US tv series (1986-1990). Warner Bros TV for NBC. Created by Paul Fusco and Ed Weinberger. Produced by Tom Patchett. Writers include Fusco, Patchett. Directors include Fusco, Patchett, Peter Bonerz. 25 minutes per episode. Colour.
ALF, an "alien life form" – in the line of extraterrestrial descent from My Favorite Martian and Mork in Mork & Mindy, though also influenced heavily by E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Explorers (1985) and the success of the Muppets – moves in with the Tanner family, a sitcom collection of typical Americans, after his spaceship crashlands in their garage. A furry puppet, somewhere between cute and obnoxious, voiced and operated by series creator Paul Fusco, ALF mainly sits in the middle of the living room insulting people, plotting to eat the family cat, making television-style smart-ass remarks and dispensing reassuring sentiment. The sf premise aside, ALF is basically one of those stereotype sitcom characters – like Benson (Robert Guillaume) in Soap or Sophia (Estelle Getty) in The Golden Girls – whose otherness (extraterrestrial, racial, social or mental) provides an excuse for them to comment rudely, satirically and smugly on the foibles of everyone else. The regular cast includes Max Wright, Anne Schedeen, Andrea Elson and Benji Gregory, as the Tanners, and John LaMotta and Liz Sheridan, as the nosy neighbours straight from I Love Lucy and Bewitched. [KN]
see also: Satire.
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