Episode CH4.3.1

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Episode CH4.3.1
Title The Max Headroom Show
US Air Date 1 Aug 1986
UK Air Date 6 Jan 1987
Length 30 minutes
Guests Michael Caine
Crew Talk Show Crew
Matt Frewer Max Headroom
Paul Shearer Ridley
The premiere episode of the second Channel Four season of the Max Headroom talk show featured actor Michael Caine, as well as a spacious new set.

The MaxRchives contain complete recordings of both the US and UK broadcasts of this episode.

Videos & Segments

  • Max introduces the new show with "Hey kids... let's do the show right here!"
  • Max sings "It's a New Show" to a large live audience, wearing his green-and-purple plaid suit.
    • "Ladies and g-g-gentlemen, I've just gotta tell ya, it's great to be-to be back!"
  • Video: Belle Stars, "World Domination"
    • Max interrupts to talk about the world harmony his two-continent show brings.
  • Max shows teasers from the rest of the show.
    • "Now am I here?" (on the set monitors) "...or there?" (on a video watch!)
  • Max talks about how lonely it is to be a S-T-A-R, with the audience watching M-E, way up here, alone.
  • Max joins his audience on a long boom crane bearing his monitor.
    • He speaks with "Roh-zherre," "Me?" and "L-A-R-R-Y, Larry."
    • He hassles a man about his clothes.
  • Video: Cherry Bomz, "Hot Girls" begins.
    • Max interrupts with a reveries about the sounds of nature... but another time, because this week he's in...
    • Italy! Land of music and Ferrari drivers trapped in Fiats.
  • UK version only: The Cherry Bomz video continues briefly.
    • * UK only: Max introduces the commercial break as the "Wasting Money Award," a bit recycled in one of the early ABC series breaks.
    • * UK only: a "Max Headroom" placeholder card composed of Edison Carter's silhouette in the dark, with a neon-green version of the broken barrier overlaid.
  • The Cherry Bomz video plays to conclusion.
  • More Italy! Land of unfinished buildings and more music.
  • Stage performance by The Broomstick Men (one of whom appears to be a woman), done as a video insert.
    • Max interrupts with a monologue about the wonders of CD sound.
    • ...more Broomstick Men...
  • Max notes how he now has to move over and make room for someone else on the pedestal...
  • Max and his guest Michael Caine talk about:
    • How Max combs his hair (with a pitchfork).
    • Golf! (Just the word.)
    • Max attempts some Cockney banter and asks why Caine wears glasses (they're a disguise).
      • Video: Talking Heads, "And She Was"
    • Caine's first ambitions.
    • Golf! Caine's handicap is... that he can't play. It's unnatural.
    • Max thinks there should be a great golf movie (like The Great Gatsby).
    • Caine thinks no sports movie can be a big moneymaker, not even Max's script for "The Fourth Hole."
      • ...more video...
    • Max quotes Caine's father about doing a profession that can't be replaced with a machine - so he became an actor. (But what about... Max?)
    • Caine's movie heroes, especially Humphrey Bogart.
    • "Ridley" comes on stage to take Caine off and has a weird exchange with him.
      • ...let's finish up that video now.
  • Max has some advice for youngsters about... the opposite sex.
  • More "Broomstick Men."
  • Max giggles his way out over the credits with babbling nonsense about France and Germany.
    • Ridley, trying to cut him off, whacks the cameraman in the nuts.

Notes & Commentary

This show is far more "fully produced" than its predecessors, including a full opening title sequence and theme and multi-camera coverage of the large "talk show" set. There is a full audience in a standard talk-show stadium seating arrangement, configured to let the camera (and Max) visit them.

The added character "Ridley" (apparently a stage manager) is a rather labored attempt to add the sidekick Max has joked about on prior shows. The actor who plays the part, Paul Shearer, has a long career in British television and a few movies, and was a member of the Cambridge Footlights. He was also the winner of the first Perrier Comedy Award in 1981, along with fellow Footlighters Hugh Laurie, Stephen Fry and Emma Thompson.

The UK version contains the first of what will be unique-to-Channel 4 lead-ins to a commercial break, giving Max full reign to snark and dump on the show sponsors. The shows were shown with a short commercial break in the middle in the UK, which was removed on the "premium" no-commercials Cinemax. This first intro is one of Max's deadliest, calling the commercials entries in a contest to see who can waste the most money on pointless short TV segments. (A briefer version was used in an early ABC series episode and probably helped lead to ABC's dislike for its own show.)

There is no information to be found about the physical comedy trio "The Broomstick Men" that appears in this episode. They appear entirely in a video inset on the "Max TV" but on the main show set within it.

A list and discussion of the montage of caricatures in the title sequence TV/mirror can be found on the general show page.

Quotes & Caps

Mhcom s3e01 new set.jpg
Mhcom s3e01 max on new set.jpg
Max on a video watch!
Mhcom s3e01 max caine.jpg
Mhcom s3e01 caine ridley.jpg
Commercial placeholder card used only for this episode.

(Max's speech in this season finally stops using the extreme stuttering and repetition, probably as much for technical, audience and production reasons as because it was getting tiresome. I am still trimming such repetitions to minimum indicators here in the transcriptions.)

  • Max: "Hey, we've got some TV screens! We got an audience! We got a set! We got music, and I've got a great idea, kids! Let's do the show right here! Yay! Hurray!"
  • Max: "Sir - you.
Man in red shirt: "Yes?"
Max: "You are a man with real style."
Man: "Mmmmm... good enough."
Max: "Did the lady on your left [also wearing a red shirt] choose your clothes?"
Man: "No."
Max: "Have you ever thought of asking her to?"
Man: "Maybe."
Max: "Have you ever thought of begging her to?"
Man: "No."
Max: "Have you ever seen yourself on television before?"
Man: "No."
Max: "Now you know why."
  • Max: "...another time, maybe, because this week I'm in Italy. Yes, Italy! Land of mu-mu-sic. And how they love tourists here. If you lie enough, they make you Prime Minister. And where can you go to really experience the peace and serenity of Italy? That's right-that's right... Moscow! But no, I'm here in the heart of Italy itself - where else but in Rome, ah, Rome, tutti Rome, the roaming and the romanness and antiques and antiquitiness, images and imagaryness, where every day people call up from miles away complaining about the noise of the traffic. Ha, ha ...ah, who cares what the Germans think, anyway? Yeah. Italy. Who was it that called Italy a nation of superb-perb-perb drivers? No. I don't know, either. I see them more as a nation of... Ferrari drivers, trapped inside Fiats.
  • Max: "And now, we come to the 'Wasting Mon-Mon-Money Award.' As you know, every year the society makes its own special award for what's considered to be the most expensive and pointless short piece of television. So... so... let's see the nominations, shall we?"
  • Max: "Well... but, Italy. Home of the Renaissance, great painters, great architects and such painstaking builders, who will sometimes take centuries to actually finish a buil-buil-building. (Colosseum in background.) Builders with a sense of humor-humor. (Tower of Pisa in background.) Builders conducting a lifelong struggle against rising damp. (Venice in background.) And let's not forget music, I hear you saying that, of course the Italians love their music. They love to hear the tremella, alphetto and vibrato (battery-operated, of course) of the classics, especially from the loudspeakers of their ice-cream van. And finally, who could be as emotional as the Italians, how many times have I seen an Italian suddenly burst into tears at the drop of a, oh... government. And such a tal-tal-talent for business. Every year they sell thousands of gallons of colored water across the world and call it frascati. Hmm! Hmm! And so, we must leave Italy and... Okay! Who pinched me!"
  • Max: "Buy Compact Disc! Yes, with the power and sensitivity of CD and with well-trained ears, you can pick up every sound that occurs in the recording studio! Lis-listen carefully to your favorite track and you can pick up the most delicate sound, like the sharp twa-twa-twang from the stiff bristles of Phil Collins' stubble. Yes, hear it actually growing as he played! Hear the squeak of plastic as Michael Jackson blows his nose. The mur-mur-murmur of Rod Stewart's latest girlfriend having reading lessons in the studio next door. Yes-yes! Compact disc opens up a whole new aural universe, with the soft creak of Lionel Ritchie's leather boxer shorts, the squeal of tortured rubber as Prince suddenly changes sexual orientation, and the pitiful cry for help from the cave rescue team trap-trapped in Madonna's navel. See what you're missing?"
  • Max: "Does this ring any bells? 'Dad warned me never to take a job they could invent a machine to do, so I figured no one could invent a machine to take over from actors.'"
Michael Caine: "Right. That's exactly true. That's exactly true."
Max: "Okay, so how does it feel to be sitting there... looking at me?"
Michael Caine: "(laughs) Well, if you'd seen some of the actors I've acted with, um, I figure I've already acted with robots, I tell you."
Max: "Really? Hmm?"
Michael Caine: "I know so. Actually... In actual fact, two of the biggest box-office successes in the world starred the green frog and a tin shark.
Max: "Green frog and a tin shark... now, let's see, that first one was 'War and Peace' and..."
Michael Caine: "Yes, the other one was 'Lowering Depths.'(?)"