Thursday, April 22, 2010

My Favourite Television Characters Of All Time - Part Two

#2 - Gordon Shumway/ALF - a puppet thing, midget/child-in-suit/alien - ALF

ALF was one of those strange shows from the 1980s where there is a puppet that is practically spouting adult-ish humour on a show that is aimed at children/families (anyone remember Agro?).

Gordon Shumway is an alien from the planet Melmac. His planet has exploded (ala Krypton) and his spaceship crash lands into the Tanner household on Earth. They give him the name ALF, Alien Life Form. I was never sure why they just didn't call him Gordon.

The Tanners are all left wing pinkos and decide that they should keep Gordon a secret and let an alien live with them, because if the government found out about an alien they would cut him open and do horrible things to him. I love how lefty most 1980s sitcoms I grew up watching were. All the episodes of TV shows where I was introduced to gay neighbours and alcoholic uncles were an education of sorts that encouraged difference, tolerance, and bla, bla, bla. I miss 1980s television, but thanks to digital TV feeling the need to fill airtime, shows like ALF are on again for the youngens to experience.

ALF loves watching TV, eating lots of junk food, and being a total loud mouth jerk, but all in a totally lovable way. 90% of what comes out of his mouth makes me laugh. It may just be the delivery, but ALF is a funny guy. He is the definition of a "party animal". If this show was made for an older audience I'm pretty sure he would be an alcoholic.

Willy, the uptight square-ish Father of the family, constantly clashes with ALF. ALF's anti-social behavior, his messy eating habits, his crazy hairbrained schemes, and the fact that he wants to eat the cat, all combine to make Willy mad. In reality I think Willy would either kill ALF or become mentally unstable. What happens in the show though is that ALF makes Willy feel better by apologising or making it up to him in some stupidly cute and regularly unsuccessful way. ALF is like a kid in a tiny hairy man's body. He feels guilty all the time for being a pain, and then tries to fix things, but inevitably makes situations worse. Willy and ALF are great mates, so all is always forgiven. They're the perfect team: loud mouthed party guy and a pushover nice guy. It's a bit like Laurel and Hardy, or R2D2 and C3PO.

The rest of the family all have their little moments and connections with ALF also. I remember as a kid being so jealous of the little snot playing Brian Tanner because I wanted to hang out with ALF, and I wouldn't be a whiny little shit about it either.

Also, how cool is a party animal that you can hug like an ugly teddy bear?? It's the perfect combination.

More soon...

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