It's been a while since I've watched this series. I watched them more often when they were new back in 1987-1988. I used a vcr back then and taped shows like Max to watch over and over. Someone was always interested in seeing them again or had missed them. That's in the days when people used to come over and hang out and watch tv. Not everyone had a vcr and hardly anyone stayed home all the time. I'd always be recording something to watch later. At one point I had three vcrs stacked up just so I could record 2 or 3 shows on different channels in the same time slot. I really got used to scanning through the commercials. That's one of the reasons I like watching shows on dvds so much.
I was really impressed with the concept of the show. There really wasn't anything that subversive on tv and the shows negative attitude to big corporations taking over and running our lives was something I'm keen on. Visually the show is very like Blade Runner in style and production. There's a lot of dark corners and light punching through smoke and heaps of rubbish everywhere. I loved the characters who inhabited that world. That's the cast from the series up there on the right: Matt Frewer, Amanda Payes, Jeffrey Tambor, George Coe and in the back Chris Young. The 2010 dvds from Shout Factory collect all 14 episodes of the two seasons are on 4 discs. There's a 5th disc of bonus material. Lots of good interviews with the the creators and actors. What they didn't put in the dvd set was a copy of the 1985 British tv program Max Headroom: 20 Minutes Into The Future. It was released in the US as Max Headroom The Original Story. That's the VHS Tape package at the top of the post. It still hasn't been released on dvd here in the US. I had that tape and had copied it to dvdr. I'm going to watch it before I watch the series. The British show was adapted for first show of the US series. Peter Wagg was the producer of the original show and the series. He came to LA to do the series, brought a few people over with him and hired a lot more. In a short time they put together a show that becomes a short lived sensation. A second season is ordered and killed off with a time slot change. It's was called ahead of it's time but really it's a show that moves fast and requires you to think more than most want to or can. It would find a bigger audience in this more tech savy world.
Max Headroom: 20 Minutes Into The Future - Matt Frewer plays Edison Carter, a investigative journalist in a crappy cyberpunk style future where everything is run by big tv corporations. Edison's on location at an apartment complex, following a lead about a guy who blew up, when the story is killed by someone high up at Network 23. Edison gets mad that his Network Controller cut him off and abandoned him. After getting attacked Edison comes back to the news office and pastes his Controller in the face. That lackluster guy is replaced by Amanda Pays as Theora Jones. Edison and Theora dig into the reason the story got killed and they find out that the network is having a problem with their new advertising gimmick blipverts. They've speed up adverts to cram a 30 second ad into a 3 second burst. It works well and since the ads over so quickl it keeps the viewers from changing channels. Unfortunately they cause some people to blow up and the Network Head is worried viewers will find out. The blipverts are keeping them at the top of the ratings. Edison is too close to breaking the story so the Network Head decides to get rid of him and his old controller. To cover up the crime the head of the computer lab, a 16 year old evil genius named Bryce, makes a scan of Edison's mind and uses that to create a computer generated Edison Carter. What they get is Max Headroom. He turns out to be uncontrollable and is sent off to be destroyed along with Edison. That doesn't go as planned when Breughel, hired to dispose of Edison, decides to sell the near dead reporter to a body bank for points. He sells Max to Blank Reg, played by Morgan Sheppard, the program director and announcer at Big Time TV. It's a small network that operates out of a big pink bus. Edison escapes the body bank and recovers at Theora's place. They work together to out the Network chairman and his killer adverts. They get a bit of help from Blank Reg and Max. Matt plays Max with a bunch of make up and some cell animated backgrounds. Computer graphics couldn't do much of anything back in the CGI stone age. The tv series would later create the background with a Commodore Amiga computer. Sad, huh? It's a pretty entertaining program, still somewhat morally and socially relevant if you're into that sort of thing. I just like the twisted future and think it worth taking a gander at. Too bad it's so hard to find. Still you can get the basic story in the first episode of the tv series.
Blipverts is very much like the British program but there are some changes. There's more money spent, it's now shot in LA, and the show looks a lot better. Matt Frewer still plays Edison/Max and Amanda Pays once again takes the hot seat of a Network 23 Controller. Morgan Shepard returns as Blank Reg but his part in this episode is smaller. The Brit show was 57 minutes and the tv episode clocks in about 45 minutes. Jeffrey Tambor plays Edison's boss Murray. George Coe plays the Network Head after Edison sinks Charles Rocket for the blipverts cover up. Chris Young plays the young genius Bryce. He's played much less evil, in fact he often helps Edison. They stop the blipverts and Charles Rocket exits Network 23. He'll be back in the second season. The team is ready for it's next big story.
Rakers is one of those underground fighting shows. Young guys are talked into fighting on a track on motorized skateboards in a sport called Raking. There's a lot of illegal gambling associated with the games. The players have claws on their hands so they can cut up their opponents. People like to see a bit of blood. Theora's brother is one of the young guys racing around the ring. He's just trying to make some extra money since he's in a dead end job. Theora gets Edison's help in saving her brother from getting more damaged. Max comments on the Networks violent children's program Missle Mike. Mike blasts people and blows stuff up. Kids would love that show. Network 23 was trying to create a Raking show but that falls apart after Edison's story. Sometimes Edison is a big thorn in the Netwrok's side.
Body Bank has Max looking for a young girl who was kidnapped by Breughel and his sidekick Malher. Jare Burns plays Breughel as quite the evil psychopath. I recently saw him on the 5th season of Burn Notice as the exceptionally evil psychopath Anson. He'll be back in the 6th season. Mahler is played by Rick Duccommon. The two of them are kidnapping young girls so a rich old lady can prolong her life with their nice fresh young organs. It's not legal but it also not an uncommon scene in Max's world. The rich are even more powerful and above the law than in our own universe. In one of the subplots Network 23's biggest advertisers, Zik Zak, wants to use Max to promote their products. By now Max has integrated himself quite well into the Network's computer systems. So well he can't be removed easily and since he can't really be controlled making him do ads is really a problem. Edison figures out what happened to the girl and rides to the rescue before the scapel digs in.
Security Systems has Edison investigating a security company. Someone is trying to buy the company and he wants to find out who. He's framed for credit fraud and goes on the run. It's a pretty tough future, that crime has a death sentence attached to it. Lots of crimes have a death sentence, it helps keep the bady banks filled with organs. Edison gets help from his usual gang and between them they manage a bit of payback.
War has terrorists marketing their attacks to keep funding more bombs. The TV Network behind this is BreakThru TV and Edison kicks them down the stairs as he uncovers the plot. There's some nice explosions in this show.
Blanks has Blank Bruno go up against the system to get some Blanks released from prison. They've been rounded up by a nasty politician who's backed by Network 23. Blanks are the people that have fallen, or been pushed, out of the system. They live a shadowy life in the poor part of town and hardly anyone wants to deal with them. They start having to when all sorts of gadgets and systems start acting up. Blank Bruno threatens to take everything down if they aren't let go. Edison finds out there's some secreet nastiness going on and he uses digital trickery to make it look like the politican let the Blanks go. High approval rating makes the politican go along with the trick.
Not all the writing is perfect, there are some clunky lines, and occasionally the acting is not the best. It was produced on a highly short time frame. Peter Wagg had 2-3 months to get the show on the air from the ok by ABC. Then it was rush, rush, rush to keep episodes coming on time. It the story concepts are what's interesting. It's a good look at a decayed corrupt world that was only a step ahead of our own back then. Now Edison's world isn't so different. That was the first 6 eipsodes in this mid-season replacement. The Network asked for a second season but only 8 more shows got made. They weren't even all broadcast when the show was cancelled. I'll be watching those soon.