Reading too deeply into these things since 1981
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ALF, "Consider Me Gone"

This is it. The final episode of ALF. I’d take some time to cry or something, but I’m too busy masturbating and doing cartwheels. Thank fucking Christ we lived to see this day. Yes, I understand full well that I’m the one who exhumed this stinking corpse in the first place, but at long last we get to lay it back to rest. It’s time to say goodbye to all of the beloved characters we’ve gotten to know over the past four seasons. Ol’ Cracky. Sluterella. Bitchy O’Bitchbitch. And, of course, Lumpy. I’ll miss him/her/it most of all.

Oh, and ALF! The only character that ever mattered. But I wouldn’t worry about him! I’m confident he’s leaving sitcoms behind to conquer many other mediums.

I’ve never seen “Consider Me Gone” before. No, not even before writing this sentence. And I’m very much looking forward to it.

Why? Well, aside from the fact that it’s the final episode, there’s this one’s legendary schoolyard status.

See, I stopped watching ALF at some point well before the finale. “Do You Believe in Magic?” is my last memory of watching ALF, and while I could be wrong about never watching it again, it’s fair to say that if I tuned in after that, it wasn’t often. Another show I fell out of love with a few years later was Dinosaurs; I stopped watching that before its finale as well.

Why bring Dinosaurs up?

It’s not just the fact it and ALF were both prime time puppet-based sitcoms, though that’s an admittedly fun coincidence in this context. No, I bring it up because these are the two oddball shows with finales that absolutely flooded the rumor mill of the schoolyard.

By the time I’d given up on ALF, most of my peers had as well. Ditto Dinosaurs. But somebody kept watching, and when the finales hit, these remaining viewers told us of what we’d missed.

There weren’t enough viewers to elevate the discussions beyond rumor, though. Each of these shows had final episodes that were spoken about dreamily, like half-remembered myths, passed along orally, until they were many degrees removed from whomever who had actually seen them. Of course, by that point the person who had seen them had surely forgotten some things…had let his or her imagination fill in the details…the memory finding its own shape, itself now detached from whatever had actually unfolded on the television that night, when they were watching long after everybody else had moved on. Some lone messenger tuning in to a story nobody cared about…until, all at once, something sensational happened…and it was their responsibility alone to pass it on.

These were the days before Youtube. Now we can look up clips easily. Somebody can say, “There was some crazy episode of such and such,” and we can look up 100 reviews, commentaries, reactions, screenshots, and full episodes for the taking. That happened earlier this season, actually; I’d mentioned the episode of Too Close for Comfort in which Jim J. Bullock gets kidnapped and raped, and a friend of mine looked it up and posted a bunch of clips from it to Facebook…utterly shocked that it had actually aired.

There’s something to be said for that…the fact that he could immediately verify something I’d said, which originally he figured must have been made up or exaggerated. But there’s something to be said for not having that ability as well…for having to fill in a vague shape with your imagination…to hear about some incredible bullshit a show pulled which doesn’t gibe at all with what your understanding of what that show is…and let your mind determine what that might have looked like.

Similarly, but in a more literary context, Thomas Pynchon refers in a few of his novels to an old short in which Porky Pig unwittingly duels with a shadowy anarchist. When Pynchon wrote these books there was no Youtube, and the cartoon was not available through any official channels. (Nor did it run as part of any animation package in syndication. It was left behind, probably intentionally.) He wrote about the short knowing full well that very few readers would remember it at the time he was writing, and fewer still would be able to watch it. But now we can read a reference to the cartoon and not only verify immediately that it did exist, but set aside seven minutes and watch it in full before continuing on with the story. I did that a couple of nights ago when I found it mentioned in Gravity’s Rainbow…and, as such, I engaged with Pynchon’s writing in a way he never expected or intended. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Television lost its own mythology, trading it for accessibility. I’m not complaining, and I’d like to emphasize that that’s not necessarily a step in the wrong direction. But it is different. And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t value the experience I had, before we could load up a clip and prove somebody right or wrong. It made these things stand out more, because they occupied more mental bandwidth. Sitting and watching passively is one thing…giving some crazy concept free reign of your mind for as long as it takes to find peace is another.

ALF and Dinosaurs. Two finales that exploded heads of whatever remaining viewers there were, and which inspired both confusion and skepticism in my peers and me. But where Dinosaurs sounded subversive and daring, ALF just sounded idiotic.

ALF, "Consider Me Gone"

I haven’t seen the Dinosaurs finale, but I vividly remember hearing about it. Evidently it ended with the mass extinction of all the dinosaurs. And, well…shit.

This family we watched and enjoyed was now dead…which you’d think would be morbid enough. But all of their friends were dead, too. And all of their friends’ friends were dead. And everybody else on the planet was dead. I remember a friend of mine telling me about the news report that ended the episode. It sounded harrowing, but it also sounded pretty brave. I was impressed that they’d do that. As a kid I’d fantasize about seeing a show that would push the envelope that way…one that would dare to give a genuine “fuck you” to the audience. And in this case, it was a “fuck you” that was miraculously in line with its concept.

How else could Dinosaurs have ended? Well, I’m sure we could rattle off a thousand ways, but I’m asking rhetorically. It was a show about an extinct species, for crying out loud. It was basically a gleefully silly prequel to the life we were actually living there in our living rooms, watching it. When I figured out much later that the dinosaurs all had last names that corresponded to modern day oil companies, I was thrilled. The dark comedy of the characters’ eventual deaths was rooted so deeply in the show that it decided their very surnames. Dinosaurs may not have been a great show, but it had a brain, and it had the guts to shock its audience smartly, naturally, and memorably when it went off the air for good.

Then there was ALF, the finale of which also sparked conversation, but didn’t inspire the same kind of reverence. There was a lot more disbelief. It wasn’t a case of the show being impressively brave. It was a case of…well…why in shit’s name would they have ended it that way?

“Consider Me Gone” ends with ALF being captured by the Alien Task Force. Fine. I’ve just reviewed 98 episodes of this shit in sequence, so I know who those guys are and have some idea of how ALF could be delivered into their hands. As a kid, though, I watched ALF, and the Alien Task Force never registered to me as a threat, or even a presence. How could it? It was mentioned so infrequently, and we never really spent much time with any of the handful of characters who turned up to represent it. I had some idea that ALF was supposed to be kept secret, but even then he was constantly running around outside and meeting hobos so it obviously couldn’t have been that serious of a concern.

So when I heard about ALF‘s ending, I didn’t picture the Alien Task Force finally, slowly closing in. No, my mind was filled instead with visions of an episode that ended with some government agents suddenly, irrelevantly kicking down the Tanners’ door and hauling the alien away screaming.

And why in shit’s name would they have ended it that way?

Easy: they didn’t.

“Consider Me Gone” aired originally with a “To be continued…” message. (I’ve heard that this was removed from the DVDs, but it’s intact on the German release I have, for anyone interested.) There was supposed to be a season five. The Tanners would not appear in it, because fuck them, and the show’s action would move to the Alien Task Force base, where I guess ALF would tell racist jokes for that new cast instead.

Whatever bizarre bullshit “Consider Me Gone” pulled to get ALF out of the house and into some other environment, it wasn’t meant to stand as the series’ final punctuation. It was instead meant to keep viewers engaged and interested over the summer. Needless to say, it backfired horribly. The worst possible place to end any story is with your main character being hauled off for dissection, but that’s exactly where ALF ended. It bet huge on a tomorrow that never came.

So our final episode opens with ALF dicking around with the ham radio. He’s relying on the flawed “it’s already tomorrow in Australia” reasoning to get racing results ahead of time, when he hears a series of four beeps. It doesn’t sound like much to me, but he interprets that as Melmacian code. And then we get our intro credits for the last time…and it’s the first time — as far as I can remember — that our cold open ends without a laugh line.

ALF’s recognition of Melmacian code is left to stand on its own merits, or lack of merit. Instead of any comedy we get a strong narrative hook, and I like that they didn’t try to undercut it with a joke. Yeah, this show usually lacks laughs, but this time it didn’t even try for one, and there’s a sort of nobility to that.

Then the credits end and…

ALF, "Consider Me Gone"

Jesus Christ. Four credited writers and a separate story credit? That’s either a sign that we’re in for something wonderful — a true and impressive collaboration among whatever genuine talent there is in the writing room — or a cobbled together, shambling clusterfuck, hastily built from the final dregs of creative effort the show could squeeze from the writers’ withered souls.

Place your bets now!

ALF, "Consider Me Gone"

ALF deciphered the four beeps, I guess, and reveals that Skip and Rhonda — the only two other confirmed survivors of the Melmapocalypse — bought a planet somewhere and are signaling ALF to join them. Why Skip and Rhonda didn’t just come to the fucking house since they know exactly where he lives is beyond me. Yeah, I know there’s the whole thing about not wanting to be captured, but surely they could have flown by and dropped off a message or something instead of beaming some code into deep space in the hopes that ALF just happens to be listening at exactly that frequency at exactly that time.

Here’s something I’m not sure I ever considered before: why are Skip and Rhonda together? We don’t know how much time Melmacians had to flee the planet between whatever warning they got and its actual explosion, but somehow Skip and Rhonda ended up together, in the same ship.

This implies that Skip and Rhonda were…erm…with each other when the catastrophe (among other things) went down. I’m positive that’s not a deliberate suggestion of canoodling on the show’s part, but it sure dovetails interestingly with the otherwise odd choice of the comics to pair Rhonda with Skip at the end, rather than with ALF.

And, really, how else could she have ended up in his ship?

Well, here’s how: Skip, putting himself knowingly in danger, took the time to find and rescue her. Which sure as hell makes him a far better hero than ALF, who seems to have used his final moments on the planet to shovel souvenirs and knickknacks into his ship rather than rescue any of his friends, family members, colleagues, or, in this case, the woman he claims to love.

What a guy.

By the time of “Consider Me Gone,” Skip and Rhonda have been together, with only each other for company, for however many shitty years this show spans…and I think it’s safe to say they’ve fucked every which way from Sunday. So quite why ALF thinks he’ll get back together with her is beyond me. They never dated, he left her to die on an exploding planet, he blew her off without explanation when she and Skip came by to pick him up in “Help Me, Rhonda,” and he still thinks they have a chance together?

Rhonda, I don’t know you, but I can assure you you’re already doing better.

ALF, "Consider Me Gone"

Brian pretends he’s sad that ALF is leaving, and it’s even less believable than it would be if I pretended to be sad that ALF was leaving.

I can’t blame him too much, though; the entire cast is fuckawful here. Anne Schedeen has to keep trying to pretend she’s not excited that ALF will soon be out of her life…which is a funny concept, but she doesn’t sell it at all. She’s capable of selling it, but her heart is clearly not in this. Andrea Elson uncharacteristically slurs her lines. (If anything, she’s usually guilty of enunciating with unnatural clarity.) And Max Wright is even more detached than he historically has been…which isn’t just an assumption I’m making; it’s documented fact.

This is the episode he famously walked out on after shooting his final scene. No chance for a second take, no opportunity to try another approach, no possibility of picking up a line or shooting from another angle. Max finished his scene, walked off set, got into his car, and drove away. He said goodbye to nobody. He knew he’d never see any of these people again, and he was just fine with that. No attempt at a friendly farewell; he just stormed off, making it quite clear just how little he cared about them or what they’d do with their lives.

Trust me, I can understand the guy feeling frustrated with Paul Fusco. Or maybe some of the stagehands, since the show took so many miserable hours to shoot and he may have (rightly or not) held them accountable for that. I can even imagine him being angry at the writers if the thought the material was poor. But the fact that he didn’t even say a polite goodbye to his costars — who suffered weekly right along with him, and were in no way responsible for his negative experiences on the show — strikes me as unprofessional and more than a little dickish.

But back to the point: the guy was done with ALF. Completely and utterly over it. And though his costars seem to have left on better terms, this scene makes it clear that they weren’t any more invested in the show than he was at this point.

So Benji Gregory sucked nuts here? Big deal. For once he’s exactly as good as everyone else.

ALF says that he hasn’t made his mind up yet about leaving, and I guess that’s the big emotional crisis of the episode. He says, “Whatever I decide, I lose something.”

Which, meh, who cares. But it’s an interesting parallel to the real-life decision Paul Fusco must have had to make at some point this season. He decided, ultimately, that ALF would leave the Tanners behind…and therefore ALF would leave the Tanners behind. Season five would have seen both he and his show re-introduced in a new environment, with new dynamics and new characters to stand around looking bored while ALF delivered monologues to an invisible, theoretical audience.

Both Fusco and ALF had to make this decision. Each of them were absolutely certain they could do better somewhere else, without these people. They both chose to pick up the dice.

Each of them rolled snake eyes. The show was cancelled. The future was full of possibility, and neither of them saw any of it. They gambled everything, and lost it all.

ALF and ALF were finished.

ALF, "Consider Me Gone"

Then we get an establishing shot of the Alien Task Force Headquarters in Washington, D.C. By that I mean we see some stock footage of a radar dish spinning around.

Prior to this we had no reason to believe that this organization had more than one location, which “Running Scared” established as being in / on Edwards Air Force Base. Being as that location was significantly overstaffed — we never saw the same employee twice, and shit knows they never caught anything — you’d be forgiven for not believing there to be a network of locations…but, hey, here we are.

I wonder why ALF is finally detected by a location so far away from where he actually is. Why not have the Edwards guys be the ones who catch him? They’re right down the street. Just reveal that they’ve been combing all this time through the tips they’ve received, and noticed something similar about all of them. (Spoiler: it’s that every last fucking one of them had to do with the Tanner family.)

Have them put together all of the evidence and details and suspicions they’ve accumulated over the past four years and bring it all to a head with a full-scale investigation or raid on the family. In other words, show us that the Edwards gang weren’t just sitting around fingering their own assholes. They have only one job, and they have only one family of suspects. Show us that they’ve been taking their work seriously all the time that we’ve been dismissing them as ineffectual. Show us that something was happening.

But, no, instead a different location 3,000 miles away figures out where he’s hiding, a propos of nothing that happened in any previous episode. Fuck me.

ALF, "Consider Me Gone"

Inside the Alien Task Force base we meet another crew of idiots we’ll never see again. This crew of idiots we’ll never see again is led by one particular idiot we’ll never see again, played by Richard Fancy. He’s another one of those guys that’s been in everything ever made, but most significantly he had a recurring role on It’s Gary Shandling’s Show, and played Mr. Lippman in Seinfeld.

Here he plays Colonel Halsey, and I’m surprised they didn’t give him the rank of Admiral to go along with Uncle Albert. He says he hopes the signal they’re tracing is real, so that they won’t have to beg for funding anymore. It’s not especially funny, but I at least like that the show is admitting that this organization has operated for years without having anything at all to show for their work. And, y’know, THAT MIGHT POSE SOME ISSUES.

Of course, having to beg for funding might work with one location somewhere…some kind of government pilot program to see if the organization is worth rolling out on a larger scale, with the full understanding that it could just as easily be a bust and be discontinued. But now we see that the Alien Task Force operates nationally, with huge staffs and cutting edge technology from coast to coast, and I can’t imagine that “begging” can keep a massive drain on federal resources like that alive.

Anyway, they’re finally on to something, and Col. Lippman says he’s going to cockblock ALF if it takes every last taxpayer dollar.

ALF, "Consider Me Gone"

Back at the house, ALF and Brian reminisce about all the fun they’ve had together. I find it deeply amusing that by the final fucking episode these characters can’t reminisce about anything they really did together, because Brian’s never done anything. The writers need to manufacture memories, because doing actual callbacks requires there to be something we can call back to.

Instead we get a fond discussion of a bunch of shit we never got to see as viewers.

So they talk about all the fun they’ve had with KICK ME signs and fake fingers instead of anything that actually happened on the show. I wonder what a series of real callbacks would have sounded like. “Remember that time you stood over there and didn’t have any lines? Or that time you stood in that other place and didn’t have any lines?”

Brian asks if he can come along for season five, and ALF says, “Oh no. Oh, no no no. Jesus Christ no.”

ALF, "Consider Me Gone"

Then we get a reprise of the earlier scene with ALF at the radio, and overall it sucks just as much, but it’s shorter so I like it more. Skip and Rhonda transmit the same four-beep signal, which ALF translates into an entirely different message somehow. Evidently they are coming to get him at the stroke of midnight, and they want him to wear a trenchcoat and fedora because they need a third person for their Maltese Fuckin’ roleplay.

I don’t know why we’re hearing four beeps again, without different lengths or pitches or anything to signify a different message, but I guess the reason we’re hearing beeps at all is that the show didn’t want to pay anyone to voice Skip and Rhonda again.

Even though they’re the catalyst for “Consider Me Gone” happening at all, we never hear or see them, so that’s the only reasonable explanation, as far as I’m concerned, for why they’re communicating in code when they broadcasted in the clear back in “Help Me, Rhonda.” I guess digging their puppets out of storage would have taken too much effort, but the fact that they aren’t even voiced just seems cheap and careless.

Skip and Rhonda pressure ALF for an answer, and then they play the Jeopardy final answer music over the radio. That isn’t especially funny in itself, but I like that the music plays all the way through ALF discussing his feelings aloud. That’s a nice bit of resonance. It took a pretty dumb “Hey, I recognize this!” joke and made it an oddly fitting soundtrack for ALF’s personal dilemma.

It worked, I’ll give it that, and it’s probably the one truly good flourish in the entire episode. It’s certainly the only salvageable moment I was able to identify.

Anyway, ALF decides to leave forever. As you do after trying to make conversation with Brian.

ALF, "Consider Me Gone"

Back at the ATFDCHQ, one of the idiots we’ll never see again says that the signal they were tracing wasn’t from space at all…it was from Earth!

Holy shit! That’s…

…um…

…who cares, then?

They don’t know what the signal meant. They say they still haven’t cracked the code. So it’s literally just a ham radio operator somewhere on the planet. Like, that’s it. That’s what they determined. They get excited because they established that it’s nothing to get excited about.

They act like this is some crucial, urgent thing to investigate and stop, because it’s clearly an alien and they need to catch it. Good thing they read the script, I guess. Otherwise there’s no way they could have known it was an alien communicating with other aliens, and not some janitor calling for a lunch break.

Like, honestly, this is fucking absurd. Why not have the characters say, “We’ve confirmed that it’s broadcasting into deep space!” or something? Granted, that’s logistically horse shit, but at least it makes a kind of sense, and it would explain why they’re so intent on cracking the code.

Instead, literally all they determine is that someone, somewhere, is using a ham radio. They should be jizzing their pants several times a day if that’s enough to get them excited.

Anyway, Admiral Halsey yells at them for a while about how they’d better damned well catch this alien. He says, “I want this show to end, and I want it to end now, because no way am I coming back for another week if fucking Max Wright doesn’t have to.”

ALF, "Consider Me Gone"

At the house the Tanners throw a going away party for ALF. Jake, Jodie, Neal, Kate Sr., Dr. Dykstra and anyone else who befriended him over the past four seasons isn’t invited, because then they’d have to pay some others actors. Eric and Lucky II aren’t invited because they’re buried under the porch.

Lynn says goodbye to ALF with some big emotional speech that…kind of sucks.

Andrea Elson just about sells the tears, but not much else. Her whole point is that thanks to ALF she’s not shy anymore and will always be open to new ideas. Which is odd, because I never thought she was shy to begin with, or closed to new ideas in any way. She does mention she used to have braces, though, and I’ll give her that; she did, in fact, used to have braces.

She gives him her locket, which moves ALF deeply, in spite of the fact the locket never existed before and was only invented for this scene because there’s literally nothing else specific to her character that she could give him. (If only he’d left a week earlier, she could have given him her virginity.)

ALF, "Consider Me Gone"

Then it’s Brian’s turn to act like he’s going to miss anything about this shit.

He can’t even pretend to have character traits the way his sister just did, so he gives ALF some shitty drawing instead, showing that they’ll live on different planets now, or whatever. Very insightful, kid.

He asks ALF if they’ll always be best friends, to which ALF says nothing, which I find hilarious.

ALF, "Consider Me Gone"

Then Willie and Kate give little speeches. Willie’s sucks dick, but Kate’s has a nice moment where she says that ALF’s residency has taught them “incredible survival skills.” I liked that.

They give him a chunk of wood from when he crashed into the garage. It looks more like a piece of driftwood than some busted (perfectly good) lumber, but it’s actually a pretty cute gift, tying back nicely to the pilot. There’s a little plaque on it, which says, “To ALF. If you ever drop in again, please use the front door. Love, the Tanners.”

Which I also like! Two things I liked in quick succession. Who would have thought?

The speeches seem overlong and undercooked…the sorts of things used to pad out an episode that’s already made very clear that the only thing that will matter is the ending. The characters are really just treading water until midnight, and it shows…but the piece of wood from their garage has sentimental meaning to all of them and to the show.

I like that. It’s everything the locket and the drawing weren’t. It’s something that matters, beyond our being told that it matters.

ALF, "Consider Me Gone"

Then it’s ALF’s turn to eat some time. He thanks the Tanners briefly, and spends the rest of his speech bitching about how he couldn’t walk around on Earth, meeting people. So I guess he didn’t watch this show, either; he met people all the fuckin’ time, he just didn’t call them back is all. Jesus Christ, the guy meets more people than I do.

He does say he’ll be able to walk around socializing on his new planet, which sounds like it makes sense until you realize that he’ll be one of only three residents and he’s known the other two for hundreds of years. Who does the fuck does he think he’s going to meet?

ALF, "Consider Me Gone"

Anyway, it’s time to leave, and Kate waits for everyone else to go to the car before she hugs ALF.

And…man, I have to admit, that was pretty adorable. It’s easily the most moving thing in the whole episode. Probably because Kate was so anti-ALF to begin with…and also because Anne Schedeen is a good enough actor to make us believe in this moment against our better judgment. I mean, I still don’t like ALF, and nothing would make me happier than to see him get bit in the throat by a rattlesnake the moment he steps outside, but that was nice.

It’d be a lie to say the show’s earned this moment, but it works well enough in isolation, and there’s something inherently sweet about two rivals setting aside their differences to wish each other well.

Except only one rival actually does that: Kate. ALF doesn’t do jack shit; he’s just some asshole moving away. But, whatever. Don’t take this away from me. I need something.

Kate leaves, ALF stands in the dark for a while, and then he bitches, “Four years and they give me a stick.”

They sure did, ALF, you ungrateful dick. Now go fuck yourself with it.

ALF, "Consider Me Gone"

Then we get an establishing shot of the Capitol Building in D.C., after which we cut to the Alien Task Force. So…is the Alien Task Force operating out of the fucking Capitol? Is it underneath it in some kind of bunker? What the…

…okay. Okay. It’s ending, Philip. Let it go. Let it happen.

If the Alien Task Force wants to operate on Capitol Hill, it can operate on Capitol Hill. Don’t ask questions. Let this show end god dammit…

ALF, "Consider Me Gone"

The idiots we’ll never see again say that they cracked the code: it’s an alien alright! Which they probably should have determined before they spent literally all day monitoring an innocuous ham radio signal on the opposite coast and let it go, Philip, let it go, let it go please, the show is ending, let it end…

Unfortunately Admiral Halsey couldn’t get a berth so he can’t go to sea. He tells his staff to notify LA and have them intercept the alien space craft that’s coming. So, I guess Edwards Air Force Base will be handling this after all? Edwards isn’t in LA, but it’s close enough, and I’d sooner believe that than believe there’s another branch of this pointless, wasteful government agency in the city proper.

The DC guys say that the alien is going to rendezvous with some other aliens at 2400…but that’s wrong.

Skip and Rhonda specified midnight, and midnight is commonly referred to in military time as 0000. I’ve heard people use 2400 before, though, so I’ll let it pass. What I won’t let pass is the fact that Skip and Rhonda meant midnight in LA, which isn’t 2400 or 0000 for the guys in DC. For them it’s 0300 the next fucking day. And since this very episode opened with jokes about timezones you’d think this would factor into what’s happening in some way LET IT GO PHILIP GOD LET IT GO PLEASE

ALF, "Consider Me Gone"

On the way to the rendezvous point, ALF says he needs to pull over and take a shit, and Willie tells him to suck a dick. I love that even as he’s saying goodbye to this guy forever, Willie can’t bring himself to be anything but an asshole.

All he wants is to be free of ALF forever, and he’s as good as there, but he still has to act like a jerk and ruin the farewell. Come to think of it, that might not have been in the script. That could easily have just been Max Wright, who treated his own farewell to ALF the same way.

We cut to the Alien Task Force again — the DC one, even though we established that LA is handling this, let it go Philip — and see Skip and Rhonda approach on the radar. Actually, we just see them represented by a big yellow smear, so as you can guess that’s really thrilling to watch.

Why did they bother establishing the DC branch of the Alien Task Force if season five would have kept ALF with the LA people anyway? Why not introduce them properly in order to ease the transition into season five? Why are we showing one group of agents working to capture him just so we can replace them with a completely different group of agents at the end of the episode?

Then we see some government guys staking out the field where the Tanners pull up, and they talk in exaggerated Texas accents even though we’ve established LA is handling this Philip let it go.

ALF, "Consider Me Gone"

If that’s the midget, he’s in the most horrifying ALF suit yet. Holy Christmas dammit.

I don’t know. The camera is too far away and it’s much too dark to say for sure, but this might not be an ALF suit at all. It could be that larger, standing puppet from “Tonight, Tonight,” which would mean Paul Fusco is operating ALF from a big hole in the ground. How much restraint did the crew demonstrate by not burying him alive the moment he lowered himself in?

ALF tries to steal the VCR or something. Willie bitches for a while about how ALF only “had two suitcases” when he arrived, which is bullshit on several levels; we’ve seen loads of Orbit Guard boxes and his spaceship was so full of junk we were still learning about all the shit he salvaged instead of his family even late this season but let it go let it go philip this is not important let it go

Anyway, this is it. The big finale that was intended to be a cliffhanger. Again, a “To be continued…” notice was displayed when “Consider Me Gone” first aired, which suggests that the show wasn’t officially cancelled until after that.

I’d imagine that the cancellation came through pretty soon afterward, though, as season five would have required all new sets and actors in addition to the scripts, and I’ve never heard anything about any of those things being developed.

Being as that stuff would have needed to start pretty far in advance to have a brand new season shot and edited by the fall premieres in September, it’s safe to say that ALF was axed very soon after this episode traumatized every young fan it had.

ALF, "Consider Me Gone"

We watch the Tanners hug ALF in complete silence for like two fucking minutes.

I don’t even mean “they don’t talk.” Well, I do mean that. But I also mean there’s no music or anything. No sad soundtrack. No wistful reprise of the main theme tune. Just…nothing. Like the episode wasn’t finished being edited.

We just sit and watch unbroken footage of sequential hugging. Why? Was the episode that fucking short?

Then the family all runs away and we see a spotlight on ALF. It’s Skip and Rhonda! Yay! ALF is going home!

Except that some vans approach, and Skip and Rhonda implicitly say, “Fuuuuuuuuuck this.” They fly away without him as the government closes in. In another nice callback to the pilot, members of the Alien Task Force are biologically incapable of looking up, so nobody notices this.

I love that the entire episode is about ALF reconnecting with these two assholes who just fly close enough to give him the finger and then tear off into the night.

ALF, "Consider Me Gone"

Then we get the funniest damned moment in the entire episode: Brian panics when he sees the Alien Task Force surrounding ALF. He says, “Dad, do something!” And Willie shakes his head no.

It’s a fucking riot. I’m sure it’s not an intentional joke, but the fact that Willie’s response to someone yelling for help on ALF’s behalf is just, “Nah, I’m good…” is a perfect end to the series as far as I’m concerned.

ALF, "Consider Me Gone"

Anyway, they got ALF. And that was the last scene so I’m done.

That’s all I was contracted to do. You want more, do it yourself.

*storms off*

*gets in car*

*pulls into traffic without looking*

ALF, "Consider Me Gone"

ALF, "Somewhere Oacver the Rerun"

Just a quick update to say that ALF Wiedersehen: The ALF Reviews Finale Stream has a Facebook event page, if you’re into registering for things that way.

It’s by no means mandatory that you register. All you need to do is show up here, at this very site, on May 20 at 7:00 P.M. Eastern. By registering on the Facebook page, though, you’ll get a little notification before the event starts so you don’t forget. You can also leave trolly comments there to make me realize how much of my life I’ve wasted on this.

One other nice bonus: the Facebook event page will do all that pesky timezone calculation for you, so you don’t have to dig out the astrolabe.

Anyway, that’s it for now. This week we publish the review of the final episode of ALF, and then we start wrapping up for good. The live stream is our big farewell bash, so don’t miss it.

You can view more details about the event here. I’ll see you there! At least, I’d better.

ALF, "I Gotta Be Me"

And here we are. The penultimate episode of ALF. After this there’s only one left, and then we’ll have the standard bonus features after that episode. Beyond that? We’re doing a live stream of Project: ALF that will serve as our big celebration to end the series. It’s on May 20, so click here for information, and make sure to be there. It’s going to be great.

After that I’ll post the formal review of that movie, a handful of wrap-up posts, and nothing else about ALF ever at any point as long as I live. I’m not covering the cartoon shows, talk shows, guest appearances on other shows, any potential reboots, or anything else you could possibly ask me about, period, for fuck’s sake. I’m done with this garbage.

There is one exception I’m willing to make: should that long-rumored ALF movie get off the ground, I’ll post something about it. A full-length review in this style will be impossible before it makes it to DVD and I can take screengrabs, so I’m honestly not sure what kind of coverage I can give it, but if we get an ALF movie, fine, I’ll do something. If we get ALF anything else, it can fucking fuck the fuck off.

But, hey, let’s focus on the positive: our final standalone episode is about Lynn’s sex life.

…hurrah.

It opens with ALF kicking Willie’s and Brian’s asses at Monopoly, which is fine. Like, it’s not great, and I can’t even remember anything about it long enough to tell you what happened, but it wasn’t horrible, so, whatever.

Then Lynn comes home with Robert, and before he hides ALF bitches that she should dump this guy because he’s a mime.

And…he is?

I thought the mime stuff was just some made-up nonsense from that dumbass fantasy episode. Robert is really a mime? Why? HOW?

We met him in “It’s My Party,” where he was a caterer. And…that’s it. The only other time we’ve seen him was “Future’s So Bright, I’ve Gotta Wear Shades,” where he was suddenly a mime. But I figured that was some irrelevant setup for a series of gags, just as Brian’s not really married to the mob, Eric’s not really a children’s show host, and Kate’s tits aren’t that saggy.

The mime thing stuck, though? How strange. Since when do fantasy episodes affect the main continuity? Of…like…anything?

And then there’s just the fact that Lynn’s with a mime at all. If you decide all of a sudden she needs to be dating one, fine, I’ve finished trying to argue, but why bring Robert back for that? Why is it not a new boyfriend? Why introduce another recurring squeeze for Lynn — one who doesn’t mind that she became a frathouse legend a few weeks back — as one thing, only to literally redefine who he is the next time we see him?

I wonder if this episode was originally meant to air before “Future’s So Bright, I’ve Gotta Wear Shades.” It would make more sense that way, both because this would work as setup for Robert being a mime in ALF’s fantasy, and because we might actually recognize the guy there if we’d seen him twice before.

Ugh, whatever. Robert and Lynn kiss, which causes Willie to pop a boner and ALF to bitch at her for not kissing him that way.

If you were hoping they’d hit a grand slam with their final Lynn episode, you really haven’t been paying attention to anything I’ve told you.

ALF, "I Gotta Be Me"

After the credits, ALF makes a shitty joke and Kate stares at him wordlessly. It’s odd, but I know the feeling.

Then Lynn comes home from her college football game. Can anyone tell if she’s got the real CSUN crest on her jacket? Also, is it even called a crest? I went to college and I have no idea, because I spent most of my time urinating when girls tried to talk to me.

She won a raffle for a ski trip, and is taking Robert with her. I don’t know if this is a sidelong reference to Dean Cameron — who plays Robert — starring in Ski School the same year “I Gotta Be Me” aired, but it’s a nice enough coincidence even if it’s not.

Well, it’s a coincidence anyway.

This clearly upsets Kate, whose little girl is growing up, and who she really wishes would save her 75th sexual partner for marriage. She suggests taking Joanie instead.

And, hey, remember Joanie? She was the recurring character that wasn’t. Which sucks, because she was pretty good, and it would have been nice for Lynn to finally associate with someone incapable of spraying her with reproductive jelly.

Lynn was on the phone with Joanie in “Lies,” and then Joanie showed up to take a kitten off the Tanners’ hands in “Live and Let Die,” but that was it. Now we get another reference to her, and it really feels like we were meant to see her again and never did.

That’s good for the actress, though; had she appeared a second time she’d have been contractually obligated to do a scene with ALF.

ALF, "I Gotta Be Me"

This episode was written by Bev Archer (or is at least credited to her), and she is actually a relatively major figure for ALF.

She’s mainly known for her supporting (but memorable) roles in Mama’s Family, where she played Iola, and Major Dad, where she played Gunny. Neither show was great, but Archer was a highlight of both. She was a gifted comic actress who, as far as I know at least, never got beyond supporting and bit parts. But that’s okay; I like her, and she knows how to make the most of a small role. (Evidence of that fact: I remember her from Mama’s Family and Major Dad more than I remember any of the other actors involved.)

On ALF she played Mrs. Byrd, who appeared in the “Someone to Watch Over Me” two-parter and was heard in “Breaking Up is Hard to Do.” Interestingly, she is also the only actor from this sitcom to appear in Project: ALF, aside from Paul Fusco of course. Everyone else got a big fuck-you. So, that’s interesting. She was clearly in Fusco’s good graces, which we’ve seen many times over is not an easy thing to accomplish.

Archer also wrote three episodes of ALF, including this one, and was probably in the writer’s room for more. Interestingly, all three of her episodes are about Lynn’s romantic dabblings. There was “Promises, Promises” (Eddie and Randy), “Torn Between Two Lovers” (Danny and Randy), and now “I Gotta Be Me” (Robert and Marcel Marceau).

As we’ve discussed before, the fact that a writer is credited for an episode doesn’t necessarily mean that that writer is responsible for its content; it’s possible Archer just pitched the idea. But I do find it interesting that all of her credited work on this show shares that particular common theme.

As you know and would never believe otherwise, “Promises, Promises” was the worst piece of shit to ever air on television, and I’m including the time my TV fritzed out and I got that weird Videodrome transmission. But “Torn Between Two Lovers” was pretty good overall and ended with a great Lynn moment, so “I Gotta Be Me” could go either way.

…wait. It features a mime.

Disregard.

ALF, "I Gotta Be Me"

In the next scene ALF eats some soup or something.

Fuck that. We’ll talk more about the Lynn stuff.

Lynn stands her ground about going on the trip with Robert. Kate gets upset, Willie comes in and also gets upset, but Lynn asserts herself and walks out of the room. And…you know what? That whole thing worked pretty well. Granted, the acting isn’t top notch, but I like the situation.

Lynn’s parents want her to make the right decisions, but can no longer make decisions for her. That’s got to be a pretty rough transitional period for parents. You go from having relative control over your kids to having less of it, and eventually having none of it. But your desire to steer your children right doesn’t go away, which means you’ll inevitably be hurt, frustrated, and disappointed by the things that they do.

Here I’m on Lynn’s side, but I absolutely appreciate where Kate is coming from. Especially since…y’know. She’s being a parent. Agree with her or not, she’s displaying a kind of concern for one of her children, and this is maybe the third time that’s ever happened on this show.

I’m on Lynn’s side not because I think Robert’s a great catch or anything, but because she’s a teenager. She’s in college. She’s in a committed relationship (as far as this episode is concerned, that is). And she has every right to make this kind of mistake.

Not that we have to see this as a mistake, but even if we assume it’s one, so what? Take a weekend with your boyfriend. Have a great time. Or get in a fight and realize you don’t know each other the way you think you do. Or have a wonderful weekend, give the guy your heart, and get it broken at some point later so that you’ll wish you never met him.

Whatever happens, it’s okay. In fact, whatever happens, it’s necessary.

These are things people need to do as they grow up. We need to have negative experiences so that we can better recognize and avoid them in the future, so we’ll appreciate the positive ones more, so we’ll know what, exactly, the fuck we want. (Just kidding. I’ll never figure that out.)

If Kate felt that Robert was dangerous, that would be another story. As it stands, though, she just doesn’t want Lynn doing what college girls (and guys) do. Good intentions, but unrealistic and not at all helpful.

Lynn making a stand here, about this, is nice.

She should. She should do exactly this.

She should march off to that ski weekend, and if she comes back happy, great. If she comes back miserable, so much the better. She needs to learn her lessons firsthand. Kate may know better than Lynn does. In fact, she very likely does…but that doesn’t help anybody. Lynn has to know better than Lynn does.

So go ahead, Lynn. Make a mistake. Make lots of mistakes. It’s the only way you’ll come out ahead.

ALF, "I Gotta Be Me"

Anyway, Lynn comes in and Willie acts like an asshole to her. She asks why he’s drinking coffee at ten o’clock at night, and he says, “I don’t expect many of us will be sleeping tonight, anyway.”

What a fucking dick…guilting your own daughter for your hangups. And way to go with the passive-aggressive response to an innocent question. Did you learn that from your years of social work experience?

Guys, I really hate to harp on this, but moments like this are why I question the decision to make Willie a social worker. He doesn’t act like one. To anyone. Ever. For any reason. At any point. He’s not a social worker; he’s an asshole.

We get a pretty nice Lynn moment after ALF is shooed from the room. (Seriously…that improves every moment.) Even though it still hinges on Willie being a bit of a fuckwit.

He sits down next to his daughter and tells her she can solve this whole problem right now. One: fuck you for even thinking this is a problem, Willie. (You fuckwit.) But then we come to two: Lynn handles this really well.

Here’s what she says: “How? By promising that nothing will happen that mom doesn’t want to happen?”

ALF, "I Gotta Be Me"

It’s not delivered with any bitchiness at all; she just realizes how unfair an expectation it is.

Willie tells her that Kate (way to pass the blame, Willie; you’re the one wide awake, fretting over what does or doesn’t get into your daughter’s vagina) just wants to make sure Lynn is making the right decision.

Lynn has the perfect four-word reply: “That’s not okay anymore.”

And, you know what? Andrea Elson is killing this.

That doesn’t make it a good episode, and it sure as shit won’t be a memorable one, but this is the strongest Elson has ever been as an actor. I buy her responses. I believe in her situation. It’d be a lie to say that I’m invested in it, but I more than agree with her; I’m actively on her side. I want her to win this battle.

I…fuck. To some extent, I care about the outcome of this.

Stand tall, Lynn. Do this for yourself. You’re doing this right. Let your parents learn a lesson this week; you clearly already have.

Earlier in the scene ALF wondered aloud why Lynn didn’t simply lie about where she was going, or who would be there. But Lynn didn’t do that. The show never dug into why she didn’t, but I think she didn’t because she’s more respectful than that.

Sure, she could have said, “Yeah, I’ll take Joanie,” and then spent the whole weekend getting ski school’d. But she didn’t lie, because there’s nothing wrong with her decision, and doesn’t feel the need to hide it.

If her parents have a problem with it, it’s her parents’ problem. She feels comfortable with what she’s doing, which is genuinely the only important consideration here. It’s also the one neither Willie nor Kate seem to be taking on board.

There’s a lot to enjoy and appreciate here. So, you can pretty much guess what happens next.

ALF, "I Gotta Be Me"

In the next scene ALF sniffs Lynn’s sheets and jacks off for a while.

God dammit.

Then he tries to give her some guff about putting out for a mime, and I’m a little disappointed that Lynn just tells him to go to hell and doesn’t rip his nuts off and club him to death with them.

ALF even suggests that Willie mishandled the situation with Lynn, presumably because the guy didn’t chain her to a radiator to prevent her from having sex. I don’t know why Willie’s so upset; it’s his own fault. Years ago when he took his daughter to the circus and the ringmaster said, “Give it up for the mimes!” she really took it to heart.

The implication in this episode is that Lynn is a virgin. Which I doubt because I’ve watched the 98 episodes that preceded this one, but…whatever. It’s never explicitly stated, so it’s not necessarily a retcon…and I don’t really give a shit. This show is so riddled with continuity fuck-ed-ness that I don’t care what we are or aren’t told about characters anymore; all I care is that it leads to something worth watching.

For the most part, this does. It’s not great, but if we need to pretend Lynn is a virgin so that her parents can grow the fuck up, then, fine, whatever, I’ll take it.

ALF, "I Gotta Be Me"

The next morning Robert comes over to pick her up. He loudly announces that the hotel is giving them a room with a fireplace and a hot tub, so that they can fuck in front of a fireplace and also fuck in a hot tub. Willie gives him signals to shut his whore mouth, which Robert misinterprets, and then he waves goodbye to Lynn’s virginity.

Sadly, as in all softcore pornography, the penetration happens off camera. This is our act break, and the next thing we see is Lynn returning home.

ALF, "I Gotta Be Me"

It’s overall a pretty good scene. Both Kate and Lynn feel bad about the way they handled the situation. (Willie expresses no such regret, because fuck his wife and kid.) Which…eh, whatever. I don’t think Lynn did anything wrong — again, she was honest about what she was doing, and she was pretty articulate in her explanation of why she had to make her own choices — but I can understand the value of keeping the peace. Sometimes it’s worth conceding a little bit just to avoid the conflict.

And she does avoid the conflict, until she says that she and Robert enjoyed sex so much that they talked about living together, so that they can have it both regularly and without an alien listening through the door.

This causes Willie and Kate to flip the fuck out, and Lynn gets upset. Rightly so, I think. To be honest, I’m on her parents’ side this time — she is a bit young and she hasn’t been with this guy long enough — but the way in which they come down on her is pretty shitty. They basically just explode the moment she brings it up, so even though they have a fully rational leg to stand on, they just act like dickbags about it.

Lynn storms out, and ALF says to Willie and Kate, “If it’s any consolation, I’ll never leave you.”

At this point that has to be a deliberate joke on the part of the writers, since he does exactly that in the very next episode, furry middle fingers raised to the Tanners and to the audience.

ALF, "I Gotta Be Me"

Lynn goes over to Robert’s filthy fucking sty of an apartment and says that she’s ready to move in. Robert replies, “Whoa, let me make one thing perfectly clear: I only said that so you’d let me stick it anywhere I wanted. I’m sure you understand.”

This helps Lynn put things into perspective, but unfortunately not enough that she jams her thumbs through his eyes.

She decides she was hasty to leave home. She says, “Okay, I’ll go back. I’ll play Suzy Creamcheese one more time, but I won’t promise to like it.”

And…I have no idea what the fuck that means. It’s a Frank Zappa reference, but that’s all I know for sure. Can anyone better versed in Zappa’s history shed any light on this?

I’m aware of a little bit of context…but only a little. The back cover of Freak Out!, the debut album from Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, featured a letter from a fake fan named Suzy Creamcheese. The next year (1967) the band released Absolutely Free, which included a song called “Son of Suzy Creamcheese.” You can listen to it here like I just did, get needlessly pissed off that the uploader misspelled “Suzy,” and most likely still have no idea what Lynn’s talking about.

So, I dug a little further. Urban Dictionary, which I won’t be liking to, refers to a Frank Zappa interview from 1971 when defining “Suzy Creamcheese.” It was evidently a nickname given to an underage groupie, which may be true, but it’s nothing I’ve heard before, I haven’t seen the interview in question, and I can’t imagine that that’s what Lynn is comparing herself to anyway.

So…what the fuck?

I have to assume there was just some Zappa fan on the writing staff and they shoehorned it in for the sake of referencing the man — especially believable since Lynn at no point has acted anything like the particular kind of person who appreciates / understands / tolerates the music of Frank Zappa — but in that case, I’m surprised none of the episodes were named after Zappa songs. Wouldn’t that be the easiest place to slip in a reference without derailing the plots?

I have no idea. Anyone? It’s not uncommon for Zappa references to boggle minds, but here it’s boggling the mind of a Zappa fan. What the hell am I missing?

ALF, "I Gotta Be Me"

Lynn goes home, and everyone’s a real bitch to her. But that’s okay, because the sad music comes on and Kate admits that she’s only a real bitch to her because she loves her.

The dialogue here is pretty ropey and cheap, but Anne Schedeen does her best with it. I can’t say it was especially effective to me, but that was certainly through no fault of either actor. The reconciliation as written simply aims to warm the heart and misses its mark. At best it…I dunno. Burns my elbow.

The one thing I really like about it is how contentious the scene is when Lynn returns, and how naturally it softens into a discussion about what she and her mother feel. It’s a very human thing to lash out when you’re actually trying to reach out, and they both do a good job of tapping into that emotional irony.

ALF, "I Gotta Be Me"

Then ALF pops up through the plot window to make a joke but Willie throws him to the floor for some violent fucking against the kitchen tile.

ALF, "I Gotta Be Me"

ALF, "I Gotta Be Me"

ALF, "I Gotta Be Me"

In the short scene before the credits, ALF refuses to get out of Lynn’s bed until she shows him her “ski moves,” so she calls the Alien Task Force.

ALF, "I Gotta Be Me"

This one…well, it wasn’t good. But it was surprisingly far from awful for an episode that’s explicitly about Lynn spreading her legs.

Part of me does wish it ended with her decision to move out, because that would have provided a nice suggestion of human momentum for the character…and since the show by this point knew the Tanners wouldn’t be in season five, it wouldn’t have posed any writing challenges moving forward.

It’s not a bad thing, exactly, that Lynn chooses to stay…it’s just that that’s the sort of decision she’d have to reach in a show that relied on the reset button. ALF no longer has such a restriction, which is a luxury that it’s frustratingly not interested in exploring.

Seriously, the show can do anything with these characters at this point, as it knows full well we’ll never see them again. Lynn can move out. Willie can get a new job. Kate can have an affair. Brian can get his hand bitten off by a seal. So why the show does precisely nothing with any of them is a question I cannot answer.

Unless, of course, this episode really was supposed to air much earlier in the season. That would explain why it feels the need to reach for the reset button. “I Gotta Be Me” certainly doesn’t feel like a second-to-last episode, and we discussed earlier how this could have set up the mime stuff for the flash-forward episode, so I don’t think it’s an unreasonable suspicion. Then again, it’s not like any other episode felt like a second-to-last episode, so fucked if I know.

Its placement at pretty much the end of the entire show does a great job of emphasizing how much Elson grew as an actor, though. She might not be leaving ALF with much raw talent, but she’s come a hell of a long way from the stilted, pop-eyed mannequin of season one.

The show rarely figured out what to do with her, almost never gave her worthwhile material, and sure as hell didn’t treat her well as a person or as a character…but she’s grown nevertheless. The idea of Lynn having a moving heart-to-heart with her parents would have chilled my bones in the early episodes, but by now it’s the writing that’s failing the audience, not her acting.

She has several emotional moments in “I Gotta Be Me,” and she carries them well. That’s progress. And, once again, that’s why I’m sad she was stuck on ALF. In a better show, she could have become much more. Here she was restricted by the limitations of fuck-awful television.

She still grew, but always within those limits.

It’s a shame, in a way, but at least we get to end with the assurance that while Max Wright got worse and Benji Gregory went nowhere during the course of ALF, Andrea Elson somehow found an opportunity to grow as an actress. And that’s as happy an ending as this show is going to get.

Just don’t look her up on IMDB. It…gets a lot sadder if you do that.

Countdown to a few light taps upon the pane, and Willie turning to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey eastward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Los Angeles. It was falling on every part of Griffith Park, on Pizza Barge, falling softly upon the Ochmoneks’ lawn flamingos and, farther westward, softly falling into Silas Tanner’s reservoir. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Gordon Shumway lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead: 1 episode

MELMAC FACTS: Rodent parts were used on Melmac as food preservatives. ALF had a cousin named Frieda. Lynn is 19 at the time of this episode. ALF’s mother didn’t approve of Rhonda. Rhonda had a reputation for “skiing around,” which ALF says is how they met, but he’s a fucking liar because he said in “Stop in the Name of Love” that they met at a pet bake. Melmacians can drool a toxic black liquid in their sleep.

ALF, "Hungry Like the Wolf"

I have to say I’m surprised that the past two episodes have been varying degrees of good. Low degrees, but degrees of good all the same. I didn’t expect to find much at all to enjoy in these final five but, instead, I’m finding little to actively hate. It’d be foolish to say that ALF has hit its stride, but considering how little effort anyone put into this show to begin with, I’m kind of shocked to see the machine humming along this late in the game.

Fortunately, here’s “Hungry Like the Wolf” to reassure me that this show never had a chance to begin with.

It opens with a pretty dumbass scene, but we get some nice, silent acting from Anne Schedeen as she stops in the middle of putting groceries away, and has a premonition that something terrible is about to happen. Willie tells her otherwise, because apparently living with ALF for however many fucking years has somehow failed to teach him anything.

Then ALF comes in and…y’know, that’s a pretty good comic setup. It really is. Kate has a bad feeling, ALF struts immediately into the room…that’s nice. But the show botches it by having ALF do nothing, really. He just bitches about his weight.

We learn that Melmacians don’t gain weight the same way we do. They don’t get fat; they get dense. The weight they gain is internal, and their shapes don’t change to account for it. On the one hand, this is useful. (ALF mentions that their clothes always fit and, well, I’m only 35 and I can already see the appeal in that.) On the other hand, if they get too dense, they’ll implode and die.

And…

…that’s the cold open.

Hooray?

I mean, it’s nice to hear more about Melmacian physiology, and I like that we get an explanation as to why the puppet never gains or loses visible weight in spite of all the shit he eats. No, we don’t need an explanation, but I like that somebody wrote one.

But that’s it. Kate’s well-acted premonition gave way to ALF sitting on a chair and saying some shit nobody cares about.

ALF, "Hungry Like the Wolf"

ALF, "Hungry Like the Wolf"

ALF, "Hungry Like the Wolf"

After the credits, Willie buttfucks ALF.

ALF, "Hungry Like the Wolf"

ALF, "Hungry Like the Wolf"

ALF, "Hungry Like the Wolf"

Mutually spent, they take a few minutes trying to remember what the episode was about.

ALF, "Hungry Like the Wolf"

Turns out it’s about dieting or something.

ALF, "Hungry Like the Wolf"

ALF is miserable because they made him some healthy food. Ha ha! When you are on a diet, you can only eat salad, while everybody around you eats deep fried pizza and lard balls! ALF, you are in for it now!

So, yeah, ALF bitches about vegetables. The family bitches right back at him because he was the one who wanted to lose weight to begin with, but he says a bunch of crap about how dieting is bad for Melmacians. ALF says it can cause “an imbalance in my enzyme system that might make me revert back to my primal instincts.” It says a lot when the show’s writing is so poor that you can’t tell if the main character just told a bad lie, or if the writers wrote a bad script.

I guess it’s a promising idea that ALF’s diet may cause him to flip out and lose control, but we’ve already seen what a reversion to his primal instincts looks like in “Wild Thing.” I’ll jog your memory: he mows the lawn.

They go over this, like, fucking forever. By the time the scene is over, we’re eight minutes into the episode. They really were in no rush to do anything interesting, were they?

ALF, "Hungry Like the Wolf"

That night ALF exposes himself to some soda cans.

Willie and Kate catch him stealing food, so he pretends to sleepwalk. They scare him by saying there’s a cockroach on his shoulder, and my fucking god who CARES.

It’s another padded scene after however many other fucking padded scenes we’ve already had. This episode had no plot, and the crew decided to make it anyway. It’s literally just scenes of characters repeating the same things over and over in the hopes that the stage lights will eventually crash down and kill them.

At one point Willie grabs ALF and says, “Feet back! Spread ’em!” in case there wasn’t enough buttfucking for you already.

ALF, "Hungry Like the Wolf"

He pulls a bunch of phallic things out of ALF’s trenchcoat, which would have qualified as a visual gag if they remembered to write the gag part. As it stands it’s just something that happens because the cameras are rolling and they might as well do fucking something.

ALF explains that if he doesn’t eat something soon, he’ll have to hunt and kill some food to replace his enzymes. Willie and Kate don’t buy it, and don’t even make any effort to hide Lucky II. Which…makes sense, actually. That cat’s been in hiding since it was introduced. I look forward to one of the Alien Task Force guys slipping on its fetid carcass as they move in to taze ALF.

Anyway, ALF starts growling and stuff, which is evidently his primal nature kicking in. This…is actually okay, since I’m more than happy to forget “Wild Thing” ever happened, and I’m all for a do-over with the concept. Here’s hoping this one is resolved by ALF ripping apart and gorging himself on a screaming Eric.

When this scene ends we’re 10 minutes into the episode. You know, if the writers keep this up, they might be able to go home without actually doing anything! That’d be an impressive low, even for them.

ALF, "Hungry Like the Wolf"

The next morning, Brian comes in and asks for a recap of all the previous scenes in the episode, because he forgot them.

It sucks. It’s the same shit we’ve already heard, repeated yet a-fucking-gain because ALF had a half hour timeslot and only about 20 seconds of material.

ALF starts howling and you just know you’re getting a good screengrab next.

ALF, "Hungry Like the Wolf"

Yeah, so, ALF’s going apeshit in the back yard. And by that I mean he has a bone in his hair and is holding some twigs.

Why is he doing this? Well, Willie’s on hand to remind us of all the shit about Melmacians and crash diets and enzyme balances that we’ve been hearing about continuously since the episode started and literally could not have possibly forgotten by now. I imagine the script had a lot of instances of the word REFRAIN.

ALF calls himself Wolf now, so that the episode’s title can make a lick of sense.

I love it when they force a name into the show just so they can use a specific song as its title — which nobody outside of self-loathing ALF reviewers will ever even see. They did it in “Keepin’ the Faith” and “We’re So Sorry, Uncle Albert,” too. Fun fact: those episodes are also fucking garbage.

ALF, "Hungry Like the Wolf"

Willie, being Willie, says ain’t no Willie got time for this and tells his wife to deal with it herself.

Seriously. He does. She protests and sincerely asks him not to leave her alone with a crazed, dangerous, potentially homicidal alien. He replies, dickishly, “Let me call the office and say I won’t be in today because my alien’s diet has made him a warrior-hunter.”

No, fuckbag, call the office and say you’re sick. Help your fucking wife. Don’t leave her to the whims of ALF’s psychosis, especially when that little asshole is so violent and destructive even on his best days. Nobody here knows what to expect from the alien in this state, and Willie is perfectly content to come home to his wife’s mangled body on the living room floor.

Anyone want to try defending this dickass again?

Willie wishes his family luck in Heaven or Hell or wherever they wake up, and Lynn, being Lynn, steps up and says, “I’ll stay home with you, mom.”

I’m glad you exist, Lynn. I’ll be even gladder if you help your mother move out while her deadbeat husband pretends to have a late night at the office.

ALF, "Hungry Like the Wolf"

Uh, Kate? I love you and all, but I don’t think that’s the way you hold a baby.

Anyway, Willie comes home, at least moderately disappointed to find his family alive, because now they want his help. (Women, eh?!) Lynn talks about how crazily ALF has been behaving, and Kate tells him, flatly, that she’s frightened.

Willie’s response: he stands up, walks away, and spits, “Why do you automatically assume that I have the answers for these questions?!”

Ass.

Hole.

They’re telling you that their lives are in danger and they’re scared. They aren’t asking for answers; they’re asking for help. We were supposed to believe last week that Willie cared deeply about leaving a clean world to his children, but now he makes it explicitly clear that he doesn’t even care if they are safe in their own home.

DO SOMETHING FUCKBAG

Then the car starts and ALF stole it or whatever so Max Wright does this:

ALF, "Hungry Like the Wolf"

Jesus Christ this guy is awful.

After the commercial, the family exposits that they’ve been out looking for ALF and have found nothing. Then the phone rings and it’s some cop saying Willie’s car was found in Griffith Park, which is indeed a real park in LA. Kate seems to know it well, so that may provide some clue as to where the Tanners actually live in this massive city. (It doesn’t help me any, as I’ve never been there, but to someone with experience perhaps this is a nice detail?)

Kate says that the park could be very dangerous to ALF, which causes her husband to do this because he’s a cunt:

ALF, "Hungry Like the Wolf"

He’s pissed off because Kate showed concern for ALF’s safety, and in Willie’s mind I guess that means she can’t possibly have any concern for him as well. He says, “How silly of me to think of myself, just this once.”

And, man, what the living shit is this guy’s problem? He’s constantly an asshole to people who have nothing to do with his actual problems. In fact, Kate offers to go with him to the park and help with ALF…the exact opposite of what Willie did earlier in the day, when he made a big show of leaving his wife to deal with it alone.

You know.

When he was thinking of himself.

“Just this once” my hairy asshole. I’d be hard pressed to think of a time you were thinking of anybody but yourself.

ALF, "Hungry Like the Wolf"

In the park Willie finds a hobo, so they give each other blowjobs for a bit, secure in the knowledge that nobody will ever find the tape they recorded for some fucking reason. The show doesn’t tell us who this guy is, but adhering to ALF‘s template for naming the homeless I’m going to call him Gaggy Tad.

Willie stands around gabbing with G.T. for a while, and then mentions that his life went to hell “Four years ago. September.” Which puts ALF back on our timeline (the pilot did indeed air four years prior to this episode, in September) even though this season’s done everything in its power to wrest it into a timeline of its own.

So who knows how much fucking time has passed since ALF crashed into their garage. Also, why the absolute shit do I care?

I may as well mention that this is Jeff Doucette, who looked familiar though I couldn’t place him. (Could it be his unforgettable turn on Dog with a Blog?) Turns out he was in a bunch of episodes of Newhart, which is probably why I know his face, and that’s yet another connection between this show and Bob’s work. (You’re always going on about Bob Newhart. Let it go, Paul; you’re never going to meet him.)

Gaggy Tad says he thinks he saw “the little guy from Fantasy Island” in the park, referring to HervĂ© Villechaize.

Willie knows it’s actually ALF, though, and he says something I’ve listened to six times now and I still don’t know what the fuck it is. It sounds like, “He must be very bither.” Like, to rhyme with “wither.”

Is that some kind of Fantasy Island reference? Unless they say “De plane, boss!!” or ALF shoots himself in the head, any Fantasy Island reference will be lost on me.

Oh, the joys of having Max Wright deliver your lines. The audience will never know if it’s a joke they don’t get, or a shitty performance he refused to re-shoot.

ALF, "Hungry Like the Wolf"

Willie finds ALF about to disembowel and feast upon a poodle. You know…in case you didn’t hate these guys enough already.

I have to admit I’m…well, not impressed, exactly. But I’m intrigued by the fact that he was stalking a dog and not a cat. I guess the character change in “Live and Let Die” really did stick. Interesting. I still have no idea why they did it, but unless the next two episodes make a fool out of me, it looks ALF’s change of heart about eating felines was a deliberate and permanent one.

Pretty neat. It’s the nearest thing to actual development we’ve had for this character. It says a lot that it runs no deeper than what he does or doesn’t put in his stomach, but with this show you need to take what you can get.

ALF, "Hungry Like the Wolf"

Willie tells ALF to eat a fucking candy bar already. This gets a nonsensical crack about the Twinkie defense out of ALF, in a shameless pander to viewers who wondered why sitcoms weren’t making more jokes about the murder of Harvey Milk.

Anyway, ALF runs off, Willie screams, “Wolf!” for a while, Gaggy Tad comes back to do some observational hobo standup, and then ALF is cured and the episode ends.

I guess I shouldn’t have expected much more from an episode that wasn’t about anything to begin with, but somehow I was still disappointed by how careless this whole thing felt.

Honestly, if I’d found out that “Hungry Like the Wolf” was improvised, I wouldn’t be surprised at all. It’s fucking horrible, just like everything that’s improvised. Write a script, you lazy shits.

ALF, "Hungry Like the Wolf"

In the short scene before the credits, Kate shoos some black people off her doorstep.

Actually they came to get their poodle, I guess, but I have no fucking idea what happens after that. Kate closes the door, the black ladies start screaming in distress, and there’s the sound of a loud car horn. So…the dog got hit by a car? One of the people got hit by a car? Nobody got hit by a car? I have no clue, but whatever it is they’re clearly screaming for help.

Willie says, “Don’t open the door” when his wife shows concern, and that’s…it.

What the cunting god damned hell was that?

Tell me again what a great guy Willie is. Tell me again what an excellent social worker he is. Somebody is potentially dying in front of his house and he refuses not only to check on them, or to help them, but to call somebody else who would help them.

This…what is this?

What the actual fuck is this?

ALF comes back in and says he doesn’t give a shit about dieting anymore, which seems like something that probably shouldn’t matter what with somebody’s dog or mother or daughter lying dead in the street.

Fuck. This. Show.

Countdown to ALF being hunted and gathered in front of the Tanners: 2 episodes

MELMAC FACTS: ALF’s grandparents died from physical implosion, and he had to wet-vac them off the carpet. Melmacians only gain weight internally, and will collapse if they eat too much.

ALF, "Fight Back"

Friends (and Ridley):

It’s nearly that time. When I started this series in…October 2013?! What the fuck have you people done to my life?

…okay. Anyway.

It’s nearly that time. When I started this series I sort of never expected to make it to the end. But I did. And I did because of you guys.

You readers, you commenters, you weirdos who only message me on Facebook or email me instead of commenting here. You people who spread the links. You late-comers who stumble upon the reviews somehow and blast through them all in a matter of days. You who laugh at my jokes, steal my screenshots, and wonder why I’m making that same exact Manchurian Candidate joke again.

So I want to celebrate. We still have a few more reviews to post, along with the season four bonus features and some wrap-up material, but it’s time to announce our big farewell celebration:

Please join us for….

ALF Wiedersehen:
The ALF Reviews Finale Stream

Friday, May 20
7:00 PM Eastern / 5:00 PM Mountain

We’ll have live chat, as always, and we’ll stream six episodes of ALF. I’ll also include a few fun oddities, provide short introductions to the episodes (the tears will be kept to a minimum), and we’ll close out the evening with a live dissection of Project: ALF, the TV movie that wrapped up the sitcom and by all accounts sucks busted nards.

This is it.

Like, really it.

I’ll post a few things after the stream — such as the official review of Project: ALF — but I want this to be our big, enthusiastic goodbye. And I honestly, truly, deeply hope you’ll be able to make it. I can’t fly everyone out to Denver and give them tongue kisses, and I assume this is the next best thing.

So, be there. Mark your calendars. All you need to do is show up here, on this very website, at that time. Honestly, don’t miss it. Ending the ALF reviews is going to be like saying goodbye to a close friend. Or at least like hearing that your racist grandfather fell off a cliff. Either way, it’s nice to have closure.

So, things for you to do:

Show up here May 20 at 7:00 PM Eastern. THIS IS MANDATORY.

– If you have any ideas for things to include, please let me know. Email, comment, Facebook, whatever. I have ideas, yes, but if you have suggestions of what you’d like to see, and how you’d like to celebrate, let me know. Contests? Special guests? Musical numbers? Say the word.

– …and, if you’d like to provide any words of thanks / criticism / anything else, send them over. I hear all the time from folks who appreciate these reviews, and their comments range from “they’re pretty funny” to “I had a really rough week and you helped me feel better.” And that’s great; I appreciate everything you guys have to say. But if you’d like to share it with the readers in general, get in touch and maybe I’ll do a feature that includes your summing-up messages instead of just mine.

Anyway, that’s all for now. Except one last thing:

I had a few folks suggest episodes to stream, and they all seemed to suggest the (relatively) good episodes, so that we can end ALF on a high note.

And you know what?

Thank you.

I’m really proud that in the course of ripping apart this dumbass puppet show, we all came out on the other end feeling positive. That means a lot to me, and it speaks volumes about the kind of community we have here. It would be easy for people say, “Just show any old shit; I’ll be drunk anyway.” Instead you guys said, “Hey, let’s see the stuff the show did right.”

And I kind of love that.

Thank you.

I’ll post reminders in the coming weeks, but, for now, get ready. Get your requests in. And let’s go out with a bang.

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