Episode CH4.3.2

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Episode CH4.3.2
Title The Max Headroom Show
US Air Date 15 Aug 1986
UK Air Date 13 Jan 1987
Length 30 minutes
Guests Vidal Sassoon
Crew Talk Show Crew
Matt Frewer Max Headroom
The second episode of the second Channel Four season of the Max Headroom talk show featured a fiery exchange with stylist and entrepreneur Vidal Sassoon.

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

Videos & Segments

  • Max announces the end of the show, as the end credits roll.
  • The regular opening sequence leads us to tonight's game show... Quiz!
    • And game shows have prizes!
    • Only tonight, we'll skip the game and just give the prize to the audience member sitting in the lucky seat!
      • "Roger" wins a four-course steak dinner, served to him right then.
  • Video: The Untouchables, "I Spy"
    • Max interrupts with a long riff on nature and the way male animals work out their aggression, and how stupidly human males do it by comparison.
    • "I Spy" continues.
  • Max riffs about ecology and efficient handling of garbage.
  • John Otway & Willy Barrett: "Headbutts" (comedy sketch of metal singers bashing heads into the mikes)
    • Max in silhouette interrupts to do a confession riff about buying drugs playing videos
    • "Headbutts" continues.
  • And this week, we're in... France! The sights, the smells...
  • Tenpole Tudor: "Swords of 1000 Men"
    • In the UK version only, Max interrupts with another snarky leader into a commercial break.
      • UK only: Brief appearance of THE MAX HEADROOM SHOW placeholder card.
      • UK only: "Swords of 1000 Men" continues to the same point as the US version.
  • More France - land of wine, heroes and bizarre design.
    • "Swords of 1000 Men" continues.
  • Max and his guest Vidal Sassoon talk about:
    • Max welcomes Vidal (VS: "It truly is a pleasure to be in your space capsule." Max: "Yes it is.")
    • Vidal's name (which, he corrects, came from his grandfather - "One for me!")
    • How wonderful the real Vidal Sassoon looks
    • His career as hair cutter
      • Vidal tells of cutting Mia Farrow's hair for "Rosemary's Baby" for $5,000.
    • His product empire
      • Ledernacken: "Shimmy And Shake" intro
    • The plethora of Sassoon products, and Max's style
    • The appeal of hair under women's arms, and hair care products for it
      • Ledernacken: "Shimmy And Shake" continues
    • Golf and goddamn howitzers... (duck!)
    • Beauty: Skin deep or human potential (Max yawns)
    • Dying
    • Dyeing hair
      • Ledernacken: "Shimmy And Shake" concludes
  • A closing riff from Max about the miracle of A-G-E as a cure for youth.

Notes & Commentary

This episode opens with a signature piece of Max bizarreness: Max giving a sad end-of-the-show farewell over the closing credits. The regular title sequence then runs... and we're into the game show, "Quiz!"

The "Ridley" sidekick doesn't seem to have survived to a second show.

Vidal Sassoon turns out to be a witty, acid and unflappable target for Max's riffs. It may be one of the few Max show "debates" that the judges would have to give to the visiting team. Of course, by this time Max and his approach to interviewing were better known and rather than expect a gentle comedy exchange, Sassoon went in prepared to deflect Max's snark. Only Sting seems to have done almost as good a job overall, and he had little or no warning of what to expect. (At least one of Sassoon's comments about golf reflects Sting's replies as well.) In any case, the interview segment is one of the fiercest of the entire set.

The snark about Sassoon's good looks is clearer if you understand that Sassoon was just short of 60 at the time, and looks at least 20 years younger. (But what would you expect?) He would live until he was 84. His serious comments about dying with his full faculties ("I don't see myself as a cabbage") proved to be true, and he was active and involved with his business and philanthropic efforts until his last days. Frankly, he was a pretty fascinating guy.

Quotes & Caps

Vidal Sassoon, probably skewering Max.
Max preparing to cut Sassoon a little.

(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: "Well... well... well, ladies and gentlemen, I'm afraid we've come to the end of our show, and we'd just like to thank you for letting us into your homes t-t-to share some laughs with you, and maybe spread a little happiness... your way. Now, the only thing left for me to say is, we'll call around again very soon, and we hope that you're going to be at home when we ring your bell." (calls offstage: "Can I have some te-te-tears, please!" - tears appear on his cheek "Thank you.") (sobs) "G-g-g-goodnight, everyone. God-god-god bless! I love you! I love you!" (turns blase again "Okay, tears back in the box.") (regular opening credits roll.)
  • Max: "Hi, and a big-big-big welcome to my game, 'Quiz!'" (a chorus sounding like Munchkins sings the Quiz theme song) "Yeah, god, I love it when those short people sing like that! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is the spot in the show where we play the game called... Quiz!" (chorus sings theme song again)
  • Max: "Again and again and again and again and again... isn't nature a wonderful thing?"
  • Max: "Y'know, these days there [are] a lot of free-thinking people who are ecology-conscious, and want a clean atmosphere and a world free of litter and waste. And-and-and I understand this, so I'm gonna give you some good advice. Next time you empty your ashtrays, Hoover bags and kitchen waste bins, don't-don't leave it all outside for collection. No, do what everyone else is doing: take it direct to the municipal garbage pitch. You'll find it on the pavement right outside your nearest hamburger or fried chicken takeaway. That's all."
  • Max: "Where am I... Where am I... (sniffs) Can you smell it? Can you? That unmistakable aroma of cafe au lait, fresh-baked croissants and en gar-leek. Yes-yes, I'm in France. Not-not-so-gay Paris, where only the river is Seine (which happens to be my favorite joke) and how the French adore their distinctive smells. They adore their open air. The ad-ad-adore the distinctive smells of their open-air toilets. The French love rich and delicate haute cuisine, and they hate fast convenience food, but who can blame them? Fast is the only way to be in their conveniences... yes, a French toilet's a simple hole in the ground that speaks volumes, and [be(?)]sides any shitty toilet in the world is like a breath of fresh air.
But France of course means wine, and its symbol must surely be... the grape-the grape. Oh? Like the French: the grape. Tough on the outside, bumped(?) on the inside with little bits that want you make to spit. Yep-yep-yep! The French wine." (accents make remainder unintelligible)
  • Max: "Hi. Now there's one thing in every show that I just wouldn't miss for the world... and that's the commercials-the commercials. They really are brilliant. So don't dash off and pour yourself a drink, stay here with me and watch these! Great! Swell! Neat! Fab! Chri-Chri-Christ! ...thank God-thank God for that. ...uh. Time for a break."
  • Max: "What else is France? It's famous for its guillotine, its Bastille and other foul-tasting cigarettes. Well, it's a country with a vast cul-culture behind it. A long way behind it. A culture stretching all the way from the can-can to... the can-can. Let's not forget those brave fighters in the wartime French resistance who went un-underground in 1940 and came out again in 1945! God, they must have been dirty! And let's not forget the million achievements of French design - the black beret, the onions on a string (that's weird-that's weird), the greasy breadrolls with unusual shapes and best of all, in the unending quest for a modern battery-driven car, only the French could have leapt ahead by designing a car that looks like a battery! Yes-yes-yes! Well, friends, it's a country world-famous for its surprisingly acrid cigarettes, its surprisingly p-p-pungent cheeses, its surprisingly foul toilets, and everywhere beautiful perfume... which isn't at all surprising."
  • Max: "Now: as you know, stylish, and el-ee-gant are not words that I use lews-lee... unlike 'my modesty,' which I find I use all the time. So, when someone is lucky enough to meet-meet me has enough style and el-ee-gance to fill a whole room, that's when I find other words to say, like 'do you mind leaving the room?' Or, in this case, something like 'who would have thought I'd get VD so soon?' Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Mr. Vidal 'I was once a hairdresser' Sassoon!" (The last sentence has Max wearing bizarre hair-scissors glasses.)
  • Max: "So you're the actual V-V-Vidal Sassoon... God, you look wonderful!"
Vidal Sassoon: "Well, what did you expect, Max... I mean, really? Health foods every morning; vitamins; sixty pills a day..."
Max: "Quick dry cement in the old crow's feet?"
Vidal Sassoon: "...jumped into the pool this morning... I mean, I try and do it all."
  • Max: "When did you cease cutting hair and start building a huge corporation, and was there a specific time?"
Vidal Sassoon: "Cutting hair you earn a damned good living - you meet an awful lot of marvelous people, interesting people, fascinating people, which helps you in your growth. That's exciting."
Max: "Hair growth?"
Vidal Sassoon: "Yeah, hair growth, yeah. ...you could use some."
  • Max: "I'll bet you've done some strange cuts in your time. What's the weirdest haircut you've ever given anybody?
Vidal Sassoon: "On you, about a half hour ago."
  • Max: "I've been peeking at the Vidal Sassoon product range, and I've seen shampoos, conditioners, rinses, gels, mousses, deers, antelopes, hitsies(?), sprays, body glazes - I mean, if you put that lot on you'd look like a model AirFix kit. Are people really that unhappy with their 'neutral' [did he mean 'naturelle'?] hair?"
Vidal Sassoon: "Well, if you look around any city, most people must be very unhappy and very insecure, because they dress... for instance, you must be very secure - look at you. You're the epitome of what most kids would want to look like when they grow up... if they don't get lucky. Very few people have the courage to be an individualist, and I find it very exciting. I'm kind of, almost in trepidation, because when I work with people on television before, you look into their eyes, to get the sense of them, and you're talking to a human being. I sense I'm... in some sort of capsule, talking to a robot. It's kind of exciting."
Max: "Are you on drugs, Vidal?"
Vidal Sassoon: "Uh... I will be, after I leave this show, I can assure you."
  • Max: "Would you ever want to, uh, find a range of hair-care products for armpits, though? I don't know, maybe, you know, armpit toupees or something?"
Vidal Sassoon: "Possibly leg pits. I'm not sure about armpits."
Max: "Leg pits. Incredible."
Vidal Sassoon: "Pubic hair should be heart-shaped this year."
  • Max: "I gather you don't play golf."
Vidal Sassoon: "God, I think that's for old men - it's such a dreary goddamn game... my God. How do you get into that thing? I mean, four hours, walking around..."
Max: "[I swear to hell(?)], if I had a howitzer now, I would turn it on you so god damn fast..."
Vidal Sassoon: "...with a bunch of drunks... I mean, what kind of exercise is that?"
Max: "You said you were into esthetics... you don't think-think that Seve Ballesteros' backswing is esthetic?"
Vidal Sassoon: "Yeah, but it happens once every ten minutes."
Max: "What do you mean it's every ten minutes? What about when he's on the practice range?"
Vidal Sassoon: "Uh, most people are not interested in practices, just in the real thing. I think golf is an absolute bloody bore."
Max: "You don't think practicing is the real thing? What about the hours that you slaved away with your garden shears, practicing for the time when you would get a chance to do your god damn Madame Pompadour hair style?"
Vidal Sassoon: "Yes, but I didn't expect anyone to watch me practicing, and I didn't."
Max: [babbling and distraught] "But you were doing it for you-you, and that's important!"
Vidal Sassoon: "Well, if you feel that... that-that truly about golf, I have to tell you: I hate it."
  • Max: "Do you suffer from spots, pimples and other adolescent skin problems? Then remember A-G-E, the number one cure for youth. A-G-E works on your body day in, day out, day in, day out... adds hair, then slowly removes it. Gives you... confidence, then takes it away. But let our product speak for itself. We asked lovely young model Karen 'I want to be an actress' Mount to test A-G-E:"
Karen: (young voice) "I just think it will change my life!"
Max: "That was sixty years ago. Notice any difference now, Karen?"
Karen: (old voice) "Yes, gracious me, it really works!"
Max: "Yes: Age. Available from Earth."