ALF Reviews: “Torn Between Two Lovers” (season 3, episode 20)

“Torn Between Two Lovers” is by no means a very good episode of ALF Hell, it wouldn’t be a very good episode of anything. It is, however, a pretty interesting one. More interesting than I’d have expected an episode about sitting around talking about a school dance to be, at least.

One of the interesting things is that there’s a subplot in this episode, which is pretty rare. Thinking back, I don’t know how many episodes actually more than one story unfolding in parallel. “Movin’ Out” was one; that had Willie’s new job and the impending sale of the house. “Fight Back” had Willie pursuing bureaucratic justice while ALF’s faction went for Melmacian street justice. And here we have whatever the fuck Lynn is doing, while ALF cleans the kitchen.

I didn’t say it was a good subplot, but it has a beginning, a middle, and an end.

Well…it ends, anyway.

The episode opens with the subplot, as we encounter ALF making hilarious puns about the names of cleaning products until the cold open is finished and the episode can finally begin.

He’s surrounded by all of these cleaning products because he’s helping — in an extraordinarily elastic sense of the term — to keep the house clean while Kate is away at detox. (Because damn, guys…how can a house stay presentable without a woman on 24-hour cleanup duty?)

And, no, the detox thing is not my joke…it’s ALF’s. Lynn clarifies that Kate’s actually away at a real estate seminar. So…she still works at that place she we’ve only heard about twice and haven’t seen for 11 weeks? Sorry Lynn, but I think ALF’s right. It’s far more likely she’s at detox.

Actually, does this “the family has to pitch in” subplot imply that nobody pitched in with the housework before this very moment? Even though Kate’s heavily pregnant and working a full-time job? And even though none of them have any social life or other obligations to speak of?

What a pack of assholes.

ALF, "Torn Between Two Lovers"

After the credits, some guy comes over and slips his tongue into Lynn. She calls him Danny, and…

…wait. Danny?

As in Danny Duckworth? From the first episode of this season?

I don’t want to go back and watch that one again (ever), so I’ll have to rely on IMDB for confirmation. And, yes, this is the same character. A character that we have neither seen nor heard about for 18 weeks. Wow…and I thought Kate’s occupation was a deep cut.

There’s no problem with bringing Danny back, in theory. In fact, I should like this, because it’s evidence that somebody, at some point, paid some degree of attention to some fucking thing that’s happened in this show. But Danny was a complete non-entity the first time around. Of all possible characters, why bring him back?

What’s your favorite Danny Duckworth quote? Do you remember anything he said or did? I sure don’t, and I’ve written more about ALF than anyone else will for the remainder of time. So while I like the idea that a character has come back for another episode, I’m not sure Danny Duckworth is the one that deserves the honor. And since it’s been almost an entire season since we’ve seen or heard anything about him, why not just invent a new boyfriend at this point?

That latter question is a good one, I think…especially since “Promises, Promises” (working title “Sexual Predation Follies”) aired a few weeks after that, and centered on Lynn’s involvement with three different guys: Patchouli, Eddie, and Randy.

“Lynn is still dating Danny” isn’t such a terrible thing to tell the audience, but telling them that so long after she started dating him, with no indication that he still existed within the universe of the show, and after we’ve seen her date at least three guys other than him, you have to wonder why they bothered. It really should have been a brand-new boyfriend for all it matters to the episode, let alone to the audience.

Danny tells her that he can’t take her to the spring dance tomorrow, because he has a family reunion, which is the sort of thing only sitcom characters have to deal with spur of the moment. Lynn is devastated by the news that the guy she hasn’t heard from for four and a half months (not counting reruns) won’t be around tomorrow, either.

She’s clearly disappointed, and Elson’s acting here is not that bad. At the risk of sounding rude (something I hope NEVER HAPPENS IN THESE REVIEWS), I think she’s good here because she doesn’t have many actual lines. She doesn’t have to say sad things, she simply has to seem sad as she closes the door behind him…and she’s good at that. I’ve mentioned before that I don’t think she’s much of an actress…but she definitely understands emotions, and when she gets to channel them, she’s not bad.

After she closes the door she sighs sadly. I actually like that part…but then, for some inexplicable reason, there’s a laugh from the audience.

And that’s just…odd. Normally I’d assume a joke was cut, but I’m watching the uncut episodes now so it’s not as though some careless syndication editor snipped a punchline and left the laughter. This is, I have to assume, exactly how the original episode aired.

Even stranger: ALF doesn’t have a studio audience, which means that somebody actively decided to paste laughter here.

There was no joke…she just closed the door and then started moping around on the verge of tears. Cue massive chuckle.

…what? Why would you trigger the laugh track for that? What the actual fuck was going through somebody’s mind?

ALF, "Torn Between Two Lovers"

Anyway who cares why we’re laughing at a young girl’s heartache because back in the kitchen ALF shrunk a sweater!!!!!!

Jesus Christ. Is every lousy sitcom required to do exactly this joke, with exactly this prop, at some point in its shitty life?

Lynn comes into the kitchen to repeat for us everything we just heard in the previous scene. It’s not a good sign when an episode can’t bring itself to get out of bed in the morning.

Willie asks if there’s anyone else she can take to the dance, because, let’s face it, Lynn, those pants have never been buttoned for long. ALF thinks he might be free, and says he’ll check his Week At-A-Glance.

But then he doesn’t move.

He just stares vacantly for a while as the fake audience yuks it up endlessly.

Did we really need to give ALF a glory hold for that? I didn’t even think it was a punchline…I figured he’d dig out a little book and read out some hilarious appointments or something.

I don’t know. I’ve given up on this show being funny…but is it too much to ask that it at least respects what a joke is?

Lynn and Willie talk briefly about how she’s feeling, and abandon it immediately when ALF starts talking about Melmacian courtship. Man, if that’s not the entire series in microcosm, I don’t know what is; some characters have to deal with something, but then have to ignore it completely because ALF’s started talking about life in St. Olaf.

They wait for ALF to finish his rudely interjected monologue, and then talk about whether or not Lynn and Danny are “going steady.”

There’s some confusion within the show about what qualifies as going steady, how you’d know, and so on…and I have to admit, I’ve always been pretty hazy on it too. I think the episode ends up defining it as something like “dating exclusively,” which makes sense, but that also seems a bit redundant. Maybe it’s just me, but if you’re dating someone, that’s supposed to be exclusive. If it’s not exclusive — and you’re just hanging out, having fun, having sex, or whatever — then you’re not dating that person. You’re just hanging out, having fun, having sex, or whatever.

But maybe I’m just misinterpreting the concept. I’ve always had a similar confusion about the phrase “hooking up,” and I can’t be alone because people use it to describe everything from something relatively small (making out) to something a bit larger (getting a joint punchcard at Planned Parenthood).

Phrases like these feel useless to me if they don’t actually mean something specific. If two people are using the same terms to mean different things, then I don’t know how those terms endure. Why do people keep using them? What’s the value in using them if they just create further confusion?

If you’re together, you’re together. If one of you cheats, then one of you cheated. It doesn’t matter if you were “going steady.” You were dating. If you want to run around with other people, don’t date.

Of course, the confusion behind this is at least somewhat factored into the episode; it’s not necessarily about the confusion, but it does acknowledge it, so basically I just want to complain about people having sex.

ALF, "Torn Between Two Lovers"

Later on we see Lynn tutoring Randy and…

Wait a minute. Randy is back, too? What the hell is this, a clip show?

So here’s one of the guys from “Promises, Promises” (working title: “Lynn’s Bucket of Wangs”). That makes at least three different episodes that are being directly referenced by this one out of the blue: “Promises, Promises,” “Stop in the Name of Love,” and “Changes.” What’s with the sudden surge of continuity? Again, I’m all for this in theory, but as we limp toward the end of season three are these things anyone in the audience is going to remember? Danny? Randy? Kate’s job?

I know I’ve complained about a complete lack of continuity before, but “Torn Between Two Lovers” shows that not all continuity is created equal. If we’re going to be bringing back characters, why not someone that people might actually care about? Lizard? Kate Sr.? Fucking hell, bring back Jodie and Dr. Dykstra. Whatever happened to those two? Did the show get finally wise to the fact that I was enjoying myself, and I got a big scoop of Randy instead?

Jesus Christ.

I will say, though, that I already like Randy more here than I liked him in “Promises, Promises.” There his only joke was that he’d almost invariably say “‘kay” when someone asked him a question. It was the kind of joke that wore out its welcome about two hours before it was introduced. Here he’s being tutored by Lynn, so he gets to struggle through vocabulary homework in a way that’s convincingly awkward. So awkward that it’s almost sad.

You get to feeling bad for poor Randy, because it’s his character’s job to seem like an idiot in a show packed wall to wall with the biggest fucking morons to ever walk the planet. As a result he doesn’t come across as comically dense so much as he seems to be mentally disabled.

Yes, ALF implicitly adds ridiculing the handicapped to its litany of dickitude it thinks we should find funny, but we’ll discuss that more in a bit.

Since he does get a little more to say — and he actually gets to interact with Lynn, as opposed to just sitting next to her — this definitely qualifies as the better of his two appearances. Of course, this being ALF, whose own audience is mentally disabled, the writers outright have Randy blurt, “I’m stupid!!”

You know. Just in case the only character trait he’s displayed in his entire time on screen wasn’t clue enough YOU IDIOTS.

ALF, "Torn Between Two Lovers"

Then Willie comes in, and Randy rises to greet him, which is a nicer character detail than this character deserves. I think that happened in “Promises, Promises,” too, but here it serves as a nice (albeit theoretical) contrast to Danny. We don’t know for a fact that Danny wouldn’t stand when Lynn’s father enters the room, but he doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who would think much of it. Randy’s a dolt, but he’s respectful and polite.

A better episode would make more of stuff like this. As it stands, I don’t even think it’s deliberate characterization. It’s accidental…which doesn’t mean it’s bad, but it does mean that “Torn Between Two Lovers” fails to address the most important things: the difference between the two lovers, and why Lynn would be torn.

What we need is more characterization of these two. Right now I have to infer that Danny would treat Willie differently than Randy treats him here, but if we had a scene of Danny and Willie interacting, we wouldn’t have to infer anything. We could more easily compare the two…recognize their differences…and put a little bit of stock in Lynn’s decision.

In “Torn Between Two Lovers,” Lynn does, in some sense, end up having to choose between Danny and Randy. Wouldn’t it be nice if you at home gave even half a shit about who she picked? And if we don’t care…why are we watching?

You know those terrible reality dating shows that all of your friends watch but you can’t stand? Those shows are still on the air — against all standards of good taste — because they do a good job of convincing the audience that a decision like this matters. It’s done through flashy editing and soundbites and a manipulative score; it’s a trick of making the packaging look so important that you lose sight of the fact that you have no reason to want what’s in it. Any such show that fails to make the decision feel important doesn’t last. (Or, more likely, doesn’t make it to air.) Which makes sense; if the show can’t bother to sustain the illusion that the romantic dabblings of total strangers are important enough to watch, then how could the audience?

“Torn Between Two Lovers,” in this respect, has an ace in the hole. Of course, it squanders it spectacularly.

See, in this case, none of the parties involved are total strangers. This episode shouldn’t have to work as hard to convince us that the decision is important, because we should already have some kind of feelings about these people. We should have already made some investment in them before this choice is even raised.

The problem, which I’m sure you smelled a mile off, is that this is ALF. While we may care to some extent about Lynn (the show’s last vestige of anything resembling humanity), we definitely don’t care or know about Danny or Randy.

We should know about them, because they were each important parts of their previous episodes…but what do we actually know? I’m tempted to conclude that Danny is the dickhole, but that’s only because my brain wants (desperately) to be able to shape this crap into some recognizable structure. And however charitable I am being toward the show by concluding that there’s some kind of contrast between the two characters, the episode’s ending doesn’t bear out that reading anyway.

“Torn Between Two Lovers” is giving us three characters who aren’t strangers, and tossing them into some romantic entanglement that should feels like it matters. But once the question is raised, we see clearly that they might as well be strangers. We’ve met them before, but that’s it; we don’t know anything about them.

Again, we should be dealing with two new suitors for Lynn, as both of these bozos were blank slates in their previous episodes anyway. The most disappointing thing is that “Torn Between Two Lovers” doesn’t develop them much further than that, even though the choice Lynn must make is central to the plot.

There’s some more accidental characterization of Randy that I like: he lapses back into saying “‘kay” when Willie asks him how he’s doing, and though I’m sure this is not deliberate, I like the idea that Randy finds it easier to open up to Lynn than to others. That’s kind of sweet, actually, and it’s the sort of thing I wish was deliberate…but the ending makes it clear that the writers had no fucking idea what this episode was about.

ALF, "Torn Between Two Lovers"

Willie tells Lynn that “Julie” called for her. And this is odd, because since when does Lynn have friends?

Yes, I’m exaggerating. In “Baby, You Can Drive My Car” she talked about some girl she was supposed to see The Pretenders with. And in “Changes” she mentioned a friend who was a cheerleader. That’s all I can remember, and we’ve never seen her interact with another girl around her own age. Only her mother, her grandmother, and Mrs. Ochmonek…which is really fucking strange.

Even terrible, terrible shows like Full House or Saved by the Bell showed their teenage characters having friends…many of whom we actually saw more than once. And do you know why that is? It’s because teenagers have friends.


All of them do.

Even the nerdiest kids find some kind of clique. NOT THAT I WOULD KNOW.

The point is that when you’re a teenager, you have some degree of a social life by default. If this girl* doesn’t, then we’re firmly in We Need to Talk About Lynn territory.

What kind of teenage girl on a sitcom never interacts with another girl her age? It’s so…odd. How are we almost four seasons into this shit and we still don’t know what she does with her downtime? (Apart from spending it with Willie’s rain gauge that she keeps in her closet.) It’s really odd…and it unflatteringly paints Lynn as a misfit. That’s some more accidental character development, I guess, but it’s not the welcome kind.

Randy discovers that Lynn isn’t going to the dance, and he says that he’s not going either…an observation he tries to spin into an invitation.

It’s the kind of thing even a naturally suave and charming young man would have trouble swinging, and Randy’s fumblings are convincingly awkward. In fact, I like this sequence a lot, because it feels like, deep down, this one-note character might be recognizably human after all.

Very deep down.

Very, very deep down…

It’s nice. And there’s a moment when Lynn hesitates to answer him…and Randy immediately backs down, defeated. It’s actually kind of painful to watch, because Randy plays it convincingly. We’ve all been there, bud. Exactly there. :(

Ultimately she agrees to go with him, and he’s so excited he walks away with the bowl of pretzels that was on the table. Then we get the episode’s best moment. (Who could have guessed that this honor would ever go to Randy?) He comes back to the door and hands her the pretzels. She thanks him. “They’re not from me,” he says.

And, I’m sorry, but as shitty as this episode is, that whole bit was very well-acted by sitcom standards.

ALF, "Torn Between Two Lovers"

She goes to the kitchen and tells ALF that she’s going to the dance with Randy. He replies that it’d better be a slow dance…which is a moderately clever joke but still comes off as incredibly mean. I don’t even like Randy and I want to kick this guy’s ass that.

The phone rings after Lynn leaves, and it’s Danny. ALF talks to him anyway, because fuck everything.

Danny says he’s free after all, but ALF tells him to keep it in his pants because Lynn has another date now.

Good thing this show has an alien in it. I certainly can’t imagine any of this magic happening on those lousy “all human” comedies.

ALF, "Torn Between Two Lovers"

ALF and Brian play Atari while Lynn gets ready. Can anyone make out what cartridge that is? I keep wanting to say it’s Demons to Diamonds, but I’m really just hoping someone else played Demons to Diamonds. (I loved Demons to Diamonds.)

Any guesses as to why the veins are bulging out of Benji Gregory’s hand and neck? Is he throttling that joystick like it’s Paul Fusco’s throat?

I know we joke about this kid not being a very good actor, but since the set of ALF was seething with hatred and idiotic tension I think we should all take a moment to appreciate the fact that he did not grow up to be a murmuring serial killer. I mean, I guess there’s still time for him to become one, but still. I wouldn’t have lasted this long.

Lynn comes into the living room to ask about her purse, and ALF says he hilariously destroyed it while doing laundry. The show cares even less about that particular development than I do, so we skip right along to ALF telling her that Danny called while she was in the shower.

She’s pissed because ALF told Danny that she was seeing Randy now, and she doesn’t know what to do. ALF suggests telling Randy that “your boyfriend’s back, and he’s gonna be in trouble. Hey na, hey na, your boyfriend’s back.”

Fuckin’ ALF has really taken a liking to reciting song lyrics and hoping they miraculously pass as jokes. “Suspicious Minds” has loads of Elvis ones, obviously. Then we got similar ones with “In the Year 2525” (in “Running Scared,” where it admittedly did miraculously pass as a joke) and “I Can See Clearly Now” (in “Standing in the Shadows of Love”).

It’s supremely lazy, and I’m still reeling from the shock that Jake didn’t quote “Sunglass at Night” in the last episode. Maybe such stellar non-material is only allowed to go to ALF.

Lynn says she can’t believe this situation, and ALF says, “I know what you mean. I can’t believe Bruce Willis is a star, but there it is.”

And that is a joke that sure hasn’t aged well. Disagree? Compare Willis’s career trajectory to Paul Fusco’s and let me know how much room ALF has to talk.

ALF, "Torn Between Two Lovers"

Someone comes to the door, but it’s not Randy! It’s Danny, and you know he means business because he dug out his spring dance bolo.

Danny knows exactly what he’s doing; he’s showing up unannounced to catch Randy with his woman. Well, a lot of people’s woman, but that’s not important right now.

I like the idea of having the episode build to a “showdown” between two characters…but, again, we’ve only seen them each once before, way back at the beginning of the season, in different episodes, and we’ve never heard a peep about either of them since. It…kind of loses the impact, don’t you think? I really do wish they’d have invented new characters for this. Maybe then they’d feel obligated to develop them somewhat, instead of just settling for this guy from this episode versus that guy from that episode.

Part of me wonders if this was intended to air right after “Promises, Promises.” Someone in the comments brought up the fact that the scheduling of certain episodes was shuffled around for availability reasons, so it’s possible that this was intended to air then.

…however, Kate’s working as a Realtor, so that can’t be the case; this would have to air sometime after “Changes,” which came several weeks later. By that point, why bring back these characters? And all of this is irrelevant since “Torn Between Two Lovers” has to also air after “Promises, Promises,” in which Lynn is fucking other guys anyway.


Whatever. It’s kind of interesting, I guess, that both Danny Duckworth episodes have to do with Lynn planning to go out with one person and ending up with another. But by “interesting” I mean “fuck it, even I don’t care.”

They argue for a bit, and Danny tells her to blow Randy [off]. Sure enough the doorbell rings, and it’s our favorite pretzel thief. He’s all snazzed up, and he hands Lynn a 2-liter bottle of soda because he wasn’t sure if she liked candy.

…that probably works better in text than it worked on the screen, to be honest, but I did like that joke.

ALF, "Torn Between Two Lovers"

Randy’s clearly the nicer guy in this scene. He’s civil to Danny who is rude in return, but, to be fair, it’s easier for Randy to be civil; Lynn’s not his girlfriend. He’s just some putz who lucked into getting her to go to a dance with him. Danny is angry, yes, but he has a reason to be, and Randy does not.

As I mentioned earlier, I’d think that this was a clumsy way of demonstrating to us that Randy’s the nicer guy overall, and the guy Lynn is actually “with” is a schmuck, but the episode doesn’t work out that way, so who knows what the fuck is going on. Maybe the writers didn’t realize he was coming off as nicer than Danny at all. They certainly don’t treat him the way one might treat a character we’re supposed to like, so who knows.

ALF listens in from the kitchen, because it’s his name on this show, god damnit. Brian asks him if Randy’s mad, and ALF says, “He doesn’t know yet. The information has entered his head, and is now searching desperately for his brain.”

There’s a lot of humor at Randy’s expense in this episode, all of it in this vein, and until now, as I’m writing this, I wasn’t sure why the jokes were playing so poorly.

After all, Randy can be dumb; that’s fine. Make a list of all the great comedy characters who were a bit thick and you’ll be up all night before you even have to scratch your head. So why do the Randy jokes feel so nasty?

Well, here’s why. It’s because Randy doesn’t get to be an idiot. Instead, we’re told he’s an idiot.

See, when a character does something stupid, it can be funny. (Obviously.) But when one character insults another for being stupid, apropos of nothing, it feels cruel. Indeed, it often is; we’re not often meant to enjoy that kind of behavior. We’re meant to see it for what it is: pretty damned dickish.

The better Randy jokes (the 2-liter soda here, the bowl of pretzels earlier) come from Randy getting to do something dumb. The worse Randy jokes (every time ALF opens his fuckin’ mouth) are characters repeatedly telling us what a worthless moron he is. What sounds funnier to you: someone accidentally doing something silly, or someone getting insults shouted at him because he’s less intelligent than the shouter?

We like stupid characters. We must, otherwise they wouldn’t be in every comedy ever made. But we want to laugh at their stupidity without feeling complicit in it. We laugh when they slip on banana peels because we find it humorous; we find it harder to laugh when some asshole steps up and chews them out at length for being stupid enough to have slipped on that banana peel.

We want to laugh at stupid characters…we don’t want to make fun of them. Why would we? That’s just…mean.

Some shows — Fawlty Towers comes immediately to mind — do play up the insult comedy. In Basil’s case, he did bully poor Manuel, who was trying his best. But Manuel wasn’t dumb; he may not have been the brightest bulb, but unquestionably most of his sillier behavior was due to communication issues beyond his control. When Basil insulted him it was funny because it functioned on another level: anything Manuel did wrong could be traced back to Basil. Basil, that is to say, was causing his own problems. Manuel was just trying to help…and was punished regularly for it.

It probably wouldn’t have been funny if Manuel had actually been an idiot. It certainly wouldn’t have been clever. It would have been easier to write, sure, but so what? Manuel getting yelled at for being shitty at his job isn’t comedy. Basil relentlessly scapegoating a day laborer is.

But there’s another reason these kinds of assholish comments from ALF don’t work: they muddy the water.

Clearly the show wants us to like ALF. That’s fine; we’ve been through why that’s insane many times over, but, by this point, we just need to accept it. ALF is supposed to be clever and charming, gorgeous, the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful Melmacian we’ve ever known in our lives.


But in this scene, we’re also supposed to see Danny’s behavior as dickish. And it is; the show is correct. Danny is being an asshole to Randy, and we know that because Lynn — again, the closest thing to a human being ALF has anymore — calls him out for it.

Unfortunately, his dickish behavior is indistinguishable from ALF’s. We’re supposed to hate Danny because we’re supposed to hate Danny, and supposed to love ALF because we’re supposed to love ALF. What’s the difference between them, then? “Torn Between Two Lovers” tells us the answer, whether it means to or not: nothing.

The writers have painted themselves into a corner. They wanted us to fall in love with one character in spite of the fact that he’s raging asshole, so when it’s time to introduce a character we’re supposed to dislike for the same behavior, we’re in a tonal trainwreck. We’re meant to love one and hate the other for behaving in the exact same way.

If the writers cared, I bet they’d wish they’d given ALF a character trait other than “cunt.”

ALF, "Torn Between Two Lovers"

ALF and Brian watch from the kitchen, and Brian asks why they’re fighting over Lynn anyway, since she’s not all that hot. You see, Brian is quite discriminating in his incest fantasies.

Lynn comes in for a few seconds to get her thoughts together. Of course on this show that means that she sits quietly while ALF does an irrelevant comedy routine. This one is about “time-freezing phasers,” which Brian mentions they saw on Star Trek.

Now, I don’t know the first thing about Star Trek, so I had no idea whether or not time-freezing phasers existed. To find out, I turned to our resident expert, Sarah Portland:

No. There was an episode where time appeared to be frozen, but in that case, Kirk was just sped way up so everyone appeared to be frozen. Just to be extra-thorough, I skimmed through the synopses of TOS, TAS, the first five films, and the first two seasons of TNG. While there are certainly plenty of BS time travel plots in Star Trek, none of them involve phasers, which are self-defense weapons.

Not sure why I even asked. I should have known something was fishy when Brian was allowed to speak.

Anyway, Lynn stumbles upon a resolution to this non-plot that I actually kind of like: she realizes this whole mess is her fault. (I know, I know…but bear with me.)

She returns to the living room where she finds two forgettable nobodies from previous episodes circling each other with their fists raised, which is something no human beings have ever actually done. Lots of cartoon characters have, though, and I think that says it all.

She tells them that if they want to fight, they each only get one punch. Randy says that that’s all he needs, and so she invites him to hit her.

See, she’s the one who caused the problem, so if they really think it’s worth beating someone up, then she invites them to beat her up. Obviously they don’t, but I like that little twist. Lynn didn’t do anything knowingly wrong, and I think that’s important to take note of, but she did do the thing that set this whole mess into motion: she agreed to go to the dance with Randy. As friends, yes, but that was still the catalyst for this whole kerfuffle.

Her point is decently made. These two are fighting over nothing…but it’s a nothing that she herself created. Clearly neither of them are going to crack her in the jaw, and it makes them realize instead how stupid the whole thing is.

Granted, realizing how stupid the whole thing is is not the best way to end an episode of a sitcom, but I’ll take what I can get, and Lynn’s gesture at least shows that some thought was put into resolving this premise.

She decides to go with Randy, because he asked her and she accepted, and it wouldn’t be right to break it off. And she tells Danny that if they want to be more serious they can be more serious, and they can have a long talk about it.

Hey, remember the episode in which we met Danny? She had dived right into (almost) marrying some guy in a planetarium. Now she needs a ratified document outlining the terms and conditions of her relationships. Change of heart or what? I’d call it character growth, but I’m approximately fifteen zillion percent sure that nobody involved with the show even remembers that Lynn was almost married.

The really odd thing about this resolution, though, is that Randy really did seem like the better guy. He was nicer to her and her family. He was humble when he asked her out. He brought her gifts. All we saw of Danny was that he shipped out unexpectedly the night before the dance, then stormed into her house to kick the teeth out of the guy she tutored.

He was kind of an asshole…but that’s who she went with. The entire episode seems to be building toward Lynn making the decision to leave him because of the ass he revealed himself to be. Maybe she’d end up with Randy (idiot with a good heart isn’t the worst stock character to hitch your wagon to), or maybe she’d realize they’re both impulsive dickwads who just initiated a fucking brawl in her living room. But, either way, the episode seems to be built around the idea that Lynn is with a schmuck…

…until it isn’t, and it’s actually about expressing your feelings and making sure you know what going steady means, and still going to the dance with that poor guy who actually seems to care about you so that it hurts him twice as hard when you move on forever.

So I don’t really know what this episode was about. Randy seemed like the nicer guy (and the better match; Lynn herself isn’t getting into Mensa anytime soon), but ultimately she just goes to the dance with him out of obligation. Danny seemed like a dicktard, but she stays with him because…he’s hotter? I guess? Is he? I don’t even know if she thinks so.

Basically two people we’ve met once before but still know nothing about get into a fight that doesn’t matter and Lynn resolves the episode by saying that nothing has to change, even though she strung Randy along and her boyfriend revealed himself to be a violent, jealous assbag.

I hate this fucking show.

ALF, "Torn Between Two Lovers"

In the short scene before the credits Anne Schedeen returns from her vacation, visibly traumatized by being back on the set of ALF.

MELMAC FACTS: The three stages of courtship on Melmac: exchange left socks, trade belly button lint, spit in each other’s soup. (“Ours was a polite society” my dick.)

* Of course, we’re assuming that Lynn is a teenager in this episode. She could be in her 20s for all we know. But the point is that she’s either in high school or college, and in either case she’d have to work to not make friends.

19 thoughts on “ALF Reviews: “Torn Between Two Lovers” (season 3, episode 20)”

    1. I think it was a masturbation joke.

      Also, getting a joint punchcard at Planned Parenthood might have been the hardest I’ve laughed in a long time. Thank you for this moment in my life.

      1. It’s not just a masturbation joke…it’s a long overdue one!

        Way back in “Weird Science” we learned that Willie built a rain gauge that Lynn keeps in her closet. At the time, I couldn’t bring myself to go there. This is evidence of the toll the show has taken on me.

  1. “What sounds funnier to you: someone accidentally doing something silly, or someone getting insults shouted at him because he’s less intelligent than the shouter?”
    Huh. And just like that, the question as to why I don’t find Triumph the Insult Dog funny, has been answered: he’s just a small version of ALF.

  2. Also, I have to hand it to Lynn here: her solution to diffusing the situation was brilliant. What’s more it pointed out a bigger problem that we have in society, that of treating others like commodities. So in this case, if Lynn was seeing Danny exclusively, and accepting an invitation to the dance from Randy without stating that they were going platonically, then she is technically cheating on Danny with Randy. So who does Danny go after? Randy. In his eyes, Randy must be trying to cuckold him, so obviously, he has to fight Randy. No thought is given to Lynn in the possibility that she might have done the inviting. It’s assumed that she’s completely innocent, that she was “taken in” by Randy, and that she must now be “won back” by Danny. The same occurs in females arguing over a male. No one ever seems to be angry over the “prize.” They’re only angry with other person. So they fight. Let’s say hypothetically that Lynn, disappointed that she couldn’t go to the dance (seriously Lynn, go with Julie), invites Randy. Danny finds out, and who is he going to be angry with? Still Randy. Let’s say they fight and win. Danny and Lynn 5ever, whatever. Another event comes up, and Danny is out of town or something, so Lynn invites some other guy. How many times can she cheat on him before he’ll stop trying to win back his prize? The thing is, Randy fell right into place with the whole fight thing. He kind of had no idea that Danny and Lynn were seeing each other exclusively, and when Danny says “Okay, we’re gonna fight now,” Randy falls in line.
    But Lynn steps between them, demanding to know why no one was angry with *her* for starting this mess. They both respond by saying they have to fight for her, and she replies with “What am I, the Louisiana Purchase?” She points out that it’s stupid to be fighting over the person who started the whole thing, and that frankly, she isn’t some prize to be won. She then straight-up tells Danny that if they want to be exclusive, then they need to have that shit set in stone, because at this point, it’s kind of nebulous. (Which ties back into the complaint about the term “going steady.”) Lynn actually handled the situation really well.
    Dammit, did I just approve of something on ALF?

    1. Yeah, this was my basic complaint about Popeye cartoons when I was a kid, and it’s very strange to think that ALF of all shows would address it.

      1. One does not expect to find pro-feminist arguments on a show where a puppet repeatedly makes jokes about molesting the children of the house. O.o

        1. Interesting to note that the episode was written by Beverly Archer, aka Mrs. Byrd.

          1. Which fact makes it make sense that all of a sudden we’re seeing these guys again, since Archer also wrote “Promises, Promises”.

    2. “Dammit, did I just approve of something on ALF?”

      Yes, but you approved of something Lynn did, so I think you’re okay.

    3. Well said, Sarah. The whole “fighting over a woman, who has no say in the matter anyway” thing is really obnoxious.

  3. I guess it sort of worked out that ALF moved on to trying to bone (or whatever they call screwing on Melmac – “garying” or something, probably) Jake’s girlfriends, or else you’d have had yet another episode of ALF revealing himself to someone outside the family. (P.S. such an episode could have been titled “Three Tough Guys”.)

  4. For what it’s worth, someone confirmed to me that the game ALF and Brian are playing is Super Breakout. However they also mentioned that Super Breakout is a game that requires the paddle controller, and can’t be played with joysticks.

    Great job, ALF. You took the time to plug an a real game into the system, but had to go with one of the few they couldn’t actually play.

    1. Better or worse than Michelle from Almighty Johnsons playing WiiFit boxing with both Wii-motes in hand?

      1. Both are better than Rumble in the Bronx showing a kid playing a Game Gear with no cartridge installed.

  5. “Torn Between Two Lovers”? I get the feeling that the writing staff know the formula for the episode titles by this point, but whoever was good at picking them before has gone, so now these songs are just boring and obvious. I’d probably have gone with “Stuck In The Middle With You”, myself.

  6. “Willie tells Lynn that “Julie” called for her. And this is odd, because since when does Lynn have friends?”

    Another great review. I went back to check and Julie was mentioned before in “Promises, Promises”. But I think you heard “Patchouli” instead.

  7. I didn’t particularly care about this episode either, not really because lynn’s boyfriend characters are uninteresting, but more on the fact of why i am watching a simple drama plot of a love triangle on a TV show that is suppose to be about an alien? it is odd that bring danny and randy back after a long period of time, i do remember these characters, but only because i binged watched this series recently, but i watched this show on a regular bases of once a week, then no, i probably wouldn’t remember them and really by this point i thought lynn had moved on from danny and had dated so many boys she decided to take a break, but by what the show is telling us i guess not. I am glad this episode ended with lynn going with randy because despite him not being as smart as danny he still is a nice guy, but at the same time kind of disappointed she didn’t see danny for the real sleezebag that he is and dumped him to go with randy from there on. I can agree on ALF’s jokes being kind of mean in this episode, I get that the show made ALF to bit of an asshole as a way to be funny, but there a point were it’s not funny anymore and comes off more as mean. ALF joking about how dumb randy is just by is looks and the way he talks is being more of a bully then anything else.

  8. It’s obvious Philip, Lynn chooses Danny because he’s supposed to be more intelligent and better looking. She goes to the dance with Randy because she agreed to it, that’s it! That doesn’t make Lynn a bad person because she was already dating Danny. But Randy sure as hell doesn’t have much self-respect, a pity date, he should have told her where to go.

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