If you were around in the ’80s, there’s a good chance you have seen even a semblance of Max Headroom. Max is an A.I. in the form of a disembodied head, and starred in everything from movies and TV shows, to advertisements for everything under the sun in the mid-to-late ’80s in America and the UK. Starting off as a veejay, back when music videos were seen on television, he progressed to talk show host in the UK, finding his way over to America on cable TV. While the world knew of Max Headroom, though, his origins were unknown.
That’s where the shortly-lived ABC series Max Headroom fit. In only two 6-episode seasons, America learned how Max came to be, through a temporary download of journalist Edison Carter’s brain after escaping security during an investigation. Of one mind but two brains, Max and Edison (both played by Matt Frewer of Eureka, Orphan Black) work with each other to investigate what the local media, government, and corporate infrastructure are doing to destroy the world. Alongside his friends and coworkers at Network 23 – Theora (Amanda Pays, Flash), Bryce (Chris Young), and their supervisor Murray (Jeffrey Tambor, Arrested Development) – Edison’s stories take him into a closer dystopian future to today’s America than one might have considered in the ’80s. Meanwhile, Max’s investigation into the memories provided by Edison gave audiences a better consideration of human nature.
While I was aware of Max Headroom from Coca-Cola commercials, as well as the mysterious Max Headroom hijacking of Doctor Who in 1987 (not actually being Max, this story became even more frustrating), I knew very little about this strange head in a box. Luckily, the CW Seed app now has both seasons of the series available for your viewing pleasure.
As compared to dystopian fiction and movies today, “20 minutes into the future” seems like a better society. Using videophones without the need of a laptop and Skype, decreasing commercial times to increase program lengths, and the ability to record from a camera at that time from anywhere seems impressive and more believable than the laptop I’m typing on that crashes after each paragraph. Overall, perhaps especially for fans of Orphan Black or Handmaid’s Tale, this is a worthwhile binge.