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Max Headroom: The Complete Series

4.5 out of 5 stars 182 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Television networks battle one another in an unrelenting ratings war. Whoever controls the airwaves controls the dystopic world in which they broadcast. So when Network 23s star reporter, Edison Carter, uncovers a deadly secret that could shake up the dominion the station has over its viewers, the only option is to eliminate Carter before he can make his story public. After his “accident,” his mind is uploaded to create the world’s first self-aware, computer-generated TV host: Max Headroom! But will Max bow to his creators? Or will he be the key to his human alter ago bringing down a network superpower?
Able to boast his own international talk show, music videos, countless endorsements and merchandising, the puckish Max Headroom became more than just a character on television. He was a decade-defining icon, never better represented than in this sardonically witty, adventurous look at society and the place of media within it. Now all 14 uncut episodes — starring Matt Frewer (Watchmen), Amanda Pays (The Flash), Jeffrey Tambor (Arrested Development) and Morgan Sheppard (Star Trek) — are finally available together in one long-awaited DVD collection!

Max Headroom is the stuff that cult followings are made of. Max, indelible '80s icon, began his stuttering, glitchy computer-generated existence as the host of a British music video showcase. He went on to shill for New Coke, and then got his own fleshed-out back-story in a British TV movie. Credit ABC for taking the bold leap to give Max his own prime-time series in 1987. "What kind of show is this anyway?" Max asks early on. What, indeed? It's Blade Runner meets Network, a bleak comedy and cyber satire that, even decades later, one can't watch without marveling how something so off-center ever get on the air. Max Headroom's pop culture cachet (featured on the cover of Newsweek, parodied in the comic strip Doonesbury) did not translate into ratings. The show was cancelled after 14 episodes (an unaired episode is included in this set). Decades later, society has caught up to the show that was ahead of its time. The series is set "20 minutes into the future" in a dystopian landscape where instead of a chicken in every pot there is a TV in every homeless tent. Evil and corrupt television executives, in consort with advertising agencies, will literally kill for ratings. In the pilot episode, intrepid investigative reporter Edison Carter (Matt Frewer) discovers his own network is behind blipverts, a potentially lethal brand of advertising that compresses a 30-second commercial into three seconds, causing more-vulnerable viewers to explode. Carter survives an attempt on his life by network goons, but not before Bryce (Chris Young), the network's resident boy genius, downloads Carter's memory into a computer to see what he knows of the scheme. A star is born: Max Headroom (Frewer again), who escapes into the system and pops up at will onscreen to offer wisecracks ("You know how you can tell our network president is lying? His lips move.") and Mork-like societal observations. In one episode, he confuses Missile Mike, a gun-toting character in an ultra-violent children's show, for an actual rampaging killer. "Who introduced [kids] to this?" Max asks. Meanwhile, Carter, with invaluable assistance from his newsroom controller Theora (Amanda Pays reprising her role from the British movie) and incorruptible producer (Jeffrey Tambor), uncovers venal conspiracies such as an attempt to legalize a vicious sport that exploits children so it can be broadcast. It's frightening at times how prescient this show was. This set's bonus features are exhaustive but are missing some key Max-abilia. The British pilot that started it all is absent, as is Frewer from a cast reunion. But talking heads segments with the show's creators, writers, and designers offer a thorough, inside retrospective look at the series. Welcome back, Max. Boy, do we need you now. --Donald Liebenson

Special Features

Live On Network 23: The Story Of Max Headroom – The creative team shares their stories

Looking Back At The Future: An intimate roundtable discussion with members of the cast

The Big-Time Blanks: Morgan Sheppard and Concetta Tomei reflect on Max Headroom

The Science Behind The Fiction – George Stone reveals the role of technology in the creation of Max Headroom

And More!

Product Details

  • Actors: Matt Frewer, Amanda Pays, Chris Young, Jeffrey Tambor, Lee Wilkof
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 5
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Shout! Factory
  • DVD Release Date: August 10, 2010
  • Run Time: 660 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (182 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005JNU5
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,179 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Max Headroom: The Complete Series" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Richardson VINE VOICE on August 5, 2010
They had this at my local DVD Planet a week early so I picked it up.... I enjoyed this show on its first run, and I do like science fiction. To answer many of the doesn't look that great. Most shows in the 70s were shot on FILM but alas the 80's brought on the video age and these shows that were shot that way suffer greatly when they come out on DVD...which seems to accentuate their soft, poor color saturation and poor contrast...which make most of them barely watchable for me. I had just watched an episode of Mannix (from the late 60's) on DVD before sticking the Max DVD in and it was like night and day..sadly.

Many have asked if "20 minutes into the future" is is NOT.
the 5th DVD is a bonus disc which contains..
1) an hour making of ....featuring the behind the scenes/camera/creative folks
2) Looking back at the Future...a 35 minute "round table"discussion with a some of the cast members , Tambor, Pays,Tomei, and Chris Young...(NO Frewer)
3)The big Time Blanks...Tomei and Morgan Sheppard chatting for 12minutes
4)the science behind the of the creators discussing the science of the show 12 minutes
5)The writers remember....11 minute interview with a couple of the writers
6)Brian Frankish discusses "producing" the show...8 minutes

I usually enjoy watching the behind the scenes on most DVD sets....these were pretty tedious and seemed inflated....of course they could not resist playing with graphics , sound and textures to try and make them appear videoish from the old 34......
but I can't imagine watching any of these features...ever again.
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My wife Kathleen & I just watched the Video Tape version for the 1st time in maybe 10-15 years, and we were really surprised at how well it holds up; really much better than I remembered, and I thought it was pretty fantastic back then. I had watched it perhaps half a dozen times in the 1980's.

The other remarkable thing is - there is so much from The Matrix that was 'borrowed' from this production - a controller surrounded by CRT's in communication with and directing the actions of Edison Carter, telling him when to pass through corridors, monitoring the bad guys (agents) - even fighting someone else for control of the "system". And then an actual 'Matrix' with Bryce's code figures in the story (only called 'The Matrix' by Max during the promo contest announcement at the end of the video.) The world outside Network 23 looks so much like the 'true world' Morpheus shows Neo - it is all here.

But Max holds up just fine on his own. Max has Blank Regg, and Edison has Theora. They do not make them like this anymore.
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I received my set yesterday and watched the first two episodes along with all the bonus features.

I think people are being a little too harsh on the image quality. Part of what I remembered about this series is the soft, but gritty look. The soft grittiness contrasts well with the video segments that are super-imposed into the show and gives it a very distinct style. In fact, the video portions look very sharp. If the overall image was any sharper, you would be able to detect the imperfections in the sets and the costumes...along with the shots of Network 23 in the cityscape that is obviously a model.

The image is definitely an improvement over the VHS rips that have been on the internet. Also, the versions that people captured from TechTV are edited for at least these DVDs are the full versions that originally aired on ABC.

The extras are pretty good...except for a few holes. It's interesting that they talk about the making of the original UK mini-movie, yet it isn't included in the set...that seems disappointing (I still have the original on VHS that I bought in the late 80s). Also as many people have stated, Matt Frewer is absent...but from the vibe I was getting in the round table with the actors, he seems like he ended up bitter about the entire Max Headroom persona. There are no segments from the Max Headroom video show and none of the New Coke commercials. So anyone looking for a super complete Max Headroom retrospective are going to be disappointed.

The segment on the making of the show features interviews with the people who invented Max Headroom along with the writers and the producers of both the original UK movie as well as the US TV Show (they actually brought most of the creative talent to the US to help).
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"Max Headroom" was originally a character used by Channel 4 in Britain, in 1984. Matt Frewer portayed Headroom, as he did in the ABC television programme in America.

Predicting a 500-channel smorgasboard of channels, reality television and webcams, MH was clearly ahead of its time. Let's hope we get a DVD soon, complete with clips from the original broadcasts, and even the entire made-for-tv movie by Channel 4.

Incidentally, going by Steve Roberts's novelisation, MH takes place in the year 2004.
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