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STUDIO: Lions Gate
RUNNING TIME: 500 Minutes
• Interactive Menus
• Episode of Alf Tales
• Episode of Alf’s Animated Adventures
Back in the day I was a big Alf fan. Maybe, in the least disgusting way possible, I had something for furry muppet aliens with phallic noses (I’m a big Gonzo fan too). I don’t know.
Once the show went off the air, the legend of Alf seemed to follow me. I found an Alf stuffed animal once at a garage sale. He sat in the passenger seat of my car for about a month. Some say I look like Alf too (including a Priest during the middle of my wedding – seriously). I’m pretty sure I’m not that hairy, but I digress.
…With the personality of Mike Ditka and the body of Lou Holtz.
For the most part, I was happy when I heard Alf was coming to DVD. Then I watched a few episodes (for the first time in over 10 years) and my excitement waned. A lot. If I sat down and watched the entire season would I find the reasons I loved the show as a kid?
OK, if you don’t the story of Alf… I don’t know if I should weep for you or rejoice. Either reaction is somewhat fitting. At any rate… Justin’s review for Alf – Season 1 (here) does a great job with setting up the series and its conventions. It is a darn good read.
"Being crowned King of the asshole Party Guests is so unexpected! I don’t even have a speech prepared."
When companies first started releasing old TV shows on DVD I thought it was a blessing. Finally, there was a way to collect a full season of Trek, or something equally geeky, so I didn’t have to memorize the Spike TV schedule. As the money grew, companies began releasing more and more on DVD. This was GREAT! Now I had a chance to re-watch my favorite 80s shows that had fallen out of syndication. At the time, I didn’t realize that the blessing of having access to the shows was also a curse.
I didn’t realize that perhaps, just perhaps, the shows wouldn’t be as good as I remembered them. I foolishly assumed that I’d pop in Alf – Season 2 and laugh along with the laugh track as I did in 1987, when I was 13.
Alf eats cats. Would a wolverine eat Alf? Please?
Sadly, this is not the case. Alf’s exploits are not nearly as funny to me now as they were then. It isn’t that I think the show has aged badly. It probably hasn’t. I think it is that Alf appeals to the under 12 set, not the over 30 crowd.
The real basis of Alf is wise-ass remarks. The crux of any individual episode is inconsequential. The only real motive of storytelling is to give Alf the mic and let him throw out one-liners.
What? You’ve never been walked-in on while screwing a coconut?
The other notable character trait of Alf is that he is a complete asshole. He takes self-centeredness to heights that rival Paris Hilton. Why anyone would take him in as a boarder (no matter the species) is beyond me. If I had a permanent houseguest that was that constantly annoying (whether that guest be human, alien or talking monkey) I think I’d kill him the same way they kill Sonny in The Godfather.
Those two plot devices (one liners and Alf being an asshat) were pretty much the basis of every episode. That never got old for me when I was a kid. Now…damn, a plot every now and again would be nice.
The average Alf episode seems to follow this formula: brief introduction of Alf doing something worthy of being shot. This is followed by the worst opening credit segment of any prime time show – EVER. Then the basic plot is throw out. It usually involves Alf getting a member of the Tanner family (usually Willy) all worked up over some stupid idea. There is usually a Melmac vs. Earth reference in the middle of the episode (half the time that joke revolves around eating cats). Mercifully, the show ends at around the 20-21 minute mark.
Let’s see. Pick axe? Check. Mud hole? Check. Buxom coed? Damn.
That is every episode right there. Sure, some of them had a gimmick as well (Alf becomes “good” for an episode, there’s one that takes place on Gilligan’s Island the Professor, Mary Ann, the Skipper and Gilligan all make appearances), but, for the most part, that was it. Looking back at it, I am floored this show lasted more than one season. Was I (and the other few million people that watched it) so entertainment-deprived in the 80s that I gladly watched this? Eek. And I think people have poor taste now.
Does the show have its moments? That depends on your definition of a moment. Are there singular points where Alf is funny? Hell yes. Sometimes the one-liners are great. Sometimes the situations that his complete disregard for anyone else get him into are quite funny. But, by and large, it doesn’t seem to work. At least not for someone over 12.
3.5 out of 10
“As God is my witness, I thought Don Ho could fly."
It looks like a cheesy sitcom made in 1987. To Lion’s Gate’s credit it looks like a really good cheesy sitcom made in 1987. I’m not sure they spent much money on the transfer – but many other 80s shows-to-DVD have looked a lot worse.
6 out of 10
I don’t think there is a more annoying theme song in the history of television than Alf’s. Unfortunately, the sound is good and thus you can hear that annoying song in clear 2.0 Dolby Digital Surround over and over and over and over again. Honestly, Lion’s Gate could have cut the opening sequence and I would have been real happy. Can anyone remember a more annoying opener? I’d rather watch the beginning of Small Wonder 1000 times over than have to watch the Alf open ever again.
The rest of the sound is A-OK. You may never hear a better laugh track in your life.
6 out of 10
“I knew the Chippendales were hard up for new talent. But this?"
Lion’s Gate really did a good job with this part of the set. There are only a handful of extras on here but they deliver in quality and originality where they lack in volume.
First, there isn’t a static background on the menu page. Instead, each disk is hosted by Alf. He throws out his wiseass remarks and you make your selection. Also, Alf will give you a live introduction to each episode if you want it. Ultimately this is a pretty minor feature – but in a day when companies either put nothing on a disk, or the same old crap, it is nice to something different.
The “Ghost Fart” scene was deleted from the final version of Poltergeist.
There are also two “bonus” episodes – from different Alf series. They are both OK Saturday morning fare. They tone down the asshole Alf and play up general mischief. Both episodes are things you wouldn’t expect to see on a set like this (no animated adventures released with Season 1 (according to the CHUD review)) and therefore I appreciate them. I like it when companies put out something a bit different.
7.5 out of 10
E’s True Hollywood Story would later uncover that to get the right reaction the director positioned Alf under the table during this scene. What he did to the actress during that time is still a mystery.
Eh. It’s OK I guess. It would have worked better if Alf had Lucky (the Tanner cat) in his mouth instead of a rose. I’d want this in my collection just for that!
But, for the cover they give…it gets the point across. You buy an Alf DVD for Alf, not anything or anyone else.
It matches the look and feel of the Season 1 set too – that’s a plus. So, all those people out there collecting the sets (you know who you are) Season 2 should look just as good on your shelf next to Season 1.
5 out of 10