'ALF's Special Christmas' is the closest thing we ever got to a true ALF movie
ALF delivers babies, good cheer and genuine tears in this cinematic hour.
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You can catch "ALF's Christmas Special" this Sunday, December 22, at 6AM | 5C on MeTV.
ALF never had a proper ending. The network axed the sitcom on a cliffhanger. Season four came to a close with "Consider Me Gone," in the spring of 1990. The plot revolved around Gordon Shumway finally receiving communication from two of his Melmacian pals, who want to swing by Earth and rescue the furry brown extraterrestrial. Unfortunately, the Alien Task Force is onto them. In the final scene, we see ALF captured, surrounded by police officers. "To Be Continued…," the screen proclaimed. Only it wasn't. NBC replaced ALF with The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air the following fall.
Half a decade later, ABC picked up the pieces and tried to answer fans' ultimate question: "What the heck happened to ALF?" The made-for-TV movie Project ALF hit the small screen in 1996. There was just one significant failing — none of the original cast returned, outside of puppeteer Paul Fusco. The Tanner family was nowhere to be seen. ALF spent most of the flick locked up in an Air Force base under the eye of Martin Sheen.
Project ALF disappointed both fans and critics. To this day, despite some rumbling here and there about a reboot, it remains the only official "ALF movie." However, there's a far more satisfying ALF movie sitting right in the midst of the original series run — the 1987 two-parter "ALF's Special Christmas."
The holiday special stands out for more than its length. Unlike the other episodes, it was shot on film. It's cinematic style gives it the look of a Short Circuit sequel, or at the very least an episode of St. Elsewhere, as large parts of the story take place in a hospital.
The yuletide tale kicks off with the Tanner clan heading to a cabin in the woods. It's a hazy, dimly lit home, but the mountain setting at least gives us the chance to see ALF out in nature, thanks to some conveniently placed boulders, perfect for hiding puppeteers.
A kind, older man named George Foley (Cleavon Little of Blazing Saddles fame) stops by the rustic retreat looking for used toys. He fixes broken toys so that he can dress up as Santa and deliver them to children in the hospital. As this is being explained, our curious alien hero is poking around Mr. Foley's van. Naturally, he is dazzled by all the toys — and he get locked in the back and accidentally escorted away to the hospital.
There, ALF poses as a stuffed animal, presumably as a rather oversized and curiously ugly teddy bear. That lands him in the room of a very sick girl, Tiffany, who is played by the a young actress who voiced the Peanuts character Marcie throughout the 1980s. After Gordon befriends the ill kid, we see the rarest of sights — ALF crying.
It's not all downbeat. This is ALF, after all. In part two, the sarcastic Melmacian finds himself in an elevator with a lady in labor. She reacts as any dilating pregnant women would upon discovering an alien between her legs.
Fortunately, ALF has given the book Having Babies a quick scan, and the newborn is delivered healthy and sound.
Without spoiling too much, we will say that ALF learns something of humanity as he helps Tiffany through her illness. The Tanners leave her with a Polaroid to forever remember her alien friend. Good thing nobody had Instagram back then, or the Alien Task Force would have shown up much sooner.
Ending on a honestly touching bittersweet note, ALF waves goodbye to Tiffany, who looks down from her hospital window. That leave Santa ALF to return some cheer to the Tanner cabin. He just had to give that whole chimney entrance thing a go.