Episode CH4.3.6

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Episode CH4.3.6
Title The Max Headroom Show
US Air Date 10 Oct 1986
UK Air Date 10 Feb 1987
Length 30 minutes
Guests David Byrne
Crew Talk Show Crew
Matt Frewer Max Headroom
The sixth episode of the second Channel Four season of the Max Headroom talk show featured a figure who was probably most like Max's real-life counterpart, Talking Heads singer David Byrne.

The MaxRchives contain a complete recording of the UK broadcast of this episode. The complete interview segment is available on YouTube. Charles McGrew's page contains a number of audio clips that precede the Byrne interview.

Videos & Segments

  • We open on a brief clip of an ad for "Lyril" soap, with its irritating theme. There will be more.
  • Max appears in fast rewind for a few moments, then bounces giddily around the screen while talking about what a wild time he and the crew have, such as staying up talking until quarter to eleven while eating toast. It's just non-stop!
  • Video: Curiosity Killed the Cat, "Misfit"
  • Max on why Pope John Paul II is the happiest man in the world.
    • Lyril ad pops in again.
    • Max finishes his last comment about the pope.
  • Max talks about what a wonderful show is in store.
    • We're interrupted by a news flash: an important message from the Albanian news agency is played in full. (It's all in Albanian, except for 'SS-24 missiles,' 'Reagan,' 'radioactivitat,' and 'Lincolnshire'... and then 'giant gorilla' near the end.)
  • Max, in his green plaid suit, tells the audience this is the last show in the current series, and thanks them for all their cards and letters as the end credits roll. "Thank you... Thank you... I love you... Damn you... God bless... I love you... Bye..." The credits end. "What do you mean it's not the last show? How many more? Aw, Je-Jesus Chri..." (the sequence rewinds to the beginning and the regular opening credits roll).
    • The credits are interrupted by a second news flash that corrects the first's sentence containing "giant gorilla."
    • The credits resume, only to slow to half speed, then pause on the "neon green bar" placeholder slide from the first UK show of this season.
      • The placeholder card is itself interrupted by a very brief clip of a young woman on a horse.
    • The opening credits conclude more or less normally.
  • We open on the studio audience to the irritating jingle that tells us...
  • Once again, it's time to play 'Quiz!'... and the jingle plays again. (Max: "Squash 'em.")
    • This week's prize for one person from the audience: an all-expenses-paid trip to a mystery capital city in the heart of Asia.
    • The winner is the first person in the audience who can honestly put their hand up and say they will never be unfaithful to their partner.
      • Most of the audience raises their hand. Max picks 'Simon Simon' and he swears he will never be unfaithful to his (rather pretty) partner.
      • The prize is a week in... Bangkok, the sex capital of Asia. Max runs down the plentiful sex services available...
      • ...and then says it's a waste of time to give it to such a puritan guy, so they'll save it for another time. (Simon: "Nooooo!")
  • Video: Gene Loves Jezebel, "Heartache"
  • Max has some heart-to-heart advice for sufferers of bad zits.
  • Full length Lyril ad this time... the jingle just gets more irritating.
  • Max narrates a long clip of ants, spiders and bugs. What's not gross is smutty.
  • Brief arty shot of drum set with powerful drum solo.
  • Clip of "The Brown Paper Bag Brothers" comedy skit.
  • Back to the arty drums... and it's Max playing them. ("Eat your heart out, Ringo!")
  • Max and his guest David Byrne (on Max's 'guest TV'!) talk about:
    • Max introduces David Byrne as the avatar of the leading edge.
    • Byrne's favorite of his many activities: the fun of cleaning out his refrigerator
    • How his stage persona is sillier than himself in real life
      • Video: Talking Heads, "Wild Wild Life" intro
    • "As one talking head to another": do fans keep expecting something different all the time?
    • The style of his clothes (dark green and purple plaid suit jacket) vs. Max's.
      • Max switches into his own green and purple plaid suit.
    • Byrne's film "True Stories"
    • Max gets stuck in a cramp laughing and calls for help.
      • He and Byrne switch monitors, which seems to fix things.
      • Video: Talking Heads, "Wild Wild Life" continues.
    • Still on opposite monitors, Max asks David if one movie is enough for a guy like him.
      • Byrne would like to make more, in the name of megalomania.
      • It's different from making videos.
    • Byrne hopes "True Stories" tells the story of ordinary people well.
    • Whether Max's show would work in Belgium.
    • Max thanks "the most famous talking head besides... me!"
      • Video: Talking Heads, "Wild Wild Life" concludes.
  • It's Puzzle Time! (Max likes Puzzle Time!) And the puzzle this week is about... Max's favorite tattoos.
  • Black and white clip of futuristic beauty products to a dramatic score.
  • As the Chrysalis copyright stripe starts across the screen, Max in his white suite apologizes to "Nobby" for not being quite ready. He pauses. The stripe rolls back. "Okay, I'm ready." The stripe rolls out all the way across.
  • Max in his green and plaid suit and green sunglasses sings a short silly faux-Irish song about his show.

Notes & Commentary

David Byrne is very different from his performing persona - quiet, shy and humorless and seemingly thrown by Max's sallies at several points. Appearing on a remote link also appears to be more than just a stunt. He has admitted in writings that he may be borderline Asperger's, and his comments about being two different people in person and on stage may reflect his personality quirks.

The repeated jingle for "Lyril" soap may be the most irritating element of any Max show, and that's saying something...

No golf. No country theme. Wait, what show is this? There is also no overt commercial break, even though this is the UK version.

Quotes & Caps

Max and David Byrne together... sort of.
Now it's David Byrne and Max together... sort of.
Avoid this brand at all costs... All Costs... ALL COSTS!

(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: "The happiest man in the world. You? Me-me-me? A Turkish sewer worker with a day off? An Australian who's got a dic-dic-dic... a dictionary? Nope. The pope. (Mm-hmm.) Good old John Paul, the Polish pope, the most popular Italian in the world. But why so happy? Is it his style of living? Well... well... well... with the problems of the poverty-stricken Catholic world on your shoulders, the Vatican must be a very nice place to live. And with those robes, he doesn't have to worry about keeping up with shoe fashions. Is it his talent? Yes, he is the only man who can say 'Jesus Christ' in fifty languages and make them all sound like he's swearing. Or is it his uniqueness? Being the only one wearing a skirt in Rome who hasn't had his butt squeezed. Yes, happy man. Congratulations, Your Holiness - I smell Guinness!"
(after a break for the Lyril ad) "...Book of Records!"
  • Max: "Can I talk to you about an everyday problem? Do you have really bad skin? Are pimples and acne making you stay indoors? Do your friends talk behind your back... because it's safer? Do they call you 'cactus kisser'? Does your face look like the venue for a mosquito's barn dance? And are you such a regular that you're on first-name terms with the man in your local drugstore? And is he on first-name terms with your zits? Heh. Seriously. Does your geography teacher organize field trips on your back? And do you find you're always picked to swim last in the school relay team? Well, if boil-boil-boils and pimples are making your life a complete misery, if you dread the embarrassment of meeting people... stay at home. You think everybody else want to look at 'em?"
  • Max: "Listen... listen... when it comes to being up-front, state-of-the-art and downright avant-garde, I can pick guests for my show. And if he isn't someone who says 'Now,' 'moder-moderne,' 'leading-edge' and 'you won't catch me cleaning out the refrigerator' then I'll eat my copy of 'Video Monthly.' Ladies and gentlemen, here, in person, on my guest monitor, David 'my friends call me can-you-feel-the-' Byrne! Hi, Dave!"
David Byrne: "Hello, Max. Nice to be here."
Max: "Now, then. David Byrne. Imaginative. Inno-vut-a-vutive. A respected force, too. And a milestone in visual arts, and a true raining-socks man. (But enough about me.) Which of all your fields of activity are you happiest working in?"
David Byrne: "Cleaning out the refrigerator."
  • Max: "It's Puzzle Time! Puzzle Time! (heh-heh-he-heh) I like Puzzle Time. Which-which is the odd one out? A ship. A swallow. An anchor. A phoenix. Or a girl wearing a skimpy pair of panties? Hmm? The answer is: none of them! Because they're all my top five favorite tattoos. Tho-those colorful designs say something special about the guy sporting one - something like: 'What a good sport!' Yes, tattoos! What style! Who doesn't thrill at seeing that imaginative heart with an arrow through it, stained onto a sailor's solar plexus? Or... hum-hum-hum: a dragon dancing across a dockworker's diaphragm? So, don't put silly stickers in your car window... express yourself with a tattoo! (bip... bip... bip) Why bother with 'My Other Car's a Porsche' [porsh] when your bicep can say 'I've Got a Snake on the Other Arm!' (hahaha) And who needs 'I Love New York' window sticker once you've glimpsed on a building worker's bicep, the simple but classic 'I Love Bricks.'"