As I’ve said many times thus far for this series, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is almost painfully earnest and free of irony. It doesn’t have a huge amount of self awareness, or any at all, really, because the slightest drop of reflection could bring the whole cloying house of cards tumbling down on itself.
Witness this clip from 1989, wherein sort-of co-host ALF shows off his comedy chops. I loved ALF as a kid, but in that kid way in which I basically loved anything that was on TV and popular. ALF was one of many shows I watched religiously yet haven’t seen in years and could not tell you what happened in a single episode. (See also: Family Ties, The Cosby Show, and virtually every other NBC show of that era.) So I have no idea if the show holds up or has gathered moss.
I do know that I stopped watching it at some point, probably around the time everyone else stopped watching it. Which, oddly enough, coincided roughly with ALF’s appearance at the Thanksgiving Parade. By 1989, ALF’s star was definitely on the wane. Was this NBC’s last-ditch attempt to inject life into a dying franchise? If so, it didn’t help; ALF was canceled the following year, despite having a cliffhanger ending.
ALF’s function during this parade was to stand in a window of a nearby building and make sarcastic comments and corny jokes about the proceedings. If the results are any indication, my decision to stop watching his show was a wise one. But ALF really kicks it into high gear when the Garfield balloon shows up. You see, ALF’s alien race ate cats, and so he sees this as his turn to shine.
The problem is, once you introduce a MST3K-Lite element to these proceedings, they begin to crumble before your eyes. The Thanksgiving Parade demands the cheerful, wide-eyed tunnel vision of Willard Scott and Katie Couric, not the jaundiced, cat-craving gaze of ALF. As a result, the whole thing feels kind of cheap and wrong. Good job, ALF, you RUINED THANKSGIVING.
Bonus ad! This brief McRib ad aired during the original broadcast of this parade. Also, CHAWMP.