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ALF Reviews: “You Ain’t Nothin’ But a Hound Dog” (season 2, episode 19)

October 2nd, 2014 | Posted by Philip J Reed in alf

ALF, "You Ain’t Nothin’ But a Hound Dog"

Well, Jodie’s gone and she’s never coming back, which means it’s time to return to the weekly parade of distracting guest stars so that the writers don’t have to bother developing their main characters.

That’s not to say that “You Ain’t Nothin’ But a Hound Dog” is without merit, but it is to say that it’s much closer to a standard episode of ALF than it is to…you know. Something good.

We do open with a real surprise, though: Brian.

Yep, that’s him! On screen! Saying and doing things! Of course, it’s not a very reassuring sign that he’s taken to wearing a shirt with his name on it. I guess it helps keep his family from forgetting who he is, but it’s still kind of sad.

This is tremendously funny to me. We don’t see Max Wright wearing a WILLIE shirt, but 19 episodes into season two the writers haven’t done enough with this kid to feel secure that we’ll even recognize who he is.

Anyway, “Brian” (if his shirt is to be believed) has found a dog. ALF somehow fucked up the Tanners’ chimney, so he’s cutting hedges as punishment. At last we can add asphyxiation to the list of ways ALF has thrust this family into mortal danger.

Brian shows ALF how to play fetch with the dog, and ALF responds by lightly lobbing a stick over the fence. It travels at a speed and angle that couldn’t possibly connect with the Ochmoneks’ window, but we hear it shatter in an explosion of glass as though a fucking horse just ran through it, so what do I know about physics? Remember back in “Isn’t it Romantic?” when I hoped that, for Benji Gregory’s sake, ALF had a great foley artist? Well…now we can officially dismiss that possibility.

Willie comes running out, and Mr. Ochmonek shouts that he’s coming over. Of course, Willie yells loudly at ALF, calling him by name, telling him to run off and hide, and reminding him that he’s always taking the fall for ALF’s antics. All good points, Willie, but is this the best time to be bringing them up? So loudly? When you know your neighbor is within earshot? And when you also know he’ll be stepping into the back yard in a matter of seconds?

Sorry, but that’s stupid on a number of levels excessive even for ALF.

Willie hands Mr. Ochmonek $20, but Mr. O says that he’ll need $80 this time, because he’s putting in Plexiglass. He explains to Willie, “It’ll be cheaper for you in the long run.”

See? However many times this family of assholes smashes up Mr. Ochmonek’s property, he’s still nice to them, joking around and saving them money. Tell me again why we’re supposed to see him as the bad neighbor?

Jack LaMotta does this great little physical flourish when he comes over, flipping the stick ALF threw into the air and catching it as he walks. This is a major part of the reason I came to love Mr. Ochmonek: Jack LaMotta knows who he is. I can guarantee that almost none of Mr. O’s physical business was in the scripts; the writers, we can say conclusively, weren’t that interested in developing any of these clowns. Which means LaMotta, like Anne Schedeen before him, made these decisions for himself. He saw what was on the page, figured out what kind of character would say those things, and fleshed out the character himself.

Did the writing staff know how Mr. Ochmonek would carry himself when stepping onto Willie’s property with the stick that broke his window? I promise you they did not. But Jack LaMotta knew, and I have a massive amount of respect for that. From what I understand he didn’t enjoy working on the show any more than anyone else did, but based on his performance alone, I wouldn’t be able to find evidence of that.

Anyway, Willie says they can keep the dog, wherever the fuck it came from, the dog growls at ALF, and we get our credits. That has to be the longest opening sequence yet. In fairness, though, it managed set up a lot of things that could be explored in the rest of the episode: the broken chimney, Mr. Ochmonek’s windows, Brian enjoying his new dog, the dog hating ALF, Willie at wit’s end…

Oh, who am I kidding. None of this shit pays off in any way. The opening scene isn’t long because it’s establishing things we need to know; it’s long because it’s padded.

I miss Jodie. :(

ALF, "You Ain’t Nothin’ But a Hound Dog"

ALF is under the table or something who cares.

He’s feeling around for a plate of raw steaks, which Kate moves out of the way. She then places her hand on the table instead, and when ALF feels it he hesitates for a moment…then stands up, shakes it, and introduces himself. It’s a cute little moment, and the sort of thing I’d like to see more often on this show.

Kate then notices that a steak is missing, and blames ALF. ALF says he didn’t do it, but…well…he was clearly going to do it, so I’m not sure we can feel too sorry that he’s being falsely accused.

She doesn’t believe him, and she tells him he’s not getting dinner as punishment. Now this seems like a good angle for the episode; the new dog misbehaves, doing all the things that ALF has done often enough in the past (eating food that isn’t his, ripping up the furniture, shitting on the rug) so that ALF keeps getting blamed, even when he’s innocent.

That sounds like a pretty good half hour to me, and it could lead to some fun, character-based comedy. But then Lynn walks in with the dog explaining that the dog ate the steak so…I guess that’s that. Why bother setting up the “ALF is wrongfully accused” angle if they’re going to dismantle it with the very next line?

ALF, "You Ain’t Nothin’ But a Hound Dog"

There’s a very well-observed moment next, though, when Kate walks over to the dog to scold it. She kneels down, says, “Bad dog!” and then immediately starts fawning over it and apologizing.

Schedeen absolutely sells the comedy of that instant reversal, but even without her that would have probably worked as a smart gag. Dogs absolutely have the innate ability to defuse their own punishments with their big eyes and their droopy tails.

There was nothing my old dog could do wrong that I wouldn’t feel terrible about scolding her for. She could spill the trash, eat my dinner, knock something fragile over…and I’d send her to her bed, but then I’d always — always — melt when I saw her apologetic eyes staring back at me.

Usually I could hold it inside and let her stew, because that really would be the only way she’d learn, but even then I’d be dying inside. Yes, she knew what she did was wrong, and yes, she had to learn that certain behavior was not acceptable, but she is SO CUTE AND FLUFFY AND OHH COME HERE. OHHHH WHO’S A BAD DOG. OHHH YOU ARE. YESSS YOU ARE. OHHHH WHO WANTS A TUMMY RUB

ALF, understandably, thinks this is bullshit.

ALF, "You Ain’t Nothin’ But a Hound Dog"

Kate tells ALF not to sulk. It’s just a dog, and it doesn’t know any better. ALF says, “Ignorance is no excuse.” Then Kate shoots perfect daggers directly into his soul and says, “Ignorance is your excuse all the time.”

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is probably my favorite exchange the show has had yet. Both sides have perfectly valid points, and both sides are willfully overlooking things. It’s an intelligent way to structure this conversation, boiling the entire dialogue down to two very potent lines, and in this case it only works because of Schedeen.

The scolding / apology a moment ago was a strong enough concept that even the worst actor on the show could have probably pulled it off. Here, though, it only works because of Schedeen’s commitment to it. She delivers her rejoinder perfectly, and the bemused tone of voice she adopts is spot-on, as is her body language. I cannot stress enough what an asset she is to ALF. Often, she’s its only asset.

ALF, "You Ain’t Nothin’ But a Hound Dog"

We then get another well-observed moment of dog ownership: Lynn tells the family to watch as she issues commands. She tells the dog to speak…and it doesn’t. After a moment, though, it lies down, and the Tanners laugh and coo.

ALF, of course, doesn’t join in* but the reactions of the rest of the family are perfect. Dogs are indeed adorable when they do tricks. Dogs are exactly as adorable when they fail to do tricks, or misinterpret commands. People end up fawning over every little thing a dog does, from sneezing to snapping at a fly to twitching its little feet while it sleeps. They get so much credit for doing literally nothing more than being themselves that it’s an inherently funny thing to draw attention to.

Sadly, we find out later in the episode that that’s not what’s going on here at all. The dog’s real owner taught it, for some reason, to respond improperly to voice commands, so this well-observed moment is turned retroactively into a brainless throwaway gag. Well done, ALF.

Also, we learn that Brian named the dog Alfina, which almost seems like my wish for “We’re So Sorry, Uncle Albert,” in which Uncle Albert was instead Uncle Alfred — a human double pulling the same shit ALF pulls — might be coming true here, with a misbehaving dog in his place. Especially with the whole dog-eating-the-steak setup earlier. This would be a chance (arguably an even better one) to filter ALF’s normal behavior through an outsider, and reveal to the alien how dickawful he is.

But, no. It’s a decent little suggestion that the dog is replacing ALF…but even that doesn’t pan out. I’ll get to why shortly.

ALF, "You Ain’t Nothin’ But a Hound Dog"

The evil mom from The Goonies comes over and says she saw one of the Lost Dog posters Brian hung up. She swears it’s hers, even though she doesn’t know its gender, doesn’t recognize it, and doesn’t know its name. (“Come here, dog,” doesn’t get a fake audience laugh, but I liked it.)

It’s a little sad to see Anne Ramsey here, especially since she’s in overtly poor health. Looking up the spelling of her name I found out that this was indeed one of her last roles, and that’s upsetting. Her walk is clearly pained and her line delivery barely this side of comprehensible. The joke is supposed to be that this is a stingy old argumentative coot, but with the state she’s in it feels a lot more like we’re supposed to be laughing at her for being at the brink of death.

I can’t express just how much this shakes me up, but I can’t blame ALF for this. It happens on great shows, too. Elaine Stritch toward the end of 30 Rock was so obviously ailing that it became uncomfortable to watch. Richard Dunn always looked like he was at death’s door during the run of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job, and even though that was offset somewhat by how thrilled he was that he found such popularity with an audience so late in his life, the fact was that he could clearly go at any time.

And then he did.

So, no, I don’t blame ALF. But this is heartbreaking to watch. Especially since we’re supposed to hate her here. (Something that admittedly wasn’t true of Stritch or Dunn.)

It’s a genuine shame we didn’t get a rewrite (or a re-casting, as much as I hate to say that) once Ramsey’s rapidly declining health was seen by the production staff, because as it plays out we end up with Willie being a raging dick toward a woman who doesn’t seem ornery so much as she seems lost in the hallucinations of a fading mind.

The dog growls at her, and Willie tells this dying old lady to go fuck herself.

Then she gives him her number in case he changes his mind and leaves, at which point we watch Willie carefully shit his pants. At least that’s the only explanation I have for what we see him do here:

ALF, "You Ain’t Nothin’ But a Hound Dog"

I don’t know. I guess he’s flinching from her, but Max Wright forgot to do it until after she turned around and left, making it look unprovoked and like an untreated symptom of St. Vitus dance.

Brian takes Alfina for a walk, and then ALF pops up through the plot window, moping that the boy is no longer interested in “the alien they left behind.” It’s not a joke, because the fake audience of dead people doesn’t tell us it’s one, so we’re actually supposed to feel sorry for him.

I’d like to.

Really. I would. But since ALF has made literally no effort to bond with this kid ever, I don’t know what he thinks he’s bitching about. We’ve seen them watch Gilligan’s Island together. We’ve seen him put Brian to work on his backyard plantation. And he talked some rambling bullshit to the kid about how he was once Don Quixote. I might be forgetting something, but I certainly can’t be forgetting much. ALF simply has never given much of a crap about Brian. Period.

Of course, this too could be a great inroad for the plot. ALF never bothered to bond with Brian…and now Brian is bonding with something else. ALF’s jealousy could play out in several ways for comic effect, and the episode could end with ALF realizing that he is the one to blame. The problem isn’t that Brian is sick of him…the problem is that ALF himself never put forth any effort, so the kid moved on. It’d be a bit like the realization at the end of “Cat’s in the Cradle,” except instead of the kid having a father who realizes what a mess he’s made of their relationship, he has an alien who rapes him a bunch.

Whatever. The point is that there are an infinite number of ways to handle this setup…and nearly all of them would be better than what we actually got.

ALF, "You Ain’t Nothin’ But a Hound Dog"

Very early the next morning, ALF brings Willie his paper in bed, Kate tells him to fuck fucking off, and ALF complains that dogs get treated better than aliens around here. Which would probably have been a more compelling argument in an episode that didn’t open with this alien smashing up their neighbors’ windows.

He then finds that the dog has taken his bed. Fortunately it hasn’t truly taken over ALF’s place in the family, though, because it’s just lying there and not masturbating to Lynn’s unmentionables.

The dog yawns or licks its chops or something, and those masterful foley artists lay a totally incongruous growl over top of it. Startled by the dog’s impressive display of ventriloquism, ALF shits everywhere.

ALF, "You Ain’t Nothin’ But a Hound Dog"

The next morning Willie and Kate cook ALF his all time favorite Sunday breakfast: naked pictures of Brian.

Sorry. They make his second favorite: French toast, Jell-O, and spaghetti. They’re doing this by way of apology. You know, because they busted up some windows and blamed him for it, broke his chimney, woke him up in the middle of the night for no reason…

Oh, wait. That’s all the crap he did. Why are they apologizing to him? Because he’s jealous of the dog? Fuck you, ALF. You send Willie to Gitmo without batting an eye, but they’re supposed to drop everything and kiss your feet because a better behaved animal is getting attention more attention than you?

This happens a lot in this show. ALF fucks some shit up and / or places the family in mortal danger, then they either apologize to him or thank him. Granted, in some cases he does actually save them (“Come Fly With Me”), but that should hardly get top billing over the fact that he’s the one that endangered them in the first place.

Anyway, they ask where the dog is and ALF reveals that he murdered it with a screwdriver.

ALF, "You Ain’t Nothin’ But a Hound Dog"

A little girl comes over with one of Brian’s posters and says it’s her dog, Francesca. I don’t know how she knows that, since there’s no picture of the dog on the flier, and in fact has nothing printed on it apart from Andrea Elson’s next lines, but, whatever. Lynn, not knowing yet that ALF has disemboweled the dog in their bathtub, invites the girl in.

Where’s Brian in this scene? Seriously, why wasn’t he the character who answered the door? We could have had a scene between two little kids who are attached to the same dog. They both want it…they both feel entitled to it…but it rightfully belongs to the girl, and Brian has to learn to let go.

I like that idea. I don’t even care if you do, because the main point is that this episode about Brian bonding with the dog, which hinged a seemingly pivotal moment on ALF’s realization that Brian was bonding with the dog, is almost completely devoid of Brian.

It’s bizarre, and it has to be a joke at this point. Right? Not only are they making a point of not integrating him into stories that don’t need him, but they’re crowding him out of the stories that do need him.

ALF, "You Ain’t Nothin’ But a Hound Dog"

Willie and Kate go into the kitchen to fist ALF to death. He admits he gave the dog away, but defends himself on the grounds that Brian was getting too attached to it.

See? This is a Brian episode, and he’s barely in it. The only thing we’ve seen him do with the dog is take it out for a walk, and the camera stayed behind while they were gone because fuck Brian. This kid isn’t even getting invited to his own parties anymore.

The dog is currently in the home of that woman who is going to be dead in a few weeks, so Willie heads over to throw her from the train.

ALF, "You Ain’t Nothin’ But a Hound Dog"

I have no idea how much time is meant to have passed in this episode. I thought the whole episode up until ALF tries to sleep in his bed is the first (and only) day that the family has the dog, judging by the fact that their outfits don’t change and the dog doesn’t seem to have found anywhere else to sleep. The next morning is when they try to cook ALF breakfast, but that’s also the morning on which he reveals that the dog is gone.

Fine. But there’s also some worry during that scene because Willie and Kate know that the dog “usually” comes running when they’re cooking. It’s a bit early to say that if it’s only the next day, and way too early to be worried that the “usual” routine — of, what, 15 hours? — has been interrupted. So I have no fucking clue what’s going on except that this lady has the dog and who the hell cares how quickly time does or doesn’t pass in this dumbass show.

She demands $500 for the dog, and man is it hard to watch this. Ramsey’s speech is noticeably slurred, and she’s barely mobile. Then it gets even more unintentionally heartbreaking when her ex-boyfriend starts pounding on the door. We don’t see him until later, but we hear his voice, and IMDB informs me that the ex-boyfriend is played by Logan Ramsey, her real life husband. Anne died the same year this episode aired, and Logan died in 2000, twelve years later.

The running joke that these two hideous people could be in any way attracted to each other sure is a sour swansong for their lives together. In fact, the mere suggestion that this lady has or ever had a sex life is enough to make Willie do this:

ALF, "You Ain’t Nothin’ But a Hound Dog"

Your social worker, ladies and gentleman.

Ugh. They really, really should have changed this script once they saw how poorly Anne Ramsey was. It’s not in good fun when she spends her time between scenes making funeral arrangements.

Her ex threatens to beat the piss out of whatever guy she has in there with her, so Willie jumps out the window and this show sucks.

ALF, "You Ain’t Nothin’ But a Hound Dog"

Back at the ranch, ALF is trying to console Brian, who might as well be in the episode again, I guess. He’s not successful at talking the kid out of his funk, but ALF does get a good line when he suggests they go shoot some hoops: “I’ll get the pea-shooter. You see if the Hoops are in their back yard.”

Yeah, yeah. Sue me. I liked it.

Brian isn’t caving, though. He’s inconsolable, which we can tell from the fact that he sits in emotionless ignorance of anything going on around him. Just like every other episode.

Willie comes home and apologizes that he couldn’t get the dog back. Brian stomps off, pissed, but why? Had Willie gotten the dog, it still wouldn’t be Brian’s. It belongs to that little girl, and Wilile was getting it back for her. I can understand the idea that he’d be upset on her behalf, but that’s not what’s happening here. He’s mad because he doesn’t have the dog anymore…but no matter how things went with Mama Fratelli, that dog wasn’t coming back to the Tanner house.

Speaking of which, why didn’t Willie just cough up the $500? Yeah, it’s a lot of money, but he pays ten times that amount monthly to keep his alien happy. He won’t set some money aside — taking it out of ALF’s damage allowance, natch — to help this little girl get her dog back?

Fuck. You. Willie.

ALF, "You Ain’t Nothin’ But a Hound Dog"

ALF feels bad so he sneaks up to the old lady’s window dressed as Sarah Portland. I don’t know what his plan actually was, because the phone conveniently rings, she leaves the room, and he’s free to just waltz inside. We never find out who was on the phone, so I guess the writers didn’t know what the plan was, either.

While ALF is in her living room, her ex-boyfriend comes back. ALF hides, Mr. Ramsey talks about how much he wants to fuck her. Mrs. Ramsey talks about how much she wants to be fucked by him. Then they head into the other room to fuck. HAVE I MENTIONED THIS WAS AN EXCELLENT SHOW FOR FAMILIES

Then ALF starts to lead the dog out the front door. Seriously, what was his plan? If the phone didn’t ring and / or she didn’t get her hands on the treasure of One-Eyed Willie, what exactly was ALF going to do to get the dog out of there?

Whatever. ALF hears the two hideous creatures porkin’ the night away, and starts walking over with the intention of spying on them.

“No,” he says, stopping himself. “Some things are best left to the imagination.”

What a seriously perverse fucking show. And what a horrible way to cap off Ramsey’s career. I’d have been less disgusted if they just dug her up and peed on her.

ALF, "You Ain’t Nothin’ But a Hound Dog"

In the short scene before the credits, the little girl gets her dog back. Brian doesn’t seem to give more than a quarter of a shit at most, further confusing the issue of why he was angry before. And everything else that happened in this episode, for that matter.

The little girl tells him that he can come over and play whenever he wants, and his boner at being invited to participate in anything for the first time in 44 episodes can be seen from space.

THE END

MELMAC FACTS: ALF played Camille in his high school play. One of the common expressions on Melmac was, “If you love something, set it free. If it comes back to you, it’s yours. If it gets run over by a car, you don’t want it.”

—–
* He does make gagging gestures in the background through, and there’s a remarkable show of restraint on the part of the editors for not cutting to an extreme closeup of ALF doing this, a rushing crescendo of fake audience appreciation carrying us through to the act break.

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17 Responses

  • Jerod says:

    Based on my theory from last week, I think the Brian shirt is for Benji’s sake.

  • Sarah Portland says:

    Maaaan, I just went to Astoria a few days ago. Knowing that this was one of the last things that Anne Ramsey did before she died is terribly depressing.

  • ERK says:

    The TV / US DVD version of this episode cuts out the scene with Brian giving the dog back to the neighbor girl. Strange how some of the edited versions of these ALF episodes cut some pretty critical scenes to the plot.

    • Philip J Reed says:

      Brilliant. So glad they cut out the ending of both this and “Night Train,” since those scenes actually wrap up the storylines are aren’t just last-minute gags.

      It’s like the syndication editors were challenging themselves to make the show worse.

  • Mark Moore says:

    At first, I thought “Oh, the family’s getting a dog, just like their relatives at the full house, but…I don’t remember them having one.” So it makes sense that they don’t keep him.

    But it would’ve been totally like “ALF” for them to keep the dog and refer to the dog, but we never see him again.

    Was Lucky in this episode?

    • Philip J Reed says:

      Lucky wasn’t in it. There’s a reference to ALF thinking he’ll get along with the dog because they both hate cats, but that’s it.

      Speaking of which, Lucky’s barely been in this season.

      • Sarah Portland says:

        That actually raises an interesting topic: there really aren’t that many cats in sitcoms. There’s one in Red Dwarf that gradually becomes a cat-guy, and then there’s Spot on ST:TNG, but for regular sitcoms, it’s mostly just ALF.

        • Casey says:

          I think you’re forgetting Salem from Sabrina the Teenage Witch!

          • Philip J Reed says:

            I was just going to mention Sabrina! But that’s the only one that comes to mind.

            Maybe it’s because cats are harder to train for reliable performance? Harder than dogs, anyway. That’d explain why the cat in Red Dwarf is a human, and the one in Sabrina is a puppet and / or CGI, as well as why we don’t see more of them in sitcoms.

            Of course, if that were the only reason, we should see more of them in animated shows, and the imbalance, I think, still exists there.

            Do cats just not lend themselves to plots the way dogs do? The Simpsons sure had a good number of episodes about Santa’s Little Helper (or ones in which he played a large role) but I’d have trouble naming a single one that had much to do with Snowball II.

            • Sarah Portland says:

              Ah, Salem. Knew I would forget someone. I actually went to the Fictional Cats wikipedia page to see if there was someone I’d forgotten, and neither Lucky nor Salem were listed, which really only illustrates how unreliable wikipedia is.
              I would imagine that the lack of cats on television is mostly due to the fact that it’s harder to write stories that revolve around them. Really, Lucky only exists because ALF comes from a planet where cats are considered cuisine, and having the Tanners own a cat adds tension to the house when he talks about consuming the family pet. Both Salem and the cat from Red Dwarf talk, making them more “human-hybrid character” than pet. In truth, cats are not terribly hard to clicker-train. They’re very food-driven, and can be taught to do a number of things on cue as long as that promised food is produced at some point. It’s a contrast with dogs, who are also food-driven, but are praise-driven as well.
              For animation, there are more examples there, like CatBug or Cake, but still not on-par with dogs. I’ve heard an interesting theory that the internet is so full of cat videos because dogs are everywhere else, out in public, ect, and that’s not as possible with a cat, so it makes sense that cat owners would make videos and post them online to show off their pets: they can’t really do it anywhere else.

              • RaikoLives says:

                Cats are more often than not depicted as the villain, or with various “negative” traits in a lot of shows, especially those for kids. To continue to use Red Dwarf as an example, “Cat” is lazy, selfish, conceited, and stupid. He’s eventually friendlier, as he becomes more like the others, but as he is in those early seasons he’s all the negative aspects of cats, and pretty much only those. In most kids cartoons the cats are selfish, scheming, narcissistic, sometimes violent and usually nasty, while dogs are always the friendly, lovable, loyal defenders of the main character. The fact that cats are missing from most shows is either the end result of this, with most writers and audiences finding it hard to relate to them, or is caused by the same outside factors that create this “evil cat” stereotype, in that society has a natural aversion to them, in a general sense. We tend to see them as hunters, killers. Cruel cats who play with mice rather than kill them outright. Killers of birds and small animals.

                Let’s see some cartoon cats, for examples. Tom (from Tom and Jerry) is kinda dumb, cruel and just wants to kill/eat Jerry. Cat (from CatDog) is a selfish, egotistical guy who only rarely shows any sentiment towards his own brother, who he’s conjoined with (while Dog is a loyal, dumb, innocent for the whole show). Sylvester is sympathetic at times, but he’s also the main villain for both Tweety Bird and Speedy Gonzales. There’s a relatively modern show called “Kid vs Kat” in which the Kat is a horrible, demented, sadistic killing machine. About the only time I can see it subverted is Ren and Stimpy, in which the Chiuahua is the arrogant prick while the cat is the dopey but lovable one. Need I even mention Garfield? Hell, even Top Cat is mostly a tool. He’s just charming enough to get away with it, though. All of these lead to a perception of cats as “bad”, with the corresponding “dogs good” enforced just as regularly.

                See also the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland!

                I am no biologist, but… and I do hesitate in case I’m wrong, but… I watched a documentary on why dogs are our “best friend” and they discussed how emotive a dog’s face is. We, as a species, have bred dogs that we LIKED having as company, and they’ve evolved accordingly. Try pointing at something you want your dog to see. They’ll (usually, or eventually) look at what you’re gesturing at. Wolves in the wild will not look at the thing you’re pointing at, they’ll just look at your finger. When a dog looks, though, it will turn it’s eyes before turning it’s head and you’ll see the white parts of its eyeballs. Wolves, and cats, do not. They’ll turn their whole face towards things. It’s something we’ve unknowingly taught, and bred, into the dogs genetics. We like dog faces that resemble our own, so we bred ones that “look” rather than “turn” because it more closely resembles us. Or something along those lines.

                Basically, either writers don’t know HOW to write for them, or audiences can’t relate to them, or both. That’s my thoughts on it, anyway. Sorry for how long this got. lol

                • Philip J Reed says:

                  In Mason & Dixon, Thomas Pynchon theorizes (through his narrator, anyway) that dogs realized very quickly that no crime was regarded with greater disgust among humans than the eating of another human’s flesh…at which point they made it their business to start acting as human as possible.

                  It’s fiction, obviously, but some of the things I’ve learned about dogs (such as their human-like eye movements and the ability to understand what we mean when we gesture at something, which you mention!) make it seem kinda viable.

                  There’s also the fact that dogs scan faces in the same way that humans do in order to interpret emotion. Which is pretty fucking amazing for animals that are usually around knee-height.

                • Sarah Portland says:

                  I think part of it is that cat emotions are way to subtle to be picked up on by a television camera. Dogs, who are eager to please, have in some ways anthropomorphised themselves in order to better please humans. Wild dog knocks over a vase and it breaks? You’re not going to get much response from him other than confusion. Domesticated dog has learned that correct response is to look ashamed – he does the eyebrow thing (which I don’t really have a better description of, but which everybody knows), he lowers his head and his tail, and he whimpers. It’s almost over-exaggerated, and reads well on camera. You know that the dog feels bad. But let’s replace the dog with my cat. The vase breaks and I get angry and yell at him. He loses his temper and takes a swipe at me. We retreat to our separate corners, and if this scene is being filmed, the cat appears to give no fucks at the scene of the crime, despite the fact that we have seen that he is guilty. The fact that his temper is lost, and he lashes out, now makes him appear to not only be indifferent, but a total dick as well. The dog feels bad instantly, and you can see it from space. My cat, on the flip side, waits for an hour or so, ensuring that neither one of us is still angry, then very quietly comes out the closet and sits next to me. he doesn’t look at me, but he sits close enough that we are touching. The body language reads like, “Hey…. so, sorry about that thing earlier. I didn’t mean to scratch you. I was angry.” And I scratch him on the head, which pretty much means, “Yeah, sorry I yelled at you. I was angry too. Wanna Netflix with me?”
                  I think I’m just gonna go with the answer that cat emotions are too subtle to read. In times when cats are used rather than dogs, the cat tends to be aloof and even-keel (with the notable exceptions of being angry, which are easily read) because cats do not tend to display differing facial expressions for different situations or emotions. The movie “That Darn Cat” actually focuses on the fact that cats are mysterious, and the film really just follows the cat around, as opposed to say. “The Shaggy Dog”, which plays off of the fact that we sort of encourage that anthropomorphic behavior in dogs.

                • Sarah Portland says:

                  Shit, also meant to say that I agree with the assessment of dog-good/cat-bad, and this oversimplification is often used in tv and films. Actually, the mentioning of Ren and Stimpy is an interesting one, as my hard-wired brain often found it difficult to believe that Ren was the dog and Stimpy the lovable cat. My brain kept wanting to make Ren a hairless cat. It’s very strange, to just assume that the more devious of the pair was the cat, especially considering that I like dogs on a case-by-case basis, but like most cats instantly. I feel like the writers of that show may have intentionally tipped things upside-down just to mess with their viewers, giving the cat a sweet, naive, dog-like nature and giving the dog more cat-like qualities.

  • kim says:

    wow, I had no idea that was anne ramsey and this was her last role before she died, certainly puts this episode into a whole new perspective. I didn’t find this episode too terrible, I mean I got the idea ALF was jealous of the dog because he thought the dog was replaceing him, but frankly the dog was a better house guest then ALF as ever been. and really that should of been a wake up call for ALF if he started acting less like a dick, the tanners might like him more and your right, brian should of been in this episode a bit more. oh and for the part for kate and willie make ALF breakfast, it really not so much the apologizing to him,but more so they make up for neglecting him over the dog and show they still do care about him, even though he screws up stuff a lot.

  • They may as well have just replaced Brian with the dog, and make it into a talking dog. What does the kid bring to the show anymore? It honestly seems like the first set of writers left the show and Brian as a character was grandfather claused in.

  • Corrupt200 says:

    You should have made some comments about the girl being the future middle daughter in “Major Dad”.



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