Even Lynn got better treatment than that. And we all saw the kind of treatment Lynn got…

The ALFie for…

BEST EPISODE

ALF, "Going Out of My Head Over You"
“GOING OUT OF MY HEAD OVER YOU”

Some of you might have seen this coming. Actually, at the very least a third of you would have seen this coming, since there were only three episodes this season that weren’t shit.

The other two were “For Your Eyes Only” and “La Cuckaracha,” and while all three represent versions of ALF that would have been watchable, “Going Out of My Head Over You” represents the version that I’d most like to watch.

The episode manages to combine — very naturally, might I add — the Odd Couple dynamic that so puzzlingly went unexplored in most episodes with the inherently unique sci-fi twist that ALF was capable of adding to the formula. As a one off, it’s great. As a mission statement for a much better show, it’s bursting with potential.

It’s safe to say that almost any alternate version of ALF would be better than the one we got, but “Going Out of My Head Over You” suggests one that could have achieved some legitimately great stuff as the show went on, exploring more deeply the strangeness of its own premise, while finding comedy in the fact that this family has to figure out some way to make it work.

There’s strong comedy here, simply because the stakes are so much higher. These characters are driving each other crazy, and that’s a hundred times funnier than ALF writing soap operas could ever be.

The ALFie for…

WORST EPISODE

ALF, "Wild Thing"
“WILD THING”

The worst of the worst of the worst. While “Wild Thing” is another premise with seemingly infinite potential, it can’t seem to spark the imagination of its writers at all.

ALF going through some kind of physiological struggle in an environment of people who don’t know what to expect and won’t be able to handle it should make for good comedy…but instead ALF carries a toaster oven around and mows the lawn. As much as the episode talked itself up and assured us that ALF was going to go positively apeshit, all he really does is clown around…like always.

That could have been the joke, of course. Could have been, but wasn’t. If ALF’s “rampage” had been indistinguishable from his every day dealings, that would have been funny. If ALF’s “rampage” had actually been more pleasant than his every day dealings, that would have been even funnier.

But based on the behavior of the characters themselves, we can see that this really is supposed to be ALF in full-on insanity mode. So what does he do? Steal a riding mower and accidentally chop up the Ochmoneks’ garden hose, I guess.

By this point in the season, it would have taken a lot to disappoint me. In fact, I was absolutely positive that “Strangers in the Night” was going to swing this one.

Then we got “Wild Thing.”

So congratulations, you piece of shit. May the ALFie bring you even less joy than you brought me.

The ALFies

And that’s that! The German DVDs should arrive in time for me to start reviewing season two next Thursday. If they don’t, I have a fourth bonus in mind. Hopefully, though, this time next week we’ll venture more deeply into the fray. Join me, won’t you?

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11 Responses

  • Edward says:

    Oh my God, are you telling me Willie singing Saturday was cut from the syndie version of the show??? You surely missed the best part of that episode, period! XD I think I’m going back to the red pajama.

  • Wilkins says:

    “Tumbling into the puppet trench”. What a deliciously poetic turn of phrase. It sounds like it could be the title of someone’s memoirs. Maybe the midget’s (whose name is Michu Meszaros, BTW): “Tumbling Into the Puppet Trench: My Life Inside ALF”.

    And, God, that trophy is truly nightmare-inducing.

  • Sarah Portland says:

    My morning so far has consisted of:
    -Waking up screaming with a bloody ear because my cats decided to have a huge cat fight on my face while I was asleep. Again. My ear now matches the bloody eyebrow I got waking up screaming yesterday morning;
    -Finding out that I have once again failed a badly-written, badly-executed work certification test, and must re-take it. Again;
    -Quickly jumping into the shower because I found out that the complex handyman is coming to check out a mysterious leak, and he’ll probably have to turn off the water;
    -Missing an important call because I was in said shower;
    -Having to deal with the noob insurance adjuster that I was assigned when a little old lady drove her car through my living room 9 weeks ago.

    Then I opened this post, saw the ALFie statuette, and realized that that thing could be staring at me from a shelf, waiting for me to fall asleep at night to steal pieces of my soul like a starved dementor. And then I think, “I guess life is really not as bad as an ALFie.”

  • Jerod says:

    Here’s a promo for ALF season 2:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yjLBNDNO4T0

    (Spoilers: ALF is an asshole)

  • Zach says:

    I really enjoyed these season 1 reviews Phil! Thanks so much for putting the time in! You are awesome! (Also, I want to sheepishly mention… “midget” is basically a slur that little people people find offensive… as weird as it is that “little” is the accepted descriptor, but there it is) …anyway, fantastic job, now onto reading your season 2 reviews!

  • adam says:

    best quote:

    check the hamper he likes rolling in the dirty laundry

    alf: Who doesnt?



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