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Television Media

Back on TV: Max Headroom 309

infofreako writes: " Everyone's favorite 80's construct, Max Headroom, has returned thanks to the people at TechTV. According to their website, they will be rebroadcasting all 14 episodes starting this Friday! This series was doing ethics themes based on designer babies, corporate controlled media, brain scanning and more before some of us were capable of hitting record on the old VCR. "
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Back on TV: Max Headroom

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  • by the good folks at Matrox with that Headcasting nonsense.
    • Dear oh dear, some people are hard to please.
      What shapes would this young fellow like to meet/frag on screen instead of people? Trolls? Amphibious landing craft?

      And how dare people dis innovations coming from my home town (no, I'm not on the payroll).

      Personally, I think producing a 3D head model from two ordinary pictures is a neat trick. Meeting 'avatars' of friends on line is surreal but definitely entertaining. It'll catch on sooner or later, unlike a lot of crud from the last 2 years...
  • R-R-R-Rock! (Score:3, Funny)

    by dasheiff ( 261577 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @10:08PM (#3433397)
  • If there was ever a reason to fire up the Tivo/ReplayTV/VidCaptureCard, I would like to know.

    I remember watching (and loving!) this show when I was younger, but I'm pretty sure that there was a lot (like social commentary) that went over my head at that age. Would be interesting to see what I think of it now that I'm older (and understand a bit more of it).

    Would also be interesting to see how much of this has come true (always a good test of SciFi). Wouldn't the TV industry just love to make you keep your TV's on all the time?
  • by cliveholloway ( 132299 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @10:10PM (#3433408) Homepage Journal
    rebroadcasting all 14 episodes.

    Bet that doesn't include the original Channel 4 series and the original TV movie with a much slimier Bryce. As always, US TV took a good idea and sanitised it for the masses.

    (showing age). The 15 minute entertainment show - Max + videos (zoolookology anyone?) was much sharper than anything that came later.

    "Oh to be in gay Paris, where only the river is Seine"


    cLive ;-)

    • As always, US TV took a good idea and sanitised it for the masses.

      Even with the sanitization, Max Headroom was much more complicated and demanded more of the audience than anything else on TV.
    • I never saw the original Channel 4 series, but I do have the original TV movie (d/l'ed sometime back as an MPEG file), plus all the episodes taped. Haven't watched them for a while. Here's a really good idea: Rhino Video should release this show on DVD. I'd buy it in a heartbeat.
    • by usrerco ( 576913 ) on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @04:38AM (#3434461)
      I worked on the American version's series as one of the technical directors
      doing the on-screen graphics while at Video Image in 1986. I was one of
      two or three people who did the graphics; me and another guy did the 3D,
      and there was a mystery guy/gal who did the E.CARTER 'edison cam' overlay graphics.

      I was more impressed with the original show ("Max Headroom: The Original Story,
      Lorimar Homevideo), namely acting, directing, and casting. It seemed to really
      have that filmic quality I don't think the series achieved. And I thought
      the screen graphics in the original were better than what we did. For one
      thing, they used /real/ vector graphics in the original. We had a copy of all
      the original graphics which we used for reference. Excellent stuff. We also didn't
      have input from the original directors, Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel, who
      I think had a lot to do with the look and feel of the original.

      In the American version, we used a Cubicomp to do all of the 3D graphics
      vector sequences, which was a pixel based system that could do anti-aliased
      vector rendering. So we basically 'simulated' the look of vector, but didn't
      fully achieve IMHO. We used 5 1/4" floppies to save our work, and worked
      on PCs. I don't think we ever knew what system the original show was done
      on. I assumed it was a custom vector system.. anyone know?

      The original also used a great nixie-like fonts that caused me to write
      a special font program and hand-massaged bitmapped fonts just to simulate
      that look, which I think we used in the show, I can't recall.

      We re-did many of the cg sequences from the original, including the
      barrier arm, sweeps of the Network 23 building, etc. so that the overall look
      was consistent with the new sequences we added, like the spinning crypto
      graphic. (I think I may have encoded my initials into that sequence)
      Remaking the old graphics was sad, because the original graphics were
      done so well, and I didn't feel we were doing it justice. I lamented
      to my boss, but he insisted we needed to keep a consistent look,
      and I doggedly agreed, but still was disheartened (I was young).

      I'm fairly sure the original is easily available for rent.

      From what I know of Annabel Jankel and Rocky Morton, they were a british
      husband/wife team that directed many weird and edgy commercials & music
      videos. My favorites were the backlit graphics for the Chaz Jankel
      music video "Questionnaire" (one of the first music videos I think I'd
      ever seen that used animated graphics, circa 1981), the mixed media in a
      Joni Mitchell video "Good Friends", which featured cut outs and xerography,
      and the Donald Fagen video "New Frontier", among others.
      • And I thought the screen graphics in the original were better than what we did. For one thing, they used /real/ vector graphics in the original.

        Ah, but you've got to be careful with the original UK pilot show when it comes to what was/wasn't computer graphics.

        There were computer graphics in there, but there was also a lot of work by Rod Lord, who also did the "computer graphics" in the book sequences on the _Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy_ TV show (out on DVD in the US yesterday, for those who're interested) which weren't computer generated at all. They're generally the ones that look too good to be computer graphics :-)

    • the title music was one of the cute things aswell, by british band The Art of noise, another part of the show that was about 15 years ahead of the times..
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 29, 2002 @10:11PM (#3433415)
    Max Headroom back on TV, Alf doing commercials, a new flavor of Coke hitting the market, Hulk Hogan as WWF champ... the 80's are back! Ronald Reagan should be President any day now.
    • You forgot to mention pop divas doing freakin' annoying cola commercials.

      I swear that new line of Pepsi ads has done nothing but tell us that not only do cola ads suck ass now, they continue a proud tradition of ass-suckage dating back at least 50 years...
    • by rbeattie ( 43187 ) <> on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @01:36AM (#3434120) Homepage

      Ronald Reagan IS president, or hadn't you noticed?

  • Best Episode... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TrevorB ( 57780 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @10:11PM (#3433416) Homepage
    Max Headroom was shown on Canada's Bravo network soon after it came out. Already have all the episodes recorded in LP for my time-shifting pleasure.

    The best episode by far was #13: Lessons, about cracking down pirated video programming. Children were not allowed to learn because the educational television wasn't paid for, and schools were not free to the public.


    The whole thing turns out to be a cover operation for an old fashioned printing press operation, to print real books for kids to read.

    It's very 80's of Max to focus so much on how much television will change our society. Sign of the times.. The world could use a lot more freelance journalists like Edison Carter...
  • I saw the story, and had to check with my Tivo. It had already seen the show in the listings and was ready to record as per standing orders.

    Even had /. not covered this, the Tivo would have recorded it. That's the difference between a VCR and a Tivo.

    BTW, since chrisd didn't spoil it, I will - Edison doesn't die....
  • This is something...Max Headroom episodes were great. I loved the "20 minutes into the future" atmosphere. Network 23 (the innovator of "Blipverts" - commercials shown at high speed to prevent channel switching) and its sponsor the Zik Zak Corporation (motto: "We make everything you need, and you need everything we make") were bad guys I could really sink my teeth into. And of course every episode features a good dose of Max Headroom himself. Anyone remember Max Headroom's show on Showtime? He hosted a talk show and interviewed celebrities, and predated Space Ghost by about 10 years. The only negative I see is it's on the really obscure channel "Tech TV", which is probably only availible to those with satellite TV.
  • Obviously anyone who has read this 'conspracy theory to end all conspiracy theories' will realize why Edison Carter works for 'Network 23'. :)
  • tech TV? (Score:2, Informative)

    by ctar ( 211926 )
    What's tech TV? Is it a real TV station? I've never heard of it...
    • Yes, it's a real station. It used to be called ZDTV (from ziff davis,zdnet etc), then it changed to techtv. It's basically 1 show that runs over and over (the screen savers), and every once and a while they'll show some other shows (call for help, which complies with that slashdot story a while ago about how tech support sucks). I just got the channel a few months ago, it isn't what I thought it would be, I dont like it.
      • There are a lot of good shows on TechTV... it all depends on your interests. For me personally:

        Fresh Gear - gadgets galore... if you read /. you would probably like this show

        Audiofile - where tech meets music... everything from mp3s to music creation gear to the tech behind making acoutic guitars

        Extended Play - the only weekly program I know of that covers video/PC gaming (tho I'd imagine the channel G4 is offering quite a bit... wish I had that channel :)

        The Tech Of... - they pick a topic (rollercoasters, race cars, etc) and well, talk about the tech of it :P

        Yes, The Screen Savers plays a million times a day... but once you have a TiVo it doesn't matter what's on "right now" anyway! Buy a TiVo and then you can enjoy the "better programs" that apparently don't air whenever you happen to be channel surfing. :)

      • Re:tech TV? (Score:3, Informative)

        by jgerman ( 106518 )
        That's hardly true. The best shows aren't the Screensavers and Call For Help. Big Thinkers, probably the best show on the channel is probably the most Comp Sci oriented show on tv. With guests like Daniel Dennett, Bruce Sterling, and Lawrence Lessig it's a show for intelligent geeks . Extended play, is a game new/reviews tech live is good for tech news. Eyedrops runs CG movie shorts. Fresh Gear highlights new gadgets.

        contrary to the parent post all of these shows run more or less daily rather then 'every once and (uhhh try in here pal) a while'. There's plenty of substance on the channel, more so than most, and it's almost definitely my personal favorite channel.

        I should mention that the show the the parent implicity derides (The Screen Savers) is a catch all tech show with a definite pro linux slant that's well worth watching.

      • I just got the channel a few months ago, it isn't what I thought it would be, I dont like it.

        I don't imagine too many /. types will be fans of a network that is so Microsoft centric, with an occasional aside for Apple (though last night the guy said something to the effect of "well, they set me up with an Apple again and I've already shown you how to use the ipod, so will skip the 'tips' sequence and move on to something else...") and, even rarer, a mention of GNU/Linux. TechTV simply isn't relevant to what most of us do, nor are they particularly close to the leading edge of software.

        That having been said, they do have an excellent show on in the evenings entitled "Big Thinkers," which last night featured an industrialist working on developing nano-technology, and a night or two ago had Lawrence Laessig on discussing the debacle that is current copyright law. That, and the airing of max headroom, will mean I'll end up watching techtv more than any other channel ... all of 4 or 5 hours / week (OK, so I don't watch much TV. Since they cancelled Max Headroom there really hasn't been much on worth watching).

        In short, it looks like they may have realized how out of touch they are with the tech savvy crowd, and are doing something constructive about it, "Screen Savers" notwithstanding. :-)
    • Re:tech TV? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by teslatug ( 543527 )
      I've always wondered how come there isn't a nationwide station dedicated solely to technology. There are plenty of geeks and nerds to watch it, and you could always have shows teaching the elderly or the less technologicaly inclined simple computer tasks. One or more of the major computer companies (Dell, Gateway, Apple, Microsoft, etc -- apparently AOL/TW can't afford it :) could sponsor it. It's unbelievable that there isn't enough of a market considering how pervasive technology is in today's society. The only shows right now that even remotely feature computers are HSN and the like and the dichotomy between getting my tech fill and pulling my ears off is unnerving.

      Enough ranting...still wishing
      • I know why. Because every time they try we bitch about them until we bleed!

        Behind the times, old hat, not enough this, not enought that, wheres the detail, too much detail, where were the penguins!

        Thats why. Who wants to set themselves up for that when people are ever more grateful for sprts and pr0n?
  • They invented this new color. The Max Headroom guys would look at it astounded while the camera was always on the other side of their computer monitor so you couldn't see it. How could you invent a new colour on an RGB monitor??? Funny stuff, that show is great.

    Then one day I found out that they really have found a new color! Hrm, I can't seem to find the link though, anyone have it? You can even buy T-shirts in the new colour ;-) Can't wait until mine arrives...

    Websurfing done right! StumbleUpon []
  • I was browsing around on the TechTV site, trying to figure out if my cable company carries it. I discovered a tidbit in the last paragraph of this page [].

    TechTV is owned by Vulcan Inc., the Bellevue, Washington-based investment organization of Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen.

    Hmmm... is TechTV objective? Do they also have Apple and Open Source programming? I really don't know. Otherwise this scares me.


    • Hmmm... is TechTV objective?

      Note carefully: TechTV is owned by Vulcan, not by Microsoft or any of its subsidiaries. Vulcan is basically Paul Allen's sandbox. They do some amazing things. I don't know if it's complete or in progress or abandoned or what, but at one point they were working on a HDTV video-on-demand system for Allen's estate. Storing uncompressed HD and distributing it as 19 Mbit MPEG-2 via DVB-ASI throughout the facility. Amazing.

      So yeah, I'd say if it's owned by Vulcan, it's about as objective as any media outlet could reasonably be expected to be.

    • TechTV is owned by Vulcan Inc., the Bellevue, Washington-based investment organization of Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen.

      Paul Allen seems to have a rather wide interest in technology (and business). This dated article [] from 1997 may or may not be too accurate now (it mentions him being the 2nd largest holder of Microsoft stock - its often quoted he has a 9% share, so I'm not sure how that works out). But the article does provide an idea of how diversified Allen's interests are.

      Hmmm... is TechTV objective? Do they also have Apple and Open Source programming?

      It depends on the show and the staff. Chris Pirillo [] of Lockergnome [] fame hosts the TechTV show Call for Help [] and seems very pro-Microsoft/Windows. Though to be fair, I don't watch his show.

      The Screen Savers [] also feature a lot of Microsoft bits. But they throw a lot of other bits in there too. They did a week of shows mostly dedicated to Linux. They do "alteratips" which are tips for mostly MacOS X and Linux (although, like the Windows tips, they're pretty light-weight). They do on-air help calls for Linux and Mac issues on occasion. The show hosts occasionally grumble about Microsoft and its faults (technical and political/marketing). Tux appears in the background often. OSX's strengths are lauded. Linux is often portrayed as an OS people already enjoy, and the viewer might like to try out too. And for their daily tech news, they often quote articles from Slashdot.

      Of course, that's not to say all of TechTV is as enlightned. Sometimes TechTV Live and Cyber Crime have articles with viewpoints and/or quotes that make me cringe.

      In all, Paul Allen seems to have a fairly wide focus despite his involvement in Microsoft. And TechTV seems to harbor an environment that allows a reflection of a wide degree of the IT industry.

  • Bull! (Score:2, Funny)

    by DarkHelmet ( 120004 )
    Max Headroom coming back to TV? Lies! Lies! Just like that moron that told me that Captain Kirk hosts a cooking show.

    April Fools happens at the beginning of April, not the end.

  • Don't forget (Score:3, Insightful)

    by J4 ( 449 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @10:40PM (#3433558) Homepage
    Amanda Pays, she was pretty hot.
  • Hey I barely (barley is yummy) remember Max Headroom, not that I'm young(33) but didn't he start by some guy going face first into a toll booth arm thing...what do you call those things? It said "Max Headroom" on it. Shouldn't he be called Moordaeh Xam? Sounds like an Indian superhero...
    Watch out Delhi here comes Moordaeh Xam! Bollywood should make a movie about that. :-P
    • The actual quote on the barrier arm that Edison Carter smacked into face-first was:

      MAX. HEAD ROOM 2.3M

      That's how, in the American series at least, Max got his name: it was the last thing Edison saw before being walloped into unconsciousness and having his brain scanned. When his braindump came online, it was the first thing it tried saying, and it stuck as a name.

      The cyber-battle leading up to that was also loads of fun to watch, but I won't spoil how it happens; it's well worth a chuckle.

      What a trivia geek I am too, but in this case I don't see that as a bad thing.

  • Pirate TV (Score:3, Interesting)

    by checkitout ( 546879 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @10:51PM (#3433597)
    In protest of the show being canceled, someone in Chicago hijacked the airwaves of 2 TV stations. It's pretty amusing, unfortunately the only site that had video clips of it is down. Here's some information though:

    Google Cache with more information []

    Slightly less, but more direct information []

    To summarize, it involved a Max Headroom mask, a bare ass and a fly swatter, while Dr. Who was supposed to be playing.
    • Re:Pirate TV (Score:3, Informative)

      by British ( 51765 )
      You can find those clips on

      It's amazing how much of the series made in '85 ended up becoming so true later.
    • "To summarize, it involved a Max Headroom mask, a bare ass and a fly swatter, while Dr. Who was supposed to be playing. "

      That sounded great until you mentioned Dr Who geting preempted for it. I'm really sensitive to that now because of Futurama.

      Tv networks have some strange ideas about what classifies as 'a good show'.
  • DVD, please. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by b1t r0t ( 216468 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @10:57PM (#3433621)
    I just want the DVD box set already, dammit. And while they're at it, could they please get UHF released, too?
  • ...but pop-up ads and spam make me want to explode.

    I wish I got Tech TV out here :( I would tape every episode of these!
  • AFAICT it is not. Anyone know if it will be?
  • VCR?? (Score:2, Funny)

    ...before some of us were capable of hitting record on the old VCR. "

    VCR??? What the hell is that? I was recording those babies on my parents BetaMAX.
    • VCR??? What the hell is that? I was recording those babies on my parents BetaMAX.

      Shockingly enough, your BetaMAX was also considered a Video Cassette Recorder. Seeing as it Recorded Video onto Cassettes and all... :)
  • Mascot ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lute3 ( 72400 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @11:25PM (#3433734) Homepage Journal
    As soon as I saw Max Headroom on the TechTV commercial announcing the upcoming series, I thought Mascot.

    The previous virtual mascot for the channel, Tilde, was female (appealing enough to the first niche gamer-type market ZDTV was shooting for), but she was not good enough. They used on-the-fly 3D graphics based on VR-suit-like encoding, so the movements of the character were not fluid or terribly near accurate.

    If Matt Frewer [] could record new vocals, I don't think anyone would object to a purely-digital Max Headroom. Digital!? But, what Oh yeah..they just didn't have the technology to do it in 1985, you know.. psst.. they used a latex mask--it wasn't digital!. Also, surely Mr. Frewer is not doing terribly much since Honey, I Shrunk the Kids [] and Lawnmower Man 2 [], so he can probably use the money (that is, if a short revival of the original series doesn't load his pockets with royalties).

    Oh, and don't watch Lawnmower Man 2...for the love of all that's Holy! Don't watch it!

  • For once, they've got something on TechTV that I actually want to watch. Max Headroom of all things! That was relegated to certain death on the A&E network where it was playing.

    But this time around, I've got TiVo. I'll save and savor every episode. This completely rocks. (Can you believe I kind of idolized Bryce Lynch when I worked at an ISP? Scary thought.)

    This'll go absolutely perfect for the videos to play in my arcade gameroom. Max rocks. He's the perfect consumer whore!
  • Zik Zak corporation is Microsoft's role model :-)
  • It looks like one of the biggest fans of Max Headroom might not yet know of the revival on the way.. [] is closed as of March, 2002.

    Anyone know is email address?

    Oh, wait.. Maybe he's still answering the webmaster [mailto] address.. That appears to be [] (google) the email address he's been using on the site (according to a quick search []).

  • Just so long Coca Cola leaves my Coke alone this time. Max scares me and brings back some terrible memories of driving from store to store in the backwoods of Arkansas to find unsold 'real" Coke.

    Classic Coke is acceptable, but it's still not the real coke of the past when it was still made with sugar rather than frutcose and sucrose syrups.
  • This series was doing ethics themes based on designer babies, corporate controlled media, brain scanning and more before some of us were capable of hitting record on the old VCR.

    Ahem. Speak for yourself. I was the only person in my family who could Program the VCR. I was 4 years old. My dad still hasn't figured it out.

  • by lightspawn ( 155347 ) on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @12:47AM (#3433960) Homepage
    If somebody told me teen would be locked up after refusing to watch TV commercials in school [], I'd think they were kidding.

    I can't provide a link to this one, but a certain religious radio station gave away three radios as a promotion in a very low-income area - radios that were locked into the station's frequency, with no way to change it.

    An ATM tried to show me a commercial for something today.

    Does it seem to anybody else that we're in a handbasket going you know where?
    • An ATM tried to show me a commercial for something today.

      Gas pumps have been doing that (with sound now, not just the scrolling "come in for a cup of coffee" display), so maybe the ATMs felt left behind. ;-)

      Does it seem to anybody else that we're in a handbasket going you know where?

      As it relates to commercialization, I think we were in the handbasket through much of the 20th Century, and now we've already arrived. Or at least we're in free-fall with not much time left. Taking the example of my "favorite peeve" of commercial entertainment, when was it that people starting thinking that entertainment can only be good if it has a well-recognized logo?

      • I went down to the courthouse with my fiancee today to get a marriage license.

        Along with our new marriage license, which cost us $45 (damn the man!!), we were given free samples of Tide, Bounty napkins, Secret deoderant, Folger's coffee, an ad for custom checks, and an AOL cd (1000 hours free!).

        From the Tide sampler:

        You're starting a new life together, so we'd like to offer you a new way to get your laundry remarkably clean. The deep clean formula brightens and whitens {blah blah blah..}

        Jesus holy mary mother of god.. I simply cannot escape advertising!! AHHH!!!

        • How does that work? I mean what business does our gov't have pushing these "helpful" products? No doubt the money these corps are paying the gov't (I would hope!) for the product placement privelage isn't offsetting any taxes...

          I feel your pain... I'm waiting for the day I can buy a pair a augmented reality glasses that I can wear to tune out "banners" in real life. I can hardly wait to overlay every fuck'n ad with the ACME brand + whitespace. :)

        • Wait till you have a baby.
          The hospitals have the same kind of racket going with the diaper and formula people.
    • "An ATM tried to show me a commercial for something today."

      did it also charge you 1.50 for the privelige?

      I was at a gas station when the where installing new pumps that play commercials why you pumped. The guy asked me what I thought. I said, "if your going to make me watch these, then you had better lower your price, or I won't come here anymore."
      He was stunned. He could not believe that someone would not want to watch commercials, and that they wouldn't pay extra for the privilage!
      now if he was playing exclusive trailors, then maybe I'd chose his place over another one where the gas was the same price, but thats it.
  • ...when Max Headroom receited the alphabet on Sesame Street? I was, sadly, too young to catch the original on TV the first time around, but the stuttery, spoken alphabet "song" will forever be burned into my subconcious.
  • by Dreamweaver ( 36364 ) on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @01:26AM (#3434087)
    Y'know, I look at advertisements for new model cars, and I look at the state of the economy, and I look at Slashdot stories like this and I just have to wonder... Maybe Back to the Future II was really shot on location in 2015 afterall.
  • Max was my favorite show for a while there, back when it was on. I don't remember how old I was... couldn't have been more than 7 or 8.

    Anyone one year for Halloween, my sister WAS Max! My father and aunt helped her turn a big cardboard box into a wearable TV set, with holes in the sides (arms), bottom (legs), and front (so it looked like she was a head inside the TV looking out). We even got wood-colored wallpaper so it looked more like a TV (remember it was the 80s, and lots of TVs were still built like furniture, with wood siding).

    Definitely a cool costume.
  • by cr@ckwhore ( 165454 ) on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @08:16AM (#3434817) Homepage
    Cheesy story ...

    When I was a very young geek lad, I had a TRS-80 color computer. After watching Max Headroom, I decided that I wanted my own max headroom. So, I layed awake in bed one night, excited about the prospect that there could be a slight chance that I could build a max headroom with my TRS-80.

    The next morning, I tried. It was my first programming experience. It went something like:

    10 say "hello, I am max headroom"

    I couldn't figure out what "syntax error" meant, and my dreams of my own Max Headroom faded into the past.
    • You think you were bad...

      ]10 ? "Hi I am Max Headroom. What is your name?" A$

      ]20 Print "Hello, " A$ "Do you like Automan too?"
      ]30 Goto 10

      I was a terrible geek in the most pathetic way. And I don't even know if I'm quote basic properly anymore (I had a //e)


"If the code and the comments disagree, then both are probably wrong." -- Norm Schryer