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Tuning back into Network 23

December 7, 2012

max1Max Headroom was a show from 1987 that left me with some fond memories.  It was shown on ABC but, I remember it being surprisingly edgy for a network program.  Unfortunately, I was never able to revisit the series because it wasn’t available on DVD until comparatively recently.  I got it as present from my folks awhile back and finally got a chance to dig into it again.  There are a bunch of things that surprise me about the show while starting my second look.

First and most obvious, the show was videotaped.  I had completely forgotten this.  Being a Doctor Who watcher for close to a decade at that point, I was of course accustomed to it but, it strikes me today as odd that a primetime network show in the late 80s would do this.  It certainly does help with the feel of the world though.  Videotape always comes across to me as much harsher than film which really helps with the whole “in you face” view of the future the series has.

Another thing I didn’t know was that the series production was British.  This would explain my liking the series more than most of my friends at the time as I was well into my appreciation of tv from across the pond by then.  I had known about the Channel 4

Pilot back in the day but, had always assumed that the show was a totally American product.  This probably also explains a bit of the show’s edgy nature as well.  One thing I like about British tv is that they don’t believe in pulling punches.

Something else that I didn’t appreciate until just now was that this series appeared only six months before the premier of Star Trek: the Next Generation.  I guess if I had actually been forced to sit down and think about it I would have realized the two series not only came out in the same year but, overlapped a bit as well.  I kind of always thought of Max Headroom as the last great attempt at genre television on network tv until the appearance of The X-Files six years later on Fox and, even with that, Fox was behaving more like a cable channel than one of the big three at the time.  So, it’s kind of like watching the death of genre tv on the networks occurring at the same time as its rebirth in syndication.

I had two smaller observations as well.  The first was William Morgan Sheppard turning out to be Mark Sheppard’s dad.  The family resemblance jumped out at me enough to cause me to start IMDBing during the third episode.  I really have to watch this stuff out of reach of my computer (I already don’t allow myself my Ipod while watching).  Mark Sheppard I have seen a good deal more of given that he is currently a regular guest in both Supernatural and Leverage plus, he seems to be trying to get into every genre show made today (Firefly, Battlestar Galactica, Warehouse 13, the list goes on).  Not that I’m complaining here as I very much enjoy his performances.  The second was that the series includes the true final episode of the series Baby Growbags that was never shown in the US so, I’m very much looking forward to having a “new” episode of the series as the finale of my second viewing.

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