Friday, December 24, 2010

Max Headroom episode recaps 5-7

Editor's NoteThese are pretty teensy for recaps, I know, more like mini-mini-recaps.  But (1) nobody is reading them anyway because nobody cares about poor ol' Max Headroom and (2) if you are by the grace of dog reading them, I don't want to give away too much because poor ol' Max Headroom deserves to be seen in all his lame '80s splendor.  So these are teaserecaps, if you will.

Episode 5: "War"  - Best line goes to Murray:  Edison asks, sincerely, "Since when has news been entertainment?"  Murray replies, "Since it was invented?"  In this episode, in the midst of global ratings sweeps, a terrorist group contracts with the television networks for exclusive rights to their upcoming bombings.  Edison gets involved when one of Network 23's own reporters gets caught in the crossfire.  It's like Wag the Dog writ small.

Episode 6: "The Blanks" - "You don't have any rights - you're a Blank!"  As a response to the government's rounding up all the unregistered, off-the-grid folks known colloquially as "Blanks," a Blank rights/extremist group threatens to wipe out the city's computers and televisions.  In a world where television off-switches are illegal, and the networks and/or government supplies free television sets to everyone to help keep them under control, shutting down the system would be disastrous.  Panic sets in throughout the general populace during short black-outs with no television, and Edison and Max work with the Blanks to affect a release of their imprisoned compatriots.

Episode 7: "Academy" - When a high-level computer hack hijacks the Network 23 signal, Bryce is asked to trace the hack.  He does, but lies about its origin, instead sending the Metrocops to arrest Blank Reg.  It appears that the gifted hackers are young students at Bryce's alma mater, the Academy of Computer Sciences.  Bryce suffers his very first crisis of conscience for protecting his fellow brainiacs at Reg's expense.

These three episodes were much more overtly political than the first group.  Issues like profiling, inadequacy of the justice system, the persecution of the Other and the manipulation of news for ratings are at the forefront, and the show is none too subtle about where it stands.  I do find it fascinating to watch this all now, with the 20+ intervening years.

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