Max Headroom
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Episode Guide

Channel 4 Special
001 - 20 Minutes into the Future (4/4/1985)
Written by Steve Roberts
Directed by Rocky Morton, Annabel Jankel
The Max Headroom character started in 1985 as an announcer for a music video program on British television Channel 4 called "The Max Talking Headroom Show". The intent was to portray a computer-generated cutting-edge character. Max Headroom appeared as simply a stylized head on TV against harsh primary color rotating line backgrounds, he was most well known for his jerky techno-stuttering speech, wit, and a knack for word-play puns (such as "With friends like that, who needs enemas?").

To create a background story for their announcer, Channel 4 created a one-hour TV movie describing the story of the creation of the computer-generated person. Titled 20 minutes into the future, the movie was a dystopic look at a run-down near-future dominated by television and large corporations. It introduced television reporter Edison Carter and his efforts to expose corruption and greed. In the pilot episode, Edison is hunted down by his own employer, Network 23. In the process, he is injured and his mind is digitized into a computer program. The resulting program takes on a life of its own as the eccentric and unpredictable "Max Headroom" who can move through computer and television networks at will.

In the mid-80s, this original Max Headroom film was a breath of fresh air on British television, a subversive and - for its day - cutting edge cyberpunk satire on the media and big business. Inspired in equal parts by William Gibson, Blade Runner [1982] and rock videos, it's inevitably dated but remains a potent warning about the excesses of capitalism and the broadcast media that still packs a considerable punch.

In 1987 the story was turned into a full fledged television series. The original one-hour movie was partially recast and re-filmed as a pilot for a new series on the U.S. based television network ABC.

There were differences between the British and American versions of the pilot. The British version was longer (about twice as long, in fact) and included a few characters who didn't show up until later episodes in the American version (notably Dominique and Blank Reg of Bigtime TV), but the plots were similar. One big difference was in the character of Bryce Lynch. In the British version he was a nasty little brat who ended up going down with Grosman (Grossberg), whereas in the American version he had an attack of conscience and ended up on Edison Carter's side. Another big difference was the fate of Max himself. In the British version he ended up with Bigtime TV; in the American version he stayed at Network 23.

First Season
101 - Blipverts (3/31/1987)
Written by Joe Gannon and Steve Roberts
Directed by Farhad Mann
While investigating a mysterious explosion in a tower block, Edison Carter finds his 'What I Want To Know Show' is pulled from high-up Network XXIII by Grossberg, the head of the board. Suspicious about a blipvert project that seems to be causing problems, he breaks into the laboratory of Bryce Lynch on the thirteenth floor and sees the Rebus Tape: this shows a man exploding as he watched a blipvert. Carter is attacked by the metrocops as an intruder and taken by Breughel and Mahler to Nightingale's body bank, along with his dead controller Gorrister. His new controller, Theora Jones, rescues him. Bryce's attempts to computer generate Carter's head, only succeed in creating the erratic Max Headroom, whom Grossberg tries to use as a new gimmick for Network XXIII. Carter realises that Max will contain a copy of the Rebus Tape, and plans to expose Grossberg at the press conference where Grossberg is to announce Edison's sad death.

102 - Rakers (4/7/1987)
Written by James Crocker and Steve Roberts
Directed by Thomas J Wright
An unscrupulous sports promoter has packaged a rumble game called Rakeboarding for sale to Network XXIII and the Zik-Zak corporation. Raking is a dangerous game, involving younsters on high-powered skateboards slashing at each other with sharp gloves in a huge stadium. Theora is contacted and told that her young brother, Shawn, is a top raker, and in danger. Edison is curious and follows her to a rendezvous, whilst Max meets another young lad who is a raker hopeful. Theora is looking for her brother, Edison is looking for Theora, Murray is looking for Edison, and Network 23 is looking for something to replace everyone's favourite children's show, "Missile Mike".

103 - Body Banks (4/14/1987)
Written by Steve Roberts
Directed by Francis De Lia
Breughel and Mahler pursue two Fringers, Mel and Rayna, until they capture the girl Rayna and take a skin sample from her back for Dr Mason at the Body Bank. Later they kidnap her, and a frantic Mel threatens Theora's life unless Edison helps him find Rayna. Edison seeks out the help of Blank Reg at Big Time TV whilst a man called Plantaganet blackmails Ms. Formby at Network XXIII into giving him Bryce and Max Headroom.

104 - Security Systems (4/21/1987)
Written by Michael Cassutt
Directed by Tommy Lee Wallace
Martinez and Edison fake a helicopter emergency landing on top of the Security Systems Inc. building so Edison can get an interview with SS chairwoman Valerie Towne. Somebody is buying up SS and a lot of other security businesses in a massive take over to form a monopoly. Soon after, Edison finds that he has been classified as a credit frauder by the A-7 mainframe computer. He goes in search of an ice-breaker and enlists the help of Reg.

105 - War (4/28/1987)
Written by Martin Pasko, Rebecca Parr, Michael Cassutt, and Steve Roberts
Directed by Thomas J Wright
The White Brigade, a terrorist group fighting for neo-radicalistic anarcho-syndicalism, is going around the city blowing up buildings and Breakthru TV appears to have somehow acquired the exclusive rights to all news coverage of their activities. It occurs to Edison and Murray, though, to wonder how you sign a contract with terrorists, and why a tiny little outfit like Breakthru managed it when all of Network 23's resources seem to have gotten nowhere. But Edison isn't the only one on the job, and new reporter Janie Crane has managed to get a bit closer to the story than she really intended.

106 - Blanks (5/5/1987)
Written by Steve Roberts
Directed by Tommy Lee Wallace
The "Blanks" are the invisible people, the ones who don't appear on any computer records. Simon Peller, newly elected city official, is doing his best to put them all in prison and the Blanks, in return, are doing their best to wreck the entire computer network, which doesn't exactly endear them to the now-TV-less general public. It's up to Edison Carter and Blank Reg to save the city with a bit of help from Bryce Lynch and the Trojan Sheep.
Second Season
201 - The Academy (9/18/1987)
Written by David Brown
Directed by Victor Lobl
Somebody is "zipping" - hacking into Network 23's satellites and hijacking their transmissions. Bryce claims to have tracked them down and fingers Bigtime TV as the culprits, but Blank Reg protests his innocence ("there's not enough power in that bus to zip up me trousers, never mind a network satellite"). Theora does some tracking of her own and finds something very suspicious about the Academy of Computer Sciences, Bryce's alma mater, so Edison tries to find the real perpetrators before Reg is sentenced to death by a game show.

202 - Deities (9/25/1987)
Written by Michael Cassutt
Directed by Tom Wright
The Video Church of the Vu Age promises its followers a secular resurrection, by recording their brain-scans until the technology is developed to give them new bodies provided they pay for it, of course. The church's founder, Vanna Smith, is an old friend of Edison Carter, who is torn between his old feelings for her and his suspicion of a church that seems to be raking in a lot of money but producing no visible results.

203 - Grossberg's Return (10/2/1987)
Written by Steve Roberts
Directed by Janet Greek
There's a telelection on and Network 66's Harriet Garth is beating 23's Simon Peller by a landslide. Votes are based on ratings, and 66's show is a total loser... so why are people staying tuned in droves? Bryce discovers that 66 has a scam called "View-Doze" that lets people tune in while they sleep and the executive who thought it up has a very familiar face! But Grossberg's scheme turns out to be a lot deeper than it looks.

204 - Dream Thieves (10/9/1987)
Written by Steve Roberts and Charles Grant Craig
Directed by Todd Holland
Edison runs into an old friend - Paddy Ashton, a former Network 23 reporter, now a street bum who claims to be making a living by selling his dreams. When Ashton mysteriously dies, Edison investigates Mind's Eye, the outfit that's buying dreams. Quite a few people have died of "nightmare trauma" and it's all in the name of television.

205 - Whackets (10/16/1987)
Written by Arthur Sellers and Dennis Rolfe
Directed by Victor Lobl
Bigtime TV's "Whackets" is the dumbest game show in the history of television (and that's no mean achievement). So what is it about the show that keeps everyone addicted to it, to the extent of risking their own lives to stay tuned? Edison wants to know why, partly because it's stealing his (and Max's) ratings and so does our old friend Grossberg, now head of Network 66. But when a cop investigating the same mystery commits suicide, the plot begins to seriously thicken.

207 - Neurostim (4/28/1988)
Written by Arthur Sellers and Michael Cassutt
Directed by Maurice Phillips
The Zik-Zak Corporation ("We make everything you need and you need everything we make") has come up with a new gimmick - the Neurostim bracelet. It makes all your dreams come true, it's free with every Zik-Zak product, and it could put network television out of business. Edison Carter's investigation is hampered by an argument with Max about just who pulls the ratings around here.

208 - Lessons (unaired)
Written by Adrian Hein, Steve Roberts, Colman Dekay, and Howard Brookner
Directed by Victor Lobl
A secret school, using pirated Network 23 educational programmes to taech the children of the Fringe, is raided by the Metrocops. Edison and Theora help one of the children to escape, and try to track down her mother and find out why Network 23's chief censor was involved in the raid. The censor appears to be getting ideas above his station, but he's underestimated Edison's stubbornness and Bryce's ingenuity ("Extremely difficult. Virtually impossible. However, it should take me only about ten seconds.").

209 - Baby Grobags (unaired)
Written by Adrian Hein and Chris Ruppenthal
Directed by Janet Greek
Ovu-Vat offers the latest in high-tech pregnancy - you supply the genes and they'll grow the baby for you; no pain, no inconvenience, no risk, and no surprises. Theora isn't very impressed, especially when her friend Helen Zeno's baby disappears just before the "birth". Meanwhile, Network 66 has a new, high-rating show about child prodigies. Grossman is trying to lure Bryce away from Network 23, Edison is trying to find out what's going on, and Murray is trying to find an excuse to avoid visiting anything resembling a hospital ("Why are men so infantile about biology? I mean, mine is much more of a nuisance than yours and I never complain.").

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