Max Headroom recites the ABCs

Originally published at:

1 Like

Normally I don’t mind Max but in that video he sounded and looked a bit like that cult leader played by Jake Busey in “Contact”

1 Like

I learned my ABCs from Nic Cage. He’s never misfiled anything in his life.

I always preferred my ABC’s done by young James Earl Jones:


I guess they decided that his trademark stuttering wasn’t a good thing to teach the kids. Though it might have been interesting if they wrote a storyline with Max to make it okay to have a stutter.


Did people genuinely believe Max Headroom was CGI? It’s always seemed so obvious that it’s a guy in makeup, but maybe the 80’s were a more gullible time.


Man, I remember Max even as a kid at the time. The future was barreling down fast, there were so many changes coming and no one knew how they’d stick. We got the corporatism down pat, and the dystopia is shaping up!


My favorite example of this phenomenon is the original: the phonograph. It doesn’t seem to be in the wikipedia article, so perhaps it’s apocryphal, but its creators – people who had become very familiar with it – were concerned that the reproduction quality was too mechanical and tinny to impress everyday listeners. But when they tested it by playing it behind curtains at a theater, the live audience was astonished to find they hadn’t been listening to a real performer.


Kind of like how our grandchildren will look back on the First Interregnum as a time when Americans thought we had a real president. But in retrospect…

Well, no-one I knew failed to understand this was a computer processed performance :slight_smile: Loved the TV series, mostly I think because of the set decoration…


I think the other thing to remember is that the creators of Max Headroom played up the CGI aspect, and acted coy about it. But they never claimed that it was anything other than Matt Frewer in heavy makeup. But the early 1980s also saw computer graphics emerge as a field for the first time, with Tron and the Genesis Effect Demo from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn long being examples of the pinnacle of what CGI was capable of.

I recall the glitches being not only stutters, but playback at different speeds. It was an analog imagining of lag, of glitches in the software. But it was effective, as Max was a hit. I loved the ABC series when it came out, and it was obvious that it was only going to get one season because it kept biting the hand that fed it. And who didn’t want to be as cool as Blank Reg?


You have to remember, TV broadcast quality, especially colour, was much poorer than it is now, so it was much less obvious that it was Matt wearing heavy makeup, and CGI wasn’t much better - I was using a 486/66 PC for drawing up logos for print, I think the PC had about 8Mb of RAM, screen refresh took an absolute age, so anything ‘computer generated’ was going to look pretty shonky.


I don’t even think it was ten years ago I had to explain to a couple different people that Google maps wasn’t “live.”
I’m afraid gullibility is always in fashion.


Excellent point, this. The first time I saw Max Headroom I absolutely thought it was some wacky new CGI — the combination of fuzzy broadcast TV with scan-lines, the actually-CG moving backgrounds, his smooth makeup, and trademark glitchy edits pulled off the early-CG look pretty convincingly for the time. It wasn’t until I saw a photo of Matt Frewer and pictures of Max Headroom in magazines that it was obviously fake.


The glitching really makes it. If they’d have done Max as CGI, I suspect they would not have allowed themselves to introduce flaws of any kind. They would have wanted it to be as formally cutting-edge and impressive as possible. And looking back on it now would be, well…



It’s like the “computer graphics” in the H2G2 TV adaption from around the same time.

This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.