Hilarious Sci-Fi Sitcom Is Dangerous For House Pets

By Douglas Helm | Published


If you like your sitcoms with a touch of sci-fi and cat-eating puppets, then the classic sitcom ALF is perfect for you. The series aired for four seasons in the late 1980s and is still a cultural touchstone to this day. Best of all, you can watch it for free (with ads) through Prime Video’s Freevee streaming service.

Meet Gordon Shumway, Also Known As ALF


ALF follows the titular Alien Life Form, real name is Gordan Shumway, who crash lands on Earth after escaping the destruction of his planet Melmac. He ends up in the garage of the Tanner family, which includes father Willie Tanner (Max Wright), mother Kate Tanner (Anne Schedeen), their two children Lynn (Andrea Elson) and Brian (Benji Gregory), and their cat Lucky (who ALF wants to eat). ALF begins living with the Tanners, and they decide to keep him a secret from the US government, who they suspect would use him for experiments.

Bringing ALF To Life


The character of ALF was brought to life by puppeteer Paul Fusco, who also created the sitcom with Tom Patchett. Occasionally, ALF was played by Michu Meszaros, who would put on a costume to portray the character when his full body was in a scene. Eventually, the costume technique became too expensive for the sitcom, so it was nixed after the first season.

Project: ALF

ALF was produced by Alien Productions and ran for four seasons and 99 episodes, but ended on a cliffhanger after getting canceled prematurely. Fortunately for fans of the series, a TV movie titled Project: ALF was later made to serve as a series finale. But, if you ask the cast and crew of the show, they were probably glad that the show was canceled before a fifth season could be made.

ALF Was Less Fun Behind The Scenes

Despite the lighthearted nature of the show, ALF was apparently hell to work on. The demands of making a show with a hand-operated puppet as a main character were apparently very hard on Fusco and the lead actors. In a 2000 interview with PEOPLE magazine, the cast all confirmed that things could get pretty tense on set.

Max Wright, who played Willie Tanner, even admitted he was “eager to have ALF over with.” Anne Scheeden said “”there was no joy on the set…it was a technical nightmare – extremely slow, hot and tedious” and that 30-minute episodes would often take 20 to 25 hours to shoot. The logistics of shooting with the puppet were also incredibly complicated.

ALF’s Puppeteer Had A Dangerous Job


Paul Fusco would have to operate the ALF puppet from underneath the set, with the set of the show being built four feet above ground for Fusco to have room to operate. The holes on the set were not only dangerous but would often have to be reset multiple times per scene. There were also two other puppeteers working with Fusco, with Lisa Buckley assisting Fusco with the puppet’s left arm and hand movements and Bob Fappiano remote operating the puppet’s face and ears.

More ALF On The Way

Although ALF was undeniably a pain to shoot, the end result is a charming, hilarious, and unique sitcom that has been a favorite of many over the years. Ryan Reynolds’ Maximum Effort company also recently joined Shout! Factory to develop new ALF content, so there is likely more of the beloved Alien Life Form on the way. In the meantime, you can stream the original show over on Prime Video’s Freevee platform now.