Update: Me Time

So, okay. It’s been a little quiet here lately. That’s not due to a lack of interest, or even a lack of time. It’s due more to a shuffling of my priorities…which has caused some other things to fall behind.

The first year of this blog’s existence, I took January off as a kind of “me time.” Nobody — literally, like, fuckin’ nobody — liked that. And I can’t blame them. Some content is better than no content. And since then, I’ve decided I’ll never take a full month off again.

Which means that every so often, I guess, I hit these phases of distraction. I have plenty to write about…but other things demand my time. And when those are done…I kind of want to relax, and enjoy myself.

I’ve also — as many of you who follow me on Facebook probably know — entered into a relationship with a very special lady. For once, I don’t intend to get sappy, but I will say that the spare time that I do have is being spent with her. And happily so.

Additionally, I’m moving in August, so I have a few ducks to line up. All of this is to say that I need a little “me time.”

So, as far as content goes, some updates…and a proposition:

The Lost Worlds of Power is still coming. I’ve taken a break from editing it, because I was beginning to lose focus. I thought it would be much better for everybody if I pushed the release date back a bit, so that the final product could be of the highest possible quality. I apologize to everyone who pre-ordered and gave me their money and OH WAIT THIS THING IS FREE SO YEAH IT IS COMING

– I’ve also held off on posting the last few Author Spotlights for this reason. I will run those in the lead-up to the actual release…which is getting closer all the time. It’s just not here yet. Trust me, though. You’ll love it. I’m seeing to that.

– There will not be an ALF review this week. Why? Well, I’ve got the notes and screencaps together, and while I could write something up before Thursday, the fact is that the next episode (“Night Train”) is one that deserves a truly solid entry. Feel free to watch it yourself in the meantime. I’m not saying whether or not I liked it…but I am saying that it’s earned a respectful writeup that I just won’t have the time to get to by Thursday. Once again, it’s a delay in aid of quality.

– On Independence Day I intend to have something major posted here. Not a huge announcement or anything…just a big piece of content. You can probably guess what it is. (No, seriously. You really could probably guess.)

– I have an idea for a very brief Pop Questions feature that I keep forgetting to actually start. So, maybe if I write it here, I’ll remember. You can probably guess how that will pan out.

– And I’d also like to pose a question to you: would anybody out there be interested in writing a piece regarding social issues, and how they’re dealt with in any aspect of media? Games, news, television, films, music…anything. I ask because I’m always tempted to write a piece exploring, say, body image. Sexuality. Equality. Racism. Hot-button topics that never quite go away, but may or may not evolve into less problematic popular explorations over time. Somebody better-versed in the subject (any subject), who has already paid attention to the kind of representation it gets in popular culture, would be better equipped to write something of substance…so, please, get in touch if you’d be interested.

That’s all for now. I do hope you understand. Certain things are just coming together for me right now…and I want to take some time to savor that.

Good stuff is coming. It’s just coming a week or so later than usual.

ALF Reviews: “Something’s Wrong With Me” (season 2, episode 8)

It’s come to this: an episode about ALF getting the hiccups.

That sure sounds like a riot.

Part of me doesn’t really mind. As we learned last week, the quality of the plot isn’t really an indication of the quality of the episode. If Lynn entering a beauty contest can lead to one of the funniest episodes yet, then ALF getting hiccups shouldn’t be written off immediately. And, hey, dude’s a space alien. Maybe your brother getting the hiccups wouldn’t be a story worth telling, but if you knew some guy from Jupiter who got them…well, that might get interesting.

Maybe ALF gets hiccups for the first time ever. He doesn’t know what they are, so he panics while the family tries to assure him they’re not dangerous.

That could be funny.

Could be.

Instead, the episode does something that has more or less the same comic potential: it gives ALF the Melmacian hiccups. Instead of ALF being the one experiencing this bizarre condition for the first time, it’s the Tanners. That can work.

However, the writers don’t trust it. It’s a shame, because a simple episode about alien hiccups could lead to the same kind of comedy that “La Cuckaracha” gave us last season. Some silliness, some nice visual gags, maybe a character moment or two, and then the credits. Instead, though, they wrap the ALF’s-hiccups plot around a Kate Sr.-gets-remarried plot.

Talk about a match made in hell.

“Something’s Wrong With Me” opens with Kate Sr. and ALF squabbling over who gets to eat a cupcake, because when Kate Sr. shows up she makes damn well sure you know the episode is going to suck dick.

Then she announces that in one month she’s marrying Wizard Beaver, who I don’t think we’ve seen since “I’ve Got a New Attitude,” when the Tanners schemed to get them to fuck. She tells the family the news, and there’s a decent joke when she says that she wanted to share the big announcement with the people she loves most, as well as those she can’t stand. ALF says, “Willie, I think she means us.”

ALF’s wearing another Hawaiian shirt, but only in this scene, and no comment is made about it. I wonder if one of the ALF puppets was damaged in a way that a shirt could conceal, because every so often we’ll get one scene with him in one, and that’s it. When it’s for plot reasons, as in “Come Fly With Me,” I don’t get suspicious. When it’s some kitchen scene in an episode that doesn’t feature it elsewhere, I sort of do.

Having said that, I like seeing it. It injects a little visual variety into an otherwise very static sitcom. Typically, visual variety on live-action shows is a given, as the characters will change their outfits regularly,* just as real humans do. In this case, though, the title character is naked every day.

You don’t get much less variety than that.

Anyway, Kate Sr. is getting married in Kate Jr.’s house, because it’s a tradition in the Halligan family to do that and also because it’s cheaper than building another set. ALF is told he’ll have to stay in the garage during the wedding, which is totally worth pointing out because I’m sure everyone at home expected he’d be asked to perform the ceremony.

ALF, "Something's Wrong With Me"

After the opening credits, everyone babbles about nothing, sitting around asking “Where’s Poochie?” until it’s time for ALF to come into the room. When he does, he’s holding one of those big plastic jugs with a straw in it. He drank all the water that the Tanners bought for the wedding guests.

But he had a good reason: it’s because he’s a dick.

lol no. He did have a good reason: it’s because he’s an asshole.

lol no. He did have a good reason: it’s because he gets off on fucking shit up.

lol no. He did have a good reason: it’s because he has the Melmacian hiccups, which he immediately demonstrates:

ALF, "Something's Wrong With Me"

It’s a sharp, loud, explosively obnoxious belch-like thing, and he assures the Tanners that it will get louder every day, for an unknown period of years, before it goes away. In fact, his Uncle Tinkle had them for 50 years!!!

Oh noes!!!! If Kate Sr.’s wedding doesn’t go just right, I’ll be emotionally and electrically drained!!!

I’m being honest here: why should anyone care? Not the Tanners, I mean…but anyone at home. Does anyone watching give two shits about how well or poorly this wedding goes? I’m sure the entire reason the wedding is tacked on to this episode is to add some element of urgency to curing ALF’s hiccups, but, frankly, this show was pre-internet. Kate Sr. hasn’t appeared frequently enough (or recently enough) for the audience to be expected to remember her, let alone care about her. If she’s involved in somebody else’s plot, fine…but there’s no way on Earth any viewers at home would care about her own, or understand why she’s getting one.

So it’s a wedding between a woman we haven’t seen in a long time and some guy we’ve only seen once, neither of which we have any reason to care about, and neither of which the audience remembers much about, what with this predating wikis, youtube, and DVDs.


ALF, "Something's Wrong With Me"

The next morning ALF comes into the kitchen and makes a bunch of noises.

Sorry, but as with the mating call in “It Isn’t Easy…Bein’ Green,” there’s no way I can do the sound justice. So I’ll embed a video that features around forty seconds of this scene.

I really do hate having to resort to video, what with these reviews being writing exercises and all, but certain things are beyond adequate description. In that little clip, for instance, you heard what the hiccup sounded like.

…but now imagine that that sound happens every minute or two, throughout the remainder of the episode, at unexpected times, whether ALF is on-screen or not.

It’s as though the writers asked themselves the same question I’ve been asking: is it possible for ALF to be a more obnoxious presence?

The answer is yes. Just have him blast noise into the room with unpredictable regularity, bringing the action of the episode to a screeching halt every time. EASY PEASY LEMON SQUEEZY

Everybody’s worried because Kate Sr.’s wedding is tomorrow. But…why is it tomorrow?

The episode opened with Kate Sr. making it clear that this event was to take place a month in the future. Why would they have had her say that if they were going to leap immediately over the next 29 days with no reference to anything that happened? See what I mean about these scripts seeming like a first draft?

And while I’m not upset about it — the actor who portrays him is far better than the usual ALF standard — I’m kind of surprised they brought Wizard Beaver back. After all, they swapped out Lynn’s boyfriend and Willie’s boss, so it’s not like they give much of a shit for building a consistent roster of non-Tanners. Would anyone really be surprised if it turned out Kate Sr. was marrying somebody we’ve never seen before? Maybe some guy named Zipzip Prairiedog?

ALF, "Something's Wrong With Me"

Mr. Ochmonek comes over wearing yet another shirt I actually have. ALF scurries into the living room and Mr. O complains that his wife couldn’t sleep because of all the noise. He slept fine, though; he couldn’t hear anything from his bedroom.

That’s a cute joke, and I like that. Thinking back to the beginning of season one, there’s no way I would have believed that Mr. Ochmonek would grow to become a highlight of this entire show.

Or maybe he didn’t grow and it’s the rest of the show that fell on its dumb ass. Either way.

ALF, of course, hiccups, and Mr. Ochmonek says that must be the noise that kept his wife awake. Willie comes up with some lame excuse though that I literally forgot in the time it took me to click over into the other window and take notes. Man…you know it’s bad when I literally can’t remember what just fucking happened before I started writing about it.

Mr. Ochmonek leaves, because fuck investigating the other room, even though there’s always noise and chaos and god knows what going on in there every time he comes over.

ALF pops up through the plot window. He sets down a goblet or some shit, and shatters it with his hiccup.

Then ALF makes this face:
ALF, "Something's Wrong With Me"

In all honesty, can you even imagine a face that more deserves to be hit with a shovel?

ALF is operating at a level of annoyance that’s almost unbearable in this episode. That’s a tricky thing for even good writers to pull off. I remember hearing Graham Linehan talk about this, in regards to one of the characters in Father Ted.

He said that if you try to make a character annoying to the other characters, you run a very serious risk of making that character also annoying to the viewers at home. In this case he was referring to Father Noel Furlong, and I got the sense that he was very careful to structure the comedy so that the audience would find things funny that the characters on-screen would not. That would help to both keep us at a distance from the annoyance, and keep the characters at a distance from the relief that laughter brings. It worked well.

In other examples, you’d have someone like Ned Flanders. He annoys Homer, but isn’t likely to annoy the audience. Why? Because it’s his politeness that annoys Homer. It’s a very specific kind of annoyance that isn’t bothersome for folks at home to endure in the way that it’s bothersome to Homer.

Or Gareth in the original Office. The fact that we had four major characters to cut between in any given episode meant we never had to stay with any of them too long. Gareth wasn’t likely to annoy us because we’d only see him for as long as it was necessary to get to his punchline, and then we’d hop on to somebody or something else. For Tim, however, the annoyance was understandable; he didn’t have the luxury of cutting away. We might have to deal with him for a few minutes in every episode, but Tim is stuck next to him for eight hours a day. Martin Freeman does a great job of making us feel the frustration, but we don’t actually have to experience it first-hand.

Here, the idea seemed to be that if ALF was going to annoy the family, he must also annoy the audience. If he’s not just as irritating to the folks at home, then the show isn’t doing its job.

It’s exactly the kind of backward interpretation you’d expect from people who didn’t actually know anything about how comedy works. Or maybe even what comedy is.

ALF, "Something's Wrong With Me"

Willie and Kate visit ALF in the garage because that’s where the next joke is supposed to happen. ALF is looking through his old Orbit Guard** stuff, trying to find his medical encyclopedia. He’s hoping to find a cure for the hiccups, which is fine, but why wasn’t this the very first thing he did? Those hiccups can’t be pleasant (for him or us), and he knows they can go on for years, so why wasn’t this an earlier idea?

Whatever. He hands Willie a tube, and Willie asks what it is. ALF says it’s nuclear waste from his spaceship.

Then Willie makes this face:
ALF, "Something's Wrong With Me"

And, okay, maybe that’s the face most deserving of a shovel.

Seriously, Max Wright? That’s the face that’s meant to convey to compound realization that your entire family is sterile, cancerous, and dying of radiation poisoning?

To be fair, it builds to a funny punchline. ALF takes the tube back and corrects himself: that’s actually his tube of crayons.*** It’s a funny idea, but the bathetic comedown would have been far more effective if Max Wright had actually sold the dreadful concern. As it stands he just looks like he sat in gum.

ALF says he only ever had to use the medical encyclopedia once, when he was mauled by a Gnarf. Then Kate says, “Gnarf?” and ALF launches into his standup routine.

This happens a lot. ALF says something ridiculous, a human repeats it back to him with a question mark at the end, and he tells his joke. That’s pretty much the go-to template for any acknowledgement that ALF is an alien, and not some squatting drifter.

ALF: Mmm, meatloaf. Reminds me of Melmacian Mnrrblespirts.
LYNN: Melmacian Mnrrblespirts?
ALF: Yeah, they’re like Venutian Mnrrblespirts, but from Melmac!
[Willie cums everywhere]

Obviously that’s an exaggeration. Lynn doesn’t get any lines.

Anyway, they find the book**** and ALF reads the cure: a glass of cat juice. Kate replies, “Cat juice?” and ALF proves my theory correct.

So “cat juice” is what you get from squeezing a cat they way you’d squeeze an orange. Have I mentioned what a great show this is for families to watch together? But forget that; this raises a serious question of internal continuity. If ALF’s Uncle Tinkle had the Melmacian hiccups for 50 years, why didn’t he drink cat juice? Cats were on the menu in Melmac’s restaurants. They were readily available as a staple food. Why would you hiccup for five decades without taking this cure? It would be like suffering for half a century of your life because you didn’t want to drink a glass of apple juice. I don’t care if you don’t like it…you’d drink that shit on day one.

ALF, "Something's Wrong With Me"

There’s an establishing shot that indicates daytime, but when Kate opens the front door it’s clearly night. Nobody on the production staff knew what “establishing” meant.

It’s Kate Sr. and The Beev, making out for no reason. I guess they’re just in this scene for the hot tonsil action.

When they arrived Kate was busy making decorations, and breaking in her wedding bolo. Then Willie comes home and says they can’t find another venue for the wedding, which makes one wonder why he waited until 11 o’clock the night before the ceremony is supposed to take place to start looking.

The Wiz leaves for his bachelor party, because it’s not time for him to hear the hiccups yet.

Yeah, did you forget that every fucking minute or so ALF is bleating loudly into the microphone? I sure didn’t. I definitely envy all of you who get to read this instead.

Kate Sr. is pissed because ALF is going to ruin her wedding the same way he ruined her grandchildren’s anal hymens.

Then Kate Sr. makes this face:
ALF, "Something's Wrong With Me"


What’s with this episode and funny faces? If you pulled out all of these and the blasts of noise from ALF’s hiccups, it would barely be the length of a pudding commercial.

The humans discuss the problem and come up with what is probably the most intelligent solution to anything that anyone on this show has ever come up with: make cat juice.

Not real cat juice…just whip something up, tell ALF it’s cat juice, and hope for the placebo effect to kick in.

And…that’s…yeah. I…that’s actually a really smart way out of this pickle. I’m impressed, writers. I really am.

Sure, ALF has had cat before, and the Tanners presumably have not, so maybe he’d know from the taste that it wasn’t the real mccoy, but I’m willing to give them that. Drinking a glass of beef juice probably doesn’t taste too much like eating a steak, so maybe the fact that this mystery drink doesn’t taste much like cat meat won’t be the tip off one might think it is.

ALF, "Something's Wrong With Me"

They bring ALF the cat juice in the shed.

ALF bitches about it not having an umbrella.

ALF bitches about how the cat better not have been roadkill.

ALF bitches about it not being kosher.

ALF finally drinks it.

ALF bitches about having to piss now.

Did I compliment the writers earlier? I don’t think so. Whatever. He stops hiccuping. Thank Christ.

ALF, "Something's Wrong With Me"

Hey, look, it’s the wedding. Lynn is videotaping it.

She tells Brian to say something, but he doesn’t know what to say, so he holds up an imaginary microphone and says, “Hi, I’m Ted Koppel, and this is Nightline.”

…why did this even happen? It wasn’t a joke.

Granted, on shows like Full House you’d have kids doing cute stuff just for the sake of it, but here, this isn’t a baby. You don’t get away with the cuteness excuse. It’s a child actor who is already uncomfortable in his own skin being crammed into a tuxedo and forced to do this bullshit impression.

Why did anyone think this was worth watching? And why, as we near the midpoint of season two, were the writers completely incapable of coming up with anything for Brian to do?

Also I’m pretty sure Kate isn’t wearing a bra.

ALF, "Something's Wrong With Me"

The Reverend Merkin Muffley signals to Colonel Sanders that it’s time to play the wedding march.
The room is populated, once again, by extras we’ve never seen before and will never see in the future. Man, I bet this show sure wishes it had some characters in it.

Couldn’t they have brought in the Halloween party guests from two weeks ago, at least? That would add some suggestion that the Tanners actually know people.

Or the Ochmoneks. Why didn’t they invite the Ochmoneks? The wedding is literally being held next to their house, but they’re not allowed to come? All of these bullshit nobodies who don’t even have names are probably using their lawn as a parking lot, but they don’t get so much as an invitation?

Fuck. You. Tanners.

ALF, "Something's Wrong With Me"

Wow, look at this happy couple. Can’t you just feel the love?

The ceremony begins, and everybody hears ALF sniffling loudly in the kitchen. Willie and Lynn stop the wedding to chase him out to the garage, where he says he just wanted to be a part of the family, which he says in every episode, right between two scenes in which he ruins shit and tries to kill everyone.

Lynn assures him that the only reason they make him hide in the shed is so that nobody will find him and take him away. They care about him. Then she mentions that the cat juice was fake, because of nothing.

ALF starts hiccuping loudly again, causing Kate and Kate Sr. to run out to the shed, too. Brian is left without comment at the wedding. Even his own family can’t think of anything to do with him.

ALF, "Something's Wrong With Me"

Anyway, they discover more lines on the parchment, and learn that another cure for Melmacian hiccups is raw spinach. Lynn leaves to get some and comes back in a matter of seconds with a fistful. They make him eat it, and the episode is over.

The short scene before the credits is Wizard Beaver and the new Mrs. Kate Sr. Beaver leaving for their honeymoon. We didn’t get to see the wedding at all. Well, we saw the beginning, I guess, but then ALF made some noise and we went to the shed, to spend the rest of the episode with a puppet who had the hiccups.

For an episode in which Kate Sr. gets married, they sure didn’t want to write anything about Kate Sr. getting married.

Maybe if she was actually a character it would have been easy. But she’s not. So it was DIFFICULT DIFFICULT LEMON DIFFICULT

I recently read something online from a fan of ALF saying that season four is by far the worst. I didn’t read any specifics, but hot damn, if even the fans were disappointed by the final season — if this was considered at least passable in their eyes, and they still thought season four was garbage — we’re in for a hell of a ride.

Melmac Facts: Willie and Kate got married in 1967, in her mother’s house. ALF had an Uncle Tinkle and was once mauled by a Pit Gnarf. Melmacians have only 10 major organs, eight of which are stomachs. ALF has a tattoo. On Melmac, Pop-eye the Sailor Man is considered a geek. So…I guess they did get Earth entertainment up there?

* Barring shows like M*A*S*H* or Red Dwarf or something, in which there are uniforms or a general scarcity of outfits in keeping with the show’s context.

** The boxes, which we’ve seen before, are actually labelled ORBIT GUARDS, even though I think the Orbit Guard is only ever referred to in the singular. Maybe a relic of an earlier draft? Or some boner the props department pulled that nobody gave a shit about correcting? YOU DECIDE

*** Yet another thing ALF went back to grab instead of helping anybody else flee the exploding planet. This might be an interesting list to keep track of…

**** It’s called A Furry Home Companion, and I’m not sure if I’m embarrassed or not for laughing at that.

20 Questions: David Ury

David UryEvery so often, the internet reveals itself to be a pretty magical place. This installment of 20 Questions is a direct result of that magic. David Ury, star of “Peekaboo,” my favorite episode of Breaking Bad, found my writeup of the episode and got in touch. He was also kind enough to offer me a copy of his new book, Everybody Dies, which was co-written with his half-brother Ken Tanaka, and which we discuss below. David Ury may make a living playing some truly off-putting individuals, but I can’t imagine meeting a nicer guy. (I’d just like to meet him in a well-lit area. You can’t be too careful.)

1) You’ve definitely been cast as a lot of…creepy guys, for lack of a better term. Which character would you say was the creepiest?

Boy, it’s hard to choose. I was a landlord in Community who hoarded women’s shoes. In Rizzoli and Isles I was a “death enthusiast” who went to crime scenes to photograph corpses. But maybe the creepiest was “Easter Joe” on Raising Hope…a guy who dresses like a bunny rabbit and drags a giant pink cross around town with him.

2) Did you audition for “Peekaboo” specifically, or did you come in for a general audition and end up in that role later?

I auditioned using a scene from a previous episode of the show. I had no idea what kind of character I’d be playing other than that he was a druggie. When I shot the first episode where I have a small cameo in the end [“Breakage”], I didn’t even know what I’d be doing in the “Peekaboo” episode as I hadn’t been sent the script yet….so it was quite a delightful shock when I discovered exactly what I’d be doing.

David Ury, Breaking Bad

3) You obviously got to spend a lot of time working with Aaron Paul. Did you get to meet any of the other main cast members?

I really only interacted with Aaron, Dale Dickey and Charles Baker in my scenes, and didn’t get to meet much of the rest of the cast. However, I had met Bryan Cranston when I did my first ever TV gig on Malcolm in the Middle in 2002.

4) What was it like working with Bryan Cranston back then?

I went to a table read of the episode where I had a tiny one word part. Before we got started on the read, he made a point of coming up to me, introducing himself and welcoming me to the show. I always remembered his graciousness.

5) Was the set as uncomfortable as it looked on screen? The makeup, the wardrobes and the squalor were all very convincing. Was it as uneasy to be in that environment and with those characters as it was to watch?

The kids were visibly scared of me at first, until their mother explained that I was a nice guy…and was just wearing a costume like on Halloween. The set we shot in was pretty trashed so it was easy to get into character in those very realistic surroundings. I just hope I didn’t traumatize those kids too much with my scary mug.

6) “Peekaboo” aired in the middle of the second season, and I imagine it filmed not long after the first season aired. Did you have any idea of the kind of sensation Breaking Bad would become? What did you know about the show ahead of time?

Because I had played meth addicts in the past, friends kept telling me I had to get on this new show. When I got the call to audition I watched the pilot and was blown away. After being told I’d booked the job, I watched the whole first season. I was really excited to be in a show with such great writing. At the time the show was more of a cult hit and most people hadn’t heard of it.

7) At what point did you realize this show had become a legitimate phenomenon?

Around 2012 it went onto Netflix streaming and suddenly people started to recognize me, and associate it me with that role.

I certainly never expected that four years after shooting that gig it would start to have such an impact on my career.

8) Last-minute rewrite: Jesse is crushed by the ATM instead, and Spooge replaces him as Walt’s partner. How do you see that unfolding?

Damn, I should have pitched that scenario to Vince.

Under Walt’s watch, Spooge gets clean, but Lady Spooge can’t or won’t. She’s too much of a loose canon to have around….bad for business…so Walt stages a tractor accident which flattens Lady Spooge making it look just another Albuquerque tractor tragedy.

9) What happened to the little boy after Jesse left?

All the marshmallow fluff you can eat!

The Little Boy

10) Quite a few characters that died on Breaking Bad made later appearances in flashbacks. Was there ever any hope or possibility that Spooge would come back in such a way?

Yep. I’m still hoping he might show up in Better Call Saul…maybe before he became an addict.

11) So your brother is Ken Tanaka. Am I correct in thinking that you two hadn’t seen each other for many years?

Yes. But I think the best way to share the story is through this video.

12) Whose idea was Everybody Dies? What was the genesis and the reasoning behind producing such a morbid book with a childlike approach?

Ken and I came up with the idea together. Death is such a taboo subject in our modern world, it will happen to all of us, and yet we’re all scared to death of talking about it. I think Ken sums it up well in the book’s intro:

Sometimes people ask me why I wrote a “children’s book for grown ups” about death. People seem to think that children need to be sheltered from the idea of death, but most children I have met are not afraid of death, or of this book. It is the grown ups who shake in fear when they read the words “Everybody Dies.” Grown ups are afraid of death. Grown ups know that it is coming, and it can’t be stopped. When we are truly overcome with fear, we are still children on the inside, no matter our age. We still want our mommies. Sometimes a grown up needs to be treated like a child for his own good. […] Although meant for adults, this book may be most effective when read aloud to frightened parents by their children.

13) “What Kind of Asian Are You?” has over seven million views on YouTube. What percentage of viewers do you think misinterprets its humor or intentions?

I think only a small percentage misinterprets the video, but they are also the ones most likely to comment.

The same is true for our new video about race and identity called “But We’re Speaking Japanese.”

14) Tell us about how you got into acting. What was your first role?

My first role ever was in a one act play in high school. I was a fisherman who drowns at sea and spends the majority of the play lying dead on stage.

It was pretty much foreshadowing the rest of my career.

Everybody Dies15) Everybody Dies covers an awful lot of possible deaths. Aside from “skull crushed by ATM,” what was the absolute best death in all of Breaking Bad?

Well, the one that sticks with me most was the scene in season 2 where Jesse’s girlfriend overdoses. That was pretty tough to watch.

16) What kind of challenges do you think a show like Breaking Bad faces when it treats serious social problems in an artistic – and often humorous – context? I’d imagine it would be similar to “What Kind of Asian Are You?” and Everybody Dies in that regard. All uncomfortable things to joke about, and yet they each double down on that fact rather than skirt around it.

I heard Vince give a talk at a library and he was asked a few questions like this, and also about symbolism, deeper meanings in the show, and so on.

His answer was that the writers are really just focusing on trying to tell stories. I think as long as the storytelling is strong, you can approach any kind of topic.

17) Skyler or Marie?

Spooge’s woman.

Spooge's Woman

18) If you could deliver advice to yourself at age 10, what would it be?

Don’t be afraid of trying to make a living solely off of creative pursuits.

19) If you could deliver advice to Spooge at age 10, what would it be?

Maybe just stick with weed.

20) Everybody Dies looks very much like a children’s book, visually speaking, and is colorful in all the wrong ways. Where would you recommend parents hide their copy so that kids don’t find it and have an early crisis of mortality?

I’ve actually seen and heard of many children enjoying the book. I think the parents are the ones more likely to experience a crisis of mortality. Maybe the kids should hide it from them.

BONUS – Say anything to the readers that you haven’t had a chance to say above!

Please check out the trailer for the book with some Breaking Bad cast members. You can buy the book here and keep up with me on Twitter!

ALF Reviews: “Oh, Pretty Woman” (season 2, episode 7)

I’ll probably be accused of being too polite, but season two has been a big pile of fucking shit.

It got off to a legitimately good start with “Working My Way Back to You,” but everything else has been an insult to my intelligence at best, and a staple through the scrotum at worst.

Okay, granted, we’re not even a third of the way through the season, but the reason I’m not holding out hope is that the storylines have actually been decent…it’s the execution that’s so frustratingly flawed. Unlike season one, which almost never found a story worth telling, season two has already found several, and simply pissed them away.

“Take a Look at Me Now” was about Mrs. Ochmonek discovering the central premise of the show: the fact than an alien lives among them. That’s a major occurrence, but all ALF could think to do was stick her on a talk-show and make avocado jokes. Then, last week, ALF used Halloween as an excuse to mingle with humanity, face to face. That’s a great concept for tying the traditions of a popular holiday into the actual premise of the show, but all ALF could think to do with it was make an old man limbo.

So forgive me for not getting particularly excited over an episode about Lynn entering a beauty contest. Forgive me also for being surprised that it turned out to be a pretty darned good episode.

How in the world did season two take such good ideas and turn them into garbage, yet manage to elevate such a worthless premise to make it the best episode in weeks?

I know how, but it’ll be a while before we get there, so, play along.

Anyway, it opens with ALF watching TV. Speaking of which, is Polka Jamboree still on? We got an entire episode about ALF’s efforts to save that show, but it ended, oddly, without any kind of closure at all. ALF admitted he rigged the ratings, but David Leisure was still fired, so I guess it’s still on? Why am I asking this?

ALF is watching the Miss Universe pageant (or something similar), but he thinks it’s a United Nations meeting. That’s both a funny line and one of our rare acknowledgements that, hey, since our main character is from another culture, perhaps he could humorously misunderstand ours once in a while.

Willie comes in, and I notice he hasn’t worn his glasses many times this season. He still does wear them, now and then, which is why it’s odd. If he stopped completely, we could assume either he (or Max Wright) started wearing contacts instead. And that may still be the case, but you can’t have a character wearing glasses in a few scenes every episode, and then not in the other scenes. Either he needs them, or he doesn’t. If you’re hopping back and forth, it needs to be for some kind of plot-relevant reason. Otherwise it’s just confusing.

Of course, this is ALF, and all throughout this scene and the next, Willie is holding some circuit board or something with dangling wires. He never mentions it, and it never comes into play.

This isn’t a newspaper or a coffee mug. This isn’t the kind of prop a character can walk around the house carrying without comment. There has to be a reason for it…and there isn’t. This is such a strange show, sometimes. It seems to operate on this plane of reality that’s completely divorced from the one in which any human being has actually lived.

ALF, "Oh, Pretty Woman"

Lynn comes home, and she’s upset. Everyone asks her where Rick is, and she says he’s still at the dance.

What happened to Lizard? He was mentioned in one episode and appeared in another, making him the only boyfriend of Lynn’s that wasn’t immediately discarded between weeks. Instead, he was quickly discarded between weeks.

I wonder why they bothered having Lizard span two episodes if he was only going to span two episodes. It can’t even be a change due to actor availability, either; Rick doesn’t appear here at all…they just talk about him. Why bother keeping Lizard in Lynn’s life if it doesn’t change anything, and he’ll disappear after another episode anyway?

Oh well. I can’t be too upset, because Andrea Elson’s acting has never been better. It’s still not good, and will never be this show’s strong point, but she’s at her best when a sort of hollowness of mind is allowed to inform her line readings. Here, she gets to do that for a nice, long speech, and she gets to do it while being emotional, too.

It works pretty well. She fidgets with her sleeves anxiously as she relates the story (Rick asked if he could dance with Cindy Bennett, and when she said yes, he danced with Cindy all night), and it manages to be exactly the sort of thing a teenager would find catastrophic, and which an adult would recognize immediately as nothing really worth dwelling on. In short, she gets to be human.

And then — mercy of mercies — ALF does, too. Willie and Kate ask him to turn off the TV, but he refuses, because he’s watching something. Then they tell him that Lynn is upset…and he does turn it off. It’s a sweet little moment. It means nothing to the rest of the episode, but I like that ALF puts aside his own interests, for once, in favor of actually being part of this family. You know…that point of conflict that we’re always supposed to believe matters so much to ALF but which he’s made almost no effort to bring about?

Yeah, that. So it’s nice to see even some small granule of actual consideration on his part.

ALF, "Oh, Pretty Woman"

Lynn says that Cindy is gorgeous, so of course Rick would have ditched dumpy old her for the hot blonde cheerleader, and this leads to a really great Kate moment. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: thank Christ for Anne Schedeen. She tells Lynn that it’s not that she’s unattractive, it’s just that “these things happen all the time.”

Her daughter replies, “Great,” and that single word is the finest Lynn moment ever on this show. Which is fitting, because this is also the only good Lynn episode.

The joke compounds, however. Kate tries to make Lynn feel better by telling her that something similar happened to her when she was young. She explains that, many years ago, Kate was also at a dance, and met a really great guy. The night was a lot of fun and everything seemed wonderful, until the end of the evening, when she found out something terrible: the jerk had ditched his date to be with her instead.

Schedeen’s delivery on this is perfect, especially the silently dawning double realization that not only is this going to make her daughter feel worse, but that she’s too far into the story to stop.

Lynn even offers her a potentially face saving, “…and?” when the story is over, giving her mother a chance to actually pull a salvageable moral out of this, but the best Kate can do is, “And even though I kept dating him, I always felt that what he did was wrong.”

It’s great. Schedeen is on point here, and I’m glad, because for once the material deserves her talent.

ALF, "Oh, Pretty Woman"

Then Willie condescendingly tries to rephrase the story his wife attempted to convey “in her own special way.” Fuck you, Willie. Since when are you a god-damned master wordsmith? I don’t think I’ve had too much opportunity to say this since the middle of season one, but I’m bringing it back: WHY IS SHE WITH THIS GUY?

Sure, her story wasn’t very helpful, but she’s not an idiot, and here he is treating her like she’s some moronic goon he always needs to follow around and apologize for.

Then ALF himself stomps all over the joke by pointing out overtly that the story made Lynn feel worse when it was supposed to make her feel better, presumably for the benefit for anyone who was watching and fell asleep during the minute and a half that was already made clear.

You know, if the ceiling collapsed right now and killed only ALF and Willie, this show would get instantly better.

Lynn then asks her father if he would ask her out, if he were her age. I’ve never been a teenage girl (just a baby girl and an old woman) so I don’t know for sure if this is as creepy a question as it sounds. Is this the kind of thing a high school girl would ask her dad? I get that Lynn is upset and is looking for any kind of affirmation she can get, but is this really a question she would ask?

It’s Willie’s turn to be caught off guard, and we get what I’m sure is an unintentional reminder of the way he deals with having to speak before he thinks: he stutters and stammers and blurts. “Well…if I were your age…and you weren’t my daughter…and if I weren’t married…and…if I had a car back then…”

Again, I’m sure it’s not intentional, but I like the difference between the way Willie digs himself out of his ditches and the way Kate digs herself out of hers. One fumbles awkwardly, the other just keeps speaking, calmly and with total composure, so that someone who isn’t listening to her actual words won’t suspect anything’s wrong. Another very human trait for the most human person on the show.

ALF, "Oh, Pretty Woman"

The next scene is ALF and Brian trading Bouillabaseball cards. Actually, remember those ALF trading cards I haven’t opened yet? They come with a Bouillabaseball card. So, I guess that’s a pretty neat tie-in for fans, but if Bouillabaseball doesn’t come up again later in the series, I’m going to be very confused as to why this is the episode they attempted to merchandize.

Thinking on it, I’m a bit puzzled by Bouillabaseball. In “Working My Way Back to You,” ALF was teaching Brian to play Skleen Ball, which was baseball played with fish. Now they’re talking about Bouillabaseball, which is baseball played with fish. That was only six episodes ago. Maybe if the other sport was mentioned in season one instead, this would be fine. But why, in two episodes so close together, is the same sporting concept given two different names?

God damn it ALF.

The cards are yet another worthless piece of junk ALF salvaged from his planet instead of helping anybody else to safety. Brian asks if they came with gum, and, sure enough, they did. In two flavors: tabby and Persian.

Commenter [E]X (or whatever, he hasn’t commented in a while so I apologize if I got the punctuation wrong) asked a while back why there are cats on Melmac. It was a good question that I can’t fucking answer at all. Even more puzzling, though, is why there would be Persian cats on Melmac…what with Melmac not having a Persia.

The phone rings, and it’s revealed that ALF entered Lynn in the Miss Southland beauty pageant. Lynn doesn’t know this, until she conveniently walks into the room while everybody’s talking about it. She’s there to take out the trash, but ALF tells Brian to do it instead. When Brian refuses, ALF offers him a dollar. Then ALF turns to Lynn and says, “You owe him a dollar.”

It’s funny, and it leaps right into ALF’s dedication to grooming Lynn into a beauty queen…which is a plot I really feel like I should hate.

And yet, I don’t.

I think it’s because we actually have a lot of good lines sprinkled throughout. I’m recording a lot of them here, but it’s probably a fifth of what the episode actually has to offer. Or maybe I’m just grateful that we get an episode about Lynn being attractive that doesn’t end with a musical number called “You’re the One Whose Genitals I’d Like to Sniff.”

Kate calls ALF an idiot for signing Lynn up without permission. He says he didn’t ask Lynn because he was afraid she’d say no, to which Lynn replies, “You were right.”

Then ALF calls out to Kate, “See? I’m not an idiot.”

This stuff is not half bad, guys. It’s really not. And it gets funnier when Lynn agrees to enter, because the grand prize is a car. She asks ALF what kind of car, and he says, “I’ll give you a hint: It’s spelled with a Z.” Overjoyed, she leaves, and Kate asks more directly what kind of car it is. ALF says, “Used. That’s spelled with a Z, isn’t it?”

I know I say this every time I compliment ALF, but I really don’t mean it to be insulting: these jokes aren’t great. Even the ones I like aren’t great. But that’s okay, because like The Muppet Show before it, a lot of fun can be had simply from the infectious silliness. While The Muppet Show unquestionably stumbled across brilliant material, even the hollow, punny stuff was enjoyable because we want to laugh. We like these guys. We like these actors. We like these situations. The goodwill earned by the great stuff carries us through the lesser material, evening out the valleys and elevating the experience as a whole.

This is what ALF should be at its worst. Something that’s not great…but is at least competent. When that’s the low watermark, we tend to excuse it. It may be forgettable, but it’s part of a show we enjoy, so no harm done.

Instead, though, this sort of thing is the highlight of the show. It’s nothing more than harmless wordplay and vaguely snappy dialogue, but it still manages to seem like a lost episode of Fawlty Towers when you compare it to the rest of the shit they churn out on a weekly basis.

ALF, "Oh, Pretty Woman"

The woman who runs the pageant comes over, and we get some passable social commentary about how the Miss Southland winners go on to become hostesses. “Not waitresses,” she makes clear. “Hostesses.”

ALF apparently submitted a photo of Lynn from her Sweet Sixteen party, and she complains that that was back when she had braces. I remember there was an episode in season one in which the show gave us a few lines explaining why Lynn no longer had braces, which I’m certain was done because Andrea Elson no longer had braces, but why are we reminding the audience that she used to have braces so long ago that it really doesn’t matter? It’s a bizarre time to drop in a reminder like that, and it’s not for any real reason.

But, whatever. The woman leaves and Willie agrees that there’s nothing to lose by letting Lynn enter the pageant. Then ALF pops up through the plot window and corrects him: there’s nothing to lose apart from the $200 entry fee.

Willie says, seething, “I guess you know what my reaction’s going to be,” to which ALF replies, “Yeah, but I don’t think I’d care to hear it.”

Now that’s an act break!

ALF, "Oh, Pretty Woman"

In the shed, ALF is making Lynn practice her clog dancing routine. Why did he say her talent was clog dancing? ALF explains, “Well, it isn’t singing.”

This episode doesn’t make any effort to soften his dickishness…and yet, for some reason, it doesn’t bother me as much. Maybe because I’m actually laughing. Things feel less cruel when you are actually having fun with it. I guess I just accidentally justified bullying, though, so ignore me.

Lynn complains that they aren’t making any progress with the routine, and ALF replies, “Sure we are. A week ago you didn’t even know what clog dancing was. Now we’re both sick to death of it.”


ALF, "Oh, Pretty Woman"

Lynn comes into the living room, ready for the pageant. She looks like Peggy Bundy, but the fake digital audience isn’t activated, so I guess it’s not a joke. She is actually supposed to look great, as far as I can tell.

For my money, she looks way better normally. Yeah, she’s usually lazing around in a sweatshirt, trying not to die of anxiety as she waits to say her line for the week, but she’s got a sort of neutral prettiness, and it works for her.

In fact, to keep up the Married With Children train of thought, I’ve referred a few times to Lynn being funny when she’s allowed to be a family-friendly Kelly Bundy. Less sexualized, more naive. And the “gussied up” Lynn here (new dress, new hair, makeup) contrasts nicely with the “gussied up” Kelly we saw so often (cleavage, legs, leather).

Each of those characters has a neutrally attractive setting, but when enhancing their attractiveness for plot purposes, they pull in very different directions. I like that.

Again, it’s nothing intentional, but it’s something that happens when the writers know what the fuck they’re doing.

Everyone compliments Lynn, but ALF is quiet. Kate asks why he’s not saying anything, and Willie replies, “Please, Kate. Don’t spoil the moment.”

Did even Willie get a good line? I can count the number of episodes in which that happened on one truly mangled hand.

ALF, "Oh, Pretty Woman"

ALF tells the family to pose for a picture, and there’s a joke that reaches well beyond this show’s usual abilities: Willie, Brian, Kate and Lynn smile for the camera, ALF counts to three…and then keeps counting.

Now that in itself is funny, but not totally beyond ALF‘s scope. What really sells it is the visual punch: we’re on ALF as he counts one and two, then we snap to the family for three, because that’s when we’d expect the flash. It doesn’t come, so we linger on the family through four, five, six…

A joke like that requires an understanding of film grammar that I have to assume somebody on staff possesses…somebody who isn’t often allowed to speak in meetings.

Normally ALF would linger too long in one place or the other. The fact that the cut comes on “three” establishes, though, that somebody not only knows why the joke is funny, but that the comedy can be enhanced by playing with the audience’s natural expectation.

When we see ALF start to count, we don’t consciously think, “He’ll reach three, we’ll see the family, the flashbulb will go off, and then the family will be at ease.” And yet, we do think that on some level, a level we don’t even know exists until the reality doesn’t match our prediction and we feel the hollow of unfulfilled expectation. A hollow that’s easily (and, arguably, cheaply) filled with laughter.

Like so much of “Working My Way Back to You,” this is a moment that would have been funny enough of its own, but which bears the stamp of somebody who put forth the effort to make it even funnier.

This is an episode about Lynn in a beauty contest, remember. The fact that somebody chose to invest that effort into this is downright heroic.

ALF, "Oh, Pretty Woman"

They head off to the pageant, leaving Brian alone with his rapist alien babysitter. I actually like this short scene, though, which opens with ALF emptily shoving a toy car off the table.


Why not? Because it’s funny. He’s ALF the passively petulant child, which is something I wish we’d see more of. The best part: it isn’t commented upon. It just happens. Even more rare than the writers giving Willie a good line is the writers giving their audience credit.

There’s also a nice, cute moment with ALF misunderstanding the concept of Hide and Seek, but explaining it here would take too much work and would also suck the life out of the gag. Suffice it to say that while it’s obvious padding, it’s very good padding, and in almost any other episode it would have been a runaway highlight. Here it’s just killing time, which speaks to how surprisingly strong “Oh, Pretty Woman” manages to be.

ALF, "Oh, Pretty Woman"

The episode ends with Lynn coming home upset. She placed last in the pageant, so ALF and Willie cheer her up. It’s nothing phenomenal, and it’s at least slightly abrupt, but as endings go it’s certainly fair, especially when you compare it to Brian being awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for threatening to destroy the Earth with nuclear weapons.

What I’d rather talk about here is what “Oh, Pretty Woman” manages to prove.

A few times I’ve referred wistfully to the show ALF could have been. In fact, in my overall of review of season one, I cited three episodes that illustrated the directions this series could have taken to become legitimately great: “For Your Eyes Only,” “Going Out of My Head Over You,” and “La Cuckaracha.” While they were each very different episodes, my central argument remained the same: they should lean in to their core concept, and build plots around the fact that ALF is an alien, rather than cast him in a role that could have been occupied by any kind of character.

Yet, here, “Oh, Pretty Woman” demonstrates that that’s not the only path to success. You don’t have to be groundbreaking…you just have to be funny.

Here ALF’s extra-terrestrial origin offers nothing but a few offhand gags. The storyline itself does nothing with it, and he doesn’t even attend the beauty pageant. (We don’t get to see any of it, either.) The plot is less of a plot than it is a theme, and the writers explore that theme for as many jokes as they can get out of it.

And they’re actually good. This version of ALF might have been ultimately forgettable, but it would at least have been fun while it lasted.

I’ve complained about cardboard characters and ropey plots and disregard for logic, but “Oh, Pretty Woman” reminds me that while those things can be irritating, the most important thing is the quality of the writing. If you’re laughing, you’re not picking nits.

And “Oh, Pretty Woman” made me laugh. As much as I’d love ALF to be a show that did something interesting with its own premise, this reminds me that I’d be perfectly happy for the show to just have a little fun along the way.

Is that, really, so much to ask?

MELMAC FACTS: Not many Melmac Facts so far this season, but “Oh, Pretty Woman” has a lot, so…enjoy. In Melmacian beauty contests, for instance, the judges wore swimsuits and the contestants sat in the audience. Then there’s Bouillabaseball, which is like baseball except that they use fish parts instead of balls. Also, fish guts are sold at the concession stands. In Alpha-Centauri, they have world peace (even though it’s not a world?) so they wish for shoes instead. ALF’s grandmother once said, “If you don’t have anything nice to say to somebody, don’t say anything at all,” and then she never spoke to him again. Grandma Shumway also used to warn Melmacians that the planet was going to blow up, which might have helped her to survive the blast if ALF hadn’t had her committed. ALF’s orange fur is the result of a permanent dye job. Aaaaand, finally, on Melmac they count to 21 before taking a photo. Nearly all of these either served as or led to a solid punchline, which is damned welcome at this stage in the season.

ALF Reviews: “Some Enchanted Evening” (season 2, episode 6)

I’ll say this right now: I have no fuckin’ clue why this episode is called “Some Enchanted Evening.” I know there’s one coming up where ALF recreates Willie and Kate’s honeymoon, so I thought this might be it. But, no. It’s something that has absolutely nothing to do with the title. In fairness, some of it does take place in the evening, but by that rationale you could call any given episode “Good Day Sunshine” and be done with it.

Way back in “Keepin’ the Faith,” I complained that they named a company Terry Faith Cosmetics only so they could justify the pun in their title. In retrospect, though, that at least represents a kind of effort, which is far more than “Some Enchanted Evening” has going for it.

Season two so far is very strange. Aside from the first episode, the much-missed “Working My Way Back to You,” there’s been almost no concern for narrative. Season one failed spectacularly at maintaining coherent storylines, but the episodes in which there was no attempt to tell a story at all were small in number. Here, it’s been literally every episode apart from the opener. With season one it often felt like the writers were just stapling any old shit together and calling it a script. With season two they don’t even bother with the staple.

Anyway, “Oh, What a Night” begins with Brian being dressed up like a pirate. How many episodes start with Brian in costume? There was the asparagus, the Gilligan’s Island outfit, Friar Tuck, and now this. In fact, three of those are from this season, and we’re only on episode six. That’s pretty ridiculous. I wonder if the writers realized they’d never have anything for Brian to do, so they just started treating him like a mannequin.

Of course, the writers don’t have much for their title character to do, either, so, hey, what the fuck, let’s put him in a silly costume, too.

ALF, "Some Enchanted Evening"

It’s Halloween, apparently, and for some reason everybody’s acting like it’s ALF’s first one on Earth. It’s not. He crashed in August,* so I doubt this is his first October. In fact, according to my nerdy footnote, it demonstrably can’t be.

I can understand the writers wanting this to be his first Halloween, because that allows for the kind of story they want to tell: ALF getting excited, believing he’ll be able to leave the house and go trick or treating.

It’s a good concept, actually. ALF argues that he could pass for being a child in costume, and it’s the one night of the year that a little hairy grub shuffling around wouldn’t draw suspicion. But they still could have told the story if it were ALF’s second Halloween. All they’d need is some throwaway dialogue about what happened last year.

ALF: Aw, come on. You can trust me to go trick or treating. Wasn’t I very good last year?
WILLIE: No, ALF, you raped all the children.
ALF: But it was very good rape!
[applause, Mr. Ochmonek farts]

You know, something like that, but a lot less subtle.

But, yes, “No More Lonely Nights” is a Halloween episode. And I’m okay with that. The holiday episodes aren’t, on average, any better than other episodes are, but you can usually count on at least one decent joke about human traditions filtered through an alien perspective. You know…the sort of thing that should be driving a sitcom about a marooned alien, instead of being doled out twice a year and otherwise ignored.

In short, unlike ALF hiring a bookie, or the cat running away, or Alan Hale and Bob Denver being free for an hour’s worth of shooting, the holiday episodes can matter. We know what Valentine’s Day, Christmas and Halloween entail, so before the story even begins, we have some sense of what might happen, and part of the thrill is seeing how that plays out.

Of course, Valentine’s Day gave us the Kate Sr. fuck quest and Christmas ended with Willie’s wet dream about a family that actually loved him, so I’m not holding out much hope for this.

ALF, "Some Enchanted Evening"

In bed, Willie initiates foreplay with his wife by bitching about work and worrying that he won’t get a “job promotion.” Who the hell says “job promotion?” Isn’t it just “promotion?” “Job” is implied. This is the sort of evasive nonsense about Willie’s employment that we saw in the first half of season one. I was hoping that once we learned he’s a social worker, annoyingly vague shit like this would stop.

And he is still a social worker; the conversation confirms that much. He’s upset because he was taken off of the “teen runaway project” and assigned to internal investigations.

Does reading that make you horny? OF COURSE IT DOES so as soon as he’s finished groaning about office politics he leans in to have some warm, limp sex on his wife. ALF, of course, shows up and spares us all.

How often does ALF walk in on Willie and Kate about to penetrate each other? I’m pretty sure we’ve had more of this than we’ve had of ALF eating cats. Why isn’t this the running gag he’s remembered for? WHY IS THIS A RUNNING GAG AT ALL

He still wants to go trick or treating, so Willie and Kate delay sex for another lunar cycle and talk to him about it. ALF’s cause is pretty much lost, until he says that he can help Willie get his conveniently vague job promotion. They’ll do this, he says, by digging up dirt on Willie’s boss, Mr. Burke.

Willie’s not keen on that, but then ALF suggests that they throw a big party, and invite the boss. Kate in particular likes this idea…not because they’d invite Willie’s boss — in fact they nix that idea outright — but because they haven’t actually done anything social since the Space Pedo moved in.

I like that they’re acknowledging this, and I also like that it’s Kate — the only human Tanner — who leaps at the chance to be normal again, if only briefly. It might be a bit unwise to embrace one of ALF’s whims so enthusiastically, but I buy that she would. She’s no dummy, but she is starved for a social life. Or even just a life. I know I’m reading more into this than the writers did, but it works. The stopped clock has its moment, and for that I’m grateful.

Of course, time doesn’t stand still when that happens. It marches inexorably onward through the sewage treatment basin that is the rest of “Night Moves.”

ALF, "Some Enchanted Evening"

ALF still wants Mr. Burke to come, but Willie ain’t having it.

Hey, wasn’t this episode about Halloween a few minutes ago?

Eh, no matter. The ostensible adults kick ALF out of the room, and while they do…look at that. Just look.

What the living frignuts is that horse?

There is no reasonable explanation for that thing being next to the bed. That alone makes this the scariest fucking Halloween episode of anything I’ve ever seen.

Jesus H. Cock.

ALF, "Some Enchanted Evening"

Anyway, now it’s Halloween. Alright…that was fast. The house is made up for a party, so I guess ALF was suggesting a Halloween party?

I mean, okay, there was some Halloween talk early in the episode, but then we got onto a whole other tangent, I thought, about Willie’s job promotion, which was to be resolved by inviting the boss to a dinner party.

Or, I thought it was a dinner party. Because inviting his boss to a fucking Halloween party is a pretty god-damned different story. But who cares. This is where we are now. This is the sitcom we’re watching. This is the tale we sat down to hear.

Whatever. You probably want me to explain that screenshot, so, here goes: two kids show up trick or treating, dressed as The Three Stooges.

Where’s Moe, you ask?

He’s not there because he had to take a shit.

Classic Moe!

The kids say “yuk yuk yuk” in exactly the way you’d guess kids who have no idea who The Three Stooges are would say “yuk yuk yuk” and leave.

This part sucked and all, don’t get me wrong, but isn’t this a little unfair to Benji Gregory? How must he feel when “Warm San Franciscan Nights” includes a scene with some kids being ostensibly funny, and he’s not even involved? They brought in two disposable idiots we’ll never see again, just so they wouldn’t have to give this kid something to do? That’s kind of sad.

ALF, "Some Enchanted Evening"

Brian comes home from tick or treating just in time to not be involved in any comedy. Instead he engages his parents in conversation about every eight-year-old boy’s favorite subject: his sister’s sex life.

Willie and Kate are upset to hear that their daughter is being pumped full of the seed of a man named Lizard…but in “Take a Look at Me Now” they already knew his name was Lizard. Why is it suddenly a problem? Shouldn’t they be at least a little bit happy that she’s been with the same guy for a few weeks instead of blowjobbin’ her way around town like she was in season one?

ALF, "Some Enchanted Evening"

In the interest of fairness, I do have to concede that Brian does get the episode’s best line. He tells his parents that he agreed to give ALF 70% of his candy. When Willie tells him that that’s a lot, Brian says, “He wanted 90.”

Then he goes out to the shed and we watch him and ALF divvy it up because it’s not like anything else is happening in this episode. ALF tries to take too much so Brian pulls out his cutlass and flays him alive, ending the show forever.

…no. :( He just chops the table or something. I’m more focused on the “booty,” which seems to be the contents of a single bag of Hershey’s miniatures and a few of those caramels that come in clear wrapping without any indication of who the fuck made them. That’s a terrible haul. Could the props department really not be bothered to grab a few candybars from a checkout line somewhere? This is the shit somebody probably had sitting in their desk drawer from last Halloween.

ALF, "Some Enchanted Evening"

Lizard comes over, and I guess because he’s not some cartoonish biker guy, Willie is relieved. It turns out Lizard’s real name is Eric, and the scary-sounding (…presumably) nickname is something he earned by operating on a lizard in biology class and removing its brain tumor.

…whaaaaaaaat kind of biology class is that, exactly? I remember having to look up vocab words, and maybe if we were good they’d bring out the microscopes and we’d spear some hydra with toothpicks. Granted, I wasn’t on the more advanced science track, but I definitely don’t remember any of my smarter friends coming into the lunch room in blood stained scrubs, talking about the dying animals they just saved.

This might have made sense if they were talking about Lizard interning under a vet, or something. Even then he probably shouldn’t be removing brain tumors, but this anecdote is more suited to that context than it is to the thirty-five minutes he’d have between Spanish class and gym.

Anyway, Willie is happy now. I’m not sure why, because his daughter is still getting plowed by some clown, but he doesn’t have a beard or a tattoo so I guess it’s fine.

ALF, "Some Enchanted Evening"

The guests start showing up in costume, and one of them is Mr. Burke, who starts verbally abusing his wife for making him dress up as The King of Cartoons.

Who the shit is this guy? This isn’t the boss I remember from “Border Song.” That was actually an actor I wanted to see again. They already had a character they could have slapped into this scene…did they really need to create a new one?

And all of the costumes are generic. Did nobody at this party dress as anyone specific? It’s all kings, cowboys, Swiss Alps guys…what a lack of imagination. Roseanne always became very inventive visually around Halloween. The Simpsons is legendary for the way they throw themselves into it. “Midnight Train to Georgia” not only fails to take full advantage of its own holiday; it barely seems to be interested in it at all.

Which, hey, is fine…


And speaking of generic, these guests are all characters Willie and Kate seem to know, but we’ve never seen any of them before. Would the Tanners really throw a big Halloween bash and not invite the Ochmoneks? What a pack of assholes.

ALF, "Some Enchanted Evening"

Then another guest turns up…and it’s ALF with a zipper on his chest. Now that is actually pretty funny.

He introduces himself as Gordon and immediately starts mingling, but Willie takes him into the kitchen for the cornholing of a lifetime.

What I liked about the zipper was that it was just there. You get the joke without having to hear it explained, and that makes it kind of cute. But then, of course, Willie ruins it by pointing it out and asking where ALF got it.

The truly surprising thing, though? I’m okay with that, because it leads to the episode’s only other funny line: “You know that old jacket you were going to throw out? Better hang on to it. I ripped this out of your new raincoat.”

It’s the kind of line that works just fine in isolation, but it really shouldn’t qualify as one of the highlights of the episode. Unfortunately, it does.

Like…really. It does.

ALF, "Some Enchanted Evening"

Back at the party, ALF tells jokes and sings “In the Ghetto.”

Think about that for a moment, though. For us at home, the joke is that ALF is doing an Elvis impression. Fine. That’s one layer of absurdity to enjoy, or not to enjoy, but it’s a reasonable thing for the character to do.

Now forget you’re watching this from the comfort of your couch. Pretend you are at the party. As far as you know, this is a man dressed as an alien, who then is impersonating Elvis.

Does this register as bizarre to anyone but me? Imagine going to a costume party and seeing a guy dressed in a really good Hitler costume who’s making a spectacle of himself by impersonating Michael Jackson. Would you not think that was in-fucking-sane? You’d probably think you were dreaming. Or hope you were, anyway.

Until the guy in the cowboy suit spoke I wasn’t sure where I recognized him from, but that’s Lewis Arquette. I looked him up to be sure of the spelling of his name (and I’m glad I did…I thought it was “Louis”), and just learned the sad fact that he passed away in 2001. I had no idea.

He was in a lot of things, but I remember him mainly from two: the narrator in Waiting For Guffman, which is one of my all-time favorite films, and Whittlin’ Willie in Freddy Pharkas: Frontier Pharmacist, which is one of my all-time favorite video games. He had such a distinctive voice and such a fantastic presence that it’s kind of sad to see him here. Especially since he gets exactly jack squat to do but laugh at ALF’s antics.

ALF, "Some Enchanted Evening"

Then they all fuckin’ limbo.

ALF gets a round of applause by successfully clearing the bar, even though it’s held, for some reason, at forehead level. Then he makes Willie’s boss limbo, because fuck you.

Mr. Burke immediately falls over in pain — like, before he even starts, which I don’t think was a joke but rather just a really shitty acting choice — and I get the idea that it’s because he threw his back out, but the way it unfolds makes it look more like a heart attack.


ALF, "Some Enchanted Evening"

So, yeah, it’s a back injury. ALF gives Mr. Burke a sensual massage, because fuuuck you.

Mr. Burke asks how he can repay ALF, because I guess he forgot that he’s currently lying on the coffee table with a broken spine because dicknose here made him limbo.

ALF, of course, replies that if he really wishes to repay the man who turned him into a paraplegic, he should give Willie the promotion. Which Mr. Burke does right then and there because FUCK FUCK YOU FUCK YOU MY FUCKING FUCK FUCK YOU

ALF, "Some Enchanted Evening"

Anyway, as a reward for crippling his employer, Willie takes ALF trick or treating after all. An old woman refuses to let him eat her cats, and “The Night Chicago Died” ends.


* According to “Help Me, Rhonda” anyway. “Working My Way Back to You” established Willie’s birthday as being in August, and “Jump” was an episode about his birthday, so either ALF’s been on Earth for over a year, or something’s been retconned. Either way, though, he’s been through one Christmas and sees another one in a few episodes, so I don’t think it’s likely this can be his first Halloween.

ONE FINAL NOTE: While I get The Lost Worlds of Power finalized, things might be fairly quiet here. Thanks for coming back for the weekly ALF reviews…I really do wish I had more time to keep up the work on other posts. So let me just direct you to The Ranger Retrospective. One of my good friends started this up recently, and he’s reviewing Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers one episode at a time. He’s three deep, so check it out. It’s good stuff. And if you like it, picture my face instead.