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ALF: The Complete Series               review by Bobby Blakey

The 80s offered up some of the best and most out-there TV shows. In 1986 Gordon Shumway stepped onto the airwaves and into our homes in the show ALF. The entire premise should have been a massive failure as it has no reason working, but it did. The show went on to not only last for 4 seasons, but also spun off into two cartoon series, a talk show and a TV movie. There were talks of a reboot, but sadly never happened. Thankfully we can revisit the original series thanks to Shout Factory’s release of ALF: The Complete Series.


ALF follows average American family The Tanners. One day, they discover that they have a visitor. He's small, he's furry, he's arrogant, and he's an alien from the planet Melmac. Unsure what to do, they name him ALF: Alien Life Form. Alf soon decides that as much as he misses his home planet, there's a lot to be said for Earth: the Tanners are willing to concede anything as long as he doesn't announce his presence. Oh yeah, the Tanners also have a cat, which looks rather tasty.


As I said before this show shouldn’t have worked, but I loved every episode growing up. The visual connection between the puppet and man in suit of ALF and the Tanner family is like something out of the Muppet Show in reverse with

all people and one puppet. This concept would usually take some getting used to, but I remember watching that first episode thinking this works great and I still find it a great time.


A lot of the this shows success comes from the performance of ALF himself played by series co-creator Paul Fusco. His working of the puppet alone had such great personality and visual believability but add that unforgettable snarky voice and he was destined to be an icon. The ongoing gag of him wanting to eat the cat always and still does crack me up. Fusco is ALF and when you hear that voice you instantly know. The character is so fun, memorable and all around perfect that it is no wonder that show still delivers the fun and laughs to this day.


The entire cast of the show are well cast with my personal favorite being the late Max Wright who played Willie Tanner. Despite his well-known unhappiness working on the show he brought the laughs and his banter with ALF is always a good time. Knowing his mentality on that set now just makes his performance all the more impressive showing his professionalism.


After the show ended it got two animated series with one being a prequel aptly titled ALF: The Animated Series and ALF Tales that took characters from the other animated series and put them in various fairy tale stories. Both of these shows were part of the then awesome Saturday Morning Cartoons craze that we sadly just don’t have any more. Fusco once again reprised his role as Gordon that took us back to Melmac, hence more new characters of his same race.


As much as I love the character and the creativity to expand the franchise into this form it just never worked well for me. Part of the magic of the character and show is the puppetry and visuals. Seeing him in animation is fun and offers up more options, but I always felt tool away his real magic. Both of these series are included with this set and revisiting them didn’t really change my mind, but do have a bigger appreciation to the expansion of not only the Gordon Shumway character but giving us a bigger look into his home world of Melmac.


If I had any complainst about this set it is that is doesn’t feature the talk show, but I am sure that is a rights issue so could likely only do so much. At least it brought everything together from the main story lines for a set that fans will no doubt enjoy. The other disappointment was the lack of putting the episode “Try to Remember” back to its original form that was edited after its original premiere. It still works, but would have made the set all the more exciting to get to see episodes like that back like it was meant to be.


This collection offers up all 102 episodes of the live action series, all 26 episodes of ALF: The Animated Series, all 21 episodes of ALF Tales, and the 1996 TV Movie finale of the series Project: ALF. As if this wasn’t enough this collection also features bonus content including new commentaries, and a look back featurette with creators Paul Fusco and Tom Patchett.


Grab your copy of ALF: The Complete Series available now from Shout Factory.


For more information or to grab your copy head over to

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