We are back! And badder than ever! Seriously, I’m not just saying that! My reviews are going to be utter shit!
Season four. You know, when I started this series way back in 1966 or whenever it was, I never thought I’d make it this far. It just seemed so…distant. I remember adding all of the episode titles to the ALF archive page and feeling daunted. I mean, how in the world would I ever finish reviewing all this crap?
Well, the answer is you guys. You readers. You’re the reason I’m still doing this, and the reason that it’s getting more likely by the week that I might actually finish it. So before we dive into the final stretch of episodes, let me just say thank you. You guys are great. I wouldn’t change anything about you, except that you’d have bigger boobs and you’d let me honk them.
Anyway, “Baby, Come Back.” It’s the first post-birth episode, and it’s about Baby Eric. Am I correct in assuming it’s also the last episode about Baby Eric? Glancing at the episode titles to come, none of them have “baby” in the title, and I doubt ALF suddenly grows a sense of subtlety for its final season, so I’m pretty confident that’s the case. Unless “Hungry Like the Wolf” is about ALF devouring the kid during a full moon. I guess that’s something I can hope for.
The season opens with Willie failing to be a dad. Big shock. His baby is screaming bloody murder while he stares at it and asks it politely to stop. I’m pretty sure he’s about four seconds away from putting on headphones and sitting in the other room with this month’s copy of Manholes.
There’s something weird about this episode, though; the video quality is really awful and washed out. I don’t know if you can tell from the screenshots, but it’s very noticeable when it’s in motion. It’s like back when I had to watch these things on Hulu, and my connection would be crappy so it would load a lower quality version of the show.
But it’s a DVD. This looks like they sourced it from a VHS, and maybe that’s what happened. Sometimes masters simply don’t survive. It’s an odd thing to think about nowadays, but it happens. It’s why episodes of Doctor Who don’t exist anymore; prior to digital storage, shelf space was a serious consideration. And while you lose a lot of cultural, artistic, and historical value every time you wipe a master — any master — the fact was that there was only so much room to go around.
So maybe “Baby, Come Back” simply doesn’t exist in a better version. So be it. It’s a shame, but there’s nothing we can do at this point but watch Willie try to stop his son from crying and…
fuck it I take back what I said wipe every ALF master I don’t give a shit
ALF comes in and tells Willie to control his fucking kid.
Willie tells ALF to fuck off, and he makes some stammering excuse about babies needing to exercise their lungs. So, yeah, Willie is the kind of guy who has to be right even when a kid is crying and wailing holy terror. Every good social worker knows that crying people just want attention and should be ignored.
Sick to shit of this new baby already, ALF shouts “Quiet!” and, terrified, it shuts up.
Season four is go!
After the credits Kate is interviewing a potential babysitter. She’s just some teenage girl, but I have to give her props for having the most psychotic smile I’ve seen SINCE MY LAST BLIND DATE LOL
No, honestly, it’s pretty funny. She does this right after Eric starts crying in the background, and she says with perfect sincerity to Kate, “I can’t stand it when they cry. Can you make it stop?”
There’s something about her awkwardness that I wasn’t sure was intentional, but I like it anyway. Compare this to Max Wright’s “trying too hard to be silly” face and it looks downright Shakespearean.
Sure enough I looked her up and this is…Missy Francis?!
Jesus. Nowadays she’s known for hosting Money with Melissa Francis on right-wing circle jerk Fox News. I looked up a clip to be sure and that was definitely her, same face, ranting about why she’s proud to work for Fox News and not any of those other shitty networks that waste everyone’s time checking their facts, so fucking hell. Can’t wait for the episode in which Bill O’Reilly plays a lifeguard who doesn’t understand tides.
It turns out she was also on Mork & Mindy in a small role and Little House on the Prairie in a much larger one. I guess she had a decent enough start as an actor, but either didn’t stick with it or realized you make a lot more money vomiting unsourced nonsense behind a desk all day.
Even so, it’s a shame we’ll never see her again, because I’d much rather season four introduce a psychotic babysitter to the Tanner house than Jim J. Bullock.
In fact, insane Fox News commentator-in-training or not, she has a great moment shortly. Evidently her babysitting resume is filled with acting credentials (which Kate makes fun of, but, damn, if she’s got more than one credit that’s a more impressive resume than the cast of ALF). When she leaves Kate says, “I hope you get that part on Munters Today!” The babysitter stops in the doorway, turns around, and makes a big, excited show out of crossing her fingers.
It’s…incredibly human, and actually very funny. No wonder you didn’t stick around, Missy Francis. You did something funny and your last name wasn’t Fusco. Rookie mistake.
Looking up The Munsters Today I see that it ran for three seasons. That’s…way more than I expected. I vaguely remember it existing, and I kind of thought it was some miserable failure that was canceled during season one. I guess not. In fact, it ran almost as long as ALF did. In Hell I believe they’re both still running.
ALF comes in and says WHAT’S FOR DINNER which is his entire character in three words.
Kate and Willie talk for a while about how Kate can’t go back to work until they find a babysitter, which is reassuring and frustrating in equal measure. Reassuring because we know Kate is still a Realtor. That’s nice; I had half expected them to forget that between seasons, like old what’s-his-name who used to live with the Ochmoneks and cum into Lynn’s socks when nobody was looking. Captain Pesto or something.
But it’s also frustrating because…come on. An alien lives in your fucking house. A babysitter will be on your payroll for approximately 12 minutes before one of the following occurs:
a) ALF accidentally kills her
b) ALF violently rapes her
c) ALF violently rapes and then kills her
d) ALF kills and then violently rapes her
e) she discovers ALF and rats the family out to the government
Admittedly, e) is the least likely outcome, but the point is Baby Eric either needs to go live with a relative, or you need to keep a family member home with him. Strange babysitters won’t do. It’s emphatically not an option.
Willie asks Kate if she’s tried advertising in the college newspapers, and that reminds me…why not ask one of Lynn’s friends?
HAHAHAHHAHAHHAHAHAHHHA I KILL ME
They do have a pretty interesting sub-conversation here about the possibility of ALF one day being able to start a life without them, which is an important thing to discuss so obviously they drop the subject immediately. But I wonder if this is meant to be a kind of foreshadowing. According to commenter Justin who provided this awesome piece a while back, “The whole thing got so heated that it was agreed between the producers that should the series get a fifth season order the Tanners would be completely written out of the show. ALF would be taken to the Alien Task Force headquarters and the show was to become a McHale’s Navy– or Hogan’s Heroes-type comedy, set on a military base.”
Depending on when that decision actually happened, it’s possible that the cast and crew knew here that ALF would indeed have a Tanner-less life in season five, and they laid some groundwork for that.
It’s unlikely, since this is never a show that’s cared anything about inter-episode continuity and, again, probably wouldn’t start caring about it in season four, but it’s interesting that the first episode of the season floats that idea and the final episode tries to fulfill it.
But we’ll get to that hot mess soon enough.
Later on, Kate is trying to burp Eric. No wonder we don’t get any Eric episodes in the future…they explored every possibility with this one! Also, the baby has wispy brown hair in this episode whereas he had thick black hair in the last, so I’m pretty sure the Tanners already traded their kid for one they liked better.
ALF says he’ll show her a trick, and Kate has a decent moment when she says that the last time he showed her a trick, it took two weeks for her eyebrows to grow back. That’s…yeah, decent. I’ll stick with decent.
But then ALF promises that Eric won’t leave his hands. Kate replies, “Spot him, Lynn.”
And fucked if that isn’t my favorite line in ages.
Then we immediately get my least favorite line in ages. Kate asks ALF to heat Eric’s formula, and ALF says, “What do you need formula for, Kate? Tapped out?”
…fucking gross, ALF.
I’m not one of those people that’s disgusted by breast feeding or anything. In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s a normal bodily function. But ALF joking about Eric sucking Kate’s tits dry is disgusting, even by this show’s revolting standards.
Kate’s boss calls and says she has to sell a house right now, and he doesn’t give a fuck if she just had a baby and is on maternity leave. So rather than let this massive lawsuit fall into her lap, Kate panics about who can watch the baby that just sucked her boobs to shriveled, flappy husks.
She suggests Mrs. Ochmonek, but ALF says that’s the wrong answer without elaborating. I have no idea why; the Ochmoneks are the only other human beings on the planet, so I thought she was a pretty good guess.
Seriously, why not Mrs. Ochmonek? What’s the in-universe explanation? Because ALF doesn’t like her? Who fucking cares? Someone needs to watch the kid, and they’re still putting the space monster’s unpredictable feelings ahead of the family’s needs. This is one weird-ass show. They didn’t write a reason Mrs. Ochmonek wouldn’t be the choice, so why bring it up? Just to make it absolutely clear to the folks watching at home that none of your characters act like human beings?
Then Kate makes up some names of neighbors we’ve never met. Nice try, writers, but we know full well nobody else lives in this version of LA.
One of the names is Mrs. Applebaum, who ALF says is occupied because she’s out becoming Mr. Applebaum. Kind of an uncomfortable joke in these more enlightened times, but it gets a lot worse.
Kate says that she forgot to send flowers, which is followed by audience laughter that’s massively misjudged. Why are people laughing about her sending flowers to a friend in a hospital? Clearly it’s because we’re supposed to find that operation ridiculous. Fuck you for embracing who you really are, “Mr.” Applebaum!
Anyway, ALF shits another layer onto the offensive sundae by telling Kate it’s too late for flowers. “Send aftershave instead.”
I wonder why ALF never caught on with the trans community.
What a bizarrely hateful show.
Anyway, now that ALF has spewed some toxic abuse at disenfranchised people who’ve never done any harm to him, Kate believes he is finally qualified to babysit her kid.
15 minutes later (that’s not my joke…that’s a caption indicating how quickly ALF abandoned the baby) our naked alien hero is watching Charles in Charge.
He makes a decently funny quip: “That Scott Baio is the next Tony Danza!” I don’t care if you hate it. Aside from Missy Francis’ crazy eyes it’s my favorite thing in the episode.
ALF hears Eric crying from across the house and bitches because he has to go take care of the kid, which is weird since he was angling to babysit it in the first place. Ugh, who fucking cares. Just accidentally kill the baby and be done with it, ALF.
Anyway, ALF goes to check on him and we find out that Eric shat everywhere. See? All possible baby plots are covered! No need to ever mention this kid again.
Then we cut to ALF’s gross alien hands pawing at the baby’s legs and thighs.
This is fucking horrible. And the baby is screaming the entire time. How can this not qualify as child abuse? The kid doesn’t know he’s in a TV show with a comedy puppet. He just knows he’s scared and crying for help because some giant monster won’t stop grabbing at his diaper, and none of the adults are coming to his aid.
What a horribly traumatic thing. This is the kind of thing babies probably have nightmares about, only this kid isn’t sleeping. He’s living through it, take after take, under the hot studio lights and nobody’s helping him. Jesus Christ.
Then ALF spreads the baby’s legs.
That sure happens.
We see the baby’s bare ass while ALF dusts it with talcum powder. No, I’m not screenshotting that, but you know how embarrassed you are when your mom digs out those old baby pictures of you sitting naked in the sink? Now imagine that those baby pictures were actually videos. And that those videos were available worldwide on DVD. And that that DVD was ALF: The Complete Fourth Season.
It’s impossible to get much more embarrassing than that.
Then ALF also talcs up his own junk and I’m not screenshotting that, either.
So ALF pulls the diaper off the kid and puts on a new one. I guess we should be relieved that ALF’s graduated from trying to cram diapers up a doll’s anus to putting one on properly, but part of me is still kind of sickened by the fact that ALF is covered in fur and probably has all manner of germs all over him. It’s just…weird.
Like, if you lived with a bear, and you trained it to change your kid’s diaper, that would be impressive in several ways. But even if it could do it…would you want it to?
It’s an animal. Even if you could be 1,000% sure it would never hurt the kid (accidentally or deliberately), would you actually let the thing do it? It just seems like there’s far too much of a chance for the kid to get sick from that, or have a reaction to it. I don’t know. I have no kids and very rarely train animals to change them, so what do I know.
And don’t ask me why I’m starting hypotheticals with “If you lived with a bear…” Let’s just blame John Irving and move along.
Then ALF walks all around the house with Eric’s full diaper. Put it in the fucking diaper pail, ALF! This is gross.
Even worse is we can see that there is actual, visible shit on it. Look at the screenshot!
Fucking hell, props department. I know I often give you credit when you’re attentive to detail, but this is emphatically not the time to go above and beyond.
This is genuinely disgusting. No human being needs to see that in a sitcom. We can suspend disbelief when we see a TV character reacting with revulsion to a diaper that looks relatively clean. We can imagine what he’s actually seeing easy enough. We don’t need to see feces all over it.
Then Lynn and Brian come in and…Brian is dressed for Little League, or Tee Ball or something.
Well, looks like the kid got a life at some point. It was off camera, of course, but good for him. That explains (accidentally or deliberately) the mitt Kate yelled at him about in the last episode. I’m glad they gave the kid a hobby…and I kind of like the fact that he’s not good at it.
That’s not my interpretation…it’s a fact the show highlights. He complains that they never put him in the game, and when Lynn tosses him his mitt he fails to catch it. This isn’t great stuff, guys, but I appreciate the impulse. After three full seasons, this is the first time they’ve shown us that Brian either is or is not good at something. Usually he’s just there, looking miserable. It’s nice to know, at last, where he stands in relation to something other than scratching his armpit.
Then Lynn goes into the nursery to grab Eric, because Kate told her to. Brian gets pissed off and stomps on his mitt for a while. Uh, okay.
She tells Brian to tell ALF that Kate told her to take Eric. Man, talk about a clunky plot point. You can’t leave a note or tell ALF yourself?
Anyway, Benji Gregory only gets paid for one line a week, so he obviously can’t fulfill his part of the deal. They leave while ALF is away, presumably wrestling with a visibly shitty diaper.
When he goes back into the nursery he finds the baby missing and says, “So much for keeping my powder dry,” because he peed all over himself.
Now that’s an act break!
After the commercial Willie comes home, and ALF almost immediately rats himself out that Eric is missing. I kind of like this, because I thought the rest of the episode would just be ALF, running around in a panic thinking Eric is gone. Instead dumbass Willie gets roped into this crap, too, and that’s at least a smarter idea, if not necessarily funnier.
But this doesn’t mean they do much that they couldn’t have done with ALF alone. In fact, it all seems to be an excuse to get ALF to stand in the chimney, because the episode sure spends a lot of time showing us that.
There’s some not-bad acting from Max Wright (how many more times do you expect I’ll say that before the series ends?) as he realizes ALF didn’t misunderstand something; Eric really is gone. His panic is believable. It even manages to be (a certain degree of) subtle. It’s good, and, again, believable.
It gets less believable, though, when he starts running through the halls calling, “Eric! Eric! It’s dad!” It’s a fucking infant, Willie; it doesn’t know what you’re saying. You might as well be calling out to your missing car keys.
So, okay, I like some of this, but I don’t know why Willie isn’t stabbing ALF to death with a broken bottle at this point. Kill this fucking space beast! He’s spent three years ruining your life, your finances, your family, your future, your happiness, your dreams, your ambitions, and everything you’ve ever held dear. Now he lost your fucking baby and has no idea where it is. Kill this fucking space beast.
But, no. Can’t yell at ALF, for fuck’s sake, so instead Willie asks him to retrace his steps. Evidently ALF buried the shitty diaper in the back yard, so he and Willie conclude that maybe he buried Eric as well.
Yep, there you go, folks. One episode with the baby and already ALF is accidentally burying it alive.
They search the yard and can’t find it, though, which means either Eric was not buried alive, or they’re digging in the wrong place and later in the season somebody will trip over a very small skeleton.
Later Willie calls an operator and asks for 911, and there’s some joyless back and forth about the fact that he could have called 911 directly. It’d be hilarious if he weren’t calling about his dead baby.
It’s extraordinarily odd humor. Yes, we in the audience know Eric’s not dead or in danger. Fine. But Willie is convinced his son is dead or in danger, so why is he engaging in a sub-par “Who’s on First” with Lily Tomlin? What the hell is going on in his mind that he copes with the loss of a family member through half-assed comedy routines with disembodied voices?
Then ALF comes in, afraid that he’ll get in trouble, and Willie reaches down and comforts him, which brings the absurdity of this scene to toxic levels. In fact, it’s the single most bizarre fucking thing that’s ever happened on this show. This is where SPEWEY needs to be beaten to death with a rake, but Willie gives it a fucking shoulder rub.
You know how angry I get when ALF does something shitty and the family apologizes to him for it? Well, that’s what happening here. Except the shitty thing he did is murder their infant son.
Then Kate comes home and ALF does a spot-on impression of me watching this episode:
Willie tells Kate that he has something serious he needs to tell her. It’s not great acting but since Max Wright is dealing with the problem and not re-enacting the dead parrot sketch with a passing milkman it’s a big step up from a moment ago.
Hearing this — and knowing Eric is okay — Kate worries that something’s happened to her mother. ALF says, “We should be so lucky!” because if there’s one thing you should do after murdering someone’s youngest relative, it’s wish tragedy upon their oldest.
ALF is a fucking asshole, guys.
Speaking of Kate Sr., I noticed in an earlier shot that there was a photo of her on the mantel. (Doesn’t it piss you off when I talk about things and don’t provide photographic reference?) I don’t know how long that’s been there; it could well be new for this season. Granted, I don’t know why it would be new for this season, but it’s nice that somebody, at some point, realized that human beings sometimes display photos of fellow humans in their homes.
Also, Kate Sr. was MIA throughout last season, so I admit it’s kind of nice to see that she still exists within the universe of the show.
Whatever. The episode’s out of time so Lynn comes in with Eric. Willie runs to greet him and, man, can’t you just see the fatherly love in his eyes?
Kate eats up the last few precious minutes of the episode by repeating for us everything we already knew: Kate called Lynn and told her to pick up Eric and bring him to Brian’s game and Brian was supposed to tell ALF but he didn’t so ALF and Willie dug dead babies out of the yard instead. I guess it’s nice if you just managed to catch the end of the episode. That way you’re told on no uncertain terms that you didn’t miss anything worth watching.
Anyway, all’s well that ends well, which ALF proves by telling Kate that he mopped up the piss that he sprayed all over the baby’s room.
Kate apologizes to him and even asks for another chance, because fucking fuck this fuckass dipshit fuckshow fuck.
Watching this makes me feel like I’m drunk. What is actually going through any of these people’s minds? Why are they constantly apologizing to ALF?
Yeah, Lynn took the baby, but ALF was supposed to be watching it and instead left it alone while he engaged in diaper-burying shenanigans. Eric’s not dead, but ALF proved — proved! — that he left the kid long enough for something to happen to him. Why is Kate the one learning a lesson from this? And why is that lesson “I should be nicer to ALF”?
In the short scene before the credits Eric is trapped in a confined space with the shit-covered monster who touched him inappropriately, made him cry, and pissed all over his bedding.
Countdown to Jim J. Bullock existing: 6 episodes
Countdown to ALF being flayed alive in front of the Tanners: 23 episodes
MELMAC FACTS: ALF claims that all Melmacians have an instinctive rapport with kids, and are able to suck milk through their noses. ALF had two younger siblings, a brother and a sister. Anyone know offhand if that’s consistent with the animated series? I’m proud to say that I don’t know, and I never will.