Funny how the internet works. At some point in the last week or two, someone on Twitter was discussing “ALF,” which led to someone else discussing ALF, which led to me remembering ALF, which led to me digging up this oral history of “ALF” from 2016 that I absolutely loved at the time. Because I loved ALF.
Now some of you of a certain age are likely asking, “Who is Alf?” and “Why do you keep capitalizing his name like you’re some sort of deranged PR spokesman who thinks this Alf is a client or something.”
ALF actually stands for Alien Life Form. ALF was the star of “ALF,” a hit sit-com on NBC in the mid 80s. ALF was, in fact, a puppet. That’s right, after a string of humiliating flops, including a pilot season in which NBC didn’t order anything (“Manimal!”), the network greenlit a primetime sitcom whose main character was a loud-mouthed alien who ate cats, drank beer, and was basically an insult comic. And this alien was a puppet.
And it was apparently one of Ronald Reagan’s favorite shows. Mine too! Even though I don’t remember any of it — especially the episode in which ALF, who is a puppet, gets his own puppet. From the oral history.
“We did an episode, ‘I’m Your Puppet,’ which gave ALF a puppet of his own. That was written by Al Jean and Mike Reiss [The Simpsons], and their original script was very dark, almost Twilight Zone-ish. It kind of creeped people out.”
Note: My smart-ass comment about tiny houses in yesterday’s post prompted a great comment from my stepsister, which in turn led me to write this. Not quite what she was asking for, but I like it.
HAUNTED TINY HOUSE
EXTERIOR – NIGHT: A dark, cloudy moonless night. The wind whips through the trees surrounding a clearing. In the clearing sits what looks like a child’s playhouse.
INTERIOR – NIGHT: We’re inside of a tiny house, 8 x 10 if that. We enter through the door and into a kitchen/living area, with a tiny fridge and a tiny stove and a tiny table. The camera tracks left and up a tiny ladder to a tiny loft where a white hipster couple — CLEMENTINE and DJANGO — sleep. Clementine has dark black hair cut into a bob. Django has red shaggy hair and a giant beard. Both have multiple piercings and tattoos.
A LOUD BANG IS HEARD — awakening the CLEMENTINE, who sits up too fast and bangs her head into the ceiling.
Cara and I have been watching “The Haunting of Hill House.” It’s not for the faint of the heart. In fact, if anyone says he isn’t afraid of the movie, that person is already dead inside and should be reported to either the Ghostbusters or Van Helsing.
The point is, it’s a creepy show and within one episode you’ll be checking under your bed, wishing you didn’t have a basement, and contemplating a move into a newly built tiny house where you can be 100% sure that no one has ever died and where ghosts couldn’t fit (and, besides, ghosts wouldn’t be caught dead in a tiny house because tiny houses are just a hideous expression of hipster privilege and virtue signaling and if you wanted to actually save money and downsize you could have just bought a trailer).
Last night, I took a break from binge-watching Season 1 of TNT’s “Claws” to watch “Game of Thrones.” After a perfectly fine episode of “Thrones” — and by fine, I mean one in which numerous ridiculous decisions are made by characters who are supposed to be leaders, as well as Arya being a total snot and neither she nor Sansa actually mentioning the name Littlefinger, which would TOTALLY clear up their issue — I went right back to “Claws.”
I actually started watching “Claws” because of actor Hunter Burke’s tweets about the show. Hunter plays Jew for Jesus Hank Gluck on the show. Who’s Hunter? He’s a multi-talented Hollywood type, but from Louisiana and, in an appropriately Southern connection, he’s my brother’s wife’s sister’s boyfriend. Or something like that. (Actress Teri Wyble, who’s currently in “The Sinner” and was in “The Walking Dead” and more, is my sister-in-law’s sister. Does that sound simpler?)
I figured I’d catch an episode or two over the weekend, but ended up watching the entire first season. Why? “Claws” is like someone huffed three kilos of Elmore Leonard and Carl Hiaasen (and some coke) and then decided to write about a multi-ethnic group of women who work at a nail salon and are involved with the Dixie Mafia’s Florida chapter. And this particular chapter is led by a crazy, over the top, bi-sexual Catholic guy with rage issues.
I know Hollywood likes to describe a thing by comparing it to other things, so let me take a stab at this. It takes the best elements of “Dexter,” “Orange Is the New Black” and “Get Shorty” and swirls it all together.
It’s entertaining as hell, completely bonkers and I don’t think there was a bad episode in the bunch. It’s funny, disturbing, sexy and even touching — I got misty-eyed by Harold Perrineau’s autistic character more than once. While Perrineau’s acting is great, the women are the ones who make this show. Niecy Nash is the leader of the crew that includes Jenn Lyon, Carrie Preston, Judy Reyes and Karrueche Tran.
All of these people should be getting Emmy nominations, but I won’t hold my breath. Not only because it’s a really diverse show (that doesn’t make a point of yelling “We’re really diverse), but also because it’s classified as a drama. I guess if it’s an hour long, it’s a drama? Sure, it’s plenty dramatic, but it’s also plenty funny (apparently, it started off life as a half-hour comedy pitched to HBO).
But when it comes to marketing, execs like their labels and boxes, I guess. Even if humans repeatedly show that they not only can handle some mixing and matching, but actually love it.
I’d been told a couple times over the last two years that Elmore Leonard-type books are a hard sell for publishers these days. Which is sort of odd, considering half the good shows on TV (and there are a lot of good shows on TV, Netflix, etc., these days) seem like they’re based on Leonard-type books. But that’s just me. (And, yes, I have a Leonard-type book I’m trying to get published. Could you tell?)
Many times you’ll see newly rich folk, athletes and celebrities hanging around with the people they came up with. Some times, this crew is a scraggly-ass, disreputable lot who put you in mind of those embarrassing cousins who have three cars up on blocks in the front yard and storm into political discussions after a 12-pack of Natural Light to set everyone straight on foreign policy (“Kill ’em all and let God do the sorting.”) Many times we wonder, “Why?”
Why? Because such people keep your head on straight, remind you of where you come from and, even though they’ll constantly “borrow” money from a well-off relative, they’ll also tell that relative if he’s got a booger on his face or if he looks like a jackass in those skinny jeans.
Kanye West apparently has no such people in his life anymore.