Set “20 minutes into the future,” Max Headroom is a dystopian sci-fi series that originated in Britain and ran for two short seasons on ABC in 1987 and 1988. Its prediction of the public’s obsession with trash culture is frighteningly prescient; with perfect timing, it’s now getting a DVD release. Using Blade Runner as a visual starting point, cocreators George Stone, Annabel Jankel and Rocky Morton took a character perfectly suited to being a pitchman for New Coke (which he actually became) and placed him into a cyberpunk world that would make Rupert Murdoch jealous.
In this universe of all-powerful TV networks, it’s up to one crusading journalist (Matt Frewer) to make it right. Due to some corporate chicanery, though, a digital doppelganger (also played by Frewer, in latex prosthetics) is accidentally created from his downloaded consciousness. This unruly talking head is set loose on the airwaves, delivering ironic sound bites like a CGI Stephen Colbert. (It’s worth emphasizing that none of Max was rendered with computer animation, just clever editing and makeup.)
The box set includes the unaired 14th episode as well as docs chronicling the making (and cancellation) of the show. The standout is a roundtable with cast members discussing the challenge of learning all the ridiculous technobabble. Alas, Frewer’s absence leaves you wondering what the corporations don’t want us to know.—Adam Logan Fulrath
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