Episode CH4.3.7

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Episode CH4.3.7
Title The Max Headroom Show
US Air Date 24 Oct 1986
UK Air Date 17 Feb 1987
Length 30 minutes
Guests Howie Mandel
Crew Talk Show Crew
Matt Frewer Max Headroom
The seventh episode of the second Channel Four season of the Max Headroom talk show featured actor and comedian Howie Mandel.

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

Videos & Segments

  • Max asks the viewer if they really want to sit down for the next thirty minutes, then lists a few of the things they'll miss if they switch off.
    • "Switch off? Okay..."
    • The screen goes to a white dot, then black.
  • We return to a stereotypical sitcom kitchen set (slide) as Max enters to applause and laughs, doing a generic "Hi honey I'm home" schtick. Then he realizes he's in the wrong show...
  • Video: Lulu, "Shout" (ca. 1964 - in color, with "The Luvvers")
  • Max sings nonsensical snippets. "Some lyrics just stay with ya."
  • Black and white clip of a chef making a rooster crow on command.
  • Now Max is at... I said, NOW MAX IS AT THE DISCO!
    • Max gets them to turn off the noise and lights, and describes the disco scene.
  • More chef and rooster.
  • Max has advice for his younger viewers about wearing very tight jeans... not a good idea.
  • Video: Love and Rockets, "Yin and Yang (The Flowerpot Man)"
  • This week, we're in... Greece! Land of bouzoukis, Zorba, souvlaki and moussaka. And feta. And kebabs.
    • Comedy clip from Neil Mullarkey, his "Ghost Train" skit where he simulates a dark, scary ride and tries to scare a seated audience member with rubber bats, spiders and other terrifying items.
  • And we're back in Greece. Land of weightlifters (like Nautilus), gods and tragic history.
  • Opening credits roll...
    • UK version only: Max interrupts, we see the "neon bar" placeholder card and a few moments of black screen for the Channel Four commercial break.
    • UK only: we come back for a somewhat extended take on the opening credits.
    • ...until it's suddenly time again for "Quiz!" with no fewer than three rounds of the theme song.
      • and this time Max is ringing the changes and it's completely different because there will be no question, no prizes, no contestants, because we're not gonna play - we're not gonna play - we're not gonna play... Quiz!
  • Opening credits conclude.
  • In a remote interview (from a TV on Howie's couch), Max and his guest Howie Mandel talk about:
    • Max talks about rock stars, actors, actresses and a variety of social diseases... he's had them all. But today he has one of the wildest young comedians around... Mr. Jack Benny!
    • No, really, it's Howie "For God's sake don't sit on the front row when I'm onstage" Mandel.
    • Howie's live act - it's improv with the audience.
      • His rubber-glove-on-the-head gag: from "St. Elsewhere" or before? (Before.)
      • Video: Paul Hardcastle, "The Wizard" intro. (Techno synth instrumental.)
    • The family suit over his grandmother's hypnosis - a stage magician made her believe she was a chicken and couldn't snap her out of it. (She's almost normal now.)
      • Insert some truly horrid egg puns. (I mean it, horrid. Third-grade. Boy's Life. Reader's Digest.)
    • Max spreads himself across all media: singing! dancing! talking! and...
    • Golf! and...
      • Mandel: "I like golf."
      • Max: (stunned) "You like golf?"
      • Mandel used to be a caddy... but there were no golfers.
    • Paul Hardcastle, "The Wizard" continues.
    • How "How" really embarrasses people - or doesn't - and how.
    • Mandel has started stamp collecting as a hobby in his little spare time over the past three years. By next year he'll have... two. Stamps.
    • Doing the voice of "Gizmo" in "Gremlins."
      • Other voices Mandel does in his act.
    • The film "Bobo" - Mandel spent nine months on all fours and took a lot of abuse in the role as a dog.
    • Max calls Mandel the funniest comedian they've had on the show. (Also the only one... but funnier than Sting.)
    • Paul Hardcastle, "The Wizard" concludes.
  • Max asks if the viewer is one of the chosen people... a biker. Freedom and sloping foreheads forever! Yee-haw!
  • Brief clip of Sylvester Stallone in "Cobra" (1986), answering "Yeah, but it's just a little [attitude problem]."
  • Max and Max are back... Max in the green plaid he interviewed Mandel in, and regular Max in a black jacket.
    • Black Max tries to introduce the show, while green Max makes goofy faces. Black Max repeatedly tries to get him to stop.
    • Black Max wants to sing a song but green Max insists on singing along - "You Gotta Have Happiness."
      • The credits roll fast on a perspective strip underneath the two TVs.
    • US version only: The Cinemax credit is followed by a short Max riff on having a pet yuppie.

Notes & Commentary

The introductory riff shows three clips of things to come, one of which is Howie Mandel using one of his strange voices. Another of them - Max doing a strange "German" riff - doesn't appear at all, which becomes entirely consistent with this episode. This show seems rushed throughout, probably in order to fit an extended and oddly respectful interview with Howie Mandel. There are only three videos, one of which is (then!) over twenty years old and two of which appear in very abbreviated form. The end credits are on a high-speed roll under other material, and "Quiz!" is compacted to a here-it-comes/there-it-goes passing gag. In the end, there's next to nothing worth commenting on, other than the interview.

Which is strange, because this is one of the dullest, most predictable interviews of the entire run, with banal banter and tired sallies. It's almost as if Mandel, then at the peak of his fame, had an agreement with the show to be treated more like a regular talk-show host and not as a foil or target for Max. You can practically read the terms in between Max's softball questions and repeated fawning about Mandel's stature as a comedian, and odd "remote" structure of the interview, apparently shot in Mandel's hotel room.

What's even more odd is that they insist Mandel is the first comedian on the show, when it's only three weeks after Tracey Ullman's appearance. That agreement again? Or is it a gender issue - she was just a comedienne? Or was this remote session shot in advance of the Ullman show? In the end, this interview is perfunctory and ignorable, with hardly a worthwhile moment. It all comes off as an example of a minor talent at the very peak of his or her career, insisting on every privilege - and a struggling show capitulating to catch a hot name in the listings.

Maybe the return concession to Max was for Mandel to be the first guest who says he likes golf?

The brief clip from "Cobra" is entirely in tune here, as that film is often considered to have suffered from Stallone's egotistical control of every detail.

Quotes & Caps

Max interviews some comic from the '80s.
Good Max... Bad Max... He's the guy with the song.

(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: (background sound of helicopters) "Are you - are you - sitting down - down? (gibberish) Are you really bothered about sitting here for the next thirty minutes? We've only got this... (shows some clips of the upcoming show) So? Yeah. Me too. Some soda? Yeah."
  • Max: (Open on still shot of ordinary modern kitchen) (laugh track and applause throughout as Max slides in) "Hi, honey, I'm home! Honey? It's me-me-me! Remember me? Your husband? Okay, honey, I get it: it's the mail-mailman! ...Hey, just a minute! I'm in the wrong damn show! What do you think this is, cheap comedy? [bounces off side of TV frame]"
  • Max: "Hi! I'm at the disco! At the dis-co-co-co! (Could you turn it down, please? ...do you need a talking-to?) Yes, I'm at the disco... or, to be more exact, the perfumed cattle market. Where the dance floor's surrounded by a four-deep wall of guys og-ogl-ogling the girls. The talent: pulling faces and nudging each other like some cats going out on a gang sniff! And I'm not one for being holier-than-thou (much too late for that), but... disco! It should be the hub of sophisticated night life. You know, the nirvana of simple pleasures; the very fulcrum of mutual enjoyment where art and dance are joined together in one glorious united and innocent display of... (tracks something going past with his eyes) Shoo-wah! Hey, check the ass out on that? Heh-heh-heh..."
  • Max: (background phone ringing throughout) "Just a quick word or two of advice now, for my younger viewers, and it's about wearing very tight jeans. You see, it's not a-not a-not a good idea. [segment suddenly rewinds to "it's about..." then runs forward again.] They can actually stop you having children. Mainly because... it takes so long to get them off."
  • Max: "Ah, Greece! Greece. And of course I'm welcomed as always by the melodic sounds of the Greek bouzouki. (Ah.) Yes-yes-yes, that instrument that conjures of images of sun, sea and bricks bounced across piano strings. That instrument that conjures up that much-loved film 'Zorba the Greek,' starring that much-loved actor Anthony Quinn, who played the much-loved striped horse, Zerbra! ...but actually had slightly less Greek in him than Jackie Onassis. Greece-greece-greece: a country of variety. Like... the music. So, let's hear some different Greek music. (record scratch, then same tune continues) Ah. That's better. Yes, variety. And Greece says it all. Especially if you happen to be looking at your dinner. Here are friendly tavernas, where for lunch there's souvlaki, meat-meatballs, and moussaka. And at dinner time, for a change, you can have souvlaki, meatballs, and moussaka. And the cheeses... the wonderful cheeses! There's the pale and crumbly feta, or there's the rich and creamy... feta. Or how 'bout those delicious white slabs of... feta? Ha! And-and-and most Greek of all, the kebab on a skewer. The best way to get it inside you is to run into a restaurant shouting, 'I'm a Turk! I'm a Turk!'"
  • Max: "Greece is a land of legends: Achilles, Jason and the Argonauts, and the young weight lifter, Nautilus... who angered the gods by using their gym. Ah-ah-ah. So, they punished him, and he was doomed to ride a Greek moped for all eternity! But-but-but it's a country with a tragic history, and surely its lowest point was when Greece was made into a musical starring John Travolta. It's the land that gave birth to democracy, but such a relaxed, easy-going country that they all got tired of democracy and invited a group of army colonels to come in and rule them for a while, so they didn't have to go out and vote!"
  • Max: "Bikers
  • Max: "Yuppie