ALF Reviews: “We Are Family” (season 2, episode 24)

You might remember in my review for “Tequila” that I said the next episode was one I’ve been looking forward to for a long time, but that was bullshit because I’m an idiot. I have no clue what “We Are Family” is about. The one I was thinking of is “Varsity Blues,” which comes next. I’m kind of disappointed, because I wanted to end the season on some kind of ridiculous nonsense instead of one I’m predisposed to enjoy. WOE IS ME

My confusion actually carries through much of the first scene, because Willie is discussing the very issue I’m looking forward to being addressed in “Varsity Blues”: the fact that ALF muthafuckin bankrupts these idiots.

Granted, the dialogue doesn’t get quite that far, but when an episode opens with Willie chiding ALF for racking up a $300 phone bill…well, that seems like a pretty good ingress to dealing with the larger financial problem. It’s not, though. It’s the opening to an irrelevant episode about Jake. Remember him? He’s like Brian, only he has a personality, character traits, and the writers only have to pay him when he has something to do.

Whatever. We’ll deal with that later. Right now we’re covering the phone bill, which is so high because of all the phone sex ALF has been having with Lynn. Then there’s the matter of additional fees for all the photos of his junk he’s been FedEx-ing to Brian. Really this crap is just killing time until the Ochmoneks come over, which is fine, because I actually like them.

I can’t get over how much Mr. Ochmonek has grown on me as a character. Granted, it might be some form of desperation, like in those old cartoons with two characters starving to death in a lifeboat, and to each other they each look like big turkey legs. I’m dying for something to enjoy consistently, so I start salivating whenever I see Porkchop Ochmonek.

I don’t know. I think he’s funny. They come over to invite the Tanners to Jake’s graduation party, and they’re excited because he finished the eighth grade after only one year. “He’s so smart, it’s scary!” Mr. Ochmonek says, and it’s actually a good line.

Jack LaMotta doesn’t get much to do with Mr. Ochmonek, but he makes his lines count. We then get a nice moment when he asks Willie to répondez s’il vous plaît, which I fucking love because Mr. O — with his master’s degree in Art History — isn’t entirely the uncultured boob he seems to be. He’s got a little more going on beneath the surface, even if he doesn’t realize that himself, and I think that’s great. The fact that he didn’t just say “R.S.V.P.,” or “So are you comin’ or what?” doesn’t quite qualify as a joke. It’s funny, but it’s funny because it’s an unexpected reveal of character.

Starving in a lifeboat or not, I’ll take moments like that anytime.

Also, note that the Ochmoneks are inviting the Tanners to one of their family events. This season alone the Tanners hosted a Halloween party and a wedding without inviting the Ochmoneks, who live right next door and probably have to deal with the noise and all the extra cars. In the review for “Something’s Wrong With Me,” ALF analyst Mark Moore left a comment saying that it was understandable that the Ochmoneks wouldn’t be invited to the wedding, as they really had nothing to do with the couple. Which, unquestionably, is true. And yet, the Tanners have nothing to do with Jake. ALF seems to have a relationship with him, but, obviously, the Ochmoneks don’t know that, and ALF, just as obviously, isn’t invited.

The Ochmoneks are inviting the Tanners because that’s the polite thing to do. These people are happy to invite the Tanners, just for the sake of offering. The Tanners wouldn’t be caught dead wishing the Ochmoneks a merry Christmas, let alone inviting them to one of their social functions.

Remind me. Again. Who the bad neighbors are supposed to be.

ALF, "We Are Family"

After the credits Willie comes into the kitchen, and ALF scolds him, asking him if he ignored the sign on the door. It reads GENIUS AT WORK. Willie then strolls over to ALF and says, “I’m sorry. I didn’t make the connection.”

This is another one of my favorite things about the show: Max Wright being given a laugh line that the editors purposefully withhold laughter from.

It’s an odd kind of bleed from the on-set political conflict, and it’s so easily apparent because the show has a laugh track. When an audience response — and the length of that audience response, and the enthusiasm of that audience response — can be controlled with a dial, it means that whenever an actor delivers a line like this without getting a response, it’s a clear and deliberate “fuck you.”

Max Wright was vocal in his irritation that ALF got all of the best lines for himself, while all Willie got to do was walk back and forth shaking his head. So, here, he gets to crack a joke.

I love moments like these, because they reveal a lot about what working on ALF must have been like. Complain enough, and you’ll be given a laugh line to shut you up. Of course, in the edit they won’t paste any actual laughter after it, which will just make you look like even more of a lame idiot to the viewers at home.

It’s a way to get the actors to clam up on set without anyone at home having to believe there’s somebody else on the show as funny as ALF. I sure wonder why everybody hated working with Paul Fusco.

It’s even expanded upon as Willie tries to get ALF to laugh at his joke, and ALF just shrugs him off and says, “Yeah yeah.” You’re not the star, Willie. You’re lucky we even pay you. Now be quiet and let the people enjoy the puppet.

ALF, "We Are Family"

ALF explains that he’s writing a press release. He’s decided to reveal himself to the world so that he no longer has to be in hiding.

Willie, understandably, craps himself.

He’s upset because ALF seems to have forgotten that the government will scoop him up the moment he dangles his face-phallus in public. It’s hard to blame ALF, though, since the show itself also seems to forget this very often. At this point, I honestly think that the number of characters on this show who have seen ALF is larger than the number of characters who haven’t.

But Willie’s impassioned explanation of ALF’s possible fate at the hands of the Alien Task Force (or, as he calls them, “The Government,” because none of the writers can remember what they called the organization) leads to a clip from the forthcoming Project: ALF.

ALF, "We Are Family"

Man I am not looking forward to Project: ALF.

Anyway, it’s an odd fantasy sequence that goes on a lot longer than I would have expected. I guess the writers had some jokes about ALF being in government custody, but didn’t want to actually write an episode in which that was the case. Which, hey, fine. But I’d much prefer a full-length fantasy episode with ALF awakening from this nightmare at the end.

I know, that’s corny, but at least “title character is captured by show’s villain” would be a fantasy episode that had something to do with ALF‘s premise. So far the ones we’ve gotten have been about Kate running for president and a visit to Gilligan’s Island.

This seems like it should play a bit like a Family Guy cutaway. Get there, tell your joke, get out. Instead, we get a protracted sequence of ALF shocking himself by pushing buttons, making jokes about how he hates celery, and then the introduction of a guest character. Which, again, since this is an irrelevant fantasy inserted into the show because Jake’s graduation party is far from adequate material for a full-length plot, is fucking crazy.

Who cares about the fake scientist who doesn’t even exist in the show’s reality? I have hard enough time caring about most of the characters who do. Why am I spending time with this deformed guy?

ALF, "We Are Family"

Like, he actually is deformed. He’s some guy who’s been in a crapload of horror movies, but in this case, why is ALF fantasizing that he’s going to be captured by a guy who can’t grow hair or teeth? Why that specific detail? What’s even the point of this? Nothing horrific is happening…ALF is just fantasizing some shitty dialogue for him and this imaginary scientist to shoot back and forth.

What the hell is going on?

If I’d gone for a bathroom break and came back to find that the Jake’s Graduation episode had somehow become the ALF’s Vivisection episode, I’d have been a confused little boy.

ALF, "We Are Family"

Actually, I’m no less confused as a big boy. What the fuck is this episode? We’re nearing the halfway point, and I couldn’t tell you. ALF racked up a huge phone bill, so it’s time for Jake to graduate, therefore ALF considers writing a press release about himself, and he daydreams about being held captive in a government testing facility.

This…I don’t know, guys. I feel like I’m having a stroke. Nothing here has any connection to anything else.

At least we’re back in the Tanner kitchen. That will give me a chance to reorient myself. ALF’s at his typewriter, Willie’s in his fishing vest, and…

ALF, "We Are Family"


Now ALF is hosting a talk show.

What the actual what fucking what.

What is this episode? He’s on the old David Letterman set, which makes sense, as at this point in time Letterman was still hosting Late Night on NBC. In case you forgot, that’s ALF‘s network. The fact that Letterman himself doesn’t appear goes a long way toward demonstrating his excellent taste in entertainment.

ALF makes some dumbass jokes about eating cats because he’s ALF and ALF eats cats. Then we…



ALF, "We Are Family"

Willie is dressed like Paul Shaffer, hamming it up while some actual musician in the background wishes he didn’t need the extra income so badly.

The weird thing is that Max Wright does an actual impression of Shaffer, which itself gave me gallstones, yes, but the reason it’s weird is that he thanks ALF for hiring him after firing Shaffer.




If Willie isn’t ALF’s fantasy version of Shaffer — and in fact just replaced a version of Shaffer that already existed in this fantasy — shouldn’t Willie still be Willie?

Why is he talking and dressing and acting like Shaffer?

Why is this on television?

Why is any of this happening?

Happy graduation, Jake! I hope you enjoy this series of disconnected bullshit!

Then ALF introduces Sandy Duncan, who comes out and my fucking Christ this is awful.

ALF, "We Are Family"

So, recap: ALF made too many calls. Jake is graduating from eighth grade. ALF is considering writing a press release. ALF is flayed alive by the government. ALF is hosting Late Night. Got that?

Now Sandy Duncan turns up to promote Valerie’s Family.

Like…actually promote it. They talk about the actual show, including the recent plot development of a major character dying, and it seemed pretty fucking incongruous until I looked it up and saw that, at the time, Valerie’s Family was airing right after ALF.

I remember a lot of old shows used to have an actor, in character, say something like, “And now stay tuned for…!” over the end credits, which was a pretty corny way of implying endorsement, but I can understand it.

I don’t often remember the star of a show popping up in the previous one to plead with someone, anyone, to stick around and watch it.

Valerie’s Family now is barely remembered. When it is, it’s mainly due to the fact that it featured a young Jason Bateman. During its fairly short lifespan it actually went through three title changes. Valerie, Valerie’s Family, and The Hogan Family. I barely remember the show existing, so I guess cramming one of its stars into the second throwaway fantasy sequence of an instantly forgettable episode of ALF somehow failed to launch it into the public consciousness.

Then we get a commercial, and I have to admit, it’s perfectly placed. I certainly can’t guess what happens next.

ALF, "We Are Family"

When we come back, ALF is dressed as who cares. He called a press conference, and the family just sits around bitching about how boned they are.

Instead of, you know, calling the reporters or whatever and saying it was a hoax and they’re very sorry.

Or stabbing ALF to death with a corkscrew.

Willie then comes in with a documentary about a Ugandan orangutan, and puts it in the VCR. I was seriously afraid we’d get another fantasy sequence with the Tanners playing the roles of zoo animals. See what you’ve done to me, “We Are Family”?


ALF, "We Are Family"

Oh good. We actually get to watch it.

This episode is such a stitched together mess, I can’t even believe it. Way back in the second episode, “Strangers in the Night,” I had similar concerns. But, well…it was the second episode. At this point? There’s no excuse.

The narrator of the documentary we’re watching for no fucking reason explains that the orangutan was captured and felt so sad that it died of loneliness.

We actually just watch and hear a clip from a nature documentary. Why is this happening?

When it’s over, the Tanners repeat for us everything we’ve just heard, but at greater length to make sure we understand that ALF is totally like that orangutan, you guys.

What the shit happened to Jake’s graduation party? WHAT THE SHIT HAPPENED TO ANYTHING

Also the Tanners keep pronouncing “orangutan” as “a-rang-a-tang” and I’m starting to understand why Elvis shot his television.

Some reporter shows up, Kate tells him to piss off, and he leaves. Wow. They’re really committed to making sure nothing at all happens in this episode, aren’t they?

ALF then pops up through the plot window and says, sadly, “If Robin Leach calls back, just say ‘ALF who.'” Then the sad music plays and there’s no laughter, so I guess the audience is being asked to weep at a reference to Robin Leach. I can safely say ALF is the only show in history to attempt that.

ALF, "We Are Family"

Willie goes into his bathroom to take a shit, but his shy colon refuses to cooperate while ALF’s eating in the tub. ALF asks Willie how the graduation party was and Willie says fine.


That’s it? It’s over? I thought that was the whole point of this episode. It happened off camera? Why did we even have to hear about it? What function did it play at all? Sure, it told us that Jake is graduating from eighth grade. But, if that’s the case, doesn’t that mean Brian and Lynn are graduating from their respective grades, too?

Why are the Ochmoneks throwing a party for their nephew, but the Tanners don’t give enough of a shit to throw one for either of their own children? WHAT IS THE POINT OF THIS EPISODE.

The scene ends, but not before we get the great joke that ALF ate Willie’s soap and as a result filled the tub up with a stream of unstoppable feces.

ALF, "We Are Family"

Kate tells ALF to stop wallowing in his own soapy excrement because she wants to take a bath, and when he comes into the living room everyone yells surprise.



Please. Fucking. God.


It’s a surprise party for ALF.


Jodie is there. And Dr. Dykstra.


Please don’t do this to them. Please. Please don’t put them in this episode. They don’t deserve this. Take me instead.

ALF, "We Are Family"

Kate Sr. and Jake are here too. Everyone’s trying to cheer ALF up by showing him that his world isn’t as limited as he thinks he is, which definitely feels like a resolution to an episode, but not one that saw ALF interviewing Sandy Duncan on Late Night.

This does, however, accomplish something that I like. It shows that ALF has a circle of friends. That’s something I didn’t realize, and which I don’t think the show realized, until this moment.

Usually he encounters these people one by one. Which, of course, is fine. But it contributes to a feeling of isolation that isn’t actually the case. These people can come over and keep him company any time.

It’s also telling that the Tanners didn’t invite the Mexican kid from “Border Song” or the forgotten little girl ALF promised never to forget from the Christmas special. Probably the two people who would most like to see ALF again, and who would actually benefit from having a friend themselves.

But, eh, fuck em. As long as ALF is happy, right?

You may notice something strange about these four guests. Kate Sr., Jake, Dr. Dykstra, and Jodie. One of these things, as they say, is not like the others.

Jodie is the only one who doesn’t know ALF is an alien. So what, exactly, does she think is going on here? As far as she knows, he’s just some short old guy. Isn’t she a little curious as to why they’re all there?

The others know that he’s the last of his species and can’t leave the house. Jodie doesn’t know any of that. Potentially, this could turn into a horrific situation in which a blind woman flees the house into oncoming traffic. But the Tanners didn’t bother to think about that. So fuck her, too.

ALF, "We Are Family"

Surprisingly, the show did think about it, and it leads to the best part of the episode. Jodie makes a joke about ALF’s ratty sweater, and everyone laughs. Then Dr. Dykstra does something very human: he makes awkward conversation with the person he’s stuck sitting next to at the party. Without anything else to say to Kate, he says, “She thinks ALF’s fur is a sweater.”

The look of panic in Kate’s eyes is perfect, and also very human. She pulls him aside and explains that Jodie doesn’t know ALF’s an alien, which you’d think would be a pretty fucking great reason not to invite her to this FEEL BETTER ALIEN party.

Sadly, it doesn’t go any further than this. Dr. Dykstra apologizes for having told Jodie earlier about the time ALF ate a tennis racket because he misunderstood the concept of catgut, and that’s that.

It’s a shame, because there are at least a few great episode ideas in here. The party of ALF’s friends could have fleshed out a nice 30 minutes itself, especially if we got to see some old familiar faces while we’re there. Jodie finding out ALF is an alien should also be a fun — and, let’s face it, inevitable — storyline. Or maybe even when that reporter showed up and Kate shooed him away, he caught a glimpse of ALF through the window, snapped a picture, and now there’s a media circus the Tanners have to deal with.

Any of that is better than watching a nature documentary with fucking Willie.

ALF, "We Are Family"

The Ochmoneks come over looking for Jake, dressed up because they always go dancing on Saturday nights. That’s sweet. When, exactly, is the last time Willie did anything nice for Kate? Or, to be honest, vice versa?

This is why I am willing to believe the Ochmoneks are in love. They have a history. They make each other laugh. They spend time together. Willie and Kate are barely roommates.

ALF hides in the kitchen when the neighbors come over, as usual. Jodie asks why, which is a great question, so Willie knocks her unconscious with a wrench.

The Ochmoneks are hurt because the Tanners had a party without inviting them, but that’s okay, because the episode’s almost over and it’s not like their feelings matter anyway. It turns into a joke about how this is a Tupperware party and the Ochmoneks are cheap. It’s as fitting an ending as anything could possible be for this barely coherent mess of an episode.

I know what you’re thinking. “Did this episode really end before we got to listen to Willie and Kate Sr. perform a duet?”

ALF, "We Are Family"

Don’t worry, brother. The pre-credits tag has you covered. Willie tickles the ivories while Kate Sr. bleats out an abbreviated cover of “The Band Played On.” It’s a well-deserved slap in the nuts for anyone who wasn’t smart enough to change the channel well before we got to this point.

I still have no idea what the fuck I just watched. If any of you can tell me, I’ll be forever in your debt.

One more episode. Then we move on to season three. Which, by all accounts, is worse than season two.

Personally, I don’t know how they could top this.

MELMAC FACTS: On Melmac ALF was considered above-average, though they did grade on a curve. Whatever any of that is supposed to mean. When Melmacians are depressed they eat more (with their “spare stomachs” opening up to accommodate the extra food), and gravitate toward cheap imitation porcelain.

14 thoughts on “ALF Reviews: “We Are Family” (season 2, episode 24)”

  1. So, I don’t want to be “that guy”, but I guess I’ll be that guy: The next episode is actually called “Varsity Drag”, not “Varsity Blues”. “Varsity Blues” is that high school football movie from the late ’90s that’s probably most famous for Ali Larter wearing a whipped cream bikini.

  2. I sincerely refuse to believe Willie as Paul Schaffer wasn’t some horrendous in joke on Max Wright. I want to think this whole show will involve into Paul Fusco putting him into more and more degrading situations until eventually he’s just re-enacting Jim Carrey movies.

    1. Willie as Paul Schaffer is especially degrading because Paul doesn’t even rank as a side-kick, like Andy Richter. BUT, Paul at least has a job that he’s doing. He’s cracking wise between musical sets and entertaining the audience during commercial breaks and guests. Willie isn’t doing anything at all. He’s just hanging out in a shirt that he got from Phil’s closet.

  3. Okay, I’m just going off of your review, but here’s what I’m guessing was supposed to be the arc of this episode:

    1. It’s announced that Jake is having a graduation party
    2. ALF is bummed that he can’t go, and decides “screw this situation, I can’t do ANYTHING, so let’s just get this out in the open”
    3. Willie warns ALF that this is a bad idea
    4. ALF rejects this idea & convinces himself that he will actually become a celebrity, so
    5. ALF sends out press releases
    6. Willie (or Kate) realize how depressed ALF has gotten and throw him a party

    It really is terrible that they padded the hell out of this with dream sequences when they could have spent a lot more time on the party. I would have simplified the episode’s through line and emphasized how Willie & Kate realize ALF is either going to die of loneliness or reveal himself and get dissected. Heck, just have Willie remember an a-rang-a-tang documentary he saw the previous week, and cite the giant phone bill as evidence that ALF is starved for contact.

  4. Isn’t Mr. Ochmonek the only person who hasn’t seen ALF by this point? Even Rachel saw him, in the episode where she talked about him on TV and was being made fun of. I guess Mrs. Byrd counts too, maybe. But the whole “protect ALF from being seen” doesn’t seem to matter at all. *shrug*
    Jody and Dr. Dykstra really do work, don’t they? The whole episode is a mess, except for the short part where they do something (or it’s at least not as awful as the rest).
    I guess the process for this episode was something like this:
    I have an idea! After two years, ALF feels really down about being basically a prisoner in a house.
    Hey, there are all this people who know him, we could bring them all back for something that would sort of work for a season finale. The surprise party has to be the big scene at the end, so we can’t actually do anything with this people.
    Ok, we have the end. How do we start? How do we get there?
    Whatever, let’s just through together some random shit.
    While I wrote this, I thought about the Orangutan video and…what was the point of it? I mean, I get it, if ALF gets caught he will be super lonely, but isn’t the point of this episode that he already is super lonely? Maybe it’s just there to show that Willie sucks at helping people.

    1. You’re right. That video makes so little sense it’s hard to understand what the hell it’s doing. Like, if they already GET that ALF is lonely… why play the tape? If they DON’T get that he’s lonely surely something more incidental would have worked better?

      Remember in the Simpsons when Marge is thinking about her bowling tutor Jaques (and going to brunch with him) and she drives down the ironic road with all the couples, reminding her of her husband and the bond they share? Wouldn’t a scene like that have worked better? Turn on the TV and there’s a series of “loneliness” stuff that really rams the stuff home?

      I’m not sure Fuscoe realises that the SHOW needs to be funny, not just ALF. It’s like he thinks he’s making a terrible drama show – like Gilmore Girls or 7th Heaven – and ALF is just “the funny character”, when this is a fucking sitcom and needs to be funny across the board. That’s what the COM is, Fuscoe! COMEDY! FUCK!

  5. We all love thinking about “bettering” these episodes, and Phil’s idea of the reporter getting a glimpse of ALF and a media circus occurring would be a perfect way to have Jodie learn ALF is an alien. They’re having the party and get stuck in the house together at the end of Act 1.Hours pass and everyone gets edgey until it finally comes out (from fucking BRIAN probably) and Jodie learns ALF is an alien to end Act 2. Then ALF and Jodie get closer as they bond a bit and Jodie accepts him for who he REALLY is. The pre credits gag would be some sensationalist bullshit happens downtown and all the reporters head off to see it, leaving ALF upset that “alien” just isn’t as exciting as it used to be. Maybe even a meta gag about there being too many aliens on tv already?

    Way to go, ALF. Good job wasting a bunch of good/decent/acceptable actors on what amounts to nothing more than a shitty clip show.

  6. ugh. obviously you didn’t get this episode at all.okay, I’ll explain it for you. jake’s graduation party is mentioned because it is party ALF would like to go to, but he can’t because of the fear being seen by the public. ALF gets really bummed about it and finally had enough of hiding, so that we he decided to reveal himself to the world in a press release. the first dream sequence is suppose to be what willie is imaging would happen to ALF if he reveal himself to the public. the second dream sequence is what ALF imagines if he would reveal himself to the public, he thinks he will become famous and host is own talk show I guess? which really would of made better sense if the roles were revised, david letterman was the talk show host and ALF just be the guest host.
    the point of the documentary with the orangutang was to show ALF would only make things worse for himself if he decided to go public, the orangutang was last of it’s kind and died because it spend the rest of it’s life in captivity without any interaction to the outside world, willie thinks the same thing will happen to ALF once he gets captured by the alien task force. then ALF realizes the big mistake he just made and decide to call off the press release, i think Robin Leach refs to one of the reporters or talk show hosts is was going to meant i guess. ALF becomes depressed because he now realizes he is forever struck to a life of loneliness and isolation and the tanners throw him a surprise party with all his friends to show is not as lonely as he thinks he is. *phew* really, I’m surprised you didn’t get all of that. really I didn’t find this episode that bad, I found both be kind of sad, but heartwarming, but then again that is just me.

  7. While this episode might be one of the lowest (if not the lowest) moment of Season 2, “Tonight, Tonight” early in Season 3 is far worse. You got a small taste of what it’s like with Alf pretending to be David Letterman in this episode. Now just imagine A WHOLE GODDAMN HOUR of that. It’s probably is the worst hour of TV I’ve ever watched, and that’s no exaggeration.

    I can’t wait for your review of that one. I think there’s going to be a lot of swear words in it! ;-)

  8. Yeah I am not a fan of the Tonight Show episode. There’s actually 2 2-parters in season 3. the Tonight Show, and then a couple weeks later, the Thanksgiving 2 parter. Yes there is a Thanksgiving episode. At the end, the family devises a way for ALF to go see Brian’s Thanksgiving pageant, by building this large “picnic basket” thing with a peephole. I can just see the people at the pageant–“why the hell are those weirdos carrying that large picnic basket? uhhhhhhhh . . .”

    This episode should’ve been the season finale as Varsity Drag (the season 2 finale) was taped in the middle of the season according to production numbers. These eps are all over the place. This episode doesn’t even stand out in my memory. I just watched it over the summer and don’t even remember half of it.

  9. So I haven’t gone back to watch these yet (I plan to rewatch some of them on Hulu), but do Alf and the Tanners always refer to the Ochmoneks as “nosey”? Because when I look back, that’s the only way I remember them! And yet clearly, they were the neighbors everybody dreams of having! I can only imagine that as a kid I believed them to be so nosy because they relentlessly told me that’s what they were. It’s really strange seeing this other side of these neighbors that suddenly seem to great!

    1. I think early season one had a lot of “nosy neighbor” stuff, but since then it’s mainly been the Tanners bitching about how terrible these people are who keep showing them with gifts and invitations and well wishes.

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