Episode CH4.3.4

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Episode CH4.3.4
Title The Max Headroom Show
US Air Date 12 Sep 1986
UK Air Date 27 Jan 1987
Length 30 minutes
Guests Tracey Ullman
Crew Talk Show Crew
Matt Frewer Max Headroom
The third episode of the second Channel Four season of the Max Headroom talk show featured singer, actress and comedienne Tracey Ullman.

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

Videos & Segments

  • Max appears among a blur of technical and video faults. (In the UK version, a distorted and shattered "4" logo appears; in the US version, those are replaced by the "Cinemax Presents" slide, which briefly appears upside down.)
  • Max apologizes - it's the pressure of being a star, and the guys around him are idle.
  • Max plays a concerto on a grand piano, but battles with the rest of the orchestra coming in too soon.
  • Max does a cockney huckster riff to the "ladies," throwing in one thing (a video) after another (an interview) for free, even though it's costing him.
  • Video: The Smiths, "Panic"
  • Max riffs about his early days as an actor in an old Englishman's accent.
  • Brief black and white clip of a comedian singing "Figaro."
  • And this week we're in... America! Land of delis and cowpokes!
    • Brief black and white clip of women wearing bizarre glasses, including a shot of Max in the scissor glasses from the Vidal Sassoon episode.
  • Back to America... land of bulletproof politicians and opportunistic muggers.

There are significant differences between the UK and US versions at this point.

  • US: Extended clip of mime Les Bubb doing... comedy dancing. (2:24)
  • UK: Much shorter clip of Les Bubb. (0:45)
    • UK: Max responds to the overwhelming viewer preference for commercials in the middle of the show. (0:16)
    • UK: Commercial break: (2:39 total)
      • UK: Chappel of Bond Street (musical instruments)
      • UK: Timotei hair conditioner
      • UK: National & Provincial Building Society (mortgages)
      • UK: Batchelor's Cup of Soup
      • UK: "Dishwash Electric" - generic ad for dishwashers as convenience
      • UK: Sensodyne toothpaste
      • UK: Max Headroom Show placeholder card.
      • UK: Continuation of Les Bubb clip (shorter than US version). (1:25)
  • Max Headroom title card and announcement that they have temporarily lost the show.
    • Meanwhile, rather depressing WWI-era B&W film clips are shown, with happy musical score.
  • And it's 'Quiz!' time again!
    • Max knows, because the munchkins are singing the theme song. ("Bury those dwarves!")
    • The question tonight: "How many of you have imagined yourself talking to... a star?"
    • Max picks Seamus ("Sorry...") from the audience and guides him through an introduction to a special guest meant to make him a "star charmer."
    • Seamus introduces Tracey Ullman, who comes on and kisses him.
  • Video: Tracey Ullman, "Breakaway"
  • Max and his guest Tracey Ullman talk about:
    • Not being a Cockney - she's from Surrey, like Fergie, and started off more posh.
    • Her daughter's name, Mabel Ellen McKeown.
    • What is she doing? Resting, working... or playing golf? ("My husband plays a lot of golf, Max and it really gets on my tits...")
      • Video: Peter Gabriel, "Sledgehammer" intro.
    • Max slides in - "Sorry, there was a dachshund nibbling on my ankle, there." (Dak-sund?)
    • Plans for her first show in America, and how she wants it to be different, and producers want everything to be formulaic. (Shades of the problems with the ABC series!)
      • Tracey doesn't want to work with cute children on the show. ("Probably because they're muggers," Max replies.)
      • Peter Gabriel, "Sledgehammer" continues.
    • Does being married to a millionaire take the edge off her motivation to work? ("No.")
    • Tracey's start on a UK comedy show that sank "without a Trace" when she left.
    • Her film career with Meryl Streep in "Plenty."
    • Her brief music career - "It was a laugh."
      • Max's appearance in "Paranoimia."
    • Max's coke ads in America and how he should be raking it in.
    • Luck and careers. "Yes, I've been lucky."
      • Peter Gabriel, "Sledgehammer" concludes.
  • Max riffs on how wonderful parties are.
  • Over the closing credits, Max laughs hysterically at something below the line of the TV frame, yelling "Stop it!"

Notes & Commentary

This is one of the few places where we're able to compare the US and UK versions and there are significant differences - in the opening sequence, in the Les Bubb/commercial break section, etc. Other than the change from the Channel 4 logo to the Cinemax title card in the opening, the differences between the two runs appear to be omitting any reference to a commercial break in the middle of the show - which was done in the UK, but not on "premium, no-ads" Cinemax.

Quotes & Caps

S-stay tu-tu-tuned...

(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: "Ha... I'm sorry. It's the pressure of being a star. You know how it is. Oh... you don't. But I do. From time to time I get a little bit... temperamental with the guys around me. You see, I'm the idol of millions, and, well, that's the trouble. They're idle... and I earn millions."
  • Max: "Well, where am I... (whistles first notes of 'The Star Spangled Banner') Yep, you guessed it. Give me an A for Anglo-Saxons, an M for Mexicans, E for Europeans, R for Russians, I for Italians, give me a C for Costa Ricans, an A for Africans, and what have you got... besides a lot of letters? America, America... Yes, what a mixed bag of a country this is - home of the Chevrolet, home of the home run and don't forget, home of the brave. Eh... was til they wiped 'em all out. Yes, America, where the Indians have never been forgiven for getting there first. And why? Because the Indians didn't introduce anything decent to eat, that's why! The Poles gave 'em pickled gherkins, the Italians brought over pizza, the Germans, sauerkraut... put 'em all together, and whaddya got? Jewish delicatessen. And because Americans don't have to move out of their own country to find every style of terrain, weather and loud checked trousers. Yes-s-s! And it's a troubled country, which has come through the McCarthy trial and tribulation because it ha-has its foundations firmly based on the principles of liberty, fraternity and Laurel and Hardy. Course. Course. And, of course, freedom of speech... something they should never have told Dr. Ruth Westheimer about. But-but-but let's take a good look at what has emerged from a land where having chaps on your legs was something you can talk about openly. From the land of the chuck wagon and... cowpoke. Who got his name from... poking cows. (Let's hope it was with a stick.) Well, c'mon, it's a lonely job driving cattle, right?"
  • Max: "Yes. Yes. America is a health-conscious nation too. They live in fear of contagious diseases like herpes, AIDS, being a one-car family. And it's a place where winning means success and losing means a walk-on part in Dynasty. But they don't just think about money; sometimes they think about how best to throw it away, like having a President driven around in an expensive bullet-proof limousine when he already has a perfectly good bullet-proof head. But I won't be unfair, because it's a well-known fact American politicians are the best money can buy. And, let's just take one final look at what makes America great. Well... of course it's the land of opportunity, where the streets are paved with gold... and whatever else muggers drop as they run away."
  • Max: "And, you'll remember that on the last show, we asked you to write in and tell us whether you really wanted to see commercials in the middle of the show. And your response was overwhelming! But, I'm afraid it's about the money-money-money-money... arf"
  • Max: " "
  • Max: " "
  • Max: " "
  • Max: " "
  • Max: " "