The fall season officially begins tonight with an ALFful bang.

The problem with “ALF,” the comedy premiering at 8 tonight on NBC (Channels 4, 36 and 39), is that you’re never sure whether it’s about an alien or written by one.

Actually, “ALF” is produced, directed and written by Tom Patchett (whose sterling credits include “Buffalo Bill” and “The Bob Newhart Show”), proving that even the best talents misfire some of the time.

The furry ALF (Alien Life Force), a refugee from the planet Melmac, crashes into the garage of one of those horrid TV families that ruin the neighborhood. Willie and Ann Tanner (Max Wright and Ann Schedeen) have two kids, Lynn (Andrea) and--ugh--Brian (Benji Gregory), and a cat that ALF wants to eat. Instead, you wish he’d eat Brian.


This is another of those TV comedies that simply aren’t funny.

ALF would be more engaging if the Tanners were more engaging. He also would have been lots of satirical fun and a far more interesting observer of the human condition had he been given a Woody Allen-type neurotic voice rather than one that was merely inanely goofy.

Based on this first episode, he’s cute, not witty, a plush toy, not plush comedy.