Episode ABC.1.5: "War"
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|Max Headroom: Episode ABC.1.5|
|UK Air Date||NA?|
|US Air Date||28 Apr 1987|
|Creative|| Written by Martin Pasko, Rebecca Parr, Michael Cassutt, Steve Roberts
Directed by Thomas J. Wright
Edited by Philip J. Sgriccia
|Watch for...|| The gun-camera, with clip.
The hard-case woman police chief.
Theora sniffing a rose. Who's it from?
A look at what might be the show's own miniature-city FX department.
The second and last of Max's really vicious commercial lead-ins.
|Crew||Series Crew, Season 1|
|Matt Frewer|| as Edison Carter /
|Amanda Pays||Theora Jones|
|George Coe||Ben Cheviot|
|Chris Young||Bryce Lynch|
|and Jeffrey Tambor||Murray|
|Gary Swanson||Frank Braddock|
|Virginia Kiser||Miss Julia Formby|
|Hank Garrett||Gene Ashwell|
|Robert O'Reilly||Croyd Hauser|
|Lisa Niemi||Janie Crane|
|J. Michael Flynn||Lucian|
|Arsenio "Sonny" Trinidad||Ped Xing|
|Michael Colin Ward||?|
|Yana Nirvana||Police Chief|
|?||Security Systems Ad Announcer|
|?||Breakthru TV Anchor|
|?||Breakthru TV Reporter|
|?||Gwynn (Riot Cop)|
|?||Phil (Equipment Guy)|
| * Tentative role match, pending confirmation.
Unknown roles represent credited cast members with no certain matching role.
Unknown cast represent roles with unknown, possibly uncredited actors.
The fifth episode of the ABC series established that we'll still be blowing things up in the future.
The complete episode, from original broadcast masters, is available on the Shout! Factory DVD set.
20 minutes into the future, we find ourselves out in an abandoned heavy-industry area north of Sector 7, where something strange is happening. Network 23 junior reporter Janie Crane is hiding out with a telephoto "gun camera" as two would-be terrorists blow up a huge empty building. Janie is left injured but alive by the blast.
There is a global ratings sweep in progress, and the best Network 23 can do is a parade of trained poodles. Board member Ashwell has lined up a pitch from the sleazy program packager Frank Braddock, whose offer turns out to be the same old tired "urban guerrilla" connection he's had before. Cheviot turns him down.
But then, pipsqueak Breakthru-TV manages to get instant coverage of the explosion, and a huge ratings surge. When the network scrambles Edison Carter with Martinez at the stick of the helicopter, they get to the explosion only to have the police chief send them packing. The reporter from Breakthru is already on the scene, despite having lumbered in in a battered network bus. Worst of all, Ped Xing of the Zik-Zak Corporaton is threatening to move his advertising to the hotter Breakthru-TV.
On return to the station, Carter is furious at having been blocked from the story by someone who had paid for the rights for it, and announces that he's taking the day off. This turns out to be playing "Breakerball" with Murray - something much like racquetball, but with a scoring target on the wall. Discussing the odd case, they conclude that the packager must be working directly with the terrorists. Meanwhile, Janie Crane has been found by the terrorists and is being taken... somewhere.
With the Network 23 board backing the story, Carter and Martinez fly back to the explosion site and find an unusual item - a ruined tape clip from a Network 23 gun camera. They bring the damaged tape to Bryce, who reluctantly takes the time to process it to extract some grainy footage.
Frank Braddock calls Cheviot back to gloat at the ratings bonanza they passed on, and is directed to a live interview with the White Brigades leader, Croyd Hauser, taking place on Breakthru. As they watch, an explosion levels another building. It's terrorism on demand, and Breakthru holds the rights.
Carter, with help from Max, Theora and Bryce, has figured out what's on the camera clip: footage of the control bus, broadcasting the explosion as they themselves set it off. Just then, Murray bursts in with news: their new staff reporter, Janie Crane, talked the equipment manager out of a sophisticated camera gun.
Carter and Martinez return to the explosion site yet again, and with Theora's help track the terrorist's bus - and hopefully, Janie Crane - to an abandoned building. They are too late, though - Hauser has sent Janie Crane off to the new explosion site, one promised to "provide a few casualties."
Almost lost in the half-ruined structure, Carter finds the terrorists, and blasts in shooting... with his network-linked vidicam... only to find what appears to be a movie set, where the "terrorists" have been staging their "explosions" on tabletop sets. Hauser explains how they use models, state of the art television gear and scripts to replace all that tedious actual street warfare. It's completely convincing, and Carter leaves with a far different story of his own - which airs promptly on Network 23.
And then the White Brigade sets off and claims another explosion, at the "Ad Market" brokerage floor. Cheviot and Formby are present, Formby is hurt... and Network 23's credibility is badly damaged.
Carter and Martinez head back to the war zone, looking for Hauser with blood in their eye. They get there just after Frank Braddock, who has come to see the latest staged explosion and is horrified when he finds Janie Crane positioned in the middle of it. As the terrorists and Braddock fight in the control bus - which is positioned too close to the explosives - Martinez swoops in so Carter can grab Janie. They barely get clear, Janie hanging from the chopper door, before the explosion destroys the bus, taking the three terrorist and Braddock with it.
Carter hands the breaking story over Janie, now a blooded reporter - in both senses! - who begins to tell her tale to Network 23's rapidly zooming audience.
Notes & Commentary
The RR-7 camera gun looks, to me, like what field reporters should carry, instead of Carter's bulky vidicam. It looks as if someone had a good idea a few episodes too late.
The abandoned buildings used for this episode were in Fontana, a grimy and run-down industrial city near Los Angeles. According to correspondent Steppenwolf1981, the site with the smokestacks is an old Kaiser Steel facility that was closed in about 1980.
The notion of a frantic "Ad Market" brokerage floor fits well with the show's ideas about frantic ratings chases. Among the brokers we see are "NU VU Purchasing" and "Integrity Airleasing."
The "terrorist studio" appears to be the actual miniatures studio used for the show's city miniatures, Xenon Productions.
Breakthru TV is channel 96.
Martinez has served as a combat helicopter pilot. What war was he in?
Other than the target on the wall, "Breakerball" looks just like racquetball. Is there perhaps some sort of scoring related to the target?
This episode has some stunning helicopter stunts, but the helicopter provider, the pilot, and the stuntmen are never credited, here or in any other episode. Television credit guidelines are so weird.
This episode uses the final version of the first-season opening credits, with both score and dialogue.
This episode has credits for 'Peter Sternlicht' across three frames in the Zik-Zak montage.
Quotes & Caps
- Carter: "You really like this, don't ya, Martinez?"
- Martinez: "Nothin' better, my man! No livin' thing!"
- Carter: "Better than combat, though?"
- Martinez: "Oh, I don't know. People shoot at you, ya tend to concentrate more."
- Carter: "Oh, if only I had a gun!"
- Carter: "Since when has news been entertainment!?"
- Murray: "...since it was invented?"
- Breakthru TV Reporter: "This Is Breakthru TV with an exclusive news story. Moments ago, a huge explosion rocked this area. Only luck prevented huge casualties. Responsibility is claimed by the White Brigade, an activist group dedicated to 'neo-radicalistic anarcho-syndicalism.'"
- Ped Xing: "Zik-Zak is watching with great concern. You must not lose your edge... or you lose Zik-Zak!"
- Max: "No, no... I think Breakthru TV gives bad-bad-bad broadcasting a good name!"
- Carter: "But they can afford to buy us off a story, right? Right? Right?"
- Murray: "Oh, right, right... you're always right, sir. Right."
- Carter: "Well, I guess I might as well take the day off, then, eh?"
- Theora: "Yes, please."
- Carter: "Murray...?"
- Murray: "Right."
- Carter: "Nice shot."
- Max: "Did-Did-Did the hole in your racquet come with the shorts?"
- Carter: "People in glass houses should not throw stones!"
- Max: "Now that - Now that sounds like a game!"
- Carter: "So. Who puts the deal together?"
- Murray: "Packager."
- Carter: "Yeah, but... how did he get it?"
- Murray: "I suppose... he does a deal with... the terrorists."
- Max: "That's the best thing that could have happened to that game."
- Theora: "Mmm, nice legs!"
- Carter: "Oh, thanks. Maybe I can get a closer look at yours some time."
- Max: "I'd just like to see my-my-m-mine!"
- Cheviot: "Perfect! Murray, get Carter on the story. Let's give this top priority - a major exposé. And, uh, Murray... put some pants on."
- Max: "Do you - do you know who won?"
- Murray: "It was a draw."
- Max: "So who won the dr-dr-dr-draw?"
- Martinez: "So what did they blow up, anyway? Looks like it was already blown up."
- Carter: "No kidding."
- Martinez: "I wonder who wrote this explosion."
- Carter: "The only thing that survived was a good script."
- Braddock: "Sorry to bother you, Bennie... uh, didn't we call this 'fringe time,' once upon a time - the - the dead hour just before prime time?"
- Cheviot: "Before we had ten thousand channels? Yes, I remember. I see you've added nostalgia to your repertoire - that's very touching."
- Braddock: "...Mr. Croyd Hauser:"
- Croyd Hauser: "It has become common practice for anyone at war with the system to claim responsibility for any attack on the system. The White Brigade rejects this method. Our next strike takes place... NOW!"
- Carter: "Uh, Bryce, I need to find out what's on this."
- Bryce: "A footprint."
- Carter: "Bryce, this is serious... and I'm in a hurry!"
- Bryce: "More haste, less speed, Edison..."
- Theora: "So, if the van was there at the time of the explosion, then why wasn't it in the news report?"
- Carter: "Exactly."
- Max: "Ahh! Be-Be-Be-Be-Because it was reporting the news! The news!"
- Carter: "He's right. There's a camera on top."
- Max: "Uh. Uh. It's certainly not an exhaust pipe! Well, the rig-rig-rigors of investigation... so tiring!"
- Murray: "Then what?"
- Phil: "Yeah, well, she, uh, asked if she could borrow it. I mean, what could I say? So I, uh, let it go to her."
- Carter: "Borrow what?"
- Murray: "The RR-7. Camera gun."
- Carter: "Who?"
- Murray: "Janie Crane. Our eager new staff reporter."
- Carter: "Little fool must have been out here during the explosion... why do women do crazy things like that?"
- Theora: "Probably because she was onto this long before we were."
- Frank Braddock: "You're a dreamer, Croyd, you always were. Filled from this half-baked, cliche-ridden world of semi-revolution, and suddenly you actually suggest killing people! You're nuts! Now, I'm a businessman! I am not a folk hero! Our deals were 'no casualties'!"
- Croyd Hauser: "Get the girl into the van, Hewett. Maybe we'll have to sacrifice her for a 'half-baked, cliche-ridden world of semi-revolution.'"
- Carter: "Certainly have an unusual command post. Very disarming."
- Croyd Hauser: "Disarmed. It's more comfortable than being in the field. The hours are just as bad, though. Maybe worse. And the scripts need changing all the time."
- Carter: "Can we talk?"
- Croyd Hauser: "Might as well. It's either that or kill you. Gotcha. (laughs) Come on, I'll show you around."
- Carter: "What happened to your war?"
- Croyd Hauser: "A long time ago, it became obvious that military action was obsolete. People could die, of course, and passions would be inflamed... but only until the next TV program came on. It finally struck me that I didn't need to wage a real war. I could wage one... through TV."
- Carter: "What does the White Brigade get out of all this?"
- Croyd Hauser: "Money. We're the first terrorists to apply modern merchandising theory."
- Miss Formby: "He's probably licking his wounds."
- Cheviot: "Well, I hope they choke him. I can't abide that the whole thing was a fake. Hustle is one thing, but this complete fabrication..."
- Jack, Head of Network 5: "Hi, Ben."
- Cheviot: "Ah... excuse me a minute, Julia. I have to see the President of Network 5 about that Fellini package."
- Carter: "For the past few days, this city has lived in fear... not the normal worries about getting through the day when the TV won't work or the computer crashes, but primal fear."
- Max: "And interrupting your breakfast... -fast -fast... breakfast... for those cold mornings, why not try... Chernobyl Pops! Pops-Pops! Give you that warm glow all over. Just-Just-Just the stuff to feed your kids!"
- Carter: "What is he talking about?"
- Formby: "You have no choice, Ben. A strong global is worth any sacrifice... even Frank Braddock."
- Edwards: "Ben... Formby's right, we're broadcasters. In our business, morals are one thing, but ratings are everything!"
- Cheviot: "It would have to be clean. I wouldn't want so much as a single injury, is that clear?"
- Frank Braddock: "Bennie... Bennie... If I have to... french kiss... Croyd Hauser in the middle... of the Doggie Dance Show, it'll be clean! Trust me!"
- Carter: "Okay, Martinez, pretend we're being shot at..."
- Martinez: "I'm concentrating now..."
- Janie Crane: "You are crazy... once I tell the world about this, you'll be finished!"
- Hewett: "When this thing goes bang, you'll make reporting history, all right... the first Network 23 girl reporter in orbit!"
- Theora: "Look, this is just a thought, but... what if they're armed in there?"
- Carter: "Martinez'll love it!"
- Theora: "Edison, they could be setting another charge."
- Carter: "I hope it's not what I think it is."
- Carter: "Martinez... when you were in the war, what odds did you like?"
- Martinez: "Oh, about ten to one. Against."
- Carter: "I think that's about what we've got now."
- Frank Braddock: "Did you know... your-your camera's a little crooked."
- Croyd Hauser: "Naturally. The girl dropped it while running. It keeps recording as she runs on, then BOOM!... steps on the mine, bits everywhere..."
- Frank Braddock: "Where'd you get the dummy?"
- Croyd Hauser: "We didn't. That's the girl from 23 that was snooping around."
- Martinez: "There's a body on the steps!"
- Carter: "Get down to it... it's Janie Crane! Good god, get down there, Martinez! Fast! Let's go!"
- Cheviot: (explosion) "Braddock! I'll kill him with my own hands."
- Miss Formby: "Then let me!"
- Edwards: "Look at those ratings!"
- Carter: "I hand you over now to the reporter who broke this story, and nearly paid for it with her life. The girl who, twenty-four hours ago, broke the rules, backed a hunch, and brought you this story. Janie Crane, Network 23, reporting to you live - just - and direct from the scene."
- Max: "And now - and now we come to a special moment on Network 23... that is 'The Most Point-Point-p-Pointless and Extravagant Television Award.' This, of course, is the award for the piece-piece of television which-which-which, in the opinion of the judges, is the most expensive and wasteful use of television time this year! So! So! Let's see the nominations, shall we? ...and I'll be right back."
- This is the infamous "Car Parts" clip in its entirety.
- Max: "Hi, this is Max-Max Headroom on Network 23, brought-brought-brought to you by... ah... oh, no no no no no no-no-no. I'm sorry, but sorry, but if they think I'm endorsing car accessories, they've got another dipstick-stick coming! Ah, ah, they've tried this one before and I'm radial tired of it. If they expect me to change gear now and start spark-spark-sparkplugging their products, they must be out of their pis-pis-pistonheads! Listen, I don't like to blow my own gasket, but I have better things to do than to sit here and wax-polish lyrical about car parts! Car parts! I've got letters from fan-belts who say, 'Max! You're special! You're unique! You're differential!' Yes, yes, I know it's what they want... that's because they're air-conditioned to it. To it. (Oh.) To it. Oh, I've fendered it off time and timing belt again... I mean, who's calling the tu-tu-tune-up? Who's in cru-cru-c-cruise control here, anyway? I'll tell you who: Me! Me! Max Headlamp! And if they don't like it, they can stick-stick-stickshift it in their exhaust pipe and cho-choke it! And smoke it!"