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"Max Headroom" Neurostim (1988)

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Gripping episode

Author: Woodyanders ( from The Last New Jersey Drive-In on the Left
6 October 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Zik-Zak corporation creates a promotional giveaway called the Neurostim bracelet, which encourages everyone who wears it to single-mindedly go after whatever they want to have the perfect life no matter what the cost. When Edison (the always terrific Matt Frewer) falls prey to the bracelet, it's up to Max to restore Carter's personality before it's too late. Director Maurice Phillips, working from a biting and absorbing script by Arthur Sellers and Michael Cassutt, adroitly creates and maintains a dark and cynical tone throughout, with a chilling main theme concerning the ruthless extremes major corporations are willing to resort to in order to monopolize the market so they can acquire great wealth and power (the Neurostim bracelets even threaten to make television obsolete!). Moreover, it's genuinely upsetting to see Edison degenerate into a mindless compulsive shopper and run afoul of dangerous underworld criminals while under the influence of the bracelet. Better still, this particular show openly addresses Edison's mounting frustration with Max's increasing popularity with viewers threatening to eclipse his celebrity status as a star reporter (the two halves of one whole have an amazing conversation in which they admit to each other that one can be a thorn in the other's side). It's also nice to see Theora (the divinely sultry Amanda Pays) and Bryce (amiable Chris Young) work together to save Edison. Joan Severance has a memorably sexy bit as a Neurostim hallucination. Paul Goldsmith's stylish cinematography (the visualizations of the Neurostim dreams are pretty funky) and Michael Hoenig's moody score both further enhance the overall sound quality of this fine and effective episode.

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