Cancelled Too Soon: Max Headroom (1987)

By | March 19, 2015

max-headroomBack in the mid-80’s computer-generated (sort of) character Max Headroom became an instant cultural phenomenon and a U.S. produced series sprang from the British TV movie Max Headroom: 20 Minutes in the Future which provided his origin story.  The show takes place in a dystopian, near-future setting where mega-corporations control the world and keep the public distracted with television shows whose fates are dictated by up to the minute ratings results (wait, that our present!).  While trying to uncover corporate corruption, investigative reporter Edison Carter is involved in an accident that leads to the creation of his AI alter ego Max Headroom.  Together, the two then team up and fight to expose the sinister undertakings of their mega-corporation dominated world.  Quirky, subversive, over-the-top, and the first cyberpunk TV show, Max Headroom offered a satire on television (and technology in general) run amok but may have been too smart and prescient for its own good.  It proved quite popular when it bowed in 1987 for a short, six episode run, though it definitely helped to have hit series Moonlighting as its lead-in.  But for its second season, ABC moved it to Fridays at 9 PM EST where it had to contend with stiff competition against popular shows Dallas and Miami Vice. The ratings plummeted and Network 23 . . . err . . . ABC responded immediately to the overnight ratings results (driven by their poor scheduling decisions) and cancelled the series early in the season (after only eight episodes had been produced).  And thus, Max Headroom ultimately fall victim to the very thing it satirized.  At least the complete series has been released on DVD so that you can go back and revisit his fun and outlandish adventures.

Aired: ABC, 1987-88, 2 Seasons Totaling 14 Episodes

Starring: Matt Frewer, Amanda Pays, Chris Young, W. Morgan Sheppard

Created By: Annabel Jankel, Rocky Morton, George Stone

Buy Max Headroom The Complete Series on DVD from

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