There aren’t a lot of movie or TV franchises that help shape the world of science fiction for all future properties. Star Wars and Star Trek obviously had a lot of influence, as did others like Blade Runner or even, to a lesser extent, the more recent Avatar. One show that should not be overlooked on this list is the 1980’s series Max Headroom.
The show took the concept of cyber terrorism and technological advances to a whole new level at the time, opening the doors to loads of references to the subject of subliminal messages in a media driven world. Taking place “20 minutes in the future,” the show follows hard news journalist Edison Carter, who gets taken out during a sting to uncover a new subliminal commercial that kills it’s viewers.
The company that obtains Carter attempts to expose downloads his memories into a computer-generated program (years before this was common to us geeks) which calls itself Max Headroom. From there, the show’s focus falls mainly on Headroom and his comedic “Greek chorus” narration of the episode.
The cast alone was enough to get any non-fan interested. Featuring a pretty geek-friendly cast lead by Matt Frewer, who true nerds remember from Watchmen and the Fox TV movie Generation X. Along for the ride is the late SNL member Charles Rocket, love interest from the epic Flash TV series, Amanda Pays, and the always lovable Jeffrey Tambor as “Murray.”
The show became more than law to many sci-fi and fiction fans at the time, years before things like Quantum Leap and VR-5 dominated the minds of fans everywhere. For years, people would have to get their Max Headroom fix from brief clips on YouTube and rundown copies in basement comic conventions. Not any more, as Shout! Factory released the complete series on DVD for the first time yesterday.
The box set is 5 discs, with all 14 episodes uncut on the first four discs, and a fifth disc dedicated completely to some great bonus features. Each of the episodes translates amazingly well to 16:9 DVD, considering how old the series is. The DVD features top off the set for any die hard fan of the show.
Check out the list of bonus features below. Be sure to pick up Max Headroom: The Complete Series straight from Shout! Factory and get a limited edition glossy photo of the cast. From one science fiction nerd to another, this is definitely one box set you’ll need to add to your collection.
Live On Network 23: The Story Of Max Headroom – Co-creators/directors Annabel Jankel and Rocky Morton, co-creator George Stone, executive producer Peter Wagg, producer Brian Frankish and writers Steve Roberts and Michael Cassutt share their stories behind the British movie and American TV series that created an icon.
Looking Back At The Future – An intimate roundtable discussion with Amanda Pays, Jeffrey Tambor, Concetta Tomei and Chris Young, moderated by Max Headroom superfan and creator of The Middleman Javier Grillo-Marxuach.
The Big-Time Blanks – Morgan Sheppard and Concetta Tomei reflect on Max Headroom and the friendship that has endured over the 20+ years since the series’ cancellation.
The Science Behind The Fiction – Co-creator George Stone reveals his own philosophies and technology’s role in the creation of Max Headroom.
Producing Dystopia – Producer Brian Frankish recounts the chaotic and rewarding task of producing a series set 20 Minutes into the Future.
The Writers Remember – Executive story editor Steve Roberts and story editor Michael Cassutt share their stories of writing for the world’s first computer-generated TV star.