Max Headroom is one of the most bizarre creations imported to American television in our lifetime. He poked his unholy prosthetic head onto Cinemax in 1986 by way of British TV and quickly began stuttering his way to stardom. Headroom (played by Matt Frewer – who portrayed Moloch in Watchmen) actually has a pretty sweet backstory. I barely remembered what he was all about, but after watching his awesome Christmas special I did some Wiki research. It’s like the best cyberpunk tale never written by William Gibson:
The film introduces Edison Carter (Matt Frewer), a television reporter trying to expose corruption and greed. In the movie, reporter Carter discovers that his employer, Network 23, has created a new form of subliminal advertising (termed “blip-verts”) that can be fatal to certain viewers.
While attempting to flee the network headquarters with proof, Edison suffers a serious head injury, caused by striking a low-clearance sign labeled “Max. Headroom”. Believing him killed, the network’s chief executive orders Bryce Lynch, an adolescent genius working as a scientist for Network 23, to digitally record Carter’s mind. The recording will then be used to create a computer-based replacement for Carter in order to hide his death.
It only gets b-b-better, folks, and I’ll tie this all into Christmas after the break!
However, Bryce’s programme is flawed and apparently broken – burbling “Max Headroom” over and over again (from the last object Carter saw before being knocked out, and the first thing the albeit-primitive Max says while twitching into what would become his smooth latex form). Bryce instructs his hired goons to dispose of both Carter and his virtual clone, but they simply sell them on – Carter to a body bank, and the machine copy to pirate television station owner Blank Reg.
Wow. Just wow. All I thought he did was plug Coke and inspire the diner scene from Back to the Future II, but that’s some terrific anti-establishment sci-fi right there. His TV show, 20 Minutes in the Future lasted only 13 episodes, which just got released on DVD for this first time in August. Max’s Christmas special, aptly titled Max Headroom’s Giant Christmas Turkey, aired in 1986 and features original holiday songs and a parade of guest stars. Everyone from Tina Turner to Rutger Hauer stop by. The songs “Merry Christmas Santa Claus” and “Children” are seriously hilarious and two of the better Christmas parody songs I’ve heard in my life.
The special only lags once Tina Turner shows up with her sexy legs. The interview with her is really boring and goes on way longer than it should. Max plays off her best he can though. Other than that this special rules.