Alf and The Bob Newhart Show


Alf (1986 - 1990)
The Bob Newhart Show (1972 - 1978)
Type: Non-Crossover


   Didn't happen. Sorry but no. Close but no cigar. This is a case of a big reference joke of an episode that in no way comes close to an actual crossover.

   Quick recap on the shows. The Bob Newhart Show was a sitcom focusing on the life of psychologist Bob Hartley, played by Bob Newhart. Two characters/actors to note for our purposes. First would be Mr. Carlin, one of Bob's patients played by Jack Riley. The second is Bob's neighbor, airline pilot Howard Borden played by Bill Daily.

   Then we have Alf, the show where the non-crossover happened. Alf told the story of the Tanners, an average American family that ends up living with an alien named Alf. Well, actually, his name wasn't Alf. Alf was actually an acronym for what Alf was: Alien Life Form. ALF's actual name was Gordon Shumway. But everybody called him Alf. Physically Alf was a small furry puppet. He also had quite an attitude and a taste for eating cats, thus putting him at odds with the family pet, Lucky.

   So here's how these shows utterly fail to cross over. Willie, the head of the Tanner family, reaches the breaking point in dealing with Alf. He just can't take it anymore and so decided to get help from his friend who is also a therapist. In the waiting room of his friend's office is another patient played by Jack Riley, the same actor who played Bob's patient Mr. Carlin. Crossover? No. While he is playing a therapy patient and is in the episode as a reference to his character on The Bob Newhart Show, in no way is he ever clearly identified as being the same character. Now if there was other proof tying Alf to Bob Newhart it might be a different story but everything else in the episode points to the shows not being connected.

   Heading into his friend's office we discover that Willie's therapist friend Larry is played by The Bob Newhart Show's Bill Daily. So another Bob Newhart actor only playing an utterly different character. Howard the pilot, Larry the therapist. No connection.

   But there's still Mr. Carlin, right? Maybe? I mean just because Bill Daily isn't the same character, that doesn't prove for sure the shows aren't linked, right?

   Okay, Willie trusts his friend enough to tell him all about Alf. They both head to the Tanner house for a therapy session with Alf and Willie. Here's the deal breaker. Discussing with Alf the idea of him talking to the therapist, Alf throws out a one liner about his not having issues with therapy because he used to watch The Bob Newhart Show. End of story. In the episode he refers to The Bob Newhart Show AS a show. Clearly they are not part of the same world. I mean, look, there have been crossovers where there was a contradiction like this. Seinfeld crossed over with Mad About You even though later in the series George references Mad About You as being a TV show. Usually I can make an allowance for such contradictions. But in this case the reference to The Bob Newhart Show as a show happens IN the supposed crossover episode! That's crap! And Jack Riley is NEVER referred to as Mr. Carlin. Not in the episode, not in the credits. The possibility that he is playing Mr. Carlin is vague at best and undermined entirely by the later reference to The Bob Newhart Show.

   All over folks. Nothing to see here but some reference jokes. No crossover. Move along...


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