"This is a TV show about a furry little alien based on the Hitchcock classic."

- W.J. Flywheel, Webporium Curator

ALF 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.


To 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 culture parodies 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.


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