Shumway was an alien from the planet Melmac. When his planet
exploded, "Gordo" escaped and crash-landed in the garage of
the Tanner family, who dubbed him Alf (Alien Life Form). This
was the basis for the prime-time sitcom Alf, a surprise hit on
NBC in the mid-80's. After one season, the network brought the
furry orange star to Saturday morning in an all-new animated
The cartoon took place several
years earlier - before Melmac’s destruction - and featured
Gordon, his friends, and his family in everyday situations
(everyday for Melmac, that is). Gordo's family consisted of
dad Bob, mother Flo, brother Curtis, and little sister Augie.
Friends Sloop and Skip made frequent appearances, as did
Gordo's girlfriend Rhonda. Paul Fusco, who voiced the alien
for the sitcom, also lent his throaty tenor to the cartoon.
The animated Alf won legions of
new fans by spoofing what most people considered normality -
shopping, school, driving, etc. The writers were free to
create outrageous scenarios and let the characters react as if
everything were perfectly normal; it was another planet, after
all. Within this framework, many episodes ended up being a
parody of any number of pop-culture icons.
In 1988 Alf was expanded to a
full hour, adding a segment entitled Alf Tales. These portions
of the show featured Alf and his friends in familiar fairy
tales or classic movies - everything from Sleeping Beauty to
Batman - all peppered with the Shumway family wit.
A year later, the show was
shortened to thirty minutes, and only Alf Tales remained.