is the name of a popular television sitcom series produced by NBC
between 1986 and 1990, inspired by and spoofing the movie E.T. the
Extra-Terrestrial (1982). It first aired September 22, 1986.
The title character is
Gordon Shumway, an alien nicknamed A.L.F. (Alien Life Form). He was
born on October 28, 1756 on the Lower East side of the planet Melmac.
The planet Melmac was located six parsecs past the Hydra Centaurus
Supercluster and had a green sky and blue grass.
Shumway's body is covered
with orange fur. He has a rippled snout, facial moles, and eight
stomachs, and he likes to eat cats. He attended high school for 122
years and was captain of a Bouillabaisseball team (which is played on
ice using shellfish as a ball).
In the pilot episode,
Shumway follows an amateur radio signal and crash-lands into the
garage of the Tanners. The Tanners are a suburban middle class family
consisting of the social worker Willie (Max Wright), his wife Kate
(Anne Schedeen), their children Lynn (Andrea Elson) and Brian (Benji
Gregory Hertzberg), and the cat Lucky.
Unsure what to do, the
Tanners take Shumway into their home and hide him from the Alien Task
Force, the military, and their nosy neighbors (the Ochmoneks), until
he can repair his spacecraft. He generally hid in the kitchen. It was
eventually revealed that Melmac exploded when all its inhabitants
simultaneously turned on their hair dryers, and that Shumway was not
only homeless, but also, to the best of his knowledge, the last
survivor of both his civilization and his species.
capitalize on the success of the series, a spinoff animated series
arose and aired on Saturday mornings on NBC. Alf: The Animated
Series, (AKA Alf on Melmac) set on ALF's home planet of Melmac, ran
from 1987 to 1988. The series was a prequel series, set on Melmac
before the planet exploded. The show focused on ALF, his family, his
friends, and girlfriend Rhonda and
their various exploits. Each episode was bookended by a live-action
sequence involving ALF talking to the television viewers, setting up
the episode. When the cartoon entered its second season, it was
paired with in a one-hour block with its own spin-off AlfTales, which
took Gordon and the cast of characters from season one and recast
them as characters from assorted classic (Earthly) fairy tales.
An ALF comic book was
published by Marvel Comics beginning in 1987 and ran for four years,
50 issues, and nearly a dozen specials. The comic loosely followed
the continuity of the television show (though it featured alternate
takes on certain episodes, like the birth of Eric Tanner) and
featured numerous parodies of Marvel Comic characters and other pop
in the form of "Melmac Flashbacks". Towards the end of the
series, when the cancellation of the series was imminent, the series
took a highly critical position towards Marvel Comics and then Marvel
Editor-In-Chief Tom DeFalco.
After the series run in the
United States, it went on to even greater success in reruns in many
European countries, including Poland, Bulgaria, Germany and Slovakia.
In 1996 a 90-minute
television movie, named Project: ALF, was aired on ABC. This movie
picked up six years after the events of the TV series with ALF in
government custody and focuses on a scientist and military policy
officer who break ALF out of government custody to get him to a
millionaire who is building a working spaceship, so ALF can leave
Earth. The original series was so popular in Germany that the made-for-TV
"Project ALF" was released there theatrically under the
name "Alf Der Film" ("Alf the Movie") but was
panned by critics and fans particularly for the Tanners' absence.