Max Headroom, one of the strangest pop culture phenomena to ever jerkily grace its way onto our TV screens, is coming back to his native home of television. Deadline reports today that AMC, Halt And Catch Fire co-creator Christopher Cantwell, Elijah Wood, and Headroom actor Matt Frewer are all combining forces to bring the ’80s icon back to the world of television.
Explaining the whole “Max Headroom” thing, for the benefit of those not alive at the time (or who’ve tried to block out the memory), is going to take a minute, so bear with us here: The character was originally designed to serve as a VJ for the U.K.’s Channel 4 and its then-new library of music videos; the idea being that a computerized version of a straight-laced guy in a suit would thread the irony needle for youths of the era. But, CGI technology at the time was nowhere near ready to create an actual digital head that could talk and look like the character being envisioned—so instead, Frewer was hired to undergo extensive prosthetics and makeup (and subjected to a number of audio effects and camera tricks) in order to look like a computer-generated character, semi-improvising the character’s smartass POV. Oh, and then they wrote him a whole elaborate backstory, filming an hour-long movie set “20 minutes into the future,” where Frewer played both Headroom, and the crusading journalist whose brain patterns he was based on.
Is this all tracking?
There were then two different Max Headroom shows over the next few eyars: The music video show that aired in the U.K. for a couple of seasons, and then an ABC series in the U.S. that picked up where the TV movie had left off a few years earlier, telling a dramatic dystopian story that also happened to feature the digital pitchman for New Coke. (Note: Max Headroom also tried to sell people on New Coke.) The character was eventually retired, reappearing (with Frewer re-donning the makeup) for a few commercials, and a nostalgic re-appearance in 2015's Pixels.
Phew! That’s pretty much everything you need to know (except for the times a guy in a Max Headroom mask hijacked Chicago TV broadcasts in the late ’80s to show people his ass, but, honestly, we digress).
Anyway! Frewer is teaming up with Cantwell, who’ll serve as showrunner on the show, plus Wood, who’s producing the show, with Daniel Noah, through his Spectrum Media shingle. There’s no word yet on what form the new series will take, although an extension of Headroom’s satirical roots seems pretty likely. Also, we have to ask: Have we reached a point in history where Max Headroom is actually played, on a regular basis, by CGI, thus saving Frewer grueling hours in the makeup chair? Truly, the future is a place where wonders never cease.