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  Max Headroom The Big Broadcast
Year: 1985
Director: Rocky Morton, Annabel Jankel
Stars: Matt Frewer, Nickolas Grace, Hilary Tindall, William Morgan Sheppard, Amanda Pays, Paul Spurrier, Hilton McRae, George Rossi, Roger Sloman, Anthony Dutton, Constantine Gregory, Lloyd McGuire, Elizabeth Richardson, Gary Hope, Joane Hall, Howard Samuels
Genre: Science Fiction, TV MovieBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 4 votes)
Review: Twenty minutes in the future and Network 23 are the biggest television station in the land, but they have a dark secret. Their top reporter is Edison Carter (Matt Frewer), a man of action who likes to get straight the story, acting as his own cameraman. Yet his latest excursion to an apartment block which holds a mystery room is called off just as he is about to uncover perhaps the biggest story of his career. And it is the Network 23 executives who have put a stop to his snooping - exactly what is it that they're trying to hide?

Max Headroom was a pretty big deal during the mid-eighties, and many thought he was a computer generated creation when he was, of course, Matt Frewer in makeup. He was a personality who seemed futuristic in an age when technology was running ahead, perfect for the decade's obsession with all things computer. Created by Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel, to introduce him to the world he was given this hour-long TV movie which set him in a cyberpunk environment.

Scripted by Steve Roberts, who had earlier directed Viv Stanshall's Sir Henry at Rawlinson's End, if nothing else this production was one of the better depictions of the dystopian future to hit TV, with the networks ruling the land and the populace sitting in the ruins of society, fed whatever product that happens to come through the screen. Nowadays, the film has a pleasingly retro look, with its videocassettes and cathode ray TV sets, and Edison's camera looks cumbersomely huge compared to the video cameras we can get these days.

Network 23 represents the corporations that most right on people were suspicious of in the eighties, and their secret is a neatly satirical one. They have devised the "blipverts", three-second advertisments that compress all the information of a normal commercial into a short burst, to prevent the viewers from switching over during the breaks. But oh dear, it has a side effect on the more inactive members of society: if you're a couch potato, the energy your brain takes to process the blipvert might well cause your body to explode.

Edison is getting too close to the truth, so he must be eliminated as the head of the network (Nickolas Grace) decides, but his boy genius Bryce (Paul Spurrier) implements the plan. With Edison half dead after a motorcycle "accident" Bryce creates a computer generated version of him, Max Headroom, named after the words on the barrier that Edison saw before it knocked his lights out: "Max Headroom 2.3m". But here's the thing, in amongst all the conspiracy and computer graphics, the title character is a little lost, in fact he barely appears which is a pity because he was so inspired. At the end of the film, Max is part of a pirate TV station zooming off into the sunset, but in reality he was headed for his own short lived science fiction series, a chat show, advertising and breaking into Chicago TV signals before the novelty wore off. Music by Midge Ure and Chris Cross.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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