20 minutes into the future, the world has become imbued network-television. It's illegal to turn off your TV, and televisions are given to the needy. In this world, Network 23 has a highly-rated news program with a roving reporter named Edison Carter. But Carter uncovers a plot to cover up lethal "blipverts" and is almost killed. In the process his mind is copied into a computer and the computer-generated personality "Max Headroom" is born. Together, Max and Edison, along with Edison's controller (Theora), their boss (Murray), their boss' boss (Ben Cheviot), and Network 23's boy-genius (Bryce) combat crime, placate sponsors, defeat rival networks, and turn in stories. 14 episodes. Written by
After the show was initially canceled in the second season (after drawing minimal ratings after being moved to Friday nights, against Dallas (1978) and Miami Vice (1984)), Max Headroom made a final announcement, paraphrasing (and imitating) Winston Churchill: "We will fight them on the streets of Dallas... We will fight them on the streets of Miami... Vice... and if the ratings book lasts for a thousand years, they will say this is Max Headroom's finest hour." See more »
I rarely gush about TV shows, especially when they haven't been on in over a decade, but I gush about MH. This show was beyond cool, it was beyond hip, and it was far too intelligent to have been on the air in the late 80s. I was lucky enough to be able to catch MH in sindication on cable a few years ago and to validate my high opinions of the show. It was still brilliant. A few episode summaries might help to clarify:
Blank Reg (a blank is a person who has been removed from the corporate system, they have few rights, but the 'powers that be' can't easily find them) is put on trial for hacking (a major crime). The court is a gameshow with gameshow host for a judge and an opinion poll for a jury. I am glad to see how far off this is from reality - sarcasm :(
Another episode involved a sport called rake-boarding, where skateboarders would attempt to disembowel each other while performing nifty stunts. Thank god mass media has not opted for gladiatorial shows...
My question was never why this show got cancelled, but who the hell got the idea to put it on the air in the first place. I mean, this was a show whose primary entertainment value was in skewering the very medium which presented it. I can't believe that the mucky-mucks even allowed this to be seen, nevertheless broadcast.
Each show was intelligent, witty and eerily prescient. I suppose the final irony was that the show itself was cancelled, but the problems that it warned us about have come true. If you get the chance to see the extant shows, see them. They are among the only truly visionary and artistic and entertaining things to have been on stupid-box since its inception.
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