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
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 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).
    • 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.
      • Commercial break(?)
  • And this week, we're in... China!
  • 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

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

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: " "