ALF (TV series) facts for kids
Quick facts for kidsALF
Comic science fiction
|Created by||Paul Fusco
|Theme music composer||Alf Clausen
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||4|
|No. of episodes||99 (original run)
102 (syndication) (list of episodes)
|Executive producer(s)||Bernie Brillstein
|Running time||24 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Alien Productions|
|Distributor||Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution|
|Original release||September 22, 1986– March 24, 1990|
The title character is Gordon Shumway, a sarcastic, friendly extraterrestrial nicknamed ALF (an acronym for Alien Life Form), who crash-lands in the garage of the suburban middle-class Tanner family. The series stars Max Wright as father Willie Tanner, Anne Schedeen as mother Kate Tanner, and Andrea Elson and Benji Gregory as their children, Lynn and Brian Tanner. ALF was performed by puppeteer Paul Fusco, who co-created the show with Tom Patchett.
Produced by Alien Productions, ALF originally ran for four seasons and produced 99 episodes, including two one-hour episodes that were divided into two parts for syndication, totaling 102 episodes.
In August 2018, Warner Bros. Television announced development of an ALF reboot. These plans were cancelled in November 2018.
ALF is an alien from the planet Melmac who follows an amateur radio signal to Earth and crash-lands into the garage of the Tanners. The Tanners are a suburban middle-class family in the San Fernando Valley area of California. The family consists of social worker Willie (Max Wright), his wife Kate (Anne Schedeen), their teenage daughter Lynn (Andrea Elson), younger son Brian (Benji Gregory), and their pet cat Lucky (whom ALF wishes to eat).
Unsure what to do, the Tanners take ALF into their home and hide him from the Alien Task Force (a part of the U.S. military that specializes in aliens) and their nosy neighbors Trevor and Raquel Ochmonek (John La Motta and Liz Sheridan), until he can repair his spacecraft. He generally hides in the kitchen. It is eventually revealed that ALF's home planet Melmac exploded, due to nuclear war. In the season one episode "Pennsylvania 6-5000", ALF tries to convince the President of the United States to stop the nuclear program, as ALF fears that Earth might suffer a fate similar to Melmac's, though miscalculating his words causes the President and national security to call the FBI to arrest Willie. ALF was off the planet when it was destroyed because he was part of the Melmac Orbit Guard. ALF (a.k.a. Gordon Shumway) is homeless, but he is not the last survivor of his species. He becomes a permanent member of the family, although his culture shock, survivor guilt, general boredom, despair, and loneliness frequently cause difficulty for the Tanners. Despite the problems and inconveniences his presence brings into their lives, they grow to love him, though some episodes make it clear they are also afraid of how their lives would be turned upside down if word got out that he has been living with them.
While most of the science fiction of ALF was played for comedic value, there were a few references to actual topics in space exploration; for example, ALF uses a radio signal as a beacon in the pilot episode. In the episode "Weird Science", ALF told Brian, who was building a model of the solar system for his science project, that there were two planets beyond Pluto called "Dave" and "Alvin" (as in David Seville and Alvin from the Alvin and the Chipmunks franchise), which gets Brian in trouble at school. However, after ALF makes a call to an astronomical organization and states that "Dave" is known by the organization, Willie comes to believe that "Dave" could have been the planetoid Chiron, or "Object Kowal", after it's discovered. ALF then shows Willie exactly where "Dave" is on an intergalactic map of the universe.
Each episode dealt with ALF learning about Earth and making new friends both within and outside of the Tanner family, including Willie's brother Neal (Jim J. Bullock), Kate's widowed mother Dorothy (Anne Meara) with whom ALF has a love-hate relationship, her boyfriend (and later husband) Whizzer (Paul Dooley), the Ochmoneks' nephew Jake (Josh Blake), a psychologist named Larry (Bill Daily), and a blind woman named Jody (Andrea Covell) who never figures out that ALF is not human (although she is aware through touch that he is short and hairy).
Changes occur within the Tanner household over the course of the series, including the birth of a new child, Eric (the reason for adding a baby in the series being that Anne Schedeen was pregnant at the time); ALF's move from his initial quarters in the laundry room to the attic, which he and Willie converted into an "apartment", and the death of Lucky the cat in season four's "Live and Let Die"; in this instance, ALF finds that despite his occasional attempts to catch Lucky with the intention of making the cat a meal, as cats are the equivalent of cattle on Melmac, he has come to love and respect the family pet too much to do anything untoward with Lucky's remains. When ALF acquires a new cat with the intent of eating it, he actually grows fond of it and allows it to be adopted by the family, although he admits to the Tanners he has become the worst kind of Melmackian, a "cat lover".
Cast and characters
- Paul Fusco – ALF (puppeteer, voice)
- Michu Meszaros – credited as one of ALF's assistants (in costume)
- Lisa Buckley – ALF (assistant puppeteer)
- Bob Fappiano – ALF (assistant puppeteer)
- Anne Schedeen – Kate Tanner
- Max Wright – Willie Tanner
- Andrea Elson – Lynn Tanner
- Benji Gregory – Brian Tanner
- Josh Blake – Jake Ochmonek (seasons 2–3)
- Jim J. Bullock – Neal Tanner (season 4)
- Andrea Covell – Jody
- Bill Daily – Dr. Larry Dykstra
- Paul Dooley – "Whizzer" Deaver
- John LaMotta – Trevor Ochmonek
- Anne Meara – Dorothy Halligan Deaver
- Charles Nickerson – Eric Tanner (season 4)
- Liz Sheridan – Raquel Ochmonek
Gordon Shumway is a Melmacian nicknamed ALF (an acronym for Alien Life Form) by Willie Tanner in the pilot episode. ALF was born on October 28, 1756, on the Lower East Side of the planet Melmac. Melmac was located six parsecs past the Hydra-Centaurus Supercluster, and had a green sky, blue grass and a purple sun. The commonly-used currency is a "Wernick" (named after producer Sandy Wernick), which is equal to 10 American dollars. Lint, gravel and foam are as precious on Melmac as gold is on Earth, whereas gold and platinum are so common that they are used in place of porcelain to make toilets and sinks, as seen in the season one episode "Baby, You Can Drive My Car", where ALF sells the gold and platinum plumbing in his ship to buy a Ferrari for Lynn.
ALF's body is covered with fur and he has a rippled snout, facial moles and eight stomachs. His heart (if he only has one) is apparently located in his right ear. He likes to burp and eat cats, and can whistle without opening his mouth. He had a best friend on his home planet named Malhar Naik. He has friends named Skip, Rick, Stella, and a girlfriend named Rhonda, all of whom also escaped the explosion. He attended high school for 122 years and was captain of a "Bouillabaisseball team", a game played on ice using seafood as a ball.
ALF is troublesome, sarcastic, slovenly and cynical, and sometimes puts himself at the risk of being discovered while perpetrating some of his often-unintentional pranks. However, if things have gone too far, he does as much as possible to make up for his mistakes, generally with positive results.
ALF (TV series) Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.