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ALF Reviews: The German Box

May 4th, 2014 | Posted by Philip J Reed in alf | Meta

Die komplette Serie, DieA few weeks ago, when I finished my reviews of season one, I opened the floor to donations to buy the ALF Complete Set of German Funfun. The reason was that this set, as far as I could tell, was the only one that contained uncut episodes, and I thought it might be a little more fair to the show to review those versions moving forward.

Of course, I didn’t actually expect there to be much interest, but there were four brave little toasters who pitched in:
– Casey Roberson
– Eric Lemoine
– Alessandro Arzilli
– Kevin Loy

A fifth asked if he could send me a donation through the post. Nothing’s come through yet, but if it does I’ll be sure to thank him as well.

Between those four, nearly the entire cost of the box set was covered. I was happy to pitch in the rest, and, as you saw from my review of “Working My Way Back to You,” it did indeed arrive in time for me to cover season two.

So, as a way of saying thanks, I figured I’d do a little mini-review of the physical contents themselves. I don’t know if there are any bonus features, but if there are I’ll cover them at some point. The episodes, of course, will be covered in sequence SO DON’T RUSH ME.

ALF
The box itself is just a cardboard slip that houses copies of the individual season releases. These are standard-width cases, and there’s a nice little hinge in there that lets you flip through the four DVDs that each case contains.

Why is it that crappy shows make these much more convenient packaging decisions? As much as I love those super deluxe mega awesome rockem-sockem collector’s releases of the things I actually enjoy, I sure do hate having to fold things out and dig through envelopes and packing bonuses to get to the fucking disc.

Speaking of which, I know the individual season releases here in the States are much thicker than this. Does anyone have one of those? Do they come with booklets or something?

For some reason, every single picture of ALF that they chose to use is terrifying.

Seriously, the puppet isn’t scary. So why is every photo of it the stuff of nightmare?

ALF

Here’s the DVD for season two. It’s the only one I’ve done anything with so far, but eventually I’ll have to circle back around to season one to review the scenes cut from syndication.

This picture of ALF makes him look like he’s seriously beefed up. That’s a terrifying prospect for reasons I’d prefer not to put into words.

Additionally, each of the season boxes contains one of these:
ALF
It’s nothing special, just a little foldout card that lists the episodes and a brief description of each. At least, I assume it does; I can’t read this scary Melmacian script.

I also notice that at least one of the episode titles is not a straight translation. “We’re So Sorry, Uncle Albert” is truncated here to what I’m sure translates as just “Uncle Albert.” Maybe at some point I’ll pump these into a translator (or ask commenter Marleen, our German correspondent) so that I can find out if other changes were made from the original titles. Maybe certain puns or song titles wouldn’t work with a straight translation into German. Either way I’m a nerd and I am curious so get out of my way.

ALF

The cover for season three makes it look like he’s beckoning me into the back of a van.

ALF

The cover for season four definitely looks a bit stupid, but it’s the least terrifying, so I’ll take it. The funny thing comes when you flip that one over:
ALF
Man, does ALF not look like even he’s fed up with this show? Such a stench of defeat wafting off of that puppet there.

There’s not much to say about the backs of the cases because I can’t read them, but I will point out because I’m a pedantic shit that the pictures on each do not reflect the actual contents of that season and I’m really sad that I know that.

Each season is spread across four discs, and something about the images they chose really bothers me. For every disc they use a different promotional shot of one of the characters. But each time, it’s ALF, Willie, Brian and Lynn.

Granted, I know there are only four discs in each season, but they couldn’t cycle Kate into at least one set? Or even use a shot of both her and Willie together or something? I can’t exactly say why, but this rubs me the wrong way. Of course, if I had it my way I’d exclusively use pictures of Kate, Mr. Ochmonek, the little girl that wanted to kill ALF and the scampering midget, so what do I know.

ALF

The bottom of the box helpfully identifies exactly how much of my life I’ll waste watching this shit. 2,394 minutes.

That makes me sad, thinking about how much I could do with 2,394 minutes. Then I realize that I wouldn’t actually do any of it, so whatever.

It also lists 101 episodes. I’m only aware of 99, plus the Project ALF movie, which I don’t believe is included here. Maybe there are some episode-length featurettes or something. We’ll find out.

Anyway, as an additional thanks to those who donated to the cause, I have a gift.
ALF

Courtesy of reader / tormentor Jon Wahlgren, I’ve come into the possession of five sealed packs of ALF trading cards. If any of you four generous donators would like one, shoot me a message with your mailing address. Each of them comes with a stick of gum, which I’m positive is delicious.

I’ll keep the fifth pack and review that at some point. Or if (FOR SOME REASON) you are entitled to a pack of cards and don’t want them, I’ll keep those to review as well.

Anyway, thanks, everyone. Casey, Eric, Alessandro and Kevin especially, but a sincere thanks to everyone else who reads these, makes funnier jokes in the comments than I do, and occasionally calls me an asshole.

I love you all.

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15 Responses

  • Jeff says:

    That fifth contributor was me. We’ve had guest in from out of town, so my life is a little in arrears (wink). Please stay tuned. I eventually get around to everything, but never on time!

  • Sindi says:

    Omg please somebody eat the Alf gum. I expect a review from each of them asap.

  • Sarah Portland says:

    So you’ll waste 2,394 minutes of your life watching this shit. Dare we calculate how much time you also spend planning out your posts, then writing and editing each one?
    No, no, It’s fine. You don’t have to add it up. I can already imagine you sobbing while you chew your ALF gum.

  • Casey says:

    Philip, thanks for the offer of cards, but believe it or not, I’ve already got a set! The Bouillabaseball cards are really the highlight of the whole series, and come from a time when Topps was employing really great artists. But don’t try the gum. I can confirm that it was unchewable by the mid-90s.

    I’m just glad to have been able to contribute! And just think: you’ve already gotten through almost a fourth of those minutes!

    I’m guessing the 99/101 episodes thing comes down to the hour-long episodes (the ALF Wiki lists the Season 1 clip show as 2 episodes, f’rinstance).

    • Philip J Reed says:

      Ahhhh, okay. Yeah, I think there were two 1-hour episodes, so if you split them in half you’d get 101. I bet that’s it. Thank you again!

  • FelixSH says:

    As far as I can tell, nearly no title of the episodes are direct translations. Let me go through the episodes of the first two seasons (in the form original title – german title – translation of the german title into english):

    1.1: A.L.F – Hallo, da bin ich – Hello, here I am
    1.2: Strangers in The Night – Die Nacht in der die Pizza kam – The night in which the pizza came
    1.3: Looking For Lucky – Katzenjammer – Hangover (This one is sort of clever. “Katzenjammer” is a german word that is used for hangover. “Katze” is also the german word for cat.)
    1.4: Pennsylvania 6-5000 – Großer Mann was nun? – Big man what now?
    1.5: Keepin’ The Faith – Parasit mit Puderquaste – Parasite with powder puff
    1.6: For Your Eyes Only – Ganz im Vertrauen – In good trust (We say “ganz im vertrauen” if we tell someone something that not everyone should now.)
    1.7: Help Me Rhonda – Ein Mädchen namens Rhonda – A girl named Rhonda
    1.8: Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue – Eifersucht nach Noten – Jealousy according to the score (My translation is probably bad. “nach Noten” is normally used if we play an instrument. In other context it can be used to say that something is done in harmony with music.)
    1.9: Jump – Der Sprung in die Tiefe – The jump into the depth
    1.10: Baby, You Can Drive My Car – Die Spritztour – The jaunt
    1.11: On The Road Again – Fröhliche Ferien – Happy Holidays
    1.12: Oh, Tannerbaum – Eine schöne Bescherung – What a mess
    1.13: Mother And Child Reunion – Wenn Schwiegermutter kommt – When mother in law arrives
    1.14: Little Bit Of Soap – Die Fernsehfamilie – The TV-family
    1.15: I’ve Got A New Attitude – Mit den besten Wünschen aus dem Jenseits – With the best wishes from the afterlife
    1.16/1.17: Try To Remember – Gestatten, mein Name ist Schlegel – Hello, my name is Schlegel
    1.18: Border Song – Der Ausreißer – The runaway
    1.19: Wild Thing – Ein Käfig für den Narren – A cage for the fool (I like that one. It´s based on the name of the movie “La cage aux folles”, I think your title for it is “The birdcage”. The german name of the movie is “Ein Käfig voller Narren”.)
    1.20: Going Out Of My Head Over You – Der Rollentausch – The role reversal
    1.21: Look Through Any Window – Das Fenster zum Garten – The window into the garden (Based on the german title for “Rear window” which is “Das Fenster zum Hof”)
    1.22: It Isn’t Easy…Bein’ Green – Bühne frei für Spargelspitzen – Here come the asparagus tips
    1.23: The Gambler – Schulden und Sühne – Liabilities and atoning (The german title of Dostoyevskys “Crime and Punishment” is “Schuld und Sühne”. They only changed “Schuld” to “Schulden” which are liabilities. Nich one, I think)
    1.24: Weird Science – Brians Sternstunde – Brians great moment (Also ok. “Stern” is german for star, which is used because of the science project. “Sternstunde” means a great moment in the life of a person, were he might be in the spotlight for doing something great. Doesn´t really make sense in this episode, but at least they tried.)
    1.25: La Cucaracha – Der Kammerjäger und die Kakerlake – The exterminator and the cockroach
    1.26: Come Fly With Me – Der blinde Passagier – The blind passenger

    2.1: Working My Way Back To You – Stets zu ihren Diensten – Always at your service
    2.2: The Ballad Of Gilligan’s Island – Reif für die Insel – Ready for the island (“Reif für die Insel” is used when we need a holiday.)
    2.3: Take A Look At Me Now – Ein Schock fürs Leben – A shock for life
    2.4: Wedding Bell Blues – In der Kutte des Büßers – In the frock of the sinner
    2.5: Prime Time – Zur besten Sendezeit – At Prime Time
    2.6: Some Enchanted Evening – Das Kostumfest – The fancy dress party
    2.7: Oh, Pretty Woman – Der Schönheitswettbewerb – The beauty competition
    2.8: Something’s Wrong With Me – Schluckauf Marke Melmac – Hiccup of brand Melmac
    2.9: Night Train – Eine Reise durch die Nacht – A journey through the night
    2.10: Isn’t It Romantic – Paradies für Flitterwöchner – Paradies for honeymoners
    2.11: Hail To The Chief – Der Traumkandidat – The dream candidate
    2.12/2.13: Alf’s Special Christmas – Wenn der Weihnachtsmann kommt – When Santa Clause comes
    2.14: The Boy Next Door – Der Junge von nebenan – The Boy Next Door
    2.15: Can I Get A Witness? – Anwalt in eigener Sache – Lawyer on one’s own autority (I´m not sure about the translation. It means that someone takes the part of a lawyer for himself, like defending yourself before the court)
    2.16: We’re So Sorry, Uncle Albert – Onkel Albert – Uncle Albert
    2.17/2.18: Someone To Watch Over Me – Auf Verbrecherjagd – On a manhunt
    2.19: We Gotta Get Out Of This Place – Die Untermieterin – The subtenant
    2.20: You Ain’t Nothing But A Hound Dog – Ein Widersacher auf vier Beinen – An adversary on four legs
    2.21: Hit Me With Your Best Shot – Auge um Auge – An eye for an eye
    2.22: Movin’ Out – Die Beförderung – The promotion
    2.23: I’m Your Puppet – Paules Puppenspieler – Pauls puppeteer
    2.24: Tequila – Der Geist aus der Flasche – The genie (I´m not sure if this is the best translation. “Flaschengeist” is the german word for genie. I guess it is an euphemism for someone getting drunk often)
    2.25: We Are Family – Der Schritt in die Öffentlichkeit – The step into public view
    2.26: Varsity Drag – Nebenjob gesucht – Side job wanted

    If I didn´t add a comment, it´s just a generic title that has something to do with the episode, but without much thought put into it (though it is also possible that I just missed something clever). Pretty boring, but as you said yourself, translating puns is very hard. Directly translating the titles wouldn´t work, because we don´t translate the titles of english songs (they just keep the english title here), so the reference would be lost. Giving the episodes completely new titles is probably for the best, and that there are a few more clever ones shows that they did at least try.

    • Philip J Reed says:

      This is my favorite comment ever.

      If you ever feel compelled to translate the German titles of seasons three and four, I’d be sincerely in your debt. I’d love to do a post about these. Thank you!

      • FelixSH says:

        Of course. Consider it a small “Thank you” for the blog. Some of them confused me, so I added explanations.
        —-
        3.1: Stop In The Name Of Love – Rendezvous gefälligst – Kindly date (This one is confusing. “gefälligst” can be translated as “kindly”, but also to something like “start doing it finally, damnit”. In that case, the title would be something like “Start dating, what are you waiting for?”)
        3.2: Stairway To Heaven – Blick zurück nach vorn – Looking back to the future
        3.3: Breaking Up Is Hard To Do – Nachbarschaftshilfe – Neighbourly help
        3.4/3.5: Tonight, Tonight – Tonight, Tonight – Tonight, Tonight
        3.6: Promises, Promises – Reden ist Blech – Talk is an iron sheet (“Blech” is metal that was made very thin. This is also a changed version of “Reden ist Silber, Schweigen ist Gold”, our version of your “Talk is silver, silence is golden”)
        3.7/3.8: Turkey In The Straw – Der mysteriöse Fremde – The mysterious stranger
        3.9: Changes – Auf neuen Wegen – On new ways
        3.10: My Back Pages – Ein Hippie namens Willie – A Hippie named Willie
        3.11: Alone Again, Naturally – Cousin Blinky – Cousin Blinky
        3.12: Do You Believe In Magic? – Der Zauberlehrling – The sorcerer’s apprentice
        3.13: Hide Away – Der Zeuge im Netz – The caught witness (“Netz” is just german for “net”. “Im Netz” can be attached to someone, like here, when the person is caught.)
        3.14: Fight Back – Ein Fall für drei – A case for three
        3.15: Suspicious Minds – Ich und der King – I and the King
        3.16: Baby Love – Ein Baby auf Probe – A baby on probation
        3.17: Standing In The Shadows Of Love – Der Liebesdiener – The love servant (“Liebesdiener” is not a word, I just translated it directly. “The Cyrano” would probably be a better translation. It also would sound less dirty)
        3.18: Superstition – Der Pechvogel – The unlucky person
        3.19: Running Scared – Erpresser am Telefon – Blackmailer on the phone
        3.20: Torn Between Two Lovers – Zwischen zwei Stühlen – Caught between two stools
        3.21: Funeral For A Friend – Der Herr der Ameisen – Lord of the Ants
        3.22: Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark – Bangemachen gilt nicht – Don’t back out now (“Bangemachen gilt nicht” is a proverb. I translated the meaning here.)
        3.23: Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow – Mutter Langfinger (Mother Pilferer)
        3.24: Like An Old Time Movie – Der Tramp – The tramp
        3.25: Shake, Rattle & Roll – Die Erde bebt – The earth is shaking
        3.26: Having My Baby – Der Geburtshelfer – The midwife
        —–
        4.1: Baby, Come Back – Eric, wo bist du? – Eric, where are you?
        4.2: Lies – Mr. Universum – Mr. Universe
        4.3: Wanted: Dead Or Alive – Der Heiratsschwindler – The con artist
        4.4: We’re In The Money – Wie gewonnen, so zerronnen – Easy come, easy go (again a proverb, so a translation of the meaning)
        4.5: Mind Games – Ein Seelenkundler für den Hausgebrauch – A psychologist for domestic use (“Seelenkundler” is not a word. Stop inventing non-words, translation team.)
        4.6: Hooked On A Feeling – Im Baumwollrausch – In cotton fever
        4.7: He Ain’t Heavy, He’s Willie’s Brother – Bruder Neal – Brother Neal
        4.8: The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face – Darf ich bekannt machen… – May I introduce…
        4.9: Live And Let Die – Alles für die Katz’ – For the birds (Proverb. Leo.org tells me it is equal to your “For the birds”. It means that the things someone did were useless.)
        4.10: Break Up To Make Up – Ungebetene Gäste – The gatecrasher
        4.11: Happy Together – Männerwirtschaft – A place for men (As literally translated as possible. “Männerwirtschaft” is a term that is used for a place where only men live or act. Maybe one of these exclusive clubs where women are not allowed.)
        4.12: Fever – Ein schwieriger Patient – A difficult patient
        4.13: It’s My Party – Die Hawaii-Party – The Hawaii-Party
        4.14: Make ‘Em Laugh – Es war einmal ein Komiker – Once upon a time, there was a comedian
        4.15: Love On The Rocks – In letzter Minute – In the last minute
        4.16: True Colors – Genie und Wahnsinn – Genius and insanity
        4.17: Gimme that Old Time Religion – Der Jodelpriester – The yodelpriest
        4.18: Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades – Blendende Aussichten – Brilliant prospects
        4.19: When I’m Sixty-Four – Die Seniorenparty – The senior-citizen-party
        4.20: Mr. Sandman – Auf Schatzsuche – On treasurehunt
        4.21: Stayin’ Alive – Der Umweltschutzer – The conservationist
        4.22: Hungry Like The Wolf – Die Wolfshungerdiät – The wolfish-appetite-diet
        4.23: I Gotta Be Me – Umzugsfreuden – The pleasure of movement (“Umzug” means moving into a new house or flat.)
        4.24: Consider Me Gone – Die Entscheidung – The decision
        —–
        Some of them confused me,

    • Sarah Portland says:

      “Parasite with a powder puff”.
      I think I just died of laughter.

  • Ridley says:

    If you could limit your mourning to no more than 2,394 minutes!

    You ever adapt your life into a sitcom, I demand that “The German Box” is an episode title.

    Also: photograph yourself in those poses. I think you know the address.

  • ERK says:

    Haha, man those Alf pictures they used for this box-set really are freaky. The cover for season one looks like the last thing Alf’s victim would see before he ate them whole.

    But seriously though, glad I could help finance you getting this box-set. I felt like if you’re going to review Alf to the extent you are, you should see the full episodes and not the edited cuts. Supposedly some syndicated episodes were cut up to 6 minutes long, but probably most were only a couple minutes. Still, there might be some good and bad moments that will be worth talking about that you perhaps wouldn’t have seen if you were reviewing the edited versions.

    As for the Alf trading cards, thanks for the offer, but honestly I’d get a much bigger kick out of seeing you review my pack at some point. The more cards you have to review the better chance you’ll get some that are pretty funny or worth talking about. Or maybe they’ll all completely suck… which is actually much more likely. :-)

  • Kevin Loy says:

    “If any of you four generous donators would like one, shoot me a message with your mailing address. Each of them comes with a stick of gum, which I’m positive is delicious.”

    You’ll have to forgive me for the Gordon Shumway impression at this moment…but I’m not worried about the gum: I’m more interested in how the cards taste! HA! HA HA HAAAAA! *slaps hand repeatedly on a nearby object*

    …I think I deteriorated part of my brain by doing that, so let me just say that, while the card offer is appreciated, the work that you’re doing (perhaps “drudgery” is a more apt term) in outlining the fundamental flaws throughout ALF is enough of a reward in itself. Keep up the good work, sir.

    …although, as a self-centered musician, I wouldn’t turn my nose at some free promotion, heh (just kidding…I’d rather be poor and unknown my whole life, like Webern…except hopefully not as boring).



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