DVD Wishlist: TV Series Max Headroom
Max Headroom wasn't just a child of 80's television... he WAS an 80's television. Resembling a computer generated head, he was in fact actor Matt Frewer under heavy prosthetics and video processing effects. Originally conceived as a VJ for Channel 4 in Britain, it wasn't long before Max gained international stardom as pitchman for New Coke.
Channel 4 created a popular made-for-TV movie (shown again last October as part of Channel 4's 20th anniversary) putting Max in a dystopian sci-fi context. The quasi-futuristic story took place "20 minutes into the future", spelling out a future dominated by multi-national TV networks, massive conglomerate corporations who were a law unto themselves, and a population lulled into passivity by crass game shows and reality TV. Sound familiar?
The movie inspired an American TV series in 1987-88, and I was very hooked. I continue to be inspired by many of the themes of the show. The series followed a group of tele-journalists fighting the good fight using their wits and the truth to outsmart even the most evil of executives.
Max Headroom took more than a few design cues from another favorite of mine; the film Brazil, and to some extent Blade Runner. it was amazing to see this all pulled off on a typical TV budget. It's rare to see a series that's so hip to what's going on, but their constant jabs at the machinations of network TV may have hit a little too close to home. The series was canceled after only 13 episodes (an unbroadcast 14th was first shown only a few years ago). Perhaps Max took one too many bites at the hand that fed him?
Another Max Headroom outing that would be interesting to see on DVD is "The Max talking Headroom Show", an oddball talk show from the Cinemax cable network. Like any other talk show, the banter was largely improvised with guests sitting opposite a monitor displaying Max (interesting to think how this approach was reversed in the popular "Space Ghost Coast to Coast"). Over the course of the few episodes, there were several classic moments, and the oddball 80's editing & graphics are still pretty interesting today.
The dramatic series was re-run a few years ago on SciFi Channel & Bravo, and you can catch episodes for free on Joost and In2TV. So why hasn't the series ever been released on DVD? There are way more obscure things out on DVD these days. How about a box set with both series?