Just when you thought every last movie or TV show from the 1980s had returned for a revival in the 21st century, another one appears. This time, it’s ’80s pop culture icon Max Headroom. Back in the day, Max Headroom was “the first computer-generated TV presenter,” and sold soda and t-shirts and everything under the sun. And now, he’s back. According to a report in Deadline, original Max Headroom actor Matt Frewer returns for a rebooted series on AMC. Halt and Catch Fire’s Christopher Cantwell is teaming up with Elijah Wood as executive producer.
Frewer was first introduced in the 1985 British cyberpunk TV movie Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future. He was supposedly a sentient CGI creation whose head appeared on a screen. One who just so happened to be snarky and comically “glitch” all the time. However, Max was actually Frewer wearing prosthetic makeup and shot against a blue screen. At this point in the ’80s, CGI was very new. And it would have been virtually impossible to render something like Max Headroom on a weekly basis. Once America saw Max, they started using him to sell everything. This eventually led to his getting his own TV series on ABC.
The ABC Max Headroom series was a serious drama show, much like the original British TV movie. Frewer starred as both Max and his human counterpart/programmer, Edison Carter. But by the time the show came out in 1987, Max suffered from overexposure. It was one thing to have Max Headroom make snarky remarks about celebrities and MTV videos, and quite another to follow him in a dramatic series. The show never received stellar ratings. You can check out a great video on the rise and fall of Max Headroom from the folks at Toy Galaxy below:
Because of this fad nature, Max Headroom only ran for two brief seasons on TV. But over time, the show gained a cult following. It remains to be seen if the AMC show will be a hard reboot, or a continuation of the original narrative. One thing’s almost certain though. The primitive CGI Max was too cost-prohibitive to produce on a weekly basis in 1987, but now far more sophisticated CGI is going to have to downgrade to a more rudimentary look to match the classic Max in 2022. Funny how that all worked out.