Episode CH4.3.3

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Episode CH4.3.3
Title The Max Headroom Show
US Air Date 29 Aug 1986
UK Air Date 20 Jan 1987
Length 30 minutes
Guests Oliver Reed
Crew Talk Show Crew
Matt Frewer Max Headroom
The third episode of the second Channel Four season of the Max Headroom talk show featured actor Oliver Reed.

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

Videos & Segments

  • Max in his green-and-purple plaid rips off a long parodic riff as a VJ calling down the top 30 world hits.
  • Max dedicates the show to... you, the viewer, because he loves you and we're growing closer. Even if you're Belgian.
  • Video: Bolshoi, "Away"
    • Max interrupts for a Dragnet/detective bit.
    • Bolshoi, "Away" continues.
  • Max greets the audience with a trip down TV "mammary lane" (of weird black and white clips).
  • Video: Sir Mixalot, "Square Dance Rap" (using old Disney-era animation).
    • In the UK version only, Max interrupts with the exciting moment of the weekly Choose-Your-Favorite-Adverts contest, and the winners are those chosen by Her Highness the Queen Mother.
    • UK only: Max Headroom Show placeholder card, and commercial break.
    • And this week, we're in... China! Rather offensively...
  • Sir Mixalot, "Square Dance Rap" continues.
    • Guest Oliver Reed interrupts the ending.
  • Max and his guest Oliver Reed talk about:
    • His tough guy image (but he's really a pussycat).
    • His films: "The Devils" (1971) and "Women in Love" (1969) and censorship.
    • Getting naked in films as a better option to violence and gore, especially for children.
    • Nudity in films as a risk for major actors in earlier eras, and how the controversial male wrestling scene in "Women in Love" was filmed.
      • Video: Luis Cardenas, "Runaway" (using dinosaur puppets).
    • Max asks Reed about being a sportsman... and Reed is snoring, eyes open.
      • Luis Cardenas, "Runaway" continues.
    • Max tries to provoke Reed over drinking, and adds that he knows he has a short temper. ("No, Max... I'm a very cool dude. A mean whoop-whoop, but I'm a cool dude.")
    • Max asks if Reed, as a country boy, likes any blood sports. ("No.")
    • Max asks Reed about his new film, "Castaway" - and Reed responds at great length in his slow manner, which the show producers handle by speeding up most of Reed's reply to Daffy Duck levels.
    • Max calls the segment "an honorable draw" with Reed.
      • Luis Cardenas, "Runaway" concludes. (The title card that passes has his name misspelled "Cardinas.")
  • And it's time once again for... "Quiz!"
    • Cue munchkin chorus of the theme song...
    • Tonight's prize is a trip for two to Las Vegas to see the Boomtown Rats in concert, and meet them.
    • The question is... "Who is the lead singer of the Boomtown Rats?" (Bob Geldof...)
      • There is no answer from the audience, so the prize is saved for another night.
  • And it's "Goodnight!"
    • Max does a riff on colognes for men over the closing credits.
  • Max (in the white suit) and Max (in the black suit) sing a crooner duet of "We're Just Good Pals" on two facing TVs, amid chummy banter.
  • Max gives a short closing riff that appears to be partly in German or Dutch purely to allow him to bark out the word "cunt!" - which sends him into hysterics.
  • Max says they're coming up on the moment he's been waiting for for... minutes. (screen goes black)

Notes & Commentary

Shockingly, there is no mention of golf in this episode, not even in the interview.

Oliver Reed is perhaps not well-remembered today, especially to U.S. audiences, but he was one of the most popular actors in the UK during the peak of his career in the 1960s-1990s. He was known for his portrayals of very tough, brutal characters, which may not have been too far from his real persona. In any case, he was even more widely known as a three-fisted drinker whose alcoholism and prodigious intake led to many stories, many of them involving violence or implied violence from Reed.

It is not clear who Max might be referring to as "the little bird" who told him about Reed having a short temper, especially over his drinking, but it probably refers to some recent incident of the time. In 1975 Shelly Winters dumped a glass over Reed's head on The Tonight Show because of his drunken comments about women. About a year after this appearance on Max's show, David Letterman had to backpedal at high speed when it seemed that he had enraged Reed to the point of physical violence with questions about his drinking. (If anyone knows of a specific incident ca. early 1986 in which Reed may have put "a little birdie in a sling" - please let me know.) YouTube is full of "drunken Oliver Reed being obnoxious and threatening" clips, for those interested.

All of which makes Reed's very gentle, soft-spoken repetitions of "No, Max" take on a Hannibal Lecter-like vibe...

The closing duet is long (about 3:30) and may be the first instance of Max singing a full tune. I can find no record of the song and it is hard to tell if it's an obscure standard or show tune (with some muddled lyrics) or something original composed for the show.

Quotes & Caps

Oliver Reed and glass of wine, looking uncommonly like a grown-up thug version of Ralphie Parker.
Max in a duet with his best pal, Max.

(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: "Hi, there, yes, from around the world, across the nation and up your street- it's your fave-rave relayed VJ jive talking live, walking you through this week's world charts! That's right, it's time to strobe the globe, scan the lands, delve on the shelves and slit the hits that are twistin' the listeners right across the world tonight. So let's start with a rundown of the top-top thirty, and right in there at number thirty is South Africa, with a double-sider with those two great crowd songs, 'Hit Me with Your Policeman's Stick' and 'Get Me to the Hospital On Time.' And straight in at number twenty-nine, another double-whammer and a first-time entry from Russia, 'We Oughta Frost Old-Style' once again with 'We're Young, Hip & Crazy- Isn't It Fab!' And still at number twenty-eight, it's Poland with 'Gdansk Gdansk' - so good they named it oh good they named it twice. And straight into number fifteen, it's Iceland following their recent eleven-inch that was a mammoth hit in Iceland: 'Fish Soup, Glorious Fish Soup!' And what a day for fish soup, they're now out there again with 'You Say Herring, I Think Cod, Let's Call the Whole Thing Bouillabaisse'! (Those Icelanders ride the mules.) Still riding high at fourteen is Yakloslovakia with that Chuck Berry sound, 'Cruisin' Along In My Trac-Tractor'! And at number thirteen it's the contest big sell from Japan, 'I've Got a Brand New Pair of Horn-Rim Specs'! And-and-and, the big one storming up five places to number one on top of the world this week, the South African version of a Paul McCartney song, a beautiful anthem, to beautiful South Africa, 'Ivory and Ivory'!"
  • Max: (sirens in background throughout) "It was six o'clock. I hadn't had a drink since seven. Either I was drying out or my watch had stopped. My hands started shaking but my watch still wouldn't start. I know what I need: a shot - a shot. A shot in the ear. Acupuncture. At three a.m. I arrived at the surgery. I use the term loosely - was actually more like... three-thirty. A tiny oriental scrap of humanity motioned me to sit on a bit of squalid rush matting. When I sat on his leg by mistake, I knew I was in trouble. He asked if anything was disturbing me. I said noth-noth-nothing. When he rammed a needle in my ear, I said I was disturbed. After two needles, I lost the use of both legs. After four, I lost the use of my car, swimming pool and tennis courts. Aft-aft-after six, [on Intersat(?)] the yellow devil picked up Chinese satellite TV on his DEF-8. It was time to go. I hated Chinese TV, and my book-books were due back at the library. But that's another story. And another accent."
  • Max: (Most of this is in a truly offensive faux-Chinese accent... ah, the 80s.) "Unmistakable, isn't it? Who could fail to recognize the sweet and gentle gaboing-gaboing of Chinese music. Yesh. I am in China, one of most remarkable country in world. A nation rich in ancient monument, tweasure, and bicycle love worship. And how Chinese ruv dere bikes! Wing-a-ding on dere bicycle bells and Dinga Winga Winga Ring on their birth certificate! And they don't just use them for work-work, no! On weekends you'll see them skillfully racing their bikes across wet paddy fields, falling off, laughing and saying 'bruddy irriot!' like only the Chinese can. And that's because the Chinese love a challenge. And isn't that why they all wore dull-dull-dull uniforms, because that dribbly soy sauce was always running down their chin and ruining their best clothes? That's a clever race!"
  • Oliver Reed: "Alan and I got very frightened about taking our clothes off [for a scene in 'Women in Love'], but that was cured by a bottle of vodka each. And the room was very cold, and the firelight was made with what is called a 'dingleberry' with the assistance of a lot of people from the film crew."
Max: "A dingleberry?"
Oliver Reed: "A dingleberry. Which is a..."
Max: "Sounds like a buffalo chip-chip-chip?"
Oliver Reed: "No, it sounds like something that you have in your head. I know the buffalo chip - what chips do you use in your head?"
Max: "Ah, nothing, just your standard computer chips. I like 'em with everything."
  • Max: "Well, let's get back to rugby a bit. You now, with the lads and the ba-ba-bath and fifteen pints and the quick chorus of 'If I Were the Marrying Kind' and 'The Hairs On My Dickie-Do'... is it the game, or being with the lads, like Alan Bates, that you like so much?"
Oliver Reed: "No, no, Alan Bates has one like a pigeon's egg."
Max: "He has one like a pigeon's egg?"
Oliver Reed: "Yeah."
Max: "On what?"
Oliver Reed: "One hell of an ego."
  • Max: "And this ones for the... guys. "Okay? Listen: don't try to tell lies with your aftershave. If your f-f-f-fragrance is 'BullHorn' or 'Rhino Stab' or 'Whiff of Mating' or-or-or 'Rutting Season,' and you're trying to say 'Hey, baby, this is a real man!'... I'm not surprised you're getting nowhere. You see, those aren't fragrances, they are oh-dors. They are riot control weapons. They are the stuff they fire at charging rhinos... and it doesn't work on them, either. And women are not that easily fooled. They know it's just a cover-up... they know it's just a cover-up. They know that if you wear 'Rutting Weapon' that says you'd rather be home stir-frying alfalfa. Or feeding the fish or reading 'The Inner Self.' They know if you were really the knuckle-dragging primate type, you wouldn't admit it. You'd be trying to look sensitive, wearing 'Rodin' or 'Caravaggio' or (?). So listen, stud-stud-throb, women know that when you're at a party smelling like a grizzly's goat bandage that you are not the all-male hairy-chested bristle-chinned stud they're looking for. And how do they know? Because he's over there, smelling like a daffodil. Or you could do what I do, and just wear 'Boink-Boink-Boink-Boink'!