Okay, so it’s the last episode of the season, and I’ll have a lot to say about it, but first can we take a moment to talk about how fucking gross the song “Having My Baby” is? I’ve never really listened to it attentively before this. And why would I have? It’s that kind of easy listening pap that exists just so elevators can give you something to ignore. But Paul Anka manages to weave an offensively stupid tirade against abortion into this shit.
Seriously…listen to it. He keeps thanking the woman he knocked up for deciding to stay pregnant. “You could have swept it from your life, but you wouldn’t do it,” he says, ostensibly romantically. “I’m a woman in love, and I love what’s going through me!” she replies, in what’s probably both the most superficial and most disgusting way of talking about the wad of fetal tissue you’re about to discharge.
He even directly equates her keeping the child to demonstrating her love for him: “You’re having my baby. What a love-l-y way of saying how much you love me!” There are better ways, Paul. Ones that don’t involve being guilted into birthing your damned kids.
At no point is he marrying her or offering to help support the baby or anything…it’s just one big middle finger to anyone who might consider not keeping the baby that some scumbag musician squirted into her against the cigarette machine.
It’s really bad. Like, I never would have guessed the song was secretly good…but this definitely stirs the bile in a pretty unexpected way.
So, there’s some great insight for you ladies out there. If you’ve ever had an abortion, now you know that you don’t understand love. Hell, if you’ve even considered it you’re a pretty awful person. And don’t you go telling me any reasons you might have for not wanting to stay pregnant; Paul Anka and I don’t care. Love is love and if you aren’t mature enough to appreciate the life somebody left behind in you, then maybe you weren’t mature enough to let yourself get sexually assaulted in the first place.
Ugh this fucking song. What a love-l-y way of opening our season finale.
Anyway, we join ALF as he demonstrates his hilarious misunderstanding of how to take care of kids. In this promising example of ALF ‘n’ baby jokes to come, he wraps a diaper around his fist and violently attempts to stuff it up a doll’s anus.
Season four is going to be really good, isn’t it?
Then we get a serious rarity on ALF: several minutes of really solid, inventive comedy.
…and by that I mean we’re shown clips of The Dick Van Dyke Show.
“We Are Family” pulled this crap, too, with its nature documentary…but at least that episode waited until it was almost over to start padding itself out with clips of something somebody else made. Here it’s the first proper scene in the episode, and all we’re doing is watching a superior show on a smaller screen.
Come to think of it, “Like an Old Time Movie” showed us actual clips from The Sheik (as far as I can tell…please correct me if I’m wrong), meaning ALF might be the only example of a sitcom that would rather show you better programming than what you actually tuned in to watch.
ALF explains to Brian that he’s studying the show. Evidently this is the episode where Laura Petrie gives birth…and I’ve never seen that. Odd. I watched a lot of The Dick Van Dyke Show (which, for the record, is still very funny and holds up incredibly well) when I was younger, but never knew of the pregnancy arc. I Love Lucy seems to get all the attention for that one, but whatever. I’m not complaining…just observing that I somehow wasn’t aware that The Dick Van Dyke Show did its own take on the situation.
Brian isn’t sure why ALF is studying this, though; he says his father already told him where babies come from, and he didn’t mention this show at all. Really, Brian? Your dad explained sex to you and didn’t once mention Dick?
GOODNIGHT EVERYONE YOU WERE A WONDERFUL AUDIENCE
It’s a dumb joke (theirs…not mine, which was great), but it’s also bullshit. In “Changes,” which introduced ALF‘s own pregnancy arc, Willie was going to explain the birds and the bees to Brian, but found out that ALF already did. It was a hilarious joke at the end of that episode which explains why Brian’s been releasing the pods into an old sock ever since.
But, whatever. Maybe ALF talked to him about sex. Maybe Willie talked to him about sex. Maybe they both took turns talking to him about sex. The main takeaway here is that people on this show really enjoy talking to Brian about sex.
Kate comes into the room and screams and hollers at Brian for leaving his baseball glove on the floor. Lady, if I were you I’d be thrilled that my socially retarded shut-in son seems to have finally found someone to play catch with.
It still boggles my mind that we’re entering the final season of this show, and nobody — apart from the one character we’re told can never, under any circumstances, interact with another human being — has any friends. How is that even possible? When you create characters, there a few things that immediately get addressed by even the shittiest writers: where they live, what they do for a living, what they want, and who they associate with.
ALF addressed where they live predictably early, but we didn’t find out what Willie did for a living until halfway through season one, or what Kate did for a living until halfway through season three. As far as what they want and who they associate with, we still don’t know these things about any of them. And that’s pretty fucking bizarre to me. I honestly can name cereal mascots that have more backstory than these assholes.
Anyway there’s some crap about Kate having mood swings because of her pregnancy, which is why she’s screaming at Brian and then hugging him…and that might have made for a story a few weeks ago, but in the same episode in which she gives birth it’s hardly even worth raising the idea.
Then ALF does some observational standup about skeet shooting while Benji Gregory tries very hard to set him on fire with his thoughts:
Later that night ALF comes into Willie and Kate’s bedroom and bitches at them for not acting exactly like the characters in The Dick Van Dyke Show. It sucks, and it goes on way too long. But it does lead to some welcome, if not necessarily good, attempts at meta comedy.
For instance, Kate explains to him that The Dick Van Dyke Show was just television. “They exaggerated things to make them funny,” she says. Yeah, yeah, we get it. It’s a pity that doesn’t work as well for ALF, though; this show is full of the most exaggerated horse shit I’ve ever seen and I don’t think I’ve laughed ten times in the entire run.
In fact, oddly enough, the best episodes of this show are the least exaggerated ones. “For Your Eyes Only,” “Going Out of My Head Over You,” “Oh, Pretty Woman,” “Night Train,” “Fight Back,” “Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow”…those are the episodes that come first to mind when I think of my favorites, and they’re also — every single one of them — grounded in an identifiable reality. Yeah, there’s still a naked space alien humping the furniture, but overlook that and you find some very simple, basic, relateable stories.
Granted, ALF has had a few exceptions to that rule (like “La Cuckaracha” and “I’m Your Puppet,” both of which go batshit crazy with their premises in a way that works), but overall I’d say the show’s hit rate is much more reliable when it’s not exaggerated. It’s legitimately interesting to me that in a show with such an odd premise, it never quite figured out how to use that oddness to its benefit.
Then there’s another winky gag when Willie says, “Laura Petrie was a character. And the actress who played her wasn’t even pregnant when she did the show!”
Take that, Mary Tyler Moore! You shitty actress, you…not even having a fetus growing in you while you tried to avoid tumbling into puppet trenches.
Actually, come to think of it, that dumbass Dick Van Dyke Show probably didn’t even have puppet trenches! No wonder history has forgotten Mary Tyler Moore and whoever played her on-screen husband; it’s the cast of ALF that has truly endured.
Anyway, during this terrible scene (seriously, ALF, don’t call attention to the fact that you’re doing a story similar to the stories better shows have already done) Willie accidentally refers to his wife as cranky and fat. And a shitty cook. And she’s getting pretty old, and also she’s kind of a bitch, and she ruined all of his chances at happiness. And her feet stink. And there was one time she did the laundry and burned a hole in his favorite shirt, and that scarf she got him for Christmas was ugly as fuck. And she spends all his money and shrivels his nards and keeps accidentally calling him Joe Namath on the rare occasions he can get it up over her. And…
She interrupts him and says, believably upset, “Honestly, Willie, I don’t know why you even married me.”
THAT is the plot I’ve been waiting for.
THAT is the story I want this show to tell.
Willie, to be frank, is a fucking dirtbag. He treats his wife like garbage, has no interest in his kids, and is this kind of distant, condescending dick without he or the show realizing it. As a result he’s a maddening character to spend time with. I’m only half joking when I say Kate should leave him…maybe a third joking. Fuck it; she should. Unless they really do love each other, in which case…
…well, in which case, this needs to happen. Exactly this. Kate needs to step up and call him on his bullshit, so they can hash it out and he can either a) stop being a dickbag or b) do something that reassures us of his love for his family in spite of everything we’ll continue to see to the contrary.
A is hard for a weekly sitcom to pull off, but but it’s not impossible to see permanent change in a character. See something like Cheers, in which characters evolved over time without the show losing its story-of-the-week accessibility.
B is pretty hard, too, but something like Married…with Children proves it can be done; that show gave us just enough warmth (with just enough of a sardonic twist) that it let us understand that there were real people with real feelings underneath the backstabbing and infighting. We could go weeks and weeks without seeing any of that warmth again, but when we did catch it, it registered, and it kept the atmosphere from feeling oppressively caustic.
Then again, there’s c) reinforce and embrace the fact that your character is an incurable asshole. See It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia for ways to do this without losing your audience along the way.
There’s no right or wrong solution, but you have to do something, otherwise you’re just suggesting that you don’t know what the fuck your characters are doing.
Here, Kate raises the issue…a real issue within the universe of this show…and I sat up and listened the moment she did, because this is a conversation the show needs to give us.
But no. It’s just another one of Kate’s mood swings. She holds Willie’s hand and everything is fine and we’ll never, ever have to face the fact that her husband treats her like shit.
So glad they’re bringing another kid into this house. Those always fix ailing relationships.
After ALF leaves they see that he’s packed them an overnight bag. Willie looks inside and finds a bag of Kettle Chips.
Seriously, ALF fucking loves those Kettle Chips. He ate them (and shat them) in the tub in “We Are Family,” he was eating them while waiting for the blackmailer to call in “Running Scared,” and now he’s packed them for Kate in the hospital. I can’t blame him; those chips are really god damned good. But it stands out to me because I don’t think the show has referenced any real world product like that more than once. The Kettle Chips feel like a legitimate (and unspoken) runner. Did the ALF staff just want the company to send them free Kettle Chips for mentioning them so many times?
If so, Kettle Chips Kettle Chips Kettle Chips Kettle Chips Kettle Chips Kettle Chips Kettle Chips Kettle Chips Kettle Chips Kettle Chips Kettle Chips Kettle Chips Kettle Chips Kettle Chips Kettle Chips Kettle Chips Kettle Chips Kettle Chips Kettle Chips Kettle Chips Kettle Chips Kettle Chips Kettle Chips Kettle Chips Kettle Chips Kettle Chips Kettle Chips Kettle Chips Kettle Chips Kettle Chips Kettle Chips Kettle Chips Kettle Chips Kettle Chips Kettle Chips Kettle Chips Kettle Chips Kettle Chips Kettle Chips Kettle Chips Kettle Chips
He also packed a photo of himself, and I’m glad he did, because it gives me a chance to spotlight a comment that Dan_the_Shpydar left on my review of “Funeral for a Friend.” In that review I mentioned a nice scene in which ALF displays a photo of himself with the ant farm. But there was a major problem with that that didn’t occur to me. Here he is to explain what I overlooked:
Because i know you love to have moments that yield the reaction of “FUCK. THIS. SHOW”, i have to point this out…
Willie takes a picture of ALF with the ant farm. Cute, yes. Later on, we see that photo on ALF’s little table desk thing. Also cute. But riddle me this…
How did that photo get there? We saw Willie take the photo, right? But wait — this is 1988 or 1989. There’s no digital cameras. The photo’s clearly not a Polaroid insta-matic photo. It’s an actual photograph — meaning it had to be developed. And unless Willie has a darkroom (that is used for something other than clandestine homeless crack parties) and YET ANOTHER hobby as an amateur photographer, that means that the photo was developed at the local Photomat Hut or whatever.
Yes. They took a picture of their alien, and took that film to get developed. Because that’s a perfectly logical thing to do when you’re trying to keep your secret alien a secret.
Fuck. This. Show. (You’re welcome ;) )
So, yeah. Good points. Massive logical flaw. And it takes on another layer here because not only does this photo of ALF exist in the first place…but he’s giving it to Kate to display openly in the hospital.
You charmed me in “Funeral for a Friend,” ALF. I was enjoying myself and so I overlooked how fucking stupid you were being with that picture. You just had to press your luck and try the same thing again at the end of the season, didn’t you?
Anyway, ALF also packed a bottle of wine to “christen the baby.” So, hilariously, we have jokes about the Tanners’ infant child being brained with a glass bottle seconds after it’s born.
SEASON FOUR IS GOING TO BE REALLY GOOD ISN’T IT
Then ALF watches some more of The Dick Van Dyke Show and, of course, we watch it along with him. They really had to show us another clip? The season finale is really turning itself over to somebody else’s work? It’s so bizarre.
ALF even says, “Ha! This is my favorite part!” and then rewinds a scene so we can watch it again.
This show is fucking with me now, right? Like, this has to be intentional. They must be choosing to do this as some kind of joke on the audience for watching.
Lynn comes in and tells him that watching television isn’t going to help anything, let alone get any kind of plot into gear, but ALF counters by saying that Kate is really fat.
THEN HE PUTS THE SHOW BACK ON AND WE WATCH MORE OF IT
I don’t know. I really shouldn’t complain. I mean, yeah, this is a pretty fucking ridiculous thing to do with your season’s final chapter, but any episode of ALF that’s 15% Dick Van Dyke Show is at least 15% worth watching. That’s a better ratio than I usually get, but it doesn’t do anything to distract from the oddness of watching a Dick Van Dyke clipshow with ALF in its frame story.
Kate calls from work, and ALF goes ballistic because that’s what happened in The Dick Van Dyke Show. Except whereas Rob Petrie demonstrated impressive pratfalls and peerless comic timing, ALF just screams.
It’s…actually a lot like the silent films episode; in each case this show invited its own unflattering comparisons between a comedy legend (Charlie Chaplin and Dick Van Dyke) and the dishrag wrapped around Paul Fusco’s right hand. And in both cases ALF “reenacts” specific scenes of theirs, replacing what made the original work with mindless, incessant bleating.
Later that night ALF wakes up Willie and Kate to rehearse for the birth, but all he really does is piss them off. Kate, on the verge of fairly convincing tears, begs her husband to stop the alien from bothering her. She pleads with him to get out of bed and chain ALF to the radiator or something so she can go back to sleep because she’s tired and pregnant and upset.
Willie just lays there, pretending he didn’t hear her, I guess.
What a fucking asshole. Guys, I’m not even exaggerating anymore. He is being a selfish, disinterested, piece of shit fuckbag who can’t be arsed to help his heavily pregnant wife at any point, with anything, ever.
Guys, this is one lousy damned show.
The next day Brian is eating some shitty-ass pancakes. He asks his dad what he did to make the pancakes so shitty-ass, and Willie replies, “I added some muesli, some chopped nuts, and some raisins.”
Brian bitchily asks, “Why?”
It may have taken three seasons, but the show finally wised up and tapped into Benji Gregory’s natural, seething hatred of the world around him.
ALF comes in and burps, which I’d love to say is the kind of thing you get after three full seasons have exhausted the writers’ creativity, but they’ve been pulling that shit instead of writing jokes since episode one.
There is a funny moment when Willie explains to ALF that even though they’re upset at him for waking them up all the time and trying to induce labor by funneling white vinegar into Kate’s vagina, they do appreciate his concern. Then he says, “Right, Kate?” and she replies, without a moment’s thought, “No.”
But that’s about the only good thing in the entire scene, and it ends with ALF doing a spot-on impression of me watching this crap:
Later that night (how many fucking days pass in this single episode?) ALF is pitching diapers into a bin. He sinks one and the fake audience applauds, which is the most disgustingly self-indulgent thing you can do on your shitty sitcom. It’s bad enough when you synthesize laughter, but faking applause is just embarrassing. It’s the prime time equivalent of taking your mother to the prom and then still pretending you got laid.
Also, ALF does one of those “The crowd goes wild!” things where he exhales really loudly to sound like a distant group of impressed spectators. And the fake audience laughs at that…which, in itself, is fine. But in context, that’s really fucking weird. So the joke is that ALF pretends that people were applauding him? But didn’t the show itself just do that exact same thing and pretend that people were applauding it?
What the actual fuck is going on?
Also, he calls himself Kareem ALFdul Jabbar.
We have another year of this shit, folks, so strap in.
Anyway, Kate comes in and tells him to fucking go to cunting sleep or fucking go to cunting hell.
She leaves, ALF pitches another diaper, the fake audience fake applauds again.
What am I doing with my life.
The next scene is pretty nice, though. We see ALF sleeping on the floor, while Willie and Kate pass by the open doorway.
Kate is going into labor, and ALF’s missing it.
Lynn runs in to wake him up…but she sees how much he needs his sleep. She says, “Poor little guy,” and drapes a blanket over him.
Maybe Lynn will be the vestige of humanity to carry us through season four. I can only hope, because as much as I hate the way the show treats her character, she sure provides an awful lot of these great moments.
And speaking of great moments…
…there are no more fucking great moments. ALF wakes up on the floor and finds that there’s a baby in the crib now. Wonderful! So Kate gave birth, the Tanners brought the kid home, and then they immediately abandoned it in a crib. Wonderful parents. I hope they never stop having kids.
Oh well. She may not give a shit about her own baby, but at least Kate didn’t abort. What a love-l-y way of saying how much she loves her emotionally manipulative husband.
This, of course, is to say nothing of the fact that the baby was abandoned in a crib next to a sleeping, confused, dangerous space alien. Jesus fuck this show.
The best part is the baby, but not in the way the show might have hoped.
See, in “Baby Love,” there was some other baby on set that made goo-goo eyes at ALF, absolutely in awe of this giant, talking stuffed animal. That was pretty fucking adorable. But now we meet the permanent baby character on the show, and he couldn’t care less about this shit. He just burbles and looks away. It’s especially funny when ALF says, “He smiled at me!” when the baby very fucking clearly won’t give him the time of day.
I find that hilarious. They hired two babies for two episodes this season…and the one they decide to keep is the one that just wishes it could go the fuck home. He’ll fit in perfectly with this cast.
And that kid looks way more like Mr. Ochmonek than Willie.
I’m just saying.
Willie comes in and introduces the new character: Eric William Tanner. It’s actually kind of beautiful that this baby was born so soon after the kid next door broke his neck in the tub and died. Sure, that was tragic, and our heroes lost someone they really cared about, but the circle of life continues unbroken. We lose one, but we gain another. There is no darkness without the light. How wonderful of ALF to embrace such a beautiful sentiment.
Or maybe they’re just introducing another character they’ll never do anything with. EITHER ONE
Willie apologizes to ALF. He says Lynn tried to wake him when they left for the hospital. But come the fuck on; what were they going to do? Bring him along? If he woke up Lynn would have just had to say, “Mom’s going into labor! Anyway, sit here alone and do nothing until we get back.”
ALF sleeping was the best case scenario all around, unless Willie really did plan on bringing him in which case fuck it just fuck it fuck it hard to fuck.
Willie brags for a while about how he has something to show for each of the three times he’s had sex, which causes ALF to mope. He’s got no chance of becoming a father, which is suddenly very upsetting to him.
And, hey, understandably so. I’m not questioning the timing of his concern…I’m just wondering if it’s not better suited to an episode of its own than to be shoehorned into this one. Kind of like Kate’s mood swings earlier. You can do something with these ideas…but it’s better to do nothing with them than to just mention them offhandedly while you’re doing something else.
But Willie cheers him up. He says, “You can never give up hope,” which, like last week’s advice, is fine on its own, but it loses all meaning when you’re addressing the concerns of the last survivor of a nuclear apocalypse about never getting to fuck anyone.
In the midst of all this excitement Max Wright elevates his speech impediment to high art by managing to slur even a simple name like Eric. It’s impressive.
Brian comes in and announces that Kate says it’s time for Eric to eat. Just like a new mother; sending someone to fetch the baby from the spare room.
Has anyone writing for ALF ever interacted with a pregnant woman?
Or a woman who has just given birth?
In the short scene before the credits, ALF warns Eric that Kate is a bitch.
And, again, the baby is abandoned. It’s sitting on a fucking table, for crying out loud. Yeah, it’s in a chair, but I can’t imagine setting a newborn kid down on an elevated surface and just walking away. For god’s sake, this baby is literally one day old. Are they already that sick of him? What in fuck’s name is the family doing that’s more important than taking care of their god damned newborn? In what family does a new baby arrive and then everyone just goes about their day?
What an odd, inhuman show.
Anyway, I’m really glad we spent all that time watching The Dick Van Dyke Show. That sure paid off in spades when nothing happened at all.
“Having My Baby” is a really weird episode. It feels like they came up really short…stuck at the end of the season with an episode that had to introduce a baby, so they just stalled for time until that happened.
Personally I don’t see any reason that the birth couldn’t have occurred between seasons. It’s not like anyone was watching ALF for its impressive serialization. I can understand wanting to tell one last big pregnancy story…but they didn’t have one. ALF just watched some other show on TV because it had a better story than the one he was in.
I guess it could have been worse, but for such an “important” episode, it sure meant nothing. Although it’s nice that they establish right off the bat that no Tanner will ever give a shit about this baby.
Roll on, season four.
MELMAC FACTS: On Melmac the father would shoot skeet while the mother gave birth. Melmacians babble when they’re nervous, and also during white sales. ALF says, “A Melmacian almost never goes back on his word sometimes.” Melmac may or may not have had Pasta Polo and Gerbil Hockey in addition to Bouillabaiseball…they come up in conversation with Willie, but in a joking context.