WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
An alien life form (Alf – real name: Gordon Shumway) crashes into the roof of the garage of an average suburban family – husband, wife, teenage daughter and 6-year old son. The twist is Alf looks like a cross between a furry anteater and a kangaroo and all he does is crack wise, snack and make sarcastic remarks. In short, he’s one charming smart-ass, but the Tanners feel sorry for him since his planet blew up so they invite him to live with them even though he can be quite a handful. The series was on the air from 1986 to 1990.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
One of my fondest childhood memories from the 80’s (besides Norwegian pop phenomenons a-ha) involved me curling up in front of the telly and watching Alf drive Willie Tanner (Max Wright – actor extraordinaire!) completely bonkers with his antics. The best part was Willie’s amusing reactions and facial expressions whenever Alf got on his nerves. Happily, their relationship wasn’t as one-sided as that, Willie and Alf really did like each other and it was obvious that Alf brought a lot of pep and excitement into all of their lives. Re-watching these episodes again on DVD, I was surprised to find myself still genuinely entertained by Willie’s wonderful assortment of spastic responses every time Alf fucked up. I didn’t laugh that often re-watching these shows, but I wasn’t bored either and I found myself having 5 or 6 solid laughs an episode – usually due to an Alf quip or Willie popping a vein. I was afraid the show wouldn’t age well, and although it’s far from being the wittiest sitcom ever, it’s still original and heartwarming enough (you should see how much little Brian adores this creature) to be viewed and enjoyed all over again.
And God, I forgot how freakin’ cute Willie’s wife Kate was. This show brought back tons of amazing memories. I remembered how cool it was whenever, on occasion, we would see Alf in full view, running around or getting up. They even found time to get a message or two into these shows. In one episode, Alf manages to get a hold of Ronald Reagan on Air Force One (as only Alf could) and gives him lip about nuclear weapons, since that’s how his own planet Melmac got destroyed. Awwwwwww. I’m extremely glad I got the assignment to review this set because I just know, a week or two from now, when I have a really bad day, all I have to do is pop in an Alf episode (of this 4-disc set) and all my troubles will disappear as I revisit a simpler time in my life when sitcoms were good cheesy fun and I could still spank my thing to Madonna.
Interactive Menus by Alf: I’m not sure this technically counts as an “extra” but in the episode menus, there is an option to click on a question mark next to each episode. Click on it and Alf appears, giving you a brief synopsis of what happens in that show.
Original Un-Aired Pilot: Having just viewed the actual pilot episode a couple of days ago, I was able to compare it to this never before seen original pilot. There isn’t too much that’s different; this one has a different military guy that comes to the Tanner’s house at the end and they’ve also added in a sub-plot involving daughter Lynn being upset about not being able to use the family car on weeknights. I would say 70% of it survived to make the actual pilot that aired on TV.
Cast Gag/Outtakes Reel: Here you get about 6 continuous minutes of the wild and wacky happenings when the cast of ALF messes up a scene. The highlights are, of course, when Willie and Alf fuck up. The strangest (and sexiest!) one is when Alf takes a hold of Kate’s hand, lowers it to his crotch and says something like: “You can touch me here.”
Trivia Facts: You’re treated to a few interesting facts about the whole Alf phenomenon and other fun facts. Still, it doesn’t even scratch the surface if you want to know about the real history of the program.
If you loved this show as a kid, then the DVD Clinic suggests you buy this immediately. One episode of Alf, with his unmistakable voice and joie de vivre, will do more than 2 bottles of pills could ever do to cure you out of your blues. It’s simple, sure, but it’s still ten times better than the reality-TV horse manure that passes as escapist entertainment these days. One drawback is the lack of any commentary tracks, so we could get some real background on the show. Alf is a lost treasure from an underrated decade that gave us some of the most memorable and original sitcoms ever on TV.