Max Headroom, the full story



Sledge Hammer! A hilarious, prescient warning on police violence from the 1980s

Every time I see the Star Trek: TNG episode A Matter of Time Frewer really stands out to me. I always think, where have I seen that guy? Then I forget to go look it up.

And now it’s finally clicked. Funny. He looks so much shorter when he’s on a screen within a screen.


Max Headroom was so the zeitgeist. He was all that was 80’s. Superficial, fabricated, sarcastic. hipper than thou. The article was a good read, and it shows how important good art is to synthesize what is happening in the world and to make us imagine a new future. Max was the product not of any actual computer generation but the product of clever writing, acting, and design. But he made us imagine a world where these were digitally created, where the medium was the message, and it was damn predictive of where we are now with screens all around us all the time, and the distance between people that interaction creates, the kind of dialogue that encourages.


I was just about the perfect age, and I loved Max, at least the early MTV version. There wasn’t enough there to be a fan per se, I don’t remember anybody ever collecting Max stuff. I was astonished last year when I learned he was a guy in a rubber mask - I was so sure it was CGI!


That’s so cute! <tousles-hair />


I still occasionally rattle off “Come sweet slumber, shroud me in thy purple cloak… Hmm, doesn’t even rhyme!” every now and again.

Definitely one of my favorite bits of the eighties.


Totally fascinated with Max as a kid. Loved it when the guy who played him was on Eureka.

I remember seeing the show and loved it too.


Whoa, major high school flashbacks! Where did I park my Suzuki Samurai? I’ve got to get back before English IV class starts.


I enjoyed him in Dawn Of The Dead and Watchmen.


Max Headroom was one of my all time favorite shows. Not only did they nail the Gibson ‘ghost in the machine’ global computer network years before it actually existed, and the cyberpunk/ blade runner future. Also, Matt Frewer played the lead character as a sort of citizen journalist to uncover corruption, basically predicting what we have now, 30 years ago. I was doing a lot of home video back then and I soooo wanted his tricked out Betacam.


I’m going to admit that until I read this, I had no idea that Max was NOT a computer generated character.

In retrospect it makes complete sense to use makeup at that time given the technology, not real computer graphics, but I suppose I never stopped to question 8-year old me’s memory of Max Headroom as a CGI character.


Re: the video, I never got the “Teasmade” reference when I was a kid. Did I first encounter one on BB, or somewhere else?


Tangential: I discovered that Paranoimia makes for a really cool and trippy, but ultimately ineffective, wake up song.


@boundegar wasn’t the only one (do not
Ask. Me. When I first learned).


I’m. Saying. Nothing. [tries to look casually unembarrassed, fails miserably]


OMG! Do I also have to explain to y’all that Mickey Mouse isn’t a real mouse? That he’s just a man in a mouse suit?


I loved ABCs Max Headroom series when it was first on. It drove me nuts because they were doing the “death slot” game of moving the time it aired constantly. They advertised the hell out of it before the first episode and thereafter tried to bury the series as quickly as possible. I still have all of the episodes from a set of bootleg VCDs I bought 15 years ago. The Channel4 pilot episode (aka 20 Minutes into the Future) is great also. Very topical and ahead of its time.


it is not really a difference of age, more a difference of symbolic systems … and time is a loop as we know , anyway some of us belongs to the Star Treck generation, some to the Dr. Who generation, Star Wars generations, Space 1999 generation, UFO (as in SHADO and Straker) generation, few lucky one to the Arthur Dent and Zaphod generation.
I am truly grateful that when I was really young in Italy it were broadcasted the uncut episodes of The Prisoner, that fertilized and permitted the sprouting of … a sort of sense of self awareness in my life. But Max Headroom on TV (and Ranxerox in the comics) gave me the full blown spectrum of … disruptive power at my disposal (the internet was not even a 14.4 modem yet) … mature … sarcastic yet visionary … survivalist and transcendental …after the debacle of all anarchic / autonomistic / political approaches … a kick in the balls at the core and the nerve of the entertainment industry before it could develop Berlusconi/Murdoch and later Apple/Google antibiotic defenses … entertaining and tantalizing both in content and in stylistic form … comparable in many ways to the DADA revolution by Tzara and Duchamp …or Baron Munchausen in another way … it had to be a fast incursion … a bite and run … to remain pure to the intention …
when I read that barbaric butchery at The Verge I started to somehow doubt and thinking I might have lived in a parallel self-delusional bubble (anyway a nice bubble with lot of action) … while it was all Coke & Cola … and no Paranomia !
thank you for … at least … give me more reasons to doubt. :smiley: without shame.


just got to reading the article today.

My grandparents had cable, I know I saw Max sporadically at their house, but fleetingly. I know I saw pieces of the iteration of the show with the live audience and couldn’t figure out why it was an English show when Max’s accent was American. But the English version of 20 Minutes Into The Future never made it to me. So I only knew him as a talking head, but I loved that.

Then I moved to Nashville and that fall, the US network show on ABC aired and I was right there, man. Network seasons always start the week of my birthday, this would have been my thirteenth. The duplicity of media conglomerates, the paranoia, the underdog exposing the lies, it was all for me, right when I was ready to take it in.

Also, I think it was the second episode, was about a futuristic, combat/slamdance style of motorized skateboarding they called “raking” that had some pretty advanced skating that was simply not being shown on any media I had access to then, if at all. That really stood out in my mind. There had to be some pros or future pros, I’d reckon.


Max Headroom - so hip, he couldn’t see over his own pelvis!