Every so often ALF gives us an episode so hollow, so pointless, so extraordinarily empty that I struggle to write about it. As a guy that never shuts the fuck up, that’s noteworthy. “Baby Love” last season was one of those episodes. It was there. I watched it. I eventually wrote about it. But ask me about it today and I won’t be able to tell you a thing.
“We’re in the Money” is like that. It’s a whole lot of nothin’. Which sucks, sure, but I also see no evidence in the episode that anyone was trying to make it worth watching, so I can’t exactly say they failed. I think the writers and actors all realized this was some bland piece of forgettable filler and didn’t even bother to half-ass it. I sure can’t blame them.
We open the episode with Willie solemnly masturbating to ASCII pornography. I can’t speak for you guys, but when I tune into a show and the first thing I see is an old man pecking slowly at a keyboard I know I’m in for one hell of a ride.
ALF comes in and asks Willie if he can use the computer, but Willie says he’s busy; he joined the new computer shopping service and is ordering something for Kate’s birthday. Firstly, I think this means that Lynn is the only Tanner we haven’t celebrated a birthday for on-screen. If we did, I don’t remember it, so maybe it was in “Baby Love.”
Secondly, though, what an interesting time capsule this conversation is. Nowadays we’d just call it the internet, but I guess back when this episode aired you really did need to connect to some dedicated service and have a fairly deep understanding of navigation protocol from there. I remember — barely — the early days of the internet, with newsgroups and text-only chat rooms, and it’s fascinating to see it again. Willie gushes about how exciting online shopping is, but look at the screen. It’s a far cry from visiting Amazon or eBay today, but it was exciting at the time…and I definitely buy Willie as an early adopter.
Speaking of Amazon, even my first purchase from them — long after dedicated computer shopping servers, or whatever — feels like a relic of a forgotten time. See, I heard about Amazon through word of mouth. Someone told me you could get any book from them, and, sure enough, I found what I wanted: a hardcover copy of Catch-22. I’d read it a few times, but I only had the paperback, so this was exciting to me. More exciting was how I ordered it: I dialed their 800 number, gave them the ISBN that I’d copied down (I had to log out of the internet to place the call, of course), and then read my banking information from a voided check.
And that was 1999 or so! It’s very easy to lose track of just how much the internet has changed and improved over such a short period of time. Back then the web was a very different place; you couldn’t even find reviews of puppet shows that some really pathetic man wrote in his underwear between sobbing fits.
Anyway, ALF makes fun of Willie for shopping online instead of going outside, meaning that “internet nerd” jokes have existed exactly as long as the internet has. But, hey, come to think of it, isn’t it kind of hypocritical? ALF was just begging to use the computer himself.
GUYS I THINK I FOUND AN INCONSISTENCY IN ALF
Kate comes in and takes Willie away to deal with some other bullshit, so ALF hops on the computer and ends up at an investor’s network, because that’s the kind of thing that happened on the early internet when you just brainlessly mashed keys with your alien paws.
And we’re off. I sure hope that the entire episode consists of ALF reporting to us the things he sees on a computer screen. (I’m not even kidding. It’d make my top 10 by default.)
After the credits, Willie shows Brian and Lynn the shoes he bought for Kate through the digital computer shopping service cyber commerce gateway, version 2.1. We’re also reminded (visually) that Eric is not yet dead.
It’s fine that Eric is here, but it’s odd that nobody mentions him or says anything to him. He just sits on Lynn’s lap, and nobody acknowledges he’s there, even in a token way. I’m guessing they wrote this scene without him, and decided to cram him in at the last minute without changing any of the dialogue.
It makes it odd, like everyone’s playing some kind of cruel game in which they ignore the baby. In a moment Kate comes home and she goes and looks at Eric in his playpen…but that’s it. She just looks at him for a few seconds, then turns away. What kind of mother comes home and stares silently at her newborn, then ignores it for the rest of the night? She doesn’t pick it up or coo at it or say, “Mommy’s home!” or anything. It’s…really odd.
Kate comes in and nobody helps her with the groceries, which they try to play off as a joke but, let’s face it, that’s every night in this fucking house. If they wouldn’t help her while she was eight months pregnant they’re not going to help her now.
Instead of assisting his wife in any way — even after she asks for his help — Willie asks her about a letter that came in the mail, confirming his recent stock purchases. I’m glad I don’t get letters in the mail confirming the shit I do online. My mailman would never make eye contact again.
Neither of them know who bought the stocks, so I guess ALF is in trouble. But, come on now. When the episode opened, ALF asked if he could use the computer. Willie said no, because he himself was using the computer. Then Willie got up and left, leaving the computer on, and ALF used the computer. So why exactly is ALF in trouble?
Yeah, he bought stocks, but you knew he was going to use the fucking thing. If you didn’t want him to get up to his weekly shenanigans why not turn the computer off? Or make him leave the shed with you? Or log out of your account? Or stab him 37 times with a corkscrew until you no longer hear his cries?
I’m blaming fuckass Willie for this one.
Willie goes out to the shed to shake his scrotum angrily at ALF, who explains that he thought he was playing a game and had no idea he was investing real money.
And, you know what?
Good on you, ALF. This is definitely Willie’s problem. I’m holding you blameless, because you’re a massive fucking idiot and nobody in this family seems to have realized this yet. You’ve lived here for four God-damned years and royally fucked up everything you’ve touched, but they still leave you unsupervised and act surprised when you get up to the same antics you always get up to. At some point the responsibility is on them to cut off your fingers and chain you to a wall. And until they do that, they get no sympathy from me.
ALF explains to Willie that he may not have known what he was doing, but they’re $5,000 ahead, and that’s good news. Willie replies, “But you could have lost everything, ALF!”
Again though…as much as I fucking hate fucking ALF, this isn’t his fault. He told you he was going to use the computer. Because he’s in a sitcom he logged into Willie’s stock portfolio when he was trying to boot up Donkey Kong. And he played what he thought was a game. Now he knows it wasn’t a game, but Willie didn’t lose anything. In fact he’s got $5,000 he didn’t have before the mistake.
And Willie kicks the good news right back in ALF’s snout. What an asshole. Willie needs to give himself a lecture here, not the space alien.
ALF then tries to convince Willie to let him keep playing the stocks, and Willie tells him to a suck a dick and takes the keyboard away with him.
And that is fine.
I can understand Willie getting mad at ALF’s request to keep fucking around with Willie’s stocks…that makes sense. So why didn’t the scene open with that? With ALF suggesting right off that he continue investing on Willie’s behalf? That would have made a lot more sense than Willie flipping out over something ALF didn’t even know he was doing.
The next morning Brian asks for French toast and sausage, but Kate already made oatmeal, so he pisses and moans about it.
I’ve got news for you, kid: this is the only acting gig you’re ever going to have. Enjoy the free food while you can.
Then ALF comes in and apologizes for being such a grump since Willie made him stop investing. “Oh, but, Willie, also, suck my hairy Melmacian dick.”
See, ALF has still been investing money…in theory. He’s been doing it on paper, and the investments he would have made would have netted the Tanners a profit of $11,000 so far. He gives Willie a piece of adding machine tape to prove, I guess, that he was able to add numbers that totaled $11,000.
This gets everyone very wet, so Willie asks ALF about his investing strategy. He replies that he selects companies whose initials spell out the names of Melmacian holidays. You might think this builds to some kind of joke about Melmacian holidays, but it doesn’t, because we’re only in episode four and already the writers can’t wait for the show to be cancelled.
ALF’s investing strategy reminds me of an episode of some show in which somebody kept choosing the winning sports team based on which animal would win in a fight. Was it Perfect Strangers? I honestly can’t remember, but it’s the kind of logic that only works in sitcoms.
Later that night, Willie and Kate are in bed, having passionate, incredible sex.
Just kidding! They’re lying quietly next to each other and wishing a jet engine would fall through the ceiling and kill them.
Willie tries to talk to her about what happened at breakfast, and she immediately says, “You want ALF to invest our money, don’t you? Because that is about the stupidest thing that I can think of at the moment.”
And son of a motherfuck do I love having Anne Schedeen back. The real Anne Schedeen, who acts and stuff. This show would be so much more enjoyable to me if each episode was 22 minutes of her telling ALF and Willie to pull their heads out of their asses.
While I’m entirely on her side in this argument, I do have to tip my hat to Willie for suggesting that ALF might be an “alien savant.” That’s pretty funny, actually.
Kate tells Willie to do whatever the hell he wants, because her soul withered and died way back on their honeymoon. Willie, for the first time since college, achieves erection. He runs off to give ALF the good news, but ALF was listening outside the door, hoping to hear them fuck.
I’ve had people comment here and on Facebook that I’m being pretty hard on a show that was obviously aimed at kids. And I have to apologize. I have no idea how I missed the fact that a show about a violent pedophile voyeuristic rapist was designed for children.
In the shed Willie and ALF invest money. It’s riveting.
At one point ALF announces that they’re $20,000 up, and Willie does that thing where you pump your arms and thrust your crotch forward. Fortunately for you he did it quickly enough that I couldn’t get a clear screengrab. (Even by this blog’s low, low standards.)
You owe Max Wright for that.
They argue for a while about what to invest in. That eats several full minutes, and nothing happens except that Willie lets ALF invest in a latrine chemical company. Hooray.
Man, who could have predicted that an episode about two characters staring blankly at a computer screen would be dull?
At Kate’s birthday dinner ALF bitches about having to be away from the computer. What a nerd! Can you imagine being such a pathetic creature that you fill all of your free time tapping away at a keyboard?
Anyway, Willie returned the shitty shoes he bought Kate in favor of a “hand-etched” crystal vase from France.
He says, “It’s really heavy,” but he says it after she’s already holding it. So either he delivered his line late and it was supposed to be a warning, or he’s passive aggressively bitching about shipping charges. I can’t tell.
Anne Schedeen beams believably, and I have to admit she has an incredible smile. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it before on this show, and I think she’s only managing it now because she’s within spitting distance of never having to appear in this horse shit show again.
They kiss and ALF says, “There’s an alien present!” Kate replies, “You’ve seen us kiss before,” which is an understatement if I’ve ever heard one. But he holds up a gift and says that there’s “an alien present.”
Which is…yeah, okay. It’s decent enough wordplay.
…but then he explains, “That means open the present from the alien.” ALF knows full well that anyone still watching this show in season four has severe brain damage and can’t be expected to…you know. Get jokes.
ALF got her a diamond bracelet or something, and to prove the diamonds are real he scratches the shit out of Willie’s crystal vase. Everyone just accepts this.
What Willie doesn’t accept is ALF spending so much money on a gift. He flips out during his wife’s birthday celebration, intent on making sure she never has a moment of lasting joy in her life.
He’s pissed at ALF for digging into the $20,000, and ALF reveals that it’s only $10,000 now.
Willie shits his pants and tells ALF to sell all the stocks immediately, and I look forward to the second half of the episode in which we watch ALF slowly do that in real time.
He does let ALF keep $2,500 to invest as he sees fit, which is nice of him, and I’m glad he cares about not hurting the alien’s feelings while his wife sits there crying on her birthday.
Later that night, ALF breaks into a cold sweat when accesses the Deep Web and immediately hears distant sirens.
Brian comes in and ALF begs him for money. When Brian doesn’t give him any, ALF throttles him repeatedly.
Kate walks in on a violent space monster physically assaulting her son and quietly ushers the kid out of the room. Work long enough for Paul Fusco and you just get used to it, I guess.
Then ALF gropes the coffee maker.
This episode sucks.
Willie lectures him about how thirst for money can make people lose sight of their ethics and do terrible things. ALF replies, “That explains Ghostbusters II!” which might be a decent line on a show that was actually better than Ghostbusters II.
Ghostbusters II wasn’t that bad. I mean, yeah, it was nowhere near as good as the original, but it had some funny moments, and on its own merits it’s a decent watch. God knows I’d put that on any day over ALF.
It’s an especially unfair shot at that franchise considering that ALF was no stranger to low-quality cash grabbing itself, from spinoffs to comic books to Burger King kids’ meals. Paul Fusco would squeeze every ounce of life out of this character if it meant one more penny in his paycheck…but let’s make fun of Ghostbusters II. Clearly those talentless hacks Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Dan Aykroyd, and Ivan Reitman deserve it.
Then the episode is over.
Well, at least that felt quick. It was no shorter than usual, but I guess when nothing happens it just glides on by.
In the short scene before the credits, Willie makes a list of all the money ALF lost him over the years, and while reading it ALF gets hysterical over his own antics.
It’s…a pretty funny idea actually; I just wish it came at the end of a better episode. And it might have been nice if we got more than just a few of the line items read out to us, because any attempt at continuity is welcome.
For the record, we hear the following items on Willie’s list: crashing the space ship into the garage (“A.L.F.”), the first kitchen fire (“On the Road Again”), and bail money (“Pennsylvania 6-500”). We also hear about the scratched vase from this episode, and a broken camera which I don’t think is from any particular episode.
Some more nods to previous episodes would have been nice, but that also would have forced me to watch the episode for a few more seconds, so…swings and roundabouts.
Anyway, that’s all, folks. “We’re in the Money” sure was forgettable.
I expect a lot of crappy episodes in this final stretch…here’s hoping it’s not too much to ask that they at least be interesting.
Countdown to Jim J. Bullock existing: 3 episodes
Countdown to ALF being garroted in front of the Tanners: 20 episodes
MELMAC FACTS: Blec was “an important holiday” on Melmac. How did they celebrate? What did the holiday represent? What is the closest corollary we have on Earth? None of these questions are answered because the writers wanted to be done with this shit even more than I do.