Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future
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|Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future|
|Written by||Steve Roberts|
|Directed by||Rocky Morton|
W. Morgan Sheppard
|Music by||Midge Ure|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|Executive producer||Terry Ellis|
Chris Griffin (line producer)
|Production locations||East Ham, London, England|
|Running time||57 minutes|
|Original release||April 4, 1985|
Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future is a 1985 cyberpunk television film created by Chrysalis Visual Programming Ltd. for Channel 4 in the UK to provide a back story for Max Headroom, a computer generated TV host. A British produced, yet American broadcast, television series, Max Headroom, was later developed from the original film. HBO (which owned another cable television provider Cinemax) provided some of the original funding, with the aim of making some use of Max Headroom on Cinemax.
The film introduces Edison Carter (Matt Frewer), a headstrong television reporter investigating a home explosion. When Carter is pulled from the story by the television station management, Carter investigates further and discovers that his employer, Network 23, has created a new form of subliminal advertising (called "blipverts") that can be fatal to certain viewers.
While attempting to flee the network headquarters with proof, Edison suffers a serious head injury, caused by striking a low-clearance sign labelled "Max. Headroom 2.3m". Bryce Lynch, an adolescent genius working as a scientist for Network 23, suggests to the network's chief executive that they keep Carter sedated and generate a computerized version of him by digitally recording Carter's mind, to be used as a temporary replacement for Carter in order to hide his disappearance.
Bryce's program is flawed. It burbles "max headroom" repeatedly. Bryce instructs his hired goons to dispose of both Carter and his virtual clone, but the thugs sell both of them — Carter to a body bank, and the machine copy to pirate television station owner Blank Reg.
After a bit of nurturing from Reg, the computer program achieves a somewhat eccentric life of its own. With a gift for rapid-fire gags, he hosts his own show, and sends Reg's ratings through the roof.
Meanwhile, a merely unconscious Carter escapes from becoming a premature organ donor, pursued by Bryce's goons, who quote Hamlet's Response to Corruption as they search ("'Tis now the very witching time of night, when churchyards yawn, and hell itself breathes contagion to this world."). With the help of colleague Theora Jones (Amanda Pays), and the distraction provided by Max, Carter eventually defeats Network 23.
- Matt Frewer as Edison Carter / Max Headroom
- Nickolas Grace as Grossman
- Amanda Pays as Theora Jones
- W. Morgan Sheppard as Blank Reg
- Roger Sloman as Murray
- Hilary Tindall as Dominique
- Paul Spurrier as Bryce Lynch
Two years later American network ABC hired the creators of the Channel 4 film to adapt it into the series Max Headroom. It lasted 14 episodes during the 1987–1988 television season and was broadcast on ABC. The pilot was scene-for-scene remake of the Channel 4 movie, which even recycled some of the original footage of the dystopian setting. The setting shifted to an American city and most of the roles were recast with Americans. Jeffrey Tambor was cast as Edison's boss Murray. Pablo Cruise keyboardist Cory Lerios provided the theme.
Home media release
Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future was released on VHS for the UK and US in 1986.
In September 2005, it was released as a Region 2 DVD in Japan only.
- "Stone, Jankel and Morton at the ICA". Archived from the original on 22 March 2016. Retrieved 3 October 2014.
- Bishop, Bryan (2 April 2015). "The definitive oral history of 1980s digital icon Max Headroom". The Verge. Retrieved 2 April 2015.
- Saint John, Robert (29 January 2007). "Live and Direct from Japan… It's M-M-Max Headroom!". SciFi Japan. Retrieved 29 March 2020.