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There Was Once A Show Called Aliens In The Family Where James Van Der Beek Was Eaten By An Alien Dog

The nineties were a crazy time. Coke went translucent, people wore spandex instead of shorts, and “gangs” were a big deal. Entertainment was pretty crazy too, particularly that post-Alf era of creepy puppet shows. While all puppet cast Dinosaurs and occasionally puppetted Sabrina The Teenage Witch were great, there were plenty of duds. One of those dudes was Aliens In The Family.

The show was a mid-nineties TGIF show that featured Jim Henson Creature Shop puppets. It was of the same era as Dog City, which should still be on today because it was great. The show was about a bizarro mixed-species couple that fall in love and have kids that are half-alien, half-human—and they have to live with the human dad’s all-human kids, making some weirdo family where some of the kids have giant alien heads despite their mom looking 10000% humanoid save for blue-purple hair. The show is weird and not good.

One of the best things about this show smothered in television history is that it featured a very young James van der Beek very briefly as a doofus boyfriend named Ethan, as you will see in the above clip. Ethan shows up strictly as a means by which to juxtapose alien and human taste in partners. Also, Ethan gets eaten by their alien dog. He literally is nearly killed as a joke. The date doesn’t happen and van der Beek only lives to see about two minutes of screen time.

Also, above: anyone look familiar? It’s Nashville star Hayden Panettiere filling in for Drew Barrymore in an alternate universe E.T. moment. Yes, this too is weird.

The show only survived two weeks before getting canned—and the rest of the episodes were laid to rest on their Saturday lineup. Shows like this are a reminder that, one, television executives have no idea what is going on and, two, any show that requires more than one person in extreme makeup (a la, a la) is doomed. The rule of thumb for television show like this is every character (or “all but one”) have to be puppets or everyone character but one has to be human: if you try to have a weird puppet and non-puppet cast, everything falls apart under the weight of having to suspend your disbelief too far. Let Aliens In The Family remind you of this.

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