October 25th: ALF

Starring the couch as himself.

History has proven that no matter how bad an idea it seems from the outset, there will always be a void in our hearts and minds that can only be filled with felt and googly-eyes. Be it the Muppets, Crank Yankers, or Dinosaurs, the marketplace has continually proven that it can, at any given time, bear the weight of at least one puppet-based program. In the 1980s, that crown was worn by a little slice of stupid I like to call...

ALF

Let us not forget that this story of an Alien Life Form living with a rather boring suburban family and chasing cats was so compelling, so deep a universe, that it had to be supplemented with a Saturday morning cartoon series. ALF was everywhere at one point, a burgeoning Kermit, but way harder to look at.

I mean, I could go on and on about the likes of this and Out Of This World or Small Wonder and how they reflect the yearnings of their times to explore space via that newfangled NASA shuttle, or to know an android that can pass for a human being. I could do that, but I refuse. It's Sunday, let's clench our jaws and hope for the best with these folks, the lesser-Tanner Family.

Space: Los Angeles, CA
Time: October 26th, 1987
Episode: "Some Enchanted Evening" Season 2, Episode 6

A cold open featuring ALF dressed with a fake-nose-and-glasses prop. Kill me now.

As this unfolds, we are reminded of how completely unlikable Willie Tanner is. He's hard to look at, he sneers at anything and everything, and I refuse to believe that young Brian is his true son. And if he is, let this be a lesson to everyone that it doesn't matter how old and noodly a man gets, his old, noodly guys can still swim.

And yet, we are given a clue into his perpetual crankiness while we are offered a glimpse into Willie and Kate's private life:

It's that awful bed! Man, they're all so high-strung because they haven't had a good night's sleep in years - look at that thing, it's like a torture device! I've seen better mattresses in Alcatraz, and the amount of squeaking that tenuous metal frame surely does whenever Kate closes her eyes and thinks of England must sound like the Wheelers are attacking them on behalf of the Nome King. And get a real blanket already!

Anyway, a recent contribution to Willie's neuroses is his worry about not being promoted. He then hatches the stupidest plan to get into good graces with a boss he dislikes by having a Halloween party for his co-workers and not inviting the boss. What? Doesn't matter, because ol' ALF, hellbent on going trick-or-treating, has sworn to help Willie out if he's allowed to go. Willie mostly tells him to go straight to hell before rolling over onto that colonial corn-husk mattress and drifting off into a back-wrenching slumber.

But hey, look at this house - they have really gone all out here, huh? But do you think they have enough punch? I get the feeling Kate was worried about having enough punch.

We must give them credit though, for they've added something new to the pageantry of Halloween decorations, something called: balloons. Oh sure, we've seen inflatable props in other eps, but the balloons are used as a real theme here, garnishing the corners like American flag bunting on Opening Day. Nicely done, Tanner IIs!

Young Brian returns from trick-or-treating with sister Lynn, and rightfully pays tribute to the alien living in his garage.

Things get a little dicey when they start talking tithe percentages, but it appears that most of what was hauled in are mini-Mr. Goodbars, so who cares. Mr. Goodbar: Letting kids down since 1925.

But I'll tell you, for as much as I loathe their patriarch, we are not being let down by the Tanner IIs decorating abilities:

Man, this is a tour de force of decorating, utilizing paper products, jack o' lanterns, balloons, bowls of treats, etc. This is how you do your house for Halloween, people. Do not do as they do, but do decorate as they do.

So, the party's on, and ALF gives Willie a minor heart attack when he shows up wearing a fake zipper and starts mingling with the crowd - a crowd that includes the aforementioned hated boss. What??? Yeah, turns out ALF called everyone, including the boss, and told them to wear costumes and have a great time. Obviously, Willie hates it, but ALF is the life of the party, doing Elvis impersonations and busting chops from the three-point line.

During his shenanigans, we're offered a panoramic view of this show's true star: that couch.

Maybe it's the weird framing that is dictated by tedious puppeteering, or maybe it's an optical illusion stemming from the odd back-segmentation, but this couch is enormous and gets the lion's share of screen time. An awful lot of things go on behind that couch, and I wonder if perhaps another spin-off was in order? Maybe a buddy-cop show called Alf and Couch? I don't know, we'll workshop it 25 years ago.

All of these shenanigans leads to Willie's boss hurting his back while limboing, and it is during this time of great weakness that Willie is able to take the coward's way in and leverage his promotion in exchange for some sensuous puppet-massaging.

As though to prove to the nation that he is not complete slime, Willie reluctantly acknowledges that ALF helped his financial situation tremendously by being more normal than the people he lives with, and so, takes him out trick-or-treating:

We end on a cat joke, and I am left wondering about the resolution of the couch's storyline, which I felt was underdeveloped. Classic ALF.