ALF Reviews: The 10 Best and 10 Worst Episodes

ALF, "Hooked on a Feeling"

The penultimate feature here, folks: the definitive, unquestionable lists of the best and worst episodes of ALF. You are not welcome to disagree, because no other possible opinion can exist. I talked to scientists and everything. Anyway, we’ll get the best ones out of the way first, because I like to end on a curse word.

The 10 Best Episodes of ALF

10) Lies (4-2)

ALF, "Lies"

When the best episode of season four is at the very bottom of the list (and even then just barely) you get a great sense of just how awful that final stretch of episodes was. But “Lies” is actually a lot of fun for such a simple premise. ALF sends some of his stories to a tabloid, which then obtains a video of Max Wright sucking off a hobo. It’s up to Willie to distract the reporters while ALF, Brian, and Lynn steal the incriminating evidence. The entire thing takes place in and around the house, but it manages to feel a lot less claustrophobic than most episodes do, probably because we’re at least talking about space and aliens and hey, now that I type that I realize that’s what the whole show was supposed to be about. Crazy! This also marks Eric’s only appearance in the top 10, and if memory serves I’m pretty sure he spent the entire episode gurgling away in the broom closet.

9) La Cuckaracha (1-24)

ALF, "La Cuckaracha"

Speaking of the many times ALF being an alien had something to do with the plot, here’s the only other time ALF being an alien had something to do with the plot. Looking back at “La Cuckaracha” is really odd, as it feels like it comes from an entirely different, much more playful show than ALF actually was. For a sitcom about a sass-mouthed puppet it sure didn’t give a shit about making anyone laugh. But here, for whatever reason, the show let loose a bit, and it was pretty great. Riffing on the “giant animal” sub-genre of sci-fi horror films, “La Cuckaracha” sees ALF and Willie fighting a giant cockroach. And while it’s subject to the same lame jokes, shitty acting, and ramshackle atmosphere as any other episode, those things actually make this one feel more authentic. (Shockingly, giant animal movies weren’t known for their impeccable writing, acting, or special effects.) It’s strange that so little of Melmac made it into this show, but maybe that’s a good thing. It lets “La Cuckaracha” feel like a highlight rather than one silly sci-fi romp among many.

8) Working My Way Back to You (2-1)

ALF, "Working My Way Back to You"

ALF is a gigantic motherfucking bitchsack of a racist rapist kiddy-diddling asshole. And, for once, the show acknowledges that that might not be a very fun character to live with. This ends up being a great (and sadly uncommon) Kate episode, as she’s the character most likely to tear ALF’s throat out with her bare hands, which lends his efforts to get back into the family’s good graces a bit of actual tension. The misbehavior that pushes her over the line is a bit weak — he accidentally smashes a painting, which is evidently worse than the times he burned the house down, got Willie arrested, or had their neighbors investigated for murder — but ALF actually having to make amends for something is a nice change of pace. Also, it ends with ALF almost getting killed in a fiery explosion, and frankly that could have been preceded by 20 minutes of static and it still would have made my top 10.

7) Superstition (3-19)

ALF, "Superstition"

It’s now official: the best thing Brian ever did in an episode of ALF was possess a textbook. (Fun fact: in each of the episodes ranked higher than this one, the part of Brian was played by a pile of baby parts the producers bought from Planned Parenthood.) I didn’t know anything about “Superstition” before going into it, and it ended up being a pleasant surprise. For starters, it’s one of those very rare episodes in which each of the characters gets to participate, rather than stand around the set making faces while ALF performs his one-man show, Give ‘Em Hell, Gordy! But it’s also…pretty funny, actually, with the Melmacian bibliocide ritual being both believable enough and silly enough that the episode’s punchline — in which an elaborate ceremony is staged just so ALF can mumble a brief, general apology — actually lands. “Superstition” is a great exercise in subverting expectations. I’m referring both to the comically underwhelming apology and to the fact that an episode of ALF wasn’t a giant pile of shit.

6) I’m Your Puppet (2-22)

ALF, "I'm Your Puppet"

Working with Paul Fusco was an endless, spiraling nightmare of misery…grueling twenty-hour workdays without any recognition or satisfaction or a chance to showcase your talents, during which you were physically endangered by a treacherous network of trenches and had your career destroyed before your very eyes, while a puppet disco danced and screamed racist hate speech at you. Even so, some people didn’t enjoy the experience. Their frustrations were channeled into the script for “I’m Your Puppet,” which was about ALF obnoxiously operating an obnoxious puppet named Paul. The theoretical role reversal here is interesting, but by all accounts ALF and Paul Fusco had identical personalities anyway, right down to their refusal to ever wear pants to work, so maybe we can’t give the show too much credit for that. What we can give it credit for is telling this story in an impressively self-critical manner, the adorable little detail that ALF’s mouth moves when he voices the dummy, and the return of the incredible Bill Daily as Dr. Dykstra.

5) For Your Eyes Only (1-6)

ALF, "For Your Eyes Only"

When the first batch of scripts for the show was being written, it must have posed a bit of a challenge to the writers. How is ALF meant to interact with anyone when he can’t afford to have his extraterrestrial origins exposed? Episode six hit upon one of the most obvious answers: somebody he meets is blind. Of course, this was back before the writers threw up their hands and said, “Fuck it, whatever, he can walk down the street juggling and singing showtunes for all we care.” This early in the show’s run things really could have gone either way, and “For Your Eyes Only” was a fleeting glimpse of what the better option would have been. It had heart, a great guest character, and tapped into ALF’s inherent loneliness in a universe that literally rejected his entire species. Tying his emotional state into Jodie’s, and exploring (briefly) the parallels between them, worked wonders, and tricked me into thinking the show would be worth watching more than nine more times.

4) Fight Back (3-14)

ALF, "Fight Back"

Sometimes the reason an episode is good is self-explanatory. (“ALF makes a blind friend.” “The writers bitch about Fusco.” “A giant cockroach sodomizes Willie.”) But “Fight Back” is one that doesn’t sound all that good or interesting on paper. Willie’s car breaks down, his mechanic gyps him, and…that’s it, really. And yet it’s actually a lot of fun, and one of this show’s very uncommon ensemble pieces. Literally every character gets something to do. Apart from Brian, who is explicitly told he’ll get nothing to do, which as far I’m concerned is even better. There’s also a nice thematic splitting point early in the episode, as the same basic problem — a crooked mechanic — is dealt with one way by Willie, and another way by ALF. One tries to take the “correct” way out by reporting the mechanic’s shady business practices, while the other takes action and attempts to catch him red handed. ALF rarely had anything to say, so it stands out when an episode manages not only to say something, but to say it two different ways. It’s a simple episode, but one that I really enjoyed.

3) Going Out of My Head Over You (1-19)

ALF, "Going Out of My Head Over You"

Dr. Dykstra’s first appearance was his best, with an episode that I suspect was born of necessity. Paul Fusco and Max Wright (who played Crackrock O’Reilly) did not get along very well. They had a kind of Roadrunner / Coyote relationship, only instead of engaging in a war of comically overdesigned contraptions they’d stab each other with broken glass. Bringing Bill Daily — a professional in both realities — aboard to help them mitigate the conflict was a great move. ALF and Willie could hash out their differences and learn to live together, while Fusco and Wright, by proxy, could exorcise their frustrations and learn to work together. It led to some great scenes, including passive-aggressive impersonations at the dinner table in which the actors barely seem to hold it together, and the best part is that this experiment actually worked. Paul Fusco and Max Wright got along from this point forward, and the show was great forever.

2) Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow (3-23)

ALF, "Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow"
Don’t ask me how ALF managed to handle a touchy subject with something suspiciously like intelligence. I still don’t know. But this annoyingly titled episode was actually pretty…good. And well-acted. And insightfully executed. This was one I dreaded because it tapped into a family problem that I had the misfortune to experience myself. Other episodes that charted territory I was familiar with (whether due to my father’s alcoholism, my elderly uncle’s death after finding an alien in a tent, or that time my wife slept with Joe Namath) were fucking piles of horseshit, to put it politely. But this one was a refreshing break from ALF‘s idiocy, and it ended without unearned moralizing. “Sometimes there are shitty people in your life,” the episode says, “and the only thing you can do is walk away.” For a sitcom, that’s uncommonly good advice. For ALF it’s like parting the Red Sea.

1) Night Train (2-9)

ALF, "Night Train"

Wow, what a surprise! “Night Train” is the best episode! I bet if you suffered a massive brain injury between that review and today you’ll never have seen that coming. Yes, yes, this was predictable. Who cares. It was a great episode of a show whose normal level of artistic merit is somewhere below watching an old lady tumble helplessly down the stairs. But this one was good, pairing up two characters whose relationship really should have been the heart of the show, and giving us just a taste of what a great version of ALF would have looked liked. ALF and Willie both compare shattered dreams and determine that they’re more grateful for the lives they lead than they realized, even if they’re not the lives they once imagined. Also an irrelevant hobo jumps to his death. It was a sweet episode with some real heart and some good jokes along the way, and the worst thing I can say about it is that it set a high water mark the show was simply incapable of ever reaching again.

The 10 Worst Episodes of ALF

10) Strangers in the Night (1-2)

ALF, "Strangers in the Night"

I remember watching this episode for my review and thinking the show couldn’t possibly get any worse than this. Oh, the follies of youth. In retrospect it’s not that I judged “Strangers in the Night” too harshly…it’s that I failed to predict ALF‘s staggering capacity for brainless garbage. This is the one where Mrs. Ochmonek wants to watch Psycho, so ALF orders a pizza and a robber gets scared. It’s also the second episode of the show, and already the Tanners are hardly in it. I wondered back then why they’d so quickly brush aside four of the main characters. (I was a fucking idiot.) I really have no idea why this was even written, and the narration added during the edit suggests to me that nobody involved with it knew, either. Boy, ALF. You really hit your stride right out of the gate.

9) Hail to the Chief (2-11)

ALF, "Hail to the Chief"

ALF runs for president in a dream but in a different dream he doesn’t but then at the end of another dream he is the president and then in real life he gives advice to actual presidents. CLASSIC SHIT RIGHT HERE. This is one of many episodes that feels like it was cobbled together from scraps, and in this case none of the scraps had any redeeming merit at all. “Hail to the Chief” is like the exact inverse of “Working My Way Back to You.” While that was a great showcase for Anne Schedeen, this one was written to see if they could get her to quit the show. It’s probably no kind of spoiler to say that this is by no means the only fantasy episode in the bottom 10, and I really can’t make this clear enough: as awful as ALF was every fucking week, the fantasy episodes are worse than getting hit by a car and dragged screaming for miles.

8) Don’t it Make Your Brown Eyes Blue? (1-8)

ALF, "Don't It Make Your Brown Eyes Blue?"

You know, spending a whole episode about how your main character is driven into a sexual frenzy by an underage girl sounds great on paper. What a sure-fire classic. There’s no better comedy staple than the lecherous old molester, and pairing that with a music video in which Uncle Grabby dances around singing about precisely how many ounces of seed he’d like to squirt into her was a recipe for success if there ever was one. Amazingly, bafflingly, defying all knowledge I’ve ever had and ever will have about the universe, it turned out to not be very good. Quite where it went wrong is a mystery for the ages. Surely analyzing any given scene, line, or sequence reveals only masterful construction and flawless execution, but in the end “Don’t it Make Your Brown Eyes Blue?” somehow turned out to be a disappointment. I’ll never understand why it doesn’t work, and neither will you. It’s the single greatest idea in sitcom history, and its presence on this list of lows is a headscratcher even I don’t understand.

7) Wild Thing (1-18)

ALF, "Wild Thing"

When I declared “Wild Thing” the worst episode of season one (during the closing ceremonies of ALF Fest ’14) I knew I couldn’t have been entirely fair. In the first place, I was watching syndication cuts. In addition to that, “Wild Thing” seemed to have been hit the mathematical hardest by those cuts. Most episodes seemed to lose around 2-3 minutes of material, while “Wild Thing” lost some crazy amount that I don’t feel like looking up right now so let’s just say a day and a half. But now that I’ve seen it restored to its original glory, I can say conclusively that it was indeed the worst episode of season one, and a massive pile of shit no matter how much you do or don’t hack out of it. So potent was its stench that when it was re-aired during season four (with some minor editing to replace a few instances of the name “ALF” with “Wolf”), I didn’t like it any more than I did here. In fact, consider this dual placement for “Wild Thing” and “Hungry Like the Wolf,” because I’m far too lazy to write up the same fucking episode twice.

6) Tequila (2-23)

ALF, "Tequila"

“Tequila” is a 1988 erotic romantic drama episode of ALF written by Art Everett and directed by Nick Havinga. It is based on the semi-autobiographical novel by John O’Brien. Kate’s friend Maura is a suicidal alcoholic who has ended her personal and professional life to drink herself to death in the Tanner kitchen. While there, she develops a relationship with a hardened prostitute played by ALF, which forms the center of the episode. O’Brien committed suicide two weeks after principal photography of the episode began.

Goofs: The toilet paper is folded when ALF first sits down to urinate. The next shot of him sitting on the toilet shows that the toilet paper isn’t folded any more.

5) Like an Old Time Movie (3-24)

ALF, "Like an Old Time Movie"

“What if ALF was a silent movie?” That’s a question nobody’s ever asked, for any reason, at any point in human history. No, not even the people who made the episode. It’s common knowledge that “Like an Old Time Movie” was a script coughed up from the bowels of hell. The writers and cast, after consulting with 1989’s foremost theologians, knew that producing and airing the episode was the only way to preempt Satan’s impending reign over humanity. As such, “Like an Old Time Movie” was a necessary sacrifice for viewers all over the world, but it’s still pretty solid garbage. There were a few comments on the review about how ALF deserves credit for being the only show that did an episode like this, or whatever. Maybe that’s true. Probably not, but I don’t give a shit. If other shows were skipping silent film pastiche in favor making something worth watching, it’s not ALF that deserves credit.

4) Promises, Promises (3-6)

ALF, "Promises, Promises"

Ugh, “Promises, Promises.” I have to talk about this shit again? Actually, I guess I don’t. Let’s talk about something else. Like what we’ll do after ALF. I’m planning to jump off of a building. How about you guys? If I don’t get around to that, then maybe I’ll do a bunch of Fiction Into Film pieces, since I really enjoyed those but couldn’t get to them because ALF was fisting his way through all of my free time. I’ve also had a few requests to cover some Muppet stuff, and I might do that since I’ve never properly talked about them here. Oh, and I’m working on this year’s Xmas Bash!!!!, which is going to be pretty great, and which — I think — has the best mix of programming yet. Man, every time I remember that the Xmas Bash!!!! is technically a spinoff of the ALF reviews I’m kind of blown away. I never expected that this crap would lead to any genuine good in my life, or anyone else’s. But here we are, raising money for a great cause on what’s genuinely the most fun night of the entire year as far as I’m concerned. So that’s nice! That’s a positive thing! That’s something to focus on instead of talking about “Promises, Promises.” I feel liberated. I feel free. Does the air smell especially sweet to anybody else today?

3) Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades (4-18)

ALF, "Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades"

the hell is this god damned horseshit garbage pile, for fuck’s sake, my god, just look at this sack of crap nonsensical assload of trash, what kind of moron watches this shit for crying out loud, is there nothing better you could be doing with your time than sitting around pouring catpiss like this into your brain, I mean come on just get out of the fucking house if this is what you’re doing with your time, my frigging god almighty, jesus christ, I can’t think of a worse way to spend 20 minutes, I don’t care if you live to be ten thousand fucking years old there’s no reason to waste any portion of your life gagging down this bullshit episode of a dogshit sitcom for fuckwits, come on this fucking crap my god

2) Consider Me Gone (4-24)

ALF, "Consider Me Gone"

Season four would have been awful even if it didn’t end with a punch in the nuts. As it stands, season four was awful and it ended with a punch in the nuts. “Consider Me Gone” was a sendoff for the Tanners masquerading as a sendoff for ALF, and which turned out to actually be a sendoff for the show as a whole. You’d be forgiven for thinking that this clearly important episode would have had an ounce of effort invested in it. You’d be forgiven, but utterly wrong, you idiot. There’s pretty much nothing of merit in the entire clusterfuck. We spend large portions of the episode with an Alien Task Force outpost on the other coast, populated entirely with characters we’ve never seen before and would never see again, which sucks, but the rest of the time we spend with ALF and the Tanners, which also sucks. It was a necessary milestone for the show as season five would have seen ALF moving to another cast and environment, but the entire thing plays like a shrug, as though nobody who worked on it could muster up the energy it would have taken to even pretend to care. I’ve experienced more meaningful farts. But, hey, at least it laid the groundwork for Project: ALF, right? Speaking of which…

1) ALF’s Special Christmas (2-12)

ALF, "ALF's Special Christmas"
…oh, wait. This isn’t Project: ALF. Shit. I should have actually read the list before writing about it. Well, part of me wants to just say “Project: ALF isn’t an episode, so it can’t take the number one spot.” And I’d be right, because I’m very intelligent. But even if we wanted to count it, the more I think about it the more I really believe “ALF’s Special Christmas” is the worst thing imaginable. (And I’ve imagined some pretty horrible things in my time.) Project: ALF, for all of its impressively varied flaws, was just a comedy movie that failed to make me laugh. “ALF’s Special Christmas” was a cloying, emotionally manipulative dramedy about a dying little girl that failed to both make me laugh and make me weep. It set its sights on a deeply misguided target, and aimed to change lives through the dual magics of Christmas and gynecology. And it ends, as all of the greatest works of art end, with an alien in a Santa suit telling a black guy not to kill himself. Also at some point ALF has to deliver a baby in an elevator, in case you thought you’d be allowed to go five full seconds without Paul Fusco reaching directly into your chest and yanking on your heartstrings. This isn’t just a bad episode of ALF. This is evidence against the existence of God. Tittydrippings.

ALF Reviews: Season One, Uncut

ALF, "Wild Thing"

And so we begin the final installments in the ALF Reviews series. Forever. And fucking ever god damn.

I’ll keep the introduction short, since there’s a lot to cover: this week I’ll be revisiting season one. Those of you who have been following this blog from back when I had hair will know that my original reviews for season one were based on the syndication edits on Hulu. After that I obtained (courtesy of…well, you) a copy of the German box set that included the full-length edits.

These weren’t necessarily the original edits, though. The broadcast version of “For Your Eyes Only” had ALF and Jodie singing along to the Chipmunks, which never made it to a home video release. “Try to Remember” originally had ALF electrocuting himself rather than hitting his head. (As if that weren’t bad enough, he also told kids not to do that at home. Thank God that was cut!) And in a later season, “Breaking Up is Hard to Do” replaced some actual Pink Floyd song with library music, so now that’s lost to the ages, too.

But, whatever, I said I was going to keep this shit brief. Point is, here we are, filling in the gaps for season one. I’m using this resource to itemize the cuts for me, so if it’s not 100% correct and it missed something I don’t care and, seriously now, neither should you.

I’ll also mainly be covering missing scenes. Snipped lines of dialogue or establishing shots for the most part don’t merit a mention here. I’ll call them out if I find them worth discussing, but by no means consider the below to be an exhaustive list of changes. If you’re interested in that…well, check out the resource! That’s what it’s there for. I’m just here to talk about the times it seems like Willie and ALF fuck each other’s butts.

On with the show!

Season One, Episode One: A.L.F.

ALF, "A.L.F."

The first cut scene was actually the very first scene, and it’s the sort of thing that’s hilarious in retrospect. We begin with what looks like a location shot of Willie and Brian, walking hand in hand. Fitting that the only fatherly moment he ever spent with the kid was snipped.

Then there’s some incredibly funny narration. Willie says, “This is the way it began. That extraordinary night. The night…he came!”

It’s an overwrought performance and I can’t stop laughing, not least because they’re framing this story as some incredible, wonderful development for the family, and by episode two ALF is shitting in the tub and fingerbanging the kids.

It really does go to show that there were two different versions of ALF as a character. This narration introduces us to one, but the actual show to follow spent an awful lot of time with the other.

Also, Willie is narrating this in past tense. At what point in his life is he telling this story? From his hovel in Iceland? I really wish “Consider Me Gone” ended with Willie finishing the story in voiceover. “And now our lives are ruined. Ruined forever!”

Another interesting snip: Willie is going to the shed to talk to a friend of his through the ham radio. So Willie really does use the ham radio! Willie really did have a friend! What a spoil of rich syndication cuts!

ALF, "A.L.F."

Look! Brian is doing something! Lynn and Lucky are in the shed! It’s…kind of interesting to see this, actually! The syndicated version opened with just Kate and Willie in the shed as ALF crashed into the roof. This is an entirely different feeling, and it actually makes it seem like the Tanners existed in some form before a sass-talking puppet moved in. No wonder they cut it.

We learn that Lynn also uses the ham radio talk to her friend Natalie, which I wouldn’t buy even if it really was the first thing I was learning about the character. And we learn about our first canonical boyfriend for Lynn: Lash. Willie makes a face when he hears the guy’s name because he knows there are 98 more episodes in which the writers will pair his daughter with all manner of invented idiots just like him.

Then Kate comes in. There’s a bit of domestic patter about Brian not wanting to eat his dinner. He makes a joke(!) about Lucky earning his name because he doesn’t have to eat Kate’s cooking. And then the kids leave and Kate talks to Willie about how he should support his daughter, even if she dates sitcom greasers.

But the most interesting part of the cut here, for me, is that at one point Willie touches the ham radio and there’s a big electric spark. Presumably this is what causes ALF to crash into the garage; in the syndicated version there’s no indication of why he crashed, but maybe this short circuit caused ALF’s navigation system to home in on it. It doesn’t really make much sense if that’s the case, but at least it’s a kind of explanation.

That’s about it for the noteworthy cuts. A few snipped lines elsewhere, and ALF sings “Proud Mary” to dare you to tune in next week.

Season One, Episode Two: Strangers in the Night

ALF, "Strangers in the Night"

This one is still the hastily slapped-together mess it always was, but there is more of an attempt to tie it all together in this version. There’s more of ALF’s narration stitching scenes together, for instance, and he opens the episode with a longer speech. Then he breaks Brian’s Missile Man toy. Huzzah.

A few similar changes throughout…extra lines, extra narration, nothing major. But this version does have a short scene after the credits that the syndicated version didn’t have.

Here we get a Dragnet-aping wrapup that checks in with the characters and tells us what happened after the episode. The robber, as you see, is in a rubber room now, because he saw ALF. That’s the joke.

Then we see the Ochmoneks on their couch (with a helpful subtitle that confirms the spelling of their last name), watching TV. She seems miserable with her husband, which seems to not fit with their later behavior. But, remember, this is back when Mr. Ochmonek wore a white tanktop instead of a Hawaiian shirt, so as far as I’m concerned that means we’re in a dream sequence.

Finally we check in with ALF. He blabs about how brave he was and throws popcorn everywhere. GOOD SHIT.

There is one impressive moment here, though. Lynn rubs his head, and ALF slides down under the table in ecstasy. Okay, that’s gross, but the cool thing is that you can see ALF do it. Like, you see his head above the table, then as he slides down you see his feet appear from under the other side. It’s a nice bit of puppetry that uses the furniture to block out the logistics in a pretty neat way.

ALF’s season one voice is definitely gruffer and not nearly as smooth as Fusco’s later performance would become. It almost sounds like an entirely different performer. In fact, it’s not until “Lookin’ Through the Windows” that the voice “steadies” into the one we remember.

Season One, Episode Three: Looking for Lucky

ALF, "Looking for Lucky"

A bunch of small snips nobody cares about, but there are two bits cut from the montage, including Willie and Brian looking for ALF in a dumpster, presumably while the piano outro from “Layla” plays in their heads.

Then there’s the sight gag you see in the screengrab. It’s a rare location shot, so it’s notable for that. It’s also one of the only actual “jokes” in the montage, so you have to wonder why it was cut.

And, man, doesn’t the sight of that storefront just make your mouth water for fresh meat? Mmm. Condemned butcher shops.

Actually, wait, so…ALF knows the word “delicatessen” but doesn’t know that that’s not how “cats” is spelled? God dammit, ALF.

But, okay, the real reason I’m pointing this out? Man, you probably can’t tell from the still image, but that had to be the most treacherous day of work for the midget. The box he’s standing on really teeters precariously.

It could just be a very good practical effect that makes the situation look more dangerous to the actor than it really was.

Or, of course, it could be they didn’t care about the safety or happiness of their actors at all.


Season One, Episode Four: Pennsylvania 6-5000

ALF, "Pennsylvania 6-5000"

Lots of cuts with ALF bitching on the phone about nuclear weapons and singing the Jetsons theme song, because of course he does. Then there’s a lot of horseshit non-comedy with the two guys who aren’t Reagan aboard Air Force One. It all sucks massive dick.

Until one scene that miraculously does not! It’s actually kind of good.

Kate goes to visit Willie in prison, as she does in the syndicated version, but the scene is much longer here. Willie is terrified, and breaks down crying to his wife. “They fingerprinted me!” he sobs. She consoles him by saying, “It washes right off.”

Then they talk about the awful things they’ve seen prisoners go through in Midnight Express and Papillon. She again tries to cheer him up by saying that the prisoners in Stir Crazy didn’t have it so bad, and Willie replies, “That was a comedy!”

Brilliant stuff? Hell no. But it was clearly the best scene in the episode, and the one the actors have the most fun with. It was probably also the most fun to write, but there wasn’t a puppet in it so out it goes.

(I did see this scene in the clipshow “Try to Remember,” but it’s nice to watch it in context and establish beyond the shadow of a doubt that it really was the best part.)

Season One, Episode Five: Keepin’ the Faith

ALF, "Keepin' the Faith"

Hey, were you hoping for a longer version of the scene in which ALF gives Lynn “a Terry Faith facial”? Too bad! Here you go!

This time he applies some red shit to her face over the brown shit, and moans and groans revoltingly for an even longer period while he does so. It’s fucking gross. Well, gross-er.

Then the phone rings and Brian gets it, and we actually get to hear ALF on a sales call. In the syndicated version it seemed more like ALF was just buying a whole bunch of makeup and shit. Having this part of the scene restored makes it clear that he is actually successfully selling it to people and not just stockpiling it. So that’s nice, but through the whole thing you have to imagine that Lynn is in the other room rubbing alien cum out of her eyes, so it’s kind of hard to appreciate.

One line wasn’t cut, but I overlooked it when I heard it originally. In retrospect it’s kind of neat: ALF wonders during the makeup party if Willie’s “doing his card tricks again.” In “Do You Believe in Magic?” we found out that Willie actually does do card tricks. Accidental continuity, I’m sure, but that’s nice.

ALF, "Keepin' the Faith"

Less nice is the scene of Willie rubbing lotion on some lady’s tits.

Don’t ask me why.

She asks him to apply it for her, and he asks her where to apply it. She says, “Wherever you think I need it.”

So he rubs it all over her chest, and she lets him do it while he makes awkward faces.

…but if he finds this awkward, why did he do it in the first place? If she said, “Rub it on my chest, silly!” then maybe he would have been stuck. But instead she left the door open for him to rub it on her hands or something more innocuous and he leapt right for her melons, so I don’t know what the fuck is going on.

There’s also a cut part toward the end where some fat lady hears someone say “guacamole” and she gets all excited because she is fat.

So, yes, “Keepin’ the Faith” actually used to be way worse.

Season One, Episode Six: For Your Eyes Only

ALF, "For Your Eyes Only"

This one has one major cut toward the beginning of the episode, as Willie and Kate head out for their anniversary dinner. (Hey, remember when Willie remembered his anniversaries?! I definitely didn’t!)

ALF is sad that his anniversary party won’t by attended by the couple actually celebrating their anniversary, so he tries to get Brian and Lynn to celebrate with him instead.

Brian can’t stick around, though; he’s spending the night as his friend Scott’s house. (Hey, remember when Brian had friends?! I definitely didn’t!) He says that Scott’s turtle died, and they’re going to flush it.

Then Lynn says she’s going to Julie’s house, and ALF asks, “What’s she flushing?”

And that’s a really good joke, actually! But the syndicated version of this episode was still pretty good, so losing a moment like this didn’t hurt it too much.

Still, I wish it stuck around. It got an actual laugh out of me.

Season One, Episode Seven: Help Me, Rhonda

ALF, "Help Me, Rhonda"

Standard dialogue trims in this episode, but there are a few other things of note, mainly to do with the non-ALF puppet scenes.

The fantasy / flashback / dream (all three?) sequence on Melmac is extended, with some more gentle ribbing among ALF and his chums. At one point Skip makes a joke and says, “I kill me!” which seems to imply that that’s more of a general Melmacian saying than it is ALF’s specific catchphrase. That’s interesting.

They talk about wanting to fuck the waitress for a while, and ALF does one of those things where he wonders aloud about what would happen if the planet ever exploded…which is immediately followed by a loudspeaker somewhere saying, “Orbit Guards, man your battle stations. Nuclear devastation on its way.” Not really a clever joke or anything, but I’m bringing it up because it’s just a hair more insight into the destruction of Melmac than we had.

Of course we know that at this point ALF leaves to shovel a bunch of souvenirs into his space ship instead of rescuing anybody, including the two friends he’s sitting with at this very table. (One of whom actually came to Earth later to rescue him. Twice! Fucking ALF…)

As he leaves ALF says, “Listen, if you see Rhonda, tell her I lo… Don’t tell her anything.” It’s a decent moment, as his friends were ribbing him about his crush on her a moment ago, and it makes sense both that he’d hold back on this declaration and that he’d regret doing so.

ALF, "Help Me, Rhonda"

In a later scene, Skip and Rhonda make contact with ALF over the ham radio, as they did in the syndicated version. This time there’s some more dialogue, which isn’t surprising. But we also see their puppets and their ship, which is surprising, as the syndicated version was deliberately re-edited so that we only heard them; the camera never left the Tanners’ garage.

That’s an odd choice to me. Why find different footage and re-edit the audio so that we wouldn’t see the puppets? The footage already existed; it took more effort to cut Skip and Rhonda out than it would have required to leave them in. It’s really strange.

At one point ALF jealously asks Rhonda, “What are you doing with Skip?” and Skip mutters, “Not much.” So I guess she wasn’t giving it up to him after all. She tells ALF, “You’re the only one for me.” But we’re still not supposed to think ALF is an asshole when he blows her off at the end of the episode without explanation.

But hey, as long as she’s not romantically receptive to anyone else, ever!

Also, throughout the episode a bunch of characters sing “Help Me, Rhonda” at various points, which didn’t happen in syndication. This was presumably cut to avoid having to pay royalties, or because they didn’t have the rights to use it beyond the initial broadcast. Even ALF’s friends on Melmac sing it, so that’s another piece of Earth media they somehow had access to.

Season One, Episode Eight: Don’t it Make Your Brown Eyes Blue?

ALF, "Don't It Make Your Brown Eyes Blue?"

In this episode Lynn lusts after Scott, which we already knew. But now that we’ve seen the cut scene from “For Your Eyes Only” we know that Brian was hanging around with a much older boy, and when Scott invited him over to “flush the turtle” his parents really should have intervened.

In the full version of this episode, ALF angles for romantic advice, so Kate tells him about what Willie did after they’d been dating for about four or five months: he found out that Kate liked cream of mushroom soup, so one day he packed her car full of 500 cans. ALF replies, “So you’re saying I should do something pathetic.”

Yep…best line in the episode, snipped.

Then we get a scene later in which Willie and Kate lay together in bed worrying about what the kids would look like if ALF got their daughter pregnant.

I’m not joking. It’s fucking disgusting.

BUT THEN, finally, the cut scene I’ve been waiting for since I reviewed this episode originally: ALF filming Willie, who performs “Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting).” Inspired by the music video ALF made for Lynn, Willie makes this one for Kate. And while ALF’s was horseshit, this is actually pretty funny.

It works on a few levels, not least of which is the fact that the song is utterly inappropriate as a romantic gesture. It goes beyond the standard funny outfit / song reference style of humor ALF was frequently keen to rely on.

Lynn comes in and she and ALF talk about how to make the music video more exciting, such as by using smoke pots and by having Willie swim in lava. It’s not fantastic, but it’s the best scene in the episode. Needless to say, it was snipped so we’d have time to watch ALF’s fucking music video twice.

Season One, Episode Nine: Jump

ALF, "Jump"

We get one of my pretty big questions about “Jump” answered when the syndication cuts are restored: who was that other guy graduating with Willie or whatever the living shit was happening? In the syndicated version he was just sort of there with Joe Namath and the Indiana Jones guy.

Now we find out. Like everyone else in the dream, this is someone who got to cum in and on Willie’s wife whenever he wanted to. In fact, another earlier scene even sets this up, when the family is looking at Kate’s old photos and finds one of him. His name is is Animal Hohnerheim, which also explains where her daughter got her taste in men.

I can understand this being cut for time, but it’s unfortunate that he still appears in the syndication edit, as it makes the episode look even more poorly written than it was.

Anyway, the guy giving out diplomas or degrees or whatever says to Animal, “You’ve won the Indianapolis 500, you’re listed in the Fortune 500, and in the National League you’ve batted 500.” Then Animal says, “I gotta run! We’re having 500 people over for dinner tonight!”

Not hilarious but certainly one of the few jokes in this episode that seemed to require any degree of creative effort.

At the very end of the episode, Lynn mentions that she wants to skydive as soon as Lash gets his pilot’s license…and Lash was the boyfriend from the snipped intro scene of “A.L.F.”! Look at that. An entire romantic arc with Lynn was lost to syndication. Which is probably for the best, since she wanted to suck a completely different guy dry in the previous episode.

Season One, Episode Ten: Baby, You Can Drive My Car

ALF, "Baby, You Can Drive My Car"

In the full edit of this episode we meet the tow truck driver who brought the Tanners home. He helps them with their groceries, and it’s not a great scene or anything but once again it does have some of the best material in the episode.

The driver is played by Robert Costanzo. You look at him and think, “Haven’t I seen him in something?” And you have! The answer is that you’ve seen him in everything. Seriously, look at his IMDB page sometime. I’m surprised the guy has time to breathe he’s been in so much. Comedy, drama, sci-fi, fantasy, animation…he’s done pretty much anything you can imagine. And he’s not bad at all here, elevating his pretty ropey material.

When he first comes in with the bags he says, “Sorry about my tow truck breaking down. What do you suppose the odds were on that one?” Which is a decent line, but he definitely gives it a better delivery than any of these other actors would have.

Then there’s some pretty annoying, padded bit where he and Willie try to figure out how much the bill should be, since they both helped each other with their vehicles. The guy decides on $50, and Willie asks who is paying who. The guy laughs and then says, “That’s a good one. Cash will be fine.” Again, not great, but the performance sells it as an effective punchline.

As he leaves he says, “You might want to consider a new set of brake pads. I should have never towed you with the emergency on. My mistake!”

It’s a pretty good performance for such a minor part, and it definitely would have improved the episode. Then again, ALF isn’t in the scene so FUCK IT.

We find out in this scene that the friend Lynn was going to see the concert with was named Kathy. Not sure if that was in the syndicated version, but it’s another friend!

Some other cuts later on involved a longer scene of Lynn studying for a job at Mr. Jim’s Chicken and Oysters, and a trim to the scene in which she practices serving the food to her family in which Willie says Mr. Jim’s Chicken and Oysters sucks balls.

Season One, Episode Eleven: On the Road Again

ALF, "On the Road Again"

They cut a scene of the midget running across the room.

Mother fuckers.

Otherwise just some dialogue trims throughout. There’s a moment when Brian thinks he sees ALF outside of the camper, but Kate corrects him and says it’s only a rotted tree stump. That’s good.

And there’s a weird bit with some voiceover from Lynn. In the syndicated episode she was writing a letter to a boyfriend, but in this version we can “hear” what she’s writing, and it’s a plea to be rescued from this shitty vacation. (As I asked in the episode review, though, how does she intend to get the letter to him?) We also find out that the boyfriend is Lash!

Man, that character just can’t catch a break. He was referred to in three episodes, and chopped out of each of them.

Another snip has ALF fantasizing about eating pork and beans out of a can during the camping trip. Some more accidental continuity, as this was also something he looked forward to — and finally got to do — in “Night Train.”

Season One, Episode Twelve: Oh, Tannerbaum

ALF, "Oh, Tannerbaum"

The opening was snipped, and we lost Willie’s alarm clock playing “Jingle Bell Rock.” We also lost “Happy Birthday to You” in “Jump,” and the other musical moments I mentioned in other episodes, so it’s clear that a lot of these snips were to avoid having to license or pay for the songs again.

We also learn in that brief snipped moment that Willie’s Uncle Doug has been dead for two years by this point. We hardly knew ye.

There’s another snip later where we learn that ALF can read Japanese. He translates the tree assembly instructions for Willie: “So, you weren’t able to buy a real tree.”

Decent little joke, if not for the teeny tiny fact that WE NOW HAVE TO BELIEVE ALF CAME TO EARTH KNOWING BOTH ENGLISH AND JAPANESE.

The main cut in the episode comes in Willie’s nightmare. In the syndicated version this sequence did seem odd; his family loved him, ALF came over to fix the tree, and then Willie panicked. It seemed like pretty odd nightmare material, but in the unedited version it makes more sense.

ALF “fixing” the tree causes the family to realize it’s fake, and the holiday unravels. Lynn is suddenly dressed like Barbarino and refers to her “boyfriends” coming over to pick her up, which makes this canonically the first time she’s been up for a gangbang.

ALF, "Oh, Tannerbaum"

Then Brian comes in and is fucking terrible. He’s in military fatigues with a bandolier and he says, “Bye, mom. I’m leaving before some unnamed Central American country.” If it weren’t for the transcript on the syndication cuts resource I’m using, I never would have known that he was supposed to say, “I’m leaving for some unnamed Central American country.”

He then says he’s off to “stem the tide of Communism,” and delivers the line about as well as you expect he did.

ALF, "Oh, Tannerbaum"

Then the doorbell rings, and it’s Mr. Ochmonek! That’s good enough for me, but Kate says, “That’ll be my lover,” and leaves to go fuck him in the yard.

You know how I always used to wish Kate and Mr. O would run off together and star in a much better sitcom of their own? Well, merry Christmas to me!

This whole sequence would have elevated the episode, and it’s a real shame that it got cut. Again, it’s not because it was great, but because the episode was about Willie fretting about the Christmas tree, and how important it was to him. When it gets ruined and he can’t find a replacement, it makes sense that he’d fall into this anxiety spiral.

In syndication, this episode just seemed like your run-of-the-mill season one trainwreck. The full version, though, actually explores its central idea, and looks far more competent as a result.

This was a significant loss.

Season One, Episode Thirteen: Mother and Child Reunion

ALF, "Mother and Child Reunion"

The most notable snip in this episode comes at the very beginning. ALF arranges himself in front of the TV in a way that he won’t have to move for the rest of the night, as he can reach all of his snacks with one of those claw toys kids used to play with. (Now they just sext.)

It’s…okay. It’s not funny, but I like the idea that ALF would do this. I like much less the idea that he’s doing this so he can masturbate to a Jane Fonda workout video without interruption.

The rest of the snips in the episode are just Kate Sr. bitching about more things, such as the cleanliness of the bathroom, and pretending not to know what Willie does for a living. (Lady, I didn’t know for a long time, either.)

Those snips don’t remove anything great, but having them back does make the family’s eventual irritation with her land a little more believably, so it’s a shame to lose so much of it.

Season One, Episode Fourteen: A Little Bit of Soap

Literally nothing important. Some snipped dialogue nobody cares about, and longer edits of the bullshit soap opera ALF writes for.

It’s all garbage. Next.

Season One, Episode Fifteen: I’ve Got a New Attitude

ALF, "I've Got a New Attitude"

There’s a moment cut from the seance scene in which the shutters over the plot window move on their own. Afterward, Kate Sr. finds the wire ALF rigged up to create that effect.

It sounds a hell of a lot better than it actually played out, and it might have been cut for that reason.

That’s the kind of syndication cut that should happen; a good idea that just didn’t play as well as it should have. I’d say the episode is improved by removing that moment, but since it’s a pile of shit either way I guess that doesn’t say much.

Season One, Episode Sixteen: Try to Remember

A clip show. A few flashbacks to other episodes were removed. Nothing of note, thank Christ. Moving on.

Season One, Episode Seventeen: Border Song

ALF, "Border Song"

Willie makes a hideous face and acts like a dick to his secretary.

There’s a lot more interaction with her (and a bit more with his boss) than what we got in the syndicated version. It still sucks a fat one, don’t get me wrong, but since this is one of only maybe two episodes in which Willie acts like a social worker, it’s unfortunate that we lose this slice of his worklife.

Neither of these characters were ever seen again, so it makes sense that they’d be chopped out in retrospect when the episode needed to be shorter, but once again it’s not like anything else in the episode was worth keeping, so losing this narrow window into his job is a shame.

Season One, Episode Eighteen: Wild Thing

ALF, "Wild Thing"

Now this is an interesting case, as the syndicated version of “Wild Thing” was something like forty seconds long. Seriously, it was way shorter than the other edits, and the bulk of the missing material comes from the scene in which Willie builds a cage for ALF.

Throughout there are dialogue trims, of course, but of those the only really interesting one is when Lynn outlines the problem with the episode. She says, “Let me get this straight. You’re going to act strange and you’re going to eat cats. So what’s the change?”

Those of you who picked up from the review that ALF in “super crazy” mode was no different than normal ALF can take solace in the fact that the writers recognized this too…even if they did nothing to address it. ALF explains that it’s a matter of degree. “Imagine ALF to the tenth power,” he says, so I guess he’s 10 times as strange and wants to eat 10 cats.

The cage building scene is mainly just ALF telling Willie over and over that the cage he built sucks shit. And, again, this scene addresses another problem we had with the syndicated version. ALF produces a photograph of the last cage they built, and Willie says, “That’s all iron and steel!”

And…well…of course it fucking is, Willie. It is a cage. You built a crate. The script doesn’t make his obvious fucking misunderstanding of what a cage is more explicit, but it at least acknowledges that we aren’t looking at one.

We also learn a few more MELMAC FACTS from ALF’s photo album: he has a step cousin named Kendall, and a godson named Jed. There’s also a cute little moment here when Willie says, “You photograph very well.” ALF replies, “You know, I never thought so.”

It’s kinda great, and in just two lines we get what would have been the best part of the episode. (The photo-album-as-expository-device is also an effective method of moving the plot along in a fun way, and I’m surprised the show never really returned to that.)

ALF, "Wild Thing"

Then Mr. Ochmonek comes over singing “The Lady is a Tramp.” This was obviously cut for music rights reasons, but that doesn’t explain why the scene up until this moment didn’t stay in the episode. Anyway, it’s not great, but it’s always nice to see the guy, and this provides another little bit of continuity with the Ochmoneks’ love for Frank Sinatra.

ALF sings along when Mr. Ochmonek arrives, so Willie pretends he was the one singing. This excites Mr. O, who then forces Willie into an awkward conversation about Frank Sinatra, about whom Willie seems to know very little. Again, nothing great, but it’s nice to see Willie trying to feign common ground with the guy as opposed to giving him a titty twister and kicking him off his property.

The funniest line in the episode comes when Mr. Ochmonek looks at the crate and says, “What are you, shipping a monkey?”

Willie also asks Mr. Ochmonek to catsit Lucky for the night. Losing that doesn’t matter much, but it’s interesting that that development was set up so much earlier in the episode than we saw it in the syndicated version.

Much of this scene is seared garbage, as Max Wright flounders tries to pass off his accidental slip of the word “ALF” as though he meant to say “alfalfa,” but we do learn that Mrs. Ochmonek’s maiden name was Pitzer.

So, yeah, still no idea why so much of this was cut. Any insight into why “Wild Thing” ended up being so much shorter than the other syndication edits?

Season One, Episode Nineteen: Going Out of My Head Over You

ALF, "Going Out of My Head Over You"

It’s fitting that the best episode of season one had one of the best excised scenes…and it’s a relief that the syndicated episode still turned out to be pretty great.

We lose a big chunk of the initial exchange between ALF and Dr. Dykstra. Knowing he’s meeting a psychiatrist, ALF worries about how he’ll be perceived, and starts overcompensating. After they shake hands, for instance, ALF says, “Nice, firm handshake I’ve got there, huh? Good sign, right?”

It’s funny.

Then Dr. Dykstra asks him how he’s enjoying life on Earth, and ALF says, “I just wish there was more love, and less war. Not something a psychotic would say. Right?”

I like everything about this moment. Dr. Dykstra slides from the magic and wonder of meeting an alien into having to make awkward small-talk before the dinner party actually begins, and ALF panics believably when he knows he has the direct attention of a psychologist.

I kinda loved this episode when I saw the chopped up version, and though I really like this exchange I think the syndicated version works well enough without it. In any other episode this might have been the best scene. Here it’s cut without affecting the overall quality, which says a lot about how good “Going Out of My Head Over You” was to begin with.

Season One, Episode Twenty: Lookin’ Through the Windows

ALF, "Lookin' Through the Windows"

And, of course, a shitty dumbass episode had a shitty dumbass scene removed.

At the very end of the episode, when the police are in Mr. Ochmonek’s living room, the lights go out for a moment. Why? Who fucking knows. When they come back on, ALF is standing in the doorway like a fucking idiot. Doesn’t he know people aren’t supposed to see him? Kill this shitfucker.

Willie hurriedly turns the lights right back off, and when they come on again, Mrs. Ochmonek is standing where ALF was. Why? Who fucking knows.

Anyway, this is notable for two reasons.

One, in the syndicated version of the episode, the story ended with the police just accepting Mr. Ochmonek’s claim that he didn’t murder his wife. They don’t investigate anything, and nobody ever attempts to find or reach Mrs. Ochmonek to make sure she’s okay. Here, in the full version, we see why that is: she just shows up and the whole investigation is moot.

But two?

Oh, yes. Two.

Mr. Ochmonek sees ALF.


Remember when I used to say that he was the only recurring character who never saw ALF? Well, that was bullshit. He saw ALF here. Just fleetingly, of course, and once Willie turns the lights out he asks, “Did you see something?!” Willie and Kate pretend they didn’t, and when the lights come back on it’s Mrs. Ochmonek standing there instead. (How she didn’t see ALF in this scene I’ll never know.)

But, yeah, Mr. Ochmonek saw ALF. That means that no recurring character went without seing ALF, and makes Paul Fusco’s assurance that they were very careful about who got to see ALF and who didn’t seem even stupider.

Fuck this show.

Hey, is that the last time I get to say that?

I’ll say it louder, then.

Fuck this show!

Season One, Episode Twenty-One: It Isn’t Easy…Bein’ Green

ALF, "It Isn't Easy...Bein' Green"

Lots of cuts from this one, but the most substantial cut is the scene of Kate and Lynn arriving at The Nutrition Follies and finding a couple already in their seats. The exchange is…well, it’s silly, but it’s better than anything else in the episode. (Noticing a theme here?) It was also cut, I’m sure, because the puppet wasn’t in it. (NOTICING A THEME HERE?)

The joke is that the audience is assigned seating based on whether their kids are playing meats or vegetables, and this couple says that their kids are potatoes, whereas Kate argues that they’re Cornish game hens.

It’s exactly that stupid, but kind of funny, and it’s nice to see Lynn getting to participate in some actual comic business. I like this bit! And in that screengrab, hey, is that a Paul Fusco cameo in the lower left?

The only other notable cut is the MELMAC FACT that when Melmacians were in mourning (or at a funeral) they would dress as vegetables. And they’d never wear a hat to a funeral.

Later on, Willie getting a round of applause after playing the piano was cut, as a clear and hilarious fuck you to Max Wright.

Oddly, some of the cuts listed in the resource I’m using were present in the Hulu version, so maybe there’s more than one syndication edit of this episode.

More oddly, even in this full length version, Dr. Potato Famine does not fall shattering to the floor, making that whole idiotic bit even more pointless than I assumed it was. Why in crap’s name wasn’t the action figure shit cut instead of Kate and Lynn finding their seats? At least the seating scene had jokes in it, for fuck’s sake.

Season One, Episode Twenty-Two: The Gambler

ALF, "The Gambler"

This one is just a bunch of cuts where characters explain the same basic concept (ALF is in deep shit with a bookie) over and over again. Trimming the episode removed a lot of fat, but didn’t make it any better.

There’s a MELMAC FACT about Melmac being so safe that their survival knives didn’t have blades. It’s a cute sight gag, but nothing great.

One notable detail is that ALF mentions Bouillabaseball briefly to Brian, describing it as being “like regular baseball, only you throw fish parts.” You can also sort of see the cards ALF is holding up, and they do look like they might be the actual Bouillabaseball cards that were shuffled into packs of ALF trading cards in the real world. No idea for sure, but the art looks pretty elaborate for a background prop we don’t get to see properly.

Anyway, that’s chronologically the first mention of “baseball with fish parts” on the show. Which makes the name of the sport even more fitful than it already was, as two other episodes call it Skleen Ball. In fact, here’s your breakdown, for those of you who have lives:

The Gambler (1-22): Bouillabaseball
Working My Way Back to You (2-1): Skleen Ball
Oh, Pretty Woman (2-7): Bouillabaseball
Movin’ Out (2-21): Skleen Ball

Fuckdammit, keep your dumbass imaginary sport consistent! Also, this nullifies the previous, excusable belief that the sport was originally called Skleen Ball and was only changed because Bouillabaseball was much wittier.


It was Bouillabaseball to begin with.

Then it was changed to the nonsensical Skleen Ball.

Then they realized (remembered?) that Bouillabaseball was the better name.

Then they forgot they had a better name and reverted back to Skleen Ball.

Okay, one more time: FUCK THIS SHOW.

Season One, Episode Twenty-Three: Weird Science

ALF, "Weird Science"

Snips throughout, with the closest thing to a notable one coming at the start of the episode. Since the TV is broken ALF is especially bored, so we see him watch Kate do dishes through the plot window.

And, hey, remember when I wondered how he was tall enough to see through the plot window? This scene reveals that he’d drag a chair over and stand on it!

…okay, that’s not particularly surprising, but it’s still cool that at one point we got to see an answer. We even get the midget bringing this moment to life! (Speaking of which, RIP Michu Meszaros. Thanks for being such a highlight of a show so deeply in need of them.)

Once again, it’s probably the best part of the episode. It’s short, but the exchange between ALF and Kate is way better than dialogue in this show usually is:

ALF: Why do you wash dishes before putting them into the dishwasher?
KATE: I’m not washing them. I’m rinsing them.
ALF: Doesn’t that machine have a rinse cycle?
KATE: Yes. It’s after the wash cycle.
ALF: …you wanna run that by me again?

I don’t care if you liked that or not. I’ve spent years of my life watching this shit and that’s better than almost anything else I’ve seen.

The One Good Writer sure lost a lot of his work to syndication edits.

Season One, Episode Twenty-Four: La Cuckaracha

Nothing of note here. ALF mentions he bought his slime ball at Ed’s Bakery, the exterminator talks about roaches some more, and Mr. Ochmonek talks about roaches some more. The end. Let’s wrap this shit up.

Season One, Episode Twenty-Five: Come Fly With Me

ALF, "Come Fly With Me"

Music rights edits for sure, as we lose a few bits of Mr. Ochmonek (and later ALF) singing “Come Fly With Me.” What a shame to have lost so much Sinatra love from this guy. In fact, you can hear John LaMotta sort of slip while singing it and accidentally perform it well. He realizes quickly that he’s supposed to sound bad, and then he forces himself to lose the tune. It’s kind of funny, and very charming, that some actual singing talent crept through.

The major cut is right after they land. Willie and Kate already start bitching at him because they want to go home. I’m so glad they didn’t wait 10 seconds to start being ungrateful fuckbags to the guy who invited them on a free vacation.

Willie sulks that they’re stuck, and Mr. Ochmonek says, “Yeah, tough luck, huh? Stuck at a resort hotel!” That, I think, is the closest he’s ever come to calling Willie on his extraordinary dickitude.

Losing this isn’t really a big deal, except that, embedded deep within its rotten core, is what would have been the best line of the episode. Mr. Ochmonek explains that they can’t go home, even if they wanted to: “That plane is on its way to Central America. I can’t tell you anything else.”

And I absolutely fucking adore that line.

The One Good Writer and the One Reliable Actor, together at last.

That’s as good a place to end as any.

(But seriously: fuck this show.)

ALF Reviews: Character Spotlight – Gordon Shumway

ALF, "Border Song"

In many ways, we’ve saved the best for last. At the end of each season we took an in-depth look at a member of the Tanner family, and drew, essentially, the same conclusion each time: these weren’t characters.

By no means does that suggest they’re all equal, though. Anne Schedeen easily came the closest, using the natural frustration and negativity she felt on a daily basis to give Kate a believable seethe. It helped, of course, that Schedeen has a natural sense of comic timing, and worked to sell both jokes and emotional moments that were underwritten on the page. She tried hard and, for my money, she did a great job with what she was given. A better job than the material deserved for sure.

Max Wright, by contrast, rarely tried at all. When he did you could almost feel the gears shifting, because it was like watching an entirely different person. He’d go from not caring if he hit his marks or pronounced his line properly to suddenly, unexpectedly, being genuinely funny in his awkwardness. Again, this didn’t happen often…but when it did, you’d almost be forgiven for thinking you were looking at an actor and not a depressed relative who should be on suicide watch.

The kids, interestingly, were miniature versions of the parents. Andrea Elson seemed to take after her TV mother and found some recognizable emotion in her character that she clung to whenever possible. Benji Gregory took after his TV dad by wishing he were dead.

ALF, "Can I Get a Witness?"

But none of these characters were characters. We approached their discussions as we had to: by looking at what the individual actor did or did not bring to the part. The writing didn’t come close to shaping any recognizable figures…even after four fucking years with them. Willie best exemplifies this, as my Spotlight on him only made it clear that he wasn’t at all what the show wanted us to think he was.

To put a polite spin on it, one might say that ALF had an interestingly hands-off approach to characterization, letting every actor find and evolve his or her character with only minimal direction or guidance from the script.

To put a more realistic spin on it, ALF sucked ballsack and didn’t give two shits about its human characters.

Which leads us to…well…its one regular non-human character: ALF himself.

ALF, "Come Fly With Me"

Because, yes, ALF, unlike anybody else, is a character. For once we don’t have to focus on what the actor brought to the role. We will do that, because it’s still worth discussing, but we don’t have to do that.

ALF is well-defined. ALF is the character one could sit down after 99 episodes and a movie and actually say things about. There are things ALF would do and things ALF would not do, things ALF might say and things ALF probably would not say. Things ALF cares about and things ALF emphatically does not care about.

ALF is somebody.

In fact, he’s the onlybody.

Episode one positioned him as the important character we should all pay attention to. And that’s fine; it was the pilot, and you certainly do have to spend more time setting up the sassy puppet from space than you do the nerdy dad or the frustrated housewife.

The problem is that in every episode to follow, he was still the only one we were supposed to be paying attention to. Exceptions to that rule were rare and, importantly, they were exceptions.

At no point was ALF an ensemble piece. If the puppet disappeared for a few scenes or some other character got a nice chance to hold the spotlight on his or her own, this was clearly fleeting. Next week everybody — whether watching the thing or making it — knew we’d be right back where we started.

ALF, "Make 'Em Laugh"

The focus on ALF took a significant toll on the actors. Already grueling workdays were made even more thankless by the knowledge that the puppet would get all the jokes.

The actors went through hell just so a puppet could have a career. ALF gave nobody else any kind of bump in fame or a springboard to other projects. In fact, it marked the last major role almost anybody involved with it would ever have.

Any satisfaction any of them might have felt with any aspect of the production was purely incidental.

ALF, as a character, seems determined to surround himself with disposable figures he can pick up and let go of as necessary. He’s a joke machine. Not necessarily a good one, but a steady one. That’s why Paul Fusco didn’t see the Tanners themselves as necessary and treated them as such.

In his mind, they could have been anybody. For the purposes of a sitcom it was best to keep it to a small, recurring group of core characters, but if not for the logistical concerns of weekly television, ALF could have been rapping, farting, and slinging barbs at another group of actors working for scale in every single episode.

Paul Fusco knew this, which is why there don’t seem to have been any reservations about writing the Tanners out of a hypothetical fifth season. Most creatives would panic at the concept of their formula being reconfigured so severely, having to introduce a whole new cast, environment, and dynamic long after viewers are already familiar with the show.

Of course, only the environment would really change. The cast was a necessary evil, and the dynamic could always be illustrated by writing “ALF” on a whiteboard surrounded by arrows pointing outward.

ALF, "Do You Believe in Magic?"

This cast was never important, and no cast would ever be important.

We got a different group of characters and setting for Project: ALF, a different group of characters and setting ALF’s Hit Talk Show, a different group of characters and setting for ALF: The Animated Series, a different group of characters and setting for ALF Tales.

Even during ALF when Fusco filmed a pair of episodes on the actual Tonight Show set, no Tanners were invited to tag along. This was the puppet’s show, and he made sure that they knew it. In fact, pretty much the only additional piece of ALF media to feature the Tanners was the comic book. Tellingly, Fusco had no involvement with that production.

I hate the Tanners, but I can say that Project: ALF made me realize their importance. Without having them there, the film felt unanchored and aimless. Willie certainly never served any more than a minimal purpose in the show, but the fact that he was there, getting flustered whenever ALF pulled some kind of irritating bullshit, was, in retrospect, meaningful. In Project: ALF the alien pulls irritating bullshit all the time, but people just sort of shrug and drag their asses toward the next setpiece.

Confining ALF to the Tanner house might have been annoying to the puppet — and potentially Paul Fusco, though I’m only guessing there — but it actually lent the show a sense of stakes that I was only able to notice once those stakes were removed.

At the end of the day, ALF always had to come home. He could visit hospitals and nursing homes and animal shelters and whatever else he wanted to do, but because it’s a weekly sitcom he’ll need to start the next adventure in the living room set that’s already built. And this meant that his actions had (suggested) consequences.

"ALF," Looking For Lucky

If you piss off the people that you live with, you need to face that. You either apologize for it and fix things or push back against their frustration and make the situation worse. Certainly there are people who will naturally do either, but the point is that your decisions shape your living situation, the level of tension in the house, and the experience of being there.

ALF was in the same position. Many episodes were about him (deliberately or inadvertently) pissing off a Tanner. Sometimes they ended with ALF making amends, and sometimes they did not, but the very fact that ALF lived here, and would continue to live here, with these people, made those choices meaningful.

I tended to like the moments of ALF apologizing and disliked the moments of ALF punctuating a conflict with one last act of dickery. I think that’s because I was willing to buy the fact that he lived with these people. Of course I liked it when he’d apologize; that made living with him easier. When he wouldn’t, that made living with him harder.

On some level, I must have felt that, because once Project: ALF took it away, everything felt meaningless. ALF’s soft moments didn’t register. ALF’s shitty moments didn’t register. Nothing registered because nothing is meaningful when you dance along from character to character and location to location.

In Project: ALF, ALF being nice didn’t make it easier to live with him and ALF being cruel didn’t make it harder to live with him. Nobody lived with him; he could do whatever the hell he wanted, and the audience didn’t really feel anything the way they needed to in order for those moments to have impact.

There were no stakes, because neither he nor we will ever see any of these people again. ALF getting Willie arrested meant he’d have to deal in some way with a pissed-off Willie. ALF getting Ray Walston arrested just meant Ray Walston wasn’t in the movie anymore.

Project: ALF

Fusco’s inability to realize this is frustrating, but, to be fair, I didn’t realize it either until Project: ALF came along.

And I know why: for different reasons, both he and I were too close to the material.

This is a great example of why soliciting, accepting, and responding to outside feedback is such an important thing for creatives to do.

ALF had its share of external feedback that Fusco chose to ignore, and that ultimately sealed the fate of both the show and the character.

ALF, "Wanted: Dead or Alive"

When your entire cast is miserable and complaining about unfair working conditions, you should listen to them. Actors like to work, so if they’re complaining about all the bones they’ve broken tumbling into your network of puppet trenches when they were supposed to be finished shooting six hours ago, they probably have a point. They’re not complaining because they aren’t grateful to have a job; they’re complaining because this job fucking sucks.

When your writers keep seeing their scripts get gutted and rewritten, giving any funny lines to the puppet when possible and removing them completely when not, you’re stripping them of their incentive to write anything good in the first place. Like actors and acting, writers like to write. Writers do not like to produce work only to have it bastardized by a narcissist who can’t bear the idea of a secondary character getting the spotlight. By season four — which, to put it as politely as possible, was a pile of steaming catshit — the writers clearly weren’t trying anymore. They had tried for three years. I certainly don’t blame them for giving up by the end.

When the president of the network personally steps in to help you salvage your show, you should listen. You should especially listen when that president is Brandon Tartikoff, a network television whizkid who both understood audiences and respected the creative process. The shows he greenlit and guided weren’t just popular; they continue to be critical favorites, and they shaped the landscape of NBC and its competitors — who sought to respond in kind — in ways that we’re still feeling today. Tartikoff was an expert who took time he didn’t need to take to save a show he didn’t need to save. Fusco shot him down.

And when audiences keep rejecting your work — with everything from Project: ALF onward is hated with a passion you rarely see outside of this blog — you need to listen to them. People liked ALF. They bought all manner of shit with his face on it. He was popular enough that people do keep trying to give the character a chance. But whenever he pops up, viewers respond with a collective “…nah.” And that’s because nothing’s changed. The setting and characters, yes. The format, yes. The problems at the core of the character? Nope. Once you get sick of ALF you stay sick of ALF, because no effort has been made to evolve him or the way he interacts with a series of disposable others.

ALF, "Tonight, Tonight (Part 1)"

But for all of my complaining, you know what?

Paul Fusco was one talented motherfucker.

Of the main actors, he was by far the best. And the fact that we often looked at Willie and Max Wright as interchangeable (for instance) but almost never looked at ALF and Paul Fusco in the same way says a lot. Fusco’s performance was a performance. It wasn’t something he did. He wasn’t just reading lines off a script and moving on. Fusco played ALF. He gave him life. He gave him a distinct personality. He made something.

Whether you enjoy ALF’s antics or not — on the whole you know my answer — it’s impossible to deny Fusco his chops. He knew how to deliver a line, even if I didn’t enjoy the line. He knew how to carry a scene. He could be effectively funny or emotional as the moment dictated.

It was easy, at times, to believe that ALF was real, in spite of the fact that we were looking at somebody’s hand wrapped in an old carpet. In fact, it was easier to see ALF as real than any of the actual human beings we were watching.

That’s due to Fusco’s solid performance as ALF, and genuine understanding of who the character was. (Something no other actor had, though Schedeen and John LaMotta came closest to bringing some version of their character to life.)

But it’s also due to the show’s greatest accomplishment: the puppetry.

ALF, "I'm Your Puppet"

Dangerous trenches and grueling hours aside, Paul Fusco was a great puppeteer. (We probably shouldn’t push those things aside, I know, but I do at least feel as though we should consider them separately from the quality of the work he did.)

ALF was an impressively expressive puppet, and every aspect of his presence felt natural. Not just the way his mouth would move or the way he’d bob up and down when walking across a room. It was in the way he’d blink for no reason except that living creatures do blink. It was in the way he’d wrinkle his snout up in disgust. It was in the way his ears moved while he talked.

ALF felt alive, and that’s part of the reason the midget was always so incongruous. ALF already seemed real. When we cut to a little guy in an ALF suit trotting silently across the room, it was not only unnecessary, but because we already knew how ALF moved it looked unnatural.

Yes, it was the actual, flesh-and-blood person who didn’t seem real. The puppet, we believed in.

Fusco knew what he was doing, and had the talent to bring the character to life. He had something that most puppeteers and even most actors would kill to have: a character he innately understood, inside and out.

I’ve bitched about this show for several thousand years now, but Fusco’s performance is just about unimpeachable. It was the closest thing to a constant pleasure ALF had.

ALF, "Going Out of My Head Over You"

That’s why those external voices — his cast, his writers, the network president, his viewers — should have been heeded. They weren’t piping up and complaining and pleading because they wanted to ruin him. They were doing these things because they wanted ALF to be good.

What’s more, they all saw in it a kind of potential. A concept worth salvaging. Nobody wanted to sink with the ship. In fact, nobody wanted the ship to sink at all. But Captain Fusco said he knew what was best as he steered the thing directly into iceberg after iceberg.

He saw any kind of suggestion as meddling, as a personal affront, as an attempt to wrest control away from him, when, in actuality, everybody was trying to help the ship go further.

He still, to this day, does not realize this, culminating in the tragically hilarious insistence that he knows better than Tina fuckin’ Fey what audiences want and how best to give it to them.

Why has every subsequent ALF production failed? The simplest and most correct answer is that Paul Fusco still hasn’t learned the lessons people were trying to teach him 30 years ago.

ALF, "Suspicious Minds"

He reminds me, in many ways, of Seth MacFarlane. MacFarlane is a deeply gifted voice actor. He understands how to deliver a line; he knows how to wring every ounce of humor from anything he’s given. But when he’s more involved in the creation / writing of a project (Family Guy, A Million Ways to Die in the West), the comedy suffers.

MacFarlane has a habit of treating reference as punchline. Of coasting on audience familiarity and nostalgia. Of finding the laziest way possible to resolve a scene, conflict, or setpiece. All very Fusco-like qualities.

But then you look at something like American Dad!, which features MacFarlane only as a voice actor. He drops by whenever they need him to record the voices for Stan and Roger, and then he leaves. He’s very hands-off with the project creatively…and it’s the strongest thing his name has ever been attached to.

MacFarlane, like Fusco, fancies himself a renaissance man. He’s an actor, a writer, a director, a producer, a creative consultant, a showrunner…he does it all. And yet he’s actually at his strongest when somebody takes those things away from him.

His performances as Stan and Roger are some of the best that primetime animation has ever had, and with somebody else writing the lines and developing the characters, we get something better than MacFarlane — as talented as he is — could ever have done on his own.

To his credit, MacFarlane lets people take those reins. Paul Fusco does not. Which is a shame, because if he was left to focus only on the puppetry and the vocal performance of ALF, ALF might still be around.

ALF, "Hail to the Chief"

Yes, you knew I’d be bringing up American Dad! at some point here. It was an early point of comparison in this review series. Why wouldn’t it be? It’s another network comedy show that features an alien who secretly lives in a family’s attic. The difference is that Roger is integrated into his show’s universe, and is not the sun around which a handful of faceless others are forced to revolve.

Roger, in many ways, feels like a deliberate evolution of ALF…a knowing and successful attempt to correct the missteps of a decades-old show in a different medium on a rival network. I know that can’t possibly be the case, but it feels like it could be.

Again, Roger doesn’t have Seth MacFarlane’s self-indulgent humor behind him; he has a team of writers who care about making the entire show funny. (Some of which, it’s instructive to realize, were inherited from Futurama.)

Roger is one valuable part of a larger whole, and while he’s one of the principal characters he’s by no means the star. Episodes revolve around Stan, Francine, Hayley, and — gasp! — even Steve, with Roger many times getting nothing more than a few lines or a token appearance. He’s used when using him benefits the show or the story, and when he isn’t needed, he isn’t there.

He also addresses the problem of how to do interesting things with a character who shouldn’t be allowed to leave the house: disguises. While this concept was lightly toyed with in ALF (originally and most notably in “For Your Eyes Only”), it becomes a central aspect of Roger’s character.

It allows him to run off and do things he shouldn’t, in a narrative sense, be doing, while also retaining the danger of detection. Many episodes are about Roger’s extra-terrestrial origins being exposed. As such, we get to have our cake and eat it, too. Roger both can’t be seen and can run around doing whatever he pleases…a dichotomy ALF never nailed.

ALF, "For Your Eyes Only"

But the disguises also led to the development of what became Roger’s main characteristic: his mania.

Roger doesn’t just dress up so he can go outside. That’s how it started, but soon the writers realized how fruitful a storytelling device this could be. Roger loses himself in his various personas, becoming, in essence, a new character every time. Yet he’s anchored by that central mania. That’s what makes Roger Roger, in spite of whomever else he’s also being that week.

And that’s brilliant. It’s also the kind of thing that only happens when writers are allowed to develop new ideas and explore them.

Roger’s persona swapping wasn’t there from the start; it developed because the writers were able to learn (quickly) what did and did not work for the character, and they took it from there.

Which also addressed the other problematic aspect of ALF as a character: his two very distinct halves.

ALF, "ALF's Special Christmas"

ALF is constantly flipping between two different incarnations. He’s sometimes a snide, ungrateful, destructive asshole, and he’s sometimes a magical being from beyond the stars who solves problems and enriches lives.

The problem isn’t that ALF sometimes does one thing and other times does another. That’s realistic. More realistic, in fact, than many sitcom characters were at the time. The problem was rather how gracelessly the two kinds of episodes slammed up against each other.

There seemed to be no connection between ALF the selfless savior (“Border Song,” “ALF’s Special Christmas,” “Tequila”) and ALF the selfish shitnut (“Lookin’ Through the Windows,” “Someone to Watch Over Me,” “Happy Together”). These weren’t two seemingly-contradictory approaches to the same character; these were two completely different characters.

Roger gets to have both by virtue of the fanatical dedication to his personas. You do have Roger trying desperately hard to do the right thing and help others (“Rough Trade,” “The One That Got Away,” “A Ward Show”) as well as Roger the violent sociopath (“Stan’s Food Restaurant,” “Ricky Spanish,” “Love, American Dad Style”). He can be sweet, suave, sexy, scary. He can be angry, anxious, avuncular, antisocial. He can be a thief, a friend, an enabler, or a hero. All of those are Roger and none of those are Roger; Roger is his commitment to whatever he’s doing. The behavior is different, but the characterization is constant.

ALF is just ALF. He doesn’t have a singular, driving impulse or commitment that ties all of his disparate behavior together. He does whatever he does that week, and that’s that. American Dad! finds some identifiable impulse behind the (humorously sudden) shifts in demeanor, while ALF just hopes we aren’t paying enough attention to notice.

ALF, "Happy Together"

Often, I’m not sure what ALF is supposed to be. To be honest, I’m not even sure if we’re supposed to find his jokes funny, as though he’s a hairy little Rodney Dangerfield, or if he’s supposed to come off as dumb and hacky, like a less-vulnerable Fozzie Bear.

But I always get the sense that Fusco knows. Even if it seems to change from scene to scene, I believe that Fusco is in command of his performance, and could tell you at any given time why ALF is doing what he does. I may not agree with his reason, but I certainly respect the fact that he’d have one.

After 99 episodes and one TV movie, I can honestly say that anything we know about ALF — for better or worse — was right there in the pilot. Fusco understood him from the very start, and that’s admirable in its own right.

What’s less admirable, and deeply unfortunate, is the fact that no other actors were given the opportunity to develop comparable understandings. This left ALF feeling stranded in his own show, adrift in a sea of nobodies.

With that in mind, it’s actually easy to share Fusco’s suspicion that ALF didn’t need the Tanners, or anybody, at all. It’s only with hindsight that we see that that isn’t true.

It’s not that ALF didn’t need the Tanners, it’s that the Tanners never got to be the Tanners.

ALF, "We Gotta Get Out of This Place"

Interestingly, there were a few exceptions to the “ALF is the only character” rule.

Jodie arrived on the scene as a full-fledged character in her own right. Dr. Dykstra as well felt “real,” even if the Tanners’ frustrated dismissal of him in “Mind Games” did suggest that the writers had a different idea of who he was than the viewers did.

But the most significant exception was Jake. Jake arrived in season two as just some new, young male character for ALF to bounce off of. (The miscarriage of Brian meant that this was a position that sorely needed to be filled.) He got to grow from there, however. He developed. We learned more about him. We started getting plotlines (including romantic fumblings and his strained relationship with his mother) that fleshed him out and positioned him as somebody we were supposed to care about.

Josh Blake’s acting was also some of the best on the show. Faint praise, to be sure, but so be it. For whatever reason, ALF found itself with an actor willing to do solid work and a writing staff that wished to develop the character.

It’s impossible to say for sure, but it’s not totally unlikely that if Blake hadn’t left the show, we could have ended up with at least one other developed, recognizable character headlining episodes.

That in itself could have led to more plots in which ALF took on a sort of Roger role, popping up to offer advice and tell a few jokes, and then disappearing again so that the real star of the episode could do his thing. (In fact, this is almost exactly how “Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow” ended up playing out.)

ALF, "Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow"

But we’re well into the realm of hypothesis here. The important thing to note is that Paul Fusco made the most of his spotlight, and with only sporadic exceptions ensured that nobody else would get the chance to do the same.

ALF is the captain of a team nobody else joined. He’s the CEO of a company with no employees. He’s the leader of a nation nobody in their right mind would ever want to live in.

He has potential. He has the ability to make us laugh. He has everything a breakout, memorable, iconic character should have.

But he’s also a puppet.

And therefore he can only do what Paul Fusco allows.

That’s why you’ll never see him again.

ALF, "On the Road Again"

ALF Reviews: Project: ALF (Part 3)

Project: ALF

Jesus Christ, three weeks later and this movie is still on?

Well, let’s recap the story so far: Martin Sheen’s mom killed herself, so ALF had to leave the Alien Task Force Base. He jumped on a bed, went to a strip club, and rapped.

…did I miss anything? No. I did not.

Let’s continue.

We open the final stretch with ALF sassing a robot and eating a lot and basically being unable to shut the fuck up for two seconds.

He talks to Dexter Moyers about space just enough to make it clear that we aren’t actually going to hear anything about space. Instead ALF sneezes and burps. No joke, this fuckball has burped more often than he ever said “I kill me.”

I don’t know why it took me so long to notice it, but he burped all the fucking time in the show. Every so often I’d point it out in a review because it was positioned as a particularly weird punchline, but it happened way more than I mentioned it. Dickbag here burped and burped and burped. Sometimes when it had something to do with what was happening, usually not. He’d just burp. Once he actually burped over the end credits, when we were just seeing clips of the episode and he wasn’t even “there.”

ALF burps a God damned lot, guys. If you ever get really bored and read over my reviews again, just imagine him burping in every screenshot and you’ll have some small idea of what I’ve gone through.

Anyway burp, burp, burp, burp, burp, burp. Hope that answers your questions about space, guy who’s saving my life.

The conversation quickly shifts to how badly ALF wants to fuck Moyers’ assistant. He even jokes about having violent anal sex with her right there at the table, because that’s what Project: ALF is.

Dexter Moyers reveals that he designed his robot himself, which didn’t really register as a reveal to me at all. Who else would have designed it? Sgt. Rhomboid? The trucker who listens to people fuck at the motel? The ladies at the strip club? There are only so many characters in this movie. Of course it was Moyers.

Jensen Daggett is super impressed by this…and also the fact that he cooks and cleans. That’s not that impressive, is it? I guess all the men she meets on Tinder just live in vats of their own filth.

Anyway, the guy sitting next to her is like, “Dexter Moyers ain’t so great,” so she snaps at him. And she really sells that snap.

Project: ALF

Damn. Mess with the Jensen and you get the Daggett.

This guy, whoever he is, wants to know why NASA shitcanned Dexter Moyers if he’s such a hotshot who can build robots and do laundry.

So Dexter Moyers spills some backstory. I don’t think it’s supposed to be a joke, though, because it’s not about his mother hanging herself. He talks about how he saw a UFO once while he was on the job, and NASA wanted to cover it up. So, y’know, they fired him.

Well, that’s a disappointingly unjuicy story. It doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t know already, so why the recap? Did Paul Fusco know I’d eventually be covering this in three separate parts? And, man, judging from his massive house and robot slave he got a fat pension out of the deal, too. Now he just gets to sit around being rich, studying what he loves, and never having to work a day in his life, so what exactly was the problem here?

Anyway, ALF is bored of that story, so he asks the Russian girl if she’d ever date outside of her species. She replies, “It wouldn’t be the first time,” which I guess implies that she fucked her dog or something. Because this is what Project: ALF is.

Dexter Moyers says they should totally “go public” with ALF, and there are some meta jokes about how there could be ALF dolls in toystores and merchandise everywhere. Well, they’re supposed to be meta jokes. In actuality I can assure you that there was jack shit with ALF’s face on it by 1996.

This whole bit is supposed to be some kind of cheeky nod to the fact that you could go out and buy that great merchandise right now. Which, clearly, you couldn’t, and it just shows that Paul Fusco’s mind really is stuck in 1988.

Project: ALF

That night ALF sneaks into this guy’s room and beats him off under the covers for a while. In return the guy teaches ALF to use a computer, because his expansive knowledge of using it for video production (“Don’t it Make Your Brown Eyes Blue?”), ratings fraud (“Prime Time”), and stock trading (“We’re in the Money”) apparently didn’t prepare him for sending an email.

ALF needs to contact his Alien Task Force connection over the internet to ask for more supplies, which is weird because he’s with four adults who can come and go at will and pick him up anything he needs, but Project: ALF retains the sitcom’s commitment to first drafts. Also, why isn’t this guy saying no? The last time ALF contacted the Alien Task Force they had to flee and get Ray Walston shanked in a prison shower. Why is he helping him do it now?

Anyway, most of the stuff on his shopping list is sexy clothing he wants the Russian woman to wear and food he wants to lick off of her, because this is what Project: ALF is.

Whoever this guy is dicks around on the computer for a while, and he finds MyEvilPlanToExposeAndFuckOverALF.docx on the desktop. As soon as he opens it, though, Dexter Moyers appears and presses the Enter key, which, as you all know, immediately closes all active windows.

Project: ALF

Dexter Moyers is like, “Don’t worry about that document.” But unfortunately they do, so the movie doesn’t end right here. Whoever the other guy is gets up and leaves. I envy him.

Then ALF and Dexter Moyers sit around talking about ALF’s shopping list. Seriously, think about all the kids in 1996 who were excited to see ALF back on TV, and they tuned in just to see him talking to some guy they’ve never seen before about what he wants to buy on Amazon. What a waste of everyone’s time this movie was.

ALF jokes for a while longer about wanting to fuck that Russian lady. Dexter Moyers is cool with that because he’s got cameras anywhere and Slutload would go wild for that shit.

While they fritter away the rest of their lives in that pointless scene, the other guy sneaks into Jensen Daggett’s room to ask for a sock he can sniff or anything because, man, he just needs something tonight.

Project: ALF

Dexter Moyers pops in because this is the only stretch of the movie he’s in, so he might as well make it count.

This pisses off the other guy, whoever he is. Then he and Dexter Moyers just kind of stand there in the middle of her room and stare at each other for a while.

It’s…weird, and staged really oddly.

Like, I honestly do think the movie was short so they just spliced in some raw footage of these two standing around. It feels less like they’re acting than it does like they’re waiting for the scene to be re-blocked.

Jensen Daggett kicks the guy who isn’t Dexter Moyers out of the room. She says, “Since you clearly can’t take a hint, go back to your own bed. I’m about to be plowed by the guy you hate.”

Then he makes the exact face that every guy makes when he realizes he’s whiffed his one shot with Jensen Daggett.

Project: ALF

Dexter Moyers says, “Can you believe that jerk? What a jerk, that jerk.”

Then Jensen Daggett asks for reassurance that they’re doing the right thing, but she means with ALF, not anal.

Dexter Moyers replies in a way that makes it very clear that he’s a lame villain in a TV movie and not anything resembling a human being. He stops just short of saying, “Of course we’re not. Why would I ever do the right thing? Pay attention to the music cues. I’m the bad guy, and we’re going down in flames.”

Project: ALF

The next morning, Martin Sheen sniffs a tuft of ALF’s pubes.

That’s it. That’s literally all that happens.

Great scene, guys.

Like, come on. They have a legitimate star in their movie but they can’t think of anything to give him to do. They really can’t tell Sheen from shinola.

After that we’re back at stately Moyer Manor, where it’s revealed that that other guy ran away in the middle of the night. Everyone else sits around saying, “Damn, we never even found out why he was in this movie.”

Then Dexter Moyers is in a tizzy, because the plan is to reveal ALF to the public on live television today…on, for some reason I’ll never understand, a station based in London.

You’d think this was just some excuse to get ALF to England for the movie, as that might have led to a fun plot and convenient misunderstandings and a new environment for ALF to kick around in, but it would also take effort, so fuck that; they’re interviewing him via satellite.

So, from a narrative standpoint, why not just have ALF be interviewed on a TV station based out of Arizona or wherever the shit they are? I don’t understand why it’s some unnamed British broadcasting corporation. Literally any outlet based anywhere would have worked for the sake of the plot, and logistically there’s no reason not to film this locally.

I guess the whole thing needs to be a satellite hookup so that things can go wrong when ALF has to take a gigantic shit — spoiler alert, I guess — so this is what we’re stuck with. If it were me I probably would have written a second draft that addressed these issues, but what do I know.

Anyway, whoever that other guy is calls the Alien Task Force from a diner and Martin Sheen traces it. Who cares.

Project: ALF

A bunch of production guys run around the house getting ALF ready to appear on TV. Since we’re doing the whole “last-minute preparations” thing, I have even less of an idea why they’re not in a news studio somewhere. This satellite linkup thing…I don’t get it.

Seriously, it’s odd. Dexter Moyers has TV-quality production and broadcasting equipment, and a fucking soundstage with studio lighting rigs, in his house. Why? Because narratively speaking, ALF is about to appear on TV. I get that.

But then why isn’t this taking place in Local Channel 6 studios? Why are we still in Moyers’ own fucking house? You’re telling a story about ALF being in a TV studio, so why is he not in a TV studio?

I can’t express how odd this is. Yes, Moyers has a big house, but he doesn’t live in The Situation Room. Why is this all happening here?

All these assholes bumbling around fixing ALF’s hair and makeup also makes me…miss the sitcom?

Nah…no…that can’t be. But the sitcom was smarter about this, at least.

See, one thing I liked about the show (one of…two things?) was that when people met ALF, they by and large had believable reactions. After all, he’s a hideous space beast, the likes of which they’ve never imagined. So the show had characters faint, scream, flee, doubt their vision, go insane, stop dead in their tracks, try to kill him, fall over dead…

…no two reactions were exactly the same. Okay, sometimes characters just shrugged and got on with their lives, so I don’t want to give the show too much credit, but in Project: ALF we keep meeting people who immediately engage with the alien and don’t seem to be fazed at all.

Which is weird. And kind of dumb. It’s like Paul Fusco remembered that ALF was supposed to be kept secret — hence the entire plot of this movie — but somehow didn’t remember why.

Anyway, we pad out the scene a lot more by having ALF make jokes about Danny DeVito, Rhea Perlman, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Bill Cosby, and Gerard Depardieu. If the thing you enjoy most about ALF is hearing him say the names of people you recognize, boy howdy is this the film for you.

Project: ALF

Then this other guy is in the diner and declines a coffee refill. Riveting stuff. I was totally convinced he was going to let the waitress top him off. Then Martin Sheen and his assistant come in and arrest him.

There’s actually a good physical moment here when this guy salutes Martin Sheen, and Martin Sheen instead offers his hand to shake. It gives you the sense that he’s going to pretend he’s friendly so that he can manipulate the guy into turning ALF over or something…but once they clasp hands the assistant cuffs him.

It’s not funny or anything, and I’m not sure it’s even trying to be, but it’s a nice physical bit, and they make it look pretty natural. Also nobody talks, so it’s instantly the best scene in Project: ALF.

Project: ALF

Back at Moyerton Abbey, Jensen Daggett wears an open shirt that made men out of many boys in the audience that day.

It turns out she confronted Dexter Moyers because she overheard his goons talking about Project: Ruin ALF’s Life, and wants to know if it’s a good or an evil thing that he’s planning.

He grabs her by the arm and walks her down the hallway, presumably toward his underground pit of smoking acid. She then, finally, suspects that Dexter Moyers’ motives might not be pure, after she finds a stack of drawings Dexter did of himself murdering ALF, a manuscript entitled How I Intend to Destroy ALF, the Alien, Who is in the Other Room: a Completely True Confession by Dexter Moyers, and an inspirational poster of a kitten hanging from a branch that says OPEN YOUR EYES BIMBO.

But by this point it’s too late!

Dexter Moyers has one of his goons toss Jensen Daggett in a room. Then he walks away, secure in the knowledge that the bad guy always succeeds after turning his back on whoever just learned of his nefarious plan in the last 15 minutes of a shitty film.

Project: ALF

Outside Cadillac Jack’s diner (slogan: “I’m Cadillac Jack!”) we get a twist.

This guy, whoever he is, knew Martin Sheen was listening in on every line in every city in every country. He placed that call so that he would be found and arrested and tazed and humiliated and have his genitals pounded into mush by military truncheons.

See, he has his own plan: he wants to use Martin Sheen to stop Dexter Moyers!

So whoever this guy is promises to tell Martin Sheen where ALF is, if he promises not to hurt Jensen Daggett and also tell her that he’s really cool and handsome and they’re a lot alike actually and should totally hang out sometime.

Boy, things are sure building to a head, aren’t they?

Oh…they’re not?

Well, fuck you, the movie’s ending anyway.

Project: ALF

Back at Moyers’ place, ALF gets ready for his English audience debut with the most legal pipe any ALF cast member has ever smoked.

Moyers says, “What do you think this is? A comedy? I don’t hear any laughing dead people. Do you?” He then takes the props away because that will kill another few seconds of screentime.

ALF makes some jokes about people wiping their asses on their shower curtains and how gross it is when women bleed out of their hoo-haws. Gee…how could anyone think his shtick got old?

Also at some point he says, “Just walk away, Renee,” which is the name of a song and has nothing to do with anything that’s happening, and that’s close enough to a joke for Paul Fusco.

Through this whole thing the Russian lady keeps acting like she can’t wait to get his alien dick in her mouth…and, you know what?

I believe it.

I guess they cast the right woman for this role after all. She literally cannot speak a word of English without having to re-dub it later, but she looks at ALF with genuine lust, so we see exactly where the casting director’s priorities were.

Project: ALF

Then Dexter Moyers gets ready for his interview, and the host is dressed like Larry King. Like…so much so that I assume it’s deliberate. Which at last explains the English connection. Yes. Famous British icon Larry King.

Sir Larry asks Dexter Moyers what the fuck they’re going to talk about in the interview.

He doesn’t know? They’re going on the air in like 15 seconds. This guy really needs to fire whomever screens his fucking guests.

Dexter Moyers says it’s a surprise, which is exactly how live television works always.

After that we cut to Jensen Daggett sitting on the bed watching TV, and it’s almost as exciting as that time that guy almost got his coffee refilled but didn’t.

And, man, where can you possibly go after that? I can’t imagine anything that would live up to the sights we’ve seen. I mean, not unless it’s a Russian lady pouring orange juice while ALF burps, but how could…

Project: ALF



The Russian lady pours orange juice while ALF burps. Then ALF remembers that other really gross thing he does a lot, and tells her he needs to take a gigantic shit.

And, yes, the climax of the film does actually hinge on the severity of ALF’s bowel movement. Did you really expect anything less by this point?

The Russian lady tells him he can’t go take a shit (…for…some reason?) and chases him, but he runs into the bathroom anyway. Which is by far the most polite thing ALF’s ever done when he had to take a shit, so she shouldn’t really get mad at him.

Project: ALF

Larry King’s Cross cuts to commercial — which narrows down a bit which channel they’re on, unless Fusco & co. didn’t realize that British programs are financed differently from American onces — just in time for Dexter Moyers to be informed that ALF is taking the mother of all shits and isn’t ready to be on the show.

Oh, ALF! Will you never learn to control your sphincter?

Dexter Moyers yells at the guy who told him this. But what was Dexter Moyers doing this whole time? Sitting in a chair assuming everything would go perfectly during a live television broadcast? For someone with a plan of monumental evil, he sure didn’t put any effort into executing it whatsoever.

It would be like if I ordered some idiots to conquer the world for me or something, and then I sat in a lawnchair all weekend and was surprised when it didn’t happen. Like…I don’t care how high up the chain you think you are. You do need to do something as a villain.

I dunno. Maybe his villainous plan is just to waste some British audience’s time. It seemed to work pretty well for Paul Fusco and American audiences.

Anyway the guy Dexter Moyers yelled at runs to the bathroom ALF is in. He shoves the Russian lady out of the way so he can yell at ALF through the bathroom door and be casually violent toward a woman in the same scene.

Project: ALF

After the commercial break, Dexter Moyers has to stall for time and say ALF is in the studio, but not ready to appear. And, man, I bet you sure wish you filmed some footage ahead of time for this feature instead of just hoping everything would work out perfectly on live television. Or at least taken some pictures to show.

Like, don’t get me wrong, this guy is trying to ruin ALF’s life forever and profit from it, which was kind of my intention with this whole review series, so I’m on his side. But he really did not plan for this at all. He could at least have chained ALF to the chair.

Why do all the people who hate ALF as much as I do have to be incompetent bozos?

Project: ALF

Then Martin Sheen shows up. He shuts down the production and arrests Dexter Moyers. (Dead air is a crime.)

But that’s not all! He arrests Jensen Daggett, too. And that other guy specifically told him not to arrest Jensen Daggett! The fucker.

So this is…kind of odd. How many films have dual villains? Not in the sense that there’s a main villain and some other villain who works with him, or betrays him or something…but two villains that want two different things (arresting ALF / revealing ALF) that are in direct conflict?

It’s kind of weird. I can’t think of a real precedent for that. Superhero films often have more than one villain, but (in the good ones, at least) they’re either working together, or their stories intersect and comment upon each other. This is more like spending a movie with Lex Luthor until The Joker shows up toward the end and says, “What are you doing here? I’m the antagonist. Shove off.” And then…Luthor actually does just shove off. What kind of movie would that be?

I guess it’d be Project: ALF.

On the bright side, you can see ALF getting carried away in that screenshot, and it’s hilarious, because I finally get the scene I imagined happened in “Consider Me Gone” as a kid: ALF getting hauled off screaming by government agents.

God loves me after all.

Anyway, Martin Sheen gloats about how he’s really a big piece of shit and he’s going to hurt lots of people and kill ALF and blah blah blah, so this other guy, whoever he is, leans back and presses Tab and Caps Lock at the same time, which, as you all know, immediately activates all of the video cameras and microphones in the house.

Project: ALF

This other guy tricks Martin Sheen into confessing all the awful shit he did. The cameras capture him doing this, and no secret is made about that. It’s treated as an artful reveal later, but we already saw it happening, so any and all tension immediately evaporates. Well done, guys.

The bad guy giving his big speech is supposed to be scary or intimidating or worrying, but here we actually see the resolution before the movie gets there.

We know Martin Sheen is fucked in advance of hoping he’ll be fucked. As a result, we don’t care about any of this shit he’s saying. It’s just a waste of our time, because we already know precisely where it’s going.

Fuck almighty. It’s like Project: ALF is actively striving for incompetence.

Then the other guy does a fake salute but really scratches his neck, like when you trick somebody into thinking you’re going to shake their hand. Which I guess ties back to the scene when Martin Sheen tricked him into thinking that same thing before…but back then he really did shake his hand; he just also arrested him, so who the fuck knows.

Then ALF is in ALF jail.

Project: ALF

Martin Sheen comes in and says, “Didn’t you lead us on a merry little chase?”


…no. Not really.

You went to a hotel, and then a diner. If he had led you on a merry little chase it might actually have made for a good movie, and it certainly would have led you to more interesting locations than that.

Martin Sheen tells ALF that they’re going to kill him, in order to send a message to aliens everywhere. Which…okay. Unless aliens are watching you do it I’m not sure what message they’d get out of it, but okay.

Then he tells ALF about how his mother committed suicide, which as you’ll recall is this film’s most hilarious running gag.

Speaking of which…man, literally nothing funny happens in this stretch of the movie. In the previous two reviews I was able to spotlight some decent jokes or moments, but the homestretch is such an awful slog. Maybe the point of Project: ALF was just to make sure nobody would miss the character when he disappeared again.

Martin Sheen tells ALF he’s as good as dead, but he doesn’t kill him. He just leaves and goes to his office for no reason that I can fathom except that the next scene is supposed to take place there.

Project: ALF

Then Martin Sheen talks to his superior — the very model of a modern major-general — about how awesome he is, but Martin Sheen’s assistant comes in with the video tape of his confession. Which might have qualified as a surprise if we passed out from boredom during the scene in which we were explicitly told this would happen.

It turns out the young, dumb sidekick was a good guy all along. That’s a great twist if you’ve never seen a movie before, and I might even care about it if I cared about literally anything involved with Project: ALF.

We then see the confession scene play out. Again. In its entirety.

Yes, we saw the whole thing damned thing literally one minute ago, but this is a movie! We need to waste even more time than an ALF production usually does.

This video ruins Martin Sheen’s clout with his boss, and his assistant is hailed as a big hero instead of being dishonorably discharged for knowingly fucking over a superior officer.

Why did we bother giving Martin Sheen a sympathetic, cloying backstory about his mother killing herself if we’re just going to offhandedly dismiss him from the film like this? I honestly thought the end of the movie would involve him warming up to ALF, because he learned the #notallaliens lesson that seemed to be hardwired into his character arc.

But no. His mother’s suicide was just…there. Why give him that backstory then? Either give him an emotional conclusion that justifies in any way the choice to toss tragic suicide into his backstory, or don’t put it in the movie in the first place.

And now he’s getting a villain’s comeuppance, but really all he did was his job. ALF escaped from the base. As head of security, he had to track ALF down and bring him back, which he did. Alive.

Yeah, he talked about killing ALF, but he was in an urgent, high stress, emergency situation. He could easily have written off his comments as having been made in the heat of the moment.

In fact, when he had the chance to kill ALF he turned around and walked away, so it’s not like he was out of control. He was still working through official channels and protocol, so what does it matter what he says on the tape?

Ultimately the only thing the guy did was the job he was hired to do, but fuck him. We needed a villain. Other than, y’know, the other villain.

Eat it, Sheen.

Project: ALF

Then the movie’s over, because it hit the minimum length you must meet in order to legally market your project as a film.

It really does stop exactly that abruptly.

We’re told that all the good guys get a promotion, and ALF will be safe forever. Also the Air Force hired that drink-serving robot from before. So…that’s cool.

Whoever this guy is also gets the courage to ask out Jensen Daggett in front of this official tribunal or whatever the fuck it’s supposed to be, because that’s certainly appropriate and not coercive in any way.

She says yes, secure in the knowledge that the movie’s over and she won’t have to go to bed with him in the next scene.

Project: ALF

We end with ALF banging the gavel, only he hits this other guy’s hand, and the guy forgets to react for a couple of seconds.

Man, this is the last scene in the movie. Fucking reshoot it if he didn’t hit his cue. Are you really in that much of a rush to go home? I love that nobody seems like they enjoy making Project: ALF any more than I enjoy watching it.

They ask ALF where he got the gavel and he says, “Judge Ito.”

So literally the entire movie ends with an O.J. joke. And that’s, of course, if you consider one character saying somebody else’s name to be a joke.

That’s…come the fuck on, Fusco. It wasn’t even timely. By the time this aired the trial had been over for about half a year. Maybe it was timely while they were writing the script, but that’s sort of the problem with timely jokes; by the time you get to tell them, everyone’s moved on. That’s why Saturday Night Live and late-night talkshows can get away with them, while shows like The Simpsons and (especially) American Dad! have to be very careful about mining current events for their comedy. No matter how perfect a target may present itself, standard programs take so long to make it to air that a topical joke, ironically, ends up feeling behind the times.

It’s even worse that this is the single joke that punctuates the entire movie. It makes the whole thing feel embarrassing and dated in retrospect. Even if you enjoyed Project: ALF there’s no way that hearing an alien say “Judge Ito” enhanced the experience.

So, yeah, that’s the end of Project: ALF. Why so damned abrupt? Last week commenter RaikoLives said this:

I fully expect the writing process on this movie consisted of Fusco handing in script after script saying “Is that long enough?” and the producer telling him no, so he just scribbled out “the end” and wrote “and then…”, gradually filling pages until he padded it out enough.

The actual end of the film sure feels a lot like the producer finally said “yes” and he stopped writing right there. For a project six years in the waiting, it sure feels like it was dashed off in a week. You’d think Fusco would have invested more creative energy into this thing, since it was his one big chance to get ALF back on our screens. Instead he used the opportunity to give us probably the worst ALF experience yet.

I will go on record as saying that “Consider Me Gone” was actually a better finale than this. That may be a controversial opinion, but damn was this awful. At least that episode felt like the end of a story we’d been watching. A hilariously botched ending to a monumentally stupid story, yes, but “alien is captured by the government agents looking for him” is not too much of a stretch.

Project: ALF brought the character back to give him a better send-off, but “alien hangs out with people we don’t know and wants to fuck a Russian lady but instead takes a big poo” is not exactly an improvement on what we already had.

I don’t think I’ve heard many kind words about this movie, even from the biggest ALF fans. Did anyone out there actually enjoy it? By all means, let me know if you did. I’d love to hear what you thought worked and what didn’t about the film.

For me, though? Project: ALF‘s biggest achievement was making the sitcom look good.

Oh, crap. It’s the end of the review and I forgot to write a concluding joke.


White Bronco chase?

(Nailed it.)

MELMAC FACTS: At some point on Melmac, ALF was an underwear model. Aren’t you glad that’s the Melmac Fact you’ll carry with you as we part?

ALF Reviews: Project: ALF (Part 2)

Project: ALF

Welcome back! For some reason you decided to tune in for more of Project: ALF, which I think legally classifies you as a minority. President Trump will be in touch.

So, yeah, Project: ALF. If you’re looking for a recap of part one, that last sentence was my recap of part one. Nothing happens in this shit, so don’t get your hopes up.

We open act two with ALF crammed miserably into a burlap sack. Some guy drives him to an undisclosed destination, which certainly gets my hopes up. All he needs to do is make it to the Pine Barrens and start digging for this to become the greatest movie ever made.

ALF bleats at this guy and we can see on his face that he’s really starting to wonder if all this is worth it just for a blowjob from Jensen Daggett. Either way, he’s determined to find out.

Jensen Daggett talks for a while about this guy named Dexter Moyers, who was some government bigshot who got blackballed for his ideas that UFO sightings should be matters of public record, instead of covered up. They canned his ass and now he lives wherever they’re going. Obviously it’s pretty far away, because if he lived nearby it would mean the movie might end in a reasonable amount of time and we can’t have that, can we?

And, again, I’m sorry, but fucking hell, this movie makes me ask this question over and over: how can the Alien Task Force operate publicly, funded by tax-payer dollars, in a world that doesn’t believe in aliens? Yes, in the ALF universe they obviously exist, but we were reminded last week that people who believed in aliens were hounded and ridiculed relentlessly, and this week we learn that somebody was drummed out of the organization because he wanted to speak openly about UFOs while everyone else wanted to cover them up.

So…what the fuck? If UFOs aren’t officially confirmed as existing, you can’t have this national organization operating for decades to study them. Period. If someone discovered a unicorn colony tomorrow, I can understand wanting to study what we’ve found. But I can’t understand opening a new branch of the military called the Unicorn-Dedicated Investigation and Examination Squad (UnDIES) if the official line is that there are no such things as unicorns.

It’s insane to me. I don’t understand the logic here at all. What is the Alien Task Force in the public mind if not an organization that studies…y’know…aliens?

Operate in secret, or admit that the thing you already say you’re studying exists. ALF and its offshoot here literally found the least believable intersection of visibility and public sentiment and stuck with it.

Project: ALF

They stop at a motel and ALF really sticks it to whoever that guy is by sending him out for food and fucking Jensen Daggett while he’s away.

The entire scene is more padding. Are you surprised? ALF just bitches about how hungry he is, and lists all the food he wants. The guy goes out in the middle of the night to get it. By way of saying thanks, ALF reveals that he took a massive shit in the burlap sack.

Then the guy gets back. ALF eats and makes noise until 3 a.m., and tells the people who just saved his life to go fuck themselves when they complain. It’s actually a great meta joke, as this was beat for beat Paul Fusco’s management style.

What the hell is ALF’s problem here? Is this supposed to be funny? Okay, yes, it is supposed to be…I understand that. But it’s really just annoying.

Watching ALF torment these two people who are just trying to help him is like being tormented by ALF yourself. It’s not funny at all, and it’s not even like ALF is saying or doing anything clever. He just keeps turning the TV back on when they shut it off and acting like an asshole.

As kim pointed out last week, ALF’s behavior is confusing. On the show he wanted his freedom. He couldn’t have it, because he’d be found and killed by the government, but he wanted to live a life of his own; that much was clear. Then he spent years in Alien Task Force custody with even less freedom, but now that two characters are working their asses off to give him what he wants, he fights them, insults them, and generally tries to ensure they’ll regret ever getting involved in the first place.

So what does ALF want? This is his movie, so we should have some idea of his motivation…right? Does he want to be free, or does he want to hang out in a jail cell playing poker for the rest of his life? What is the point of any of this?

Then we all learn that they didn’t write quite enough dialogue for the scene and ALF just jumps on the bed for a while.

Project: ALF

This is a movie, people. This is a movie. Can I please remind you readers out there that this is a movie? And if you had the misfortune to be born in Germany, it was a movie that you had to pay to see.


This is really what Paul Fusco does with his bigger budget and creative control and hand-picked cast? He has a puppet jump on the bed and scream for fuck knows how long?

This is what he does with his big return to television?

This is what he gives fans who wanted more of his most famous creation?

No wonder no networks wanted more ALF. Project: ALF shows what that would have looked like, and you can’t fault anyone for saying, “No, that’s quite alright.”

Project: ALF is quite likely the worst film I’ve ever seen, if only because nothing of any significance happens at any point. None of the jokes are significantly funny. None of the emotional moments are significantly dramatic. There’s no significantly impressive puppetry. None of the twists are significantly surprising. None of the scenes significantly affect anything that happens in another scenes. None of the characters are significant. None of the writing is significant. None of the plot is significant.

What’s more, I’ve watched this movie at least three times now, and I still couldn’t tell you what happens in it. It’s all just so much shit.

Has anyone out there ever seen a film worse than Project: ALF? Tell me about this mythical cinematic nightmare, please, if only so I can focus on something else.

Then someone knocks at the door. For Project: ALF I think that counts as an action sequence.

Jensen Daggett and the male scientist hide ALF in the bathroom. Turns out it’s some guy dressed as Beetlejuice.

Project: ALF

My favorite part about this exchange is that when we see this guy, he’s leaning on the doorjamb with his arm angled into the room, but when we see the reverse shots his arm isn’t there, so it looks like he disappears whenever he’s not talking. Incredible continuity.

This guy looked familiar but I couldn’t place him. He’s played by someone named W. Earl Brown, and he’s been in loads of things so, again, I can’t possibly pin down what I actually know him from. But since Project: ALF he’s worked pretty regularly, including recurring roles in shows like Deadwood and True Detective, which I’ve heard some people like. I dunno. If it doesn’t star a sassy puppet I am simply not interested.

Anyway, he’s a trucker who looks like Dr. Sanchez from Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, and he’s pissed off because of all that bed bangin’ sound until he realizes what’s going on.

Project: ALF

He says, “Damn, son, I didn’t realize you bagged Jensen Daggett. Carry on.”

Then he leaves and they go to get ALF out of the bathroom…but he’s gone!

Project: ALF

And holy shit is that the most melodramatic screengrab imaginable.

Anyway, whoever this guy is, he realizes that it’s going to be at least another 24 hours before he can cup Jensen Daggett’s sleeping hand over his cock, so they set out to find ALF.

And this, I have to admit, is a serious complication.

It took a while for the film to find any, but now there are some actual stakes: ALF is all alone. Jensen Daggett and this other guy have no idea where he is. Thanks to that distraction at the door he could be anywhere, and there’s no guarantee they’ll ever…

Project: ALF

Oh. Nevermind. He’s 20 yards away, in the manager’s office.

So much for that.

Why is he there? Who fucking knows. He’s not even hiding.

Well, he is hiding, but only as a joke…I think. It’s not clear.

ALF rings the bell a few times and then pops up and scares the old man who runs the place. So he was technically hiding when he was crouching below the counter, ringing the bell, but it wasn’t for the purposes of going undetected as, again, he was ringing the bell. And he pops up anyway, knowing full well he’ll be seen then, so I guess he just saw an old man and decided to be a fuckbag? It sure seems that way.

The manager is played by Ray Walston, who is best known for his work as the title character in My Favorite Martian. That’s a nice little bit of stunt casting, and lord knows the guy tries his damnedest here.

At this phase in his career, Walston also had a regular role in Picket Fences, and he worked more or less regularly for his entire life, so it’s nice to know that this poor guy wasn’t slumming for a paycheck.

I actually remember him best from the 1992 version of Of Mice and Men, with Gary Sinise and John Malkovich. It’s been many years since I’ve seen it, but I remember it being better than it had any right to be. That might be a good candidate for Fiction Into Film, when you guys let me write about good things again.

ALF demands a hat and coat from Ray Walston, because if there’s anything we missed about ALF it’s the way he bullied the elderly out of their possessions. He also asks for a quarter for the pay phone, and Ray Walston hesitates as he hands it over: “You’re not going to bite me, are you?” ALF says, “Not for a quarter.”

And, hey, a second laugh!

What’s more, it’s the first laugh at an actual joke. Bev Archer was funny, but her line wasn’t. She found room for comedy in the delivery; as written she was just introducing herself.

Here, though, we have an actual humorous exchange. I should have it stuffed.

Project: ALF

Anyway, ALF dresses as Holden Caulfield and places a call to one of the guards back at the Alien Task Force base. They somehow avoid making a “phone home” joke, and I honestly don’t know if I’m relieved or frustrated by that. Instead he extensively quotes “Take it Easy” by The Eagles so, yeah, I’m going to go with “frustrated.”

ALF bitches to the guard that Jensen Daggett and the guy with her aren’t even fucking, so he has nothing to listen to. At least Willie tried to get it up. Anyway, he’s sick of hanging out with these two if he’s not even going to see tits, so he tells the guard to bring him money and credit cards.

The guard doesn’t know where ALF is or how to reach him, though, so ALF says, “Leave a message on the internet,” and I honestly don’t know if that’s a joke or if that’s actually how Paul Fusco thought the internet worked in 1996.

Then ALF sees…oh for fuck’s sake.

Project: ALF

The Kitty Kat Lounge. The strip club so nice they put its name on the building twice.

He sees this place across the street and gets a huge boner, so there’s the erectile dysfunction arc nice and resolved.

As you probably remember, ALF swore off eating cats in “Live and Let Die,” the ninth episode of season four. After that I was on the lookout for cat-eating jokes to undo that development…but they never came. Shockingly, season four let ALF’s change of heart stick.

Then Project: ALF realized it’d be too difficult to write a second joke for him, and it went right back to this one.


Project: ALF

…yep. ALF goes to a strip club.

Like…ALF really does go to an actual strip club.

This is Project: ALF.

In which ALF goes to a strip club.

He goes in there because he expects cat to be on the menu, of course, because, again, fuck writing a second joke.

But the…I mean…it can’t just be me, can it?

The “eating pussy” confusion never comes up, but…I mean…this…it can’t just be me thinking that the movie sidles right up to that line, can it?

Like…he really does go in there to eat pussy…

Are we supposed to be drawing that connection? It can’t just be me…can it?!

Project: ALF

Whoever this guy is comes in and drags ALF out. There’s some bullshit about a two-drink minimum and ALF wanting to bite the bartender and the strip club not serving food and holy Christ on a stick is this movie padded. Still, here, around the midway point of the whole fucking thing, nothing’s happened.

Don’t get me wrong, you can do a really funny movie in which the stakes are low and it’s built around a series of fun setpieces, but Project: ALF is less Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure than it is Gordon Crosses the Street.

You know, Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (like the more recent Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday) is a great point of comparison, actually. That film and this one each take eccentric, odd protagonists and shove them quickly out of their comfort zone, sending them on a wild, zany adventure that sees them interacting with colorful folks along the way. In literature we refer to this as a picaresque, but I think films just refer to them as road movies.

The idea of these kinds of stories is that things happen in relative isolation. One event or conflict may stem naturally from the last (though it’s not necessary, and lurching past travel logistics in order to get to the next big scene is common) but they’re episodic by design. Pee-Wee hitches a ride with an escaped convict, Pee-Wee wins over some bikers by dancing to “Tequila,” Pee-Wee gets chased around a big dinosaur by a guy who wants to bash his brains in. Those are all setpieces, with our only true connective tissue being Pee-Wee himself. The hunt for the stolen bicycle really just serves to kick everything into motion; it may be Pee-Wee’s motivation, but it’s not the film’s.

Project: ALF seems to be reaching for something similar, but it fails on two levels (well…at least two levels).

The first is that it’s simply not as funny. If you’re going to throw a bunch of comedy skits at an audience, they need to actually be humorous. If they’re not, there’s no reason for anyone to keep watching. (See: me, in 1996.) You can have a few stinkers, and you can have a few quieter moments amongst the mania (in fact, you probably should), but the audience has to be able to rely on the fact that if they stick around, something funny enough will happen to justify the missteps.

Project: ALF hasn’t had a single worthwhile joke yet, and we’ve given it more than enough time to produce one. Both Pee-Wee movies mentioned above will have had at least a dozen big laughs by now, and countless smaller chuckles and smiles. (Can’t vouch for Big Top Pee-Wee, though. That’s another one I couldn’t get through as a kid…is it worth reappraising as an adult?)

But then there’s another, more instructive comparison: Spending time with Pee-Wee is fun.

I’m not saying Pee-Wee is a better character than ALF. I think he is, by a fucking landslide, but that’s not my point. What I’m saying is that they’re both deeply flawed, irritating nuisances. But while that’s the case, there’s a giddy, childish thrill that comes from spending time with Pee-Wee. With ALF, however…

…well, you read this blog.

Time with ALF grates. It drains. It takes its toll. You get sick of him quickly, and while Pee-Wee has his regular flashes of wonderment or invention or silliness to keep him on the right side of our hearts, ALF just shits and screams and rapes a lot. It gets old. Hell, it got old 99 episodes ago.

Project: ALF could easily have been a loose collection of comic setpieces, and I hope that’s what it was aiming for. (If it wasn’t, I have no clue what this shit was supposed to be.) It’s not a bad idea. An alien and his former captors hit the road and get into crazy scrapes at every stop. An Alien Task Farce, if you will.

But the problem is ALF himself. Even with hypothetically better jokes, ALF is too annoying. He needs softening. He needs the rough edges sanded off now and again so that we can like spending time with him.

When Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday premiered, I saw folks on Facebook commenting on what an asshole Pee-Wee sometimes was in that movie. But here’s the thing: they weren’t all complaints. These people were just puzzled.

And here’s why they were puzzled: they were too young to notice when Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure and Pee-Wee’s Playhouse came out that the guy was always an asshole.

The character is a bit of a dick…but he was so likeable in spite of that fact that we never picked up on it. Pee-Wee was able to be flawed as a human being and a welcome presence on our screens. We were enjoying the things we liked about him, so we didn’t pick up on what others might not like about him.

With ALF, it’s impossible to pick up on anything otherwise.

Project: ALF

Anyway, there’s a police car at the motel, because Ray Walston NARCed.

Then we cut inside for another big waste of time as the police grill him about the little creature he saw. Ray Walston says it was a wolverine…but not the animal. He means a Wolverine, like the sports team, because ALF said he came from Michigan. Sounds hilarious, doesn’t it?

In the hotel room Jensen Daggett and this other guy yell at him for going outside, and then yell at him more when they find out he placed a call to the Alien Task Force.

ALF says they shouldn’t be too mad since he admitted to his misbehavior, and they’re getting it “straight from the wolverine’s mouth,” which is odd since ALF wasn’t in the room for that conversation between Ray Walston and the police so it’s not like he’s doing a callback or anything.

I don’t get this. I don’t get this.

I don’t get this.

There is a decently funny bit here, though. This guy, whoever he is, listens to ALF talking about calling the Alien Task Force and then he shouts, “Why!?”

ALF replies, “Because I need my things.”

Then the guy says, “I’m not talking to you. I’m talking to Him!” and points up, toward God.

Project: ALF

And you know what? That was pretty okay. Not worth sitting through forty-four minutes of horse shit to get to, but I liked that joke. It was a funny idea executed well. You know. The sort of thing you usually see about a hundred times in a comedy that knows what it’s doing.

In fairness to the actors, Project: ALF really does have a better cast than the TV show. Somehow, though, their roles are even more thankless.

Jensen Daggett says, “Dickheads, let’s go somewhere else.” But then this other guy says, “In what? A military van? They’ve probably got an APB out on it.”

And, man, this guy just picked up Willie’s mantle of being the biggest asshole imaginable at the worst of times, didn’t he? Jensen Daggett just said they need to get moving; that’s all. She doesn’t need this bullshit. (Jensen call me.)

Also: APB? That stands for All-Points Bulletin, in case anyone out there doesn’t know. That means every agent of law enforcement (“all points”) has been told to be on the active lookout for something (that’s the “bulletin”). Since the police were just here, parked next to the cunting van, and they didn’t bat an eye, I think it’s safe to say there’s not an APB out on it. You fuckshit.

Anyway, ALF says he’ll get them a new vehicle, and this guy lets him leave alone, unsupervised, without even asking him what his plan is, because that’s the kind of writing you get when you only have six fucking years to finish your script, I guess.

ALF then goes to the manager’s office and swindles Ray Walston out of his car. Just in case you thought the character got off too easy earlier.

Project: ALF

Then Colonel Martin Sheen…oh, yeah, that’s right. Martin Sheen is in this. I must have been blinded by the raw starpower of Jensen Daggett and whoever that other guy is.

Anyway, he walks around ALF’s cell, complaining about all the amenities the alien had as a prisoner. Which, fine, fair enough, but holy shitnuts look at this camera angle. How fucking tall is this room? It’s…not even a big room. It’s just a tall room. I guess that’s the reason you usually don’t shoot sets this way, unless the characters are supposed to be in a cathedral or something.

He finds out that his assistant used to gamble with ALF and he gets pissed off and Jesus Christ, is anything going to happen in this movie? I mean, again, if this is just a series of setpieces, fine. But Project: ALF‘s idea of a setpiece seems to be people standing quietly around while somebody talks about something we never get to see.

Project: ALF

And then ALF raps.

Like…ALF really does rap.

This is Project: ALF.

In which ALF raps.

Readers who truly hate themselves will remember that ALF has rapped twice before. Once in “It Isn’t Easy…Bein’ Green” and again in “Hail to the Chief,” so Project: ALF proves conclusively that tragedies come in threes. Anyway, this is his longest sustained performance yet, so be sure to track down the DVD if that for some reason appeals to you.

Anyway, they ride around in the car ALF stole from that poor old man, and he raps for no reason like he’s seen those colored people do on the TV.

It was almost impossible to get a screengrab of all three of these characters together, by the way. Whenever we see ALF’s face straight on, we see Jensen Daggett’s and this other guy’s shoulders, but not their faces. It’s as though nobody could share the frame in a way that might detract attention from ALF. Of course, we know THERE’S NO WAY THAT WAS INTENTIONAL

When he runs out of rap ALF talks shit about Carl Sagan for a while. Okay. Not sure why, but evidently he thinks Sagan is a piece of shit, so we hear about that. It’s like getting stuck next to your uncle at a family gathering and he just wants to talk about how much damage Obama has done to the country without ever giving a reason. He just wants you to know the guy’s a lump of crap, over and over again. Spoiler: I wouldn’t watch your dumbass uncle in a movie, either.

Jensen Daggett and this other guy just have to sit there and listen to it, because when you’re a human in an ALF production god forbid you get to say or do anything yourself. Then he runs out of Carl Sagan jokes and does a routine about the pronunciation of Uranus.

Fucking hell. I’ll ride with Pee-Wee any day.

Project: ALF

Then a song kicks in and from the way it sounded I thought for sure we’d be treated to some shitty cover of “The Wanderer,” but it turned to be a shitty original instead. IMDB doesn’t list any soundtrack credits, which means this particular track must have been pulled from Free Garbage Music for Your Awful Movie, Vol. 4.

It sucks, and we hear a hell of a lot of it because we get all these damned helicopter shots of the car driving around.

Like, way too many of them. Just helicopter shot after helicopter shot.

Nothing’s happening. There’s no dialogue. No visual jokes on the road signs or anything. Just the car driving from a lot of different helicopter angles.

I guess if you paid to have a helicopter for the day, you’re going to use it as much as you can, but, damn, imagine if they had invested this money in a script editor instead.

There is one joke toward the end. Whoever the guy driving is says that it’s odd they haven’t seen another car on the highway. Which is a lie because we saw a truck go the other way while ALF was rapping. God dammit, Project: ALF.

But then Jensen Dagget says, “Bro, this is no highway. It’s Dexter Moyers’ driveway.” Which is a lie because there are clearly two lanes on this clearly tarmacked and clearly maintained road with clear DOT markings. GOD DAMMIT PROJECT: ALF

Project: ALF

They get to Dexter Moyers’ house and ALF throws empty booze bottles out of the car, smashing them everywhere because he is a fucking dick. Jensen Daggett goes to the intercom and there’s some robot voice that greets her. She tells it who she is, and the robot voice says, “Processing…” before the door opens, and we see some hot Russian lady.

I honestly thought the joke would be that the Russian lady would open her mouth and we’d find out that the robot voice was her natural voice, but, no, she has a normal voice, and I have no idea why she’s even in the movie.

In fact, she’s fucking terrible. Her lines are clearly overdubbed. It’s like watching Tommy Wiseau in The Room; her mouth moves and then you hear her line, not quite in sync, at a higher volume than everyone else.

You spent all that money on a fucking helicopter to film an unnecessary driving sequence, but couldn’t be arsed to hire better actors or editors? Dudes, this is one awful movie.

Anyway, some robot comes in, but I think it’s a different robot voice this time, so he wasn’t the one talking through the intercom as far as I can tell. My question will never be resolved!

The robot offers Jensen Daggett a drink, but she declines. (We’ve all been there, robot.) Then he says, “Wasted trip…” and turns around and rolls away. That wasn’t hilarious or anything, but the timing of the delivery was actually pretty funny. So, okay, there’s another joke I didn’t hate.

Project: ALF

…but then she meets up with Dexter Moyers and the robot does the same thing again with hors-d’oeuvres, and it’s a lot less funny the second time.

The whole reason Jensen Daggett left ALF and that other guy in the car was so that she could prepare Moyers for what he was about to see…but she doesn’t actually say anything to him about ALF.

Like, literally at all.

They say hello, he tells her that her father used to call her Porkchop, and then she cockblocks the robot again.

That’s it. She then says she’s going to bring the other two assholes into this guy’s house, without doing the one thing she said she was going to do.

I have absolutely no clue why this scene happened at all.

Project: ALF

So they let ALF and that other guy come in, and ALF immediately chases the cat around to eat it because he is ALF and ALF eats cats.

But hey, we get a glimpse of the midget!


Actually, it’s probably not the midget, but it’s a midget and holy shit did my enjoyment of this movie skyrocket for the three frames he’s visible through that doorway.

Anyway, ALF waddles in. Dexter Moyers says he’s thrilled to meet an alien life form. ALF says he really wants to fuck that Russian lady who can’t deliver a line to save her life.

We’re cookin’ now, huh?

Project: ALF

Then we cut to Ray Walston getting arrested because he has the government van ALF coerced him into taking in exchange for his car. Good to see our lovable hero is still irreparably fucking up the lives of everyone he meets.

Anyway, Walston died in federal prison without a friend or anybody to hear his final sobs, and that’s as good a place to stop watching as any.

Tune in next week for the thrilling conclusion to…


Tune in next week, for the resolution of…


Well, tune in next week for the part where Project: ALF stops.

MELMAC FACTS: Melmacian Martinis use fresh cat juice. If you don’t have it, you can substitute ferret.

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