Max Headroom Comes to DVD (FINALLY!)
One of those cult classic television shows from the ’80s is finally making its debut on DVD: Max Headroom. I have been waiting for this one for a long time.
I remember watching it in the spring of ’87 in college. It came on in the fall of ’87 on Friday nights, but was low rated (competing against Miami Vice which I hated). It was cancelled but they aired the remaining episodes in the spring opposite the Cosby show which led to me and some of my friend staking out a dorm television and refusing to change the channel to the outrage of Cosby show fans who had to walk all of 100 feet to the next dorm.
In many ways, Max was ahead of its time. Remember that popular shows included the Cosby Show, Family Ties, Growing Pains and other gentle family friendly shows. Max Headroom was gritty, fast paced, cynical, biting, snarky and satirical, riffing on cultural trends that are still relevant today. The show’s ominous tagline is “20 Minutes Into the Future.”
The protagonist is investigative journalist Edison Carter and his computer generated alter ego Max Headroom. The world is dominated by the major network television players. Ratings are monitored by the second and it is illegal to turn off your television…and televisions are everywhere. Carter deals with shady characters known as Blanks, referring to the fact that they have managed to erase all computer records of their existence (i.e. they have no papers!) to expose the truth.
I watched the show again in the early 2000’s on the now defunct Tech TV network. Although the effects and fashions look dated, the stories held up surprisingly well and foretold many trends we see today (including being surrounded by televisions in public we cannot turn off or escape from). The first episode deals with the newtork’s attempt to stop channel surfing during commercials, closely mirroring modern advertisers attempts to figure out how to create a commercial that will generate interest even when we fast forward through it with out DVRs. Another episode dealt with a terrorist organization staging bombings on live television. Hacking, piracy, body banks that harvest organs, and designer babies are among other topics the show took on which are just as timely today as they were over 20 years ago.
It comes out officially on Tuesday…I have my pre-order in on Amazon already and am watching the mailbox!
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