While, on occasion, an actual human being has worn the ALF costume, the loveable alien was largely operated by voice actor and creator Paul Fusco. After arriving from the planet Melmac, ALF was transformed into an ‘80s popular culture phenomenon, leading to cartoon spin-offs and endless merchandise. He has appeared in other, more recent shows, such as Johnny Depp Trump parodies and Mr. Robot. He also hosted his very own talk show, although it proved unsuccessful.
D.C. Follies (1987–89)
ALF’s popularity led to a trend in puppet sitcoms with an adult leaning. They were essentially standard sitcoms, but with puppets replacing some of the actors. Set in a Washington bar, D.C. Follies saw Fred Willard serving drinks to caricatures of celebrities. The likeness of Cher, other pop stars, and politicians bounced around the screen. Produced by Marty and Sid Krofft, this satirical sitcom bore similarity with the 1986 music video for Genesis’ Land of Confusion.
The premise for this sitcom was basically a dinosaur version of The Flintstones. The blue-collar family show was also similar to classics All in the Family and The Honeymooners, the latter of which was the inspiration behind The Flintstones. While the show was known for the baby dinosaur’s cute catchphrase, “not the mama”, the end of the series was something of a sour note when the species was obliterated from earth.
Aliens in the Family (1996)
ALF’s influence continues into the Bill Clinton Era, with quaint suburban family homes being invaded by alien puppets. This forgotten and short sitcom amped up the laugh track as it attempted to make a home for itself between ABC’s Step by Step and Family Matters. The puppets were designed by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop and the theme song was written and performed by Todd Rundgren. While the show was a failure, however, it did introduce the world of television to a five-year-old Hayden Panettiere.
Lost on Earth (1997)
This short-loved show was the USA network’s attempt to get in on the puppet action. Their concept was that the aliens were intentionally made to appear like puppets- and humans mistakingly accepted them as so. The space aliens are stranded on earth and have no choice but to work on a children’s show. While it didn’t have the same impact as either show, it’s been referred to as The Muppet Show meets Third Rock from the Sun.
Cousin Skeeter (1998–2001)
Sousing Skeeter is a regular feature of Millennial nostalgia. The show was broadcast as part of Nickelodeon’s nighttime Nickel-O-Zone block. Skeeter was operated by Drew Massey, a puppeteer from the Jim Henson Company, while his voice was provided by comedian Bill Bellamy. The show’s intriguing conceit was that Skeeter was seen by the rest of the cast as being like any human cast member, a strange relative who is staying with the Walkers. There was no mention in the show at all of him being a puppet, space alien, or anything of the sort.