ALF was a television series about a Melmacian alien named ALF (acronym for alien life form) crashing through Willie, Kate, Lynn, and Brian Tanner's garage and living with them for four years. One of the shows creators was Paul Fusco, who also voiced and performed ALF, Lisa Buckley also assisted with the character.
In total, 102 episodes were made and ran from 1986 to 1990. Cast interviews since the show ended have revealed a few details about making the series: to make room for the puppeteers, the entire set was built on a raised platform with dozens of trapdoors in the floor. The trapdoors had to be reset multiple times, sometimes during a single scene, forcing them to shoot each episode over the course of several hours and without a studio audience.
In the series finale, ALF is about to be rescued by other survivors of his home planet, but is instead captured by the American military, and the viewer is left to ponder ALF's ultimate fate. (This was not supposed to be the finale, as the original airing ended on a "To Be Continued" note. At the time, the show was in limbo as to whether it would get a fifth season. The producers supposedly had a verbal agreement with NBC to get at least one more episode to resolve the cliffhanger. NBC never made good on the deal, and no more episodes were created.)
Paul Fusco was the primary puppeteer. He used one hand to control ALF's mouth leaving the other free to control one of the puppet's arms. A second puppeteer, Lisa Buckley, accompanied Paul under the stage and wore ALF's other hand (the hands were basically furry gloves) to control it. Together, with a third person (Bob Fappiano), who controlled ALF's facial and ear movements via an RC controller offstage, they worked in concert to make ALF's movements fluid and believable.
During tapings Paul would wear a "halo" which was used to record his voice for the ALF character. All of this made for a painstaking process and there were countless mistakes and retakes. To avoid unnecessary wear-and-tear on the principal ALF puppet, the performers rehearsed with a battered, early version of ALF. They nicknamed him "Ralph." Often during rehearsals, Mr. Fusco would just substitute his hand for the puppet.
- Max Wright: Willie Tanner
- Anne Schedeen: Kate Tanner
- Andrea Elson: Lynn Tanner
- Benji Gregory: Brian Tanner
- John LaMotta: Trevor Ochmonek
- Liz Sheridan: Raquel Ochmonek
- Josh Blake: Jake Ochmonek
- Jim J. Bullock: Neal Tanner
- Lucky the Cat: himself
- Bill Daily: Dr. Larry Dykstra
- Anne Meara: Dorothy Halligan Deaver
- Paul Dooley: Whizzer Deaver
- See the category for an episode guide.