Showing posts from 2012

Michael Cassutt: The Max Headroom Interview

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Michael Cassutt is a writer and producer of a number of television series, including THE TWILIGHT ZONE (1985), THE OUTER LIMITS (1990), and EERIE, INDIANA (1991). But he can also take credit for his work on MAX HEADROOM (1987), and during this 25th anniversary celebration, I am thrilled that he agreed to an interview on what is now regarded as “the first cyberpunk television series.”

GK: Thanks for subjecting yourself to this interview- this is very exciting for me, as I was in college, majoring in Radio/Television/Film when MAX HEADROOM debuted, so you can imagine how it resonated with me. And that affection has only grown over the years.

So, to begin, how did you become involved in the MAX HEADROOM TV series?

MC: I got hired on MAX because of Phil DeGuere, who was my boss on TWILIGHT ZONE. A vastly experienced network showrunner, Phil had been teamed with Peter Wagg (w…

If I may be allowed to get serious for a moment…

This one will not be pretty or fun. It may not even be safe for work.  But I believe it needs to be said.Yesterday, I read a brutally honest, incredibly painful confession of a tech writer at the Verge. It seems that Paul Miller has decided to try an experiment wherein he lives without internet for one year.  As a consequence (I’m not sure if it was intended or not), he found that it was a way to help him deal with his porn addiction.  Now you might want to stop at this point because yes, I went there.  This one is about porn.  Mr. Miller also “outed” himself as a Christian.   Reading through the comments, Mr. Miller received a great deal of mocking.  This thing is, I couldn't tell if it was because he was admitting to a porn addiction and wanted to do something about it, or because he admitted to being a Christian and understanding that there was something wrong with pornography.In the article, he shared a his doctor’s medical opinion on the health benefits of masturbation, as we…

Recommended Podcasts

Technorati Tags: ,,,,,,,,,,,, I enjoy listening to my mp3 player on my morning commute.  Often, I check out Old Time Radio series, but increasingly, my player has featured podcasts covering a multitude of topics. 
Lately, three have bubbled up to the top of my playlists, as they focus on science fiction and fantasy TV shows, movies,and other forms of genre fiction.  Now I know that there are a lot of podcasts that cover these subjects, but these three do so from a Christian perspective.
A few years ago, I had wanted to produce a podcast of my own along these lines, and actually managed to put together three episodes before Everyday Life concerns killed the project.  That’s why I’m glad these three have picked up and run with the idea, and done so in  a way that makes my efforts look really puny by comparison.
Below are the shows listed in no part…

Max Headroom and the 2012 Election

It’s now just a few days to the US General Election and I need to get something out of my system, with this disclaimer: this will be my one and only political post for this election year.I am increasingly annoyed by blogs, news organizations and Twitter feeds that habitually refer to Mitt Romney as a reincarnation of Max Headroom.  Nothing could be further from the truth. I also do not believe that his opponent, President Barack Obama, is Max, either, or any other politician for that matter.The gleeful misidentification of a particular politician as Max begins back in Max’s heyday, the closing years of Ronald Reagan’s presidency, when cartoonist Garry Trudeau decided that President Reagan acted as a Max Headroom-esque character (Trudeau referred to him as ‘Ron Headrest’).Here’s the bad news for everyone who wants to compare Max to a politician: it’s just not possible.  Trudeau revealed his ignorance in the mid-1980’s, and others have been following his lead ever since.  The fact is, M…

Metropolis: The First Sci Fi Epic

(This is the text of an audio review I provided to The Spirit Blade Underground podcast.  You can find the episode here.)

Metropolis is not the first science fiction film. According to my copy of Phil Hardy’s The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction Movies (1984), that honor goes to the Lumiere short film “The Mechanical Butcher,”  produced in 1895. It is, however, probably one of the most important science fiction films in history.  Its influence is seen in many films even down to what we might call the modern era.

German film director Fritz Lang had just completed an epic six-hour film version of the Nibelungenlied that was critically as well publicly well-received. To follow up, he wanted to make a film about the future.1 He and his (then) wife, the writer Thea von Harbou, set about working on the story of class struggle that would become the core of Metropolis.  When he and von Harbou and producer Erich Pommer traveled to New York to promote Die Nibelungen, he saw for the first time New…

46 Pre-2001 Essential Genre Films That Every Geek Should See

By “pre-2001,” I mean films that were released before 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

I selected these films using Phil Hardy’s Encyclopedia of Science Fiction Movies (1984), as well as my classroom experience in college.  As with most lists of this nature, the choices are mostly subjective, but they do seem to be backed up by critical comments throughout film history, and especially SF film history.

My criteria were simple:
-> The film had to be released prior to 2001;
-> The film could not be a serial;
-> The film must not be a sequel;
-> The film must be generally available for viewing

A Trip to the Moon1902Die Spinnen (The Spiders)1919Der Golem1920The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari1920Dr. Mabuse der Spieler (Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler)1922Nosferatu1922Phantom of the Opera1925Metropolis1927Spione (The Spies)1928Frankenstein1931Dracula1931Island of Lost Souls1932The Mummy1932White Zombie1932King Kong1933Things to Come1936Dr. Cyclops1940The Wolfman1941Destination Moon1950The …

The New Community

Recently, I found myself keeping house alone while the Princess Bride was away for a few days.  I took advantage of the opportunity to catch up on some of the TV shows I find interesting, but don’t watch as the two of us are fans of other shows.

One of those shows is the BBC America series based on (and sharing the same title with) the popular podcast, The Nerdist.  The particular episode I was watching featured ‘Nerd Girls.’  One guest in particular was actress, writer, producer, gamer and all-around queen nerd, Felicia Day.  She was asked about her hit internet series, The Guild, and had something interesting to say about why she gravitated toward new media over traditional media.

Now, I’m paraphrasing here, but her comment was something along the lines of how much fun it was and how satisfying it was to create something, share it with people who enjoy it, and how these same folks receive, discuss it, internalize it, and then give back to the community.

When I listened to what she s…

Transcendence and Relationships

I’ve been reading Douglas Cowan’s Sacred Space: The Quest for Transcendence in Science Fiction Film and Television (Baylor University Press, 2010) and the first chapter really got my attention in a way that I didn’t expect.  The author states “…transcendence is not a function of sensation, but of relationship, and the reciprocal boundaries between those who exist in a relationship” (p. 40) and “…relationship is the key to encountering an Other” (P 41).These two quotes in particular started me thinking about humanity in general.If the key to transcendence really is relationship, then I think that puts a whole different spin on the story of the Fall found in Genesis 3.  There, we see that God created Adam and Eve as a special part of His creation. He did not call them into existence, but formed them Himself (Genesis 2:7). Mankind was endowed with the “image of God,” which involved much more than the notion that we looked like Him, but rather carried His character. And soon, God declared…

Once Again

Once again I find myself unable to make my self-imposed deadline for this space.

Happily, I did receive an interesting link to a great media review blog that celebrates Max's 25th here:


Shades of Gray: Morality in the Max Headroom Series

Having watched the entire series thanks to Shout Factory’s release of the complete series on DVD, I have noticed that there are some six distinct shade of morality present in the series.

Morally Bankrupt Ned Grossberg, the original chair of Network 23 is clearly the most morally bankrupt person in the series. He was ousted as the chair of the largest network in the world after he authorized the failed Blipvert campaign. The blipvert technology compressed an entire 30-second advertisement into a fraction of that time. The intended result was the prevention of channel switching, thus ensuring Network 23’s hold on the ratings lead, but what actually happened was that particularly sedentary viewers had a nasty habit of spontaneously combusting because they’re nerve endings were over stimulated by the blipverts. Grossberg refused to pull them, choosing to profit above people. 
He later resurfaces as the chairman of Network 66, a rival of Network 23.  Not long after joining Network 66 as an…


For regular visitors to this site, the regularly-scheduled Max Headroom post for this week has been pre-empted. It will return next week. In the meantime, take a look at this excellent post from 18 months ago: where the author refers to the creator of Max Headroom as "George Strong" it should be "George Stone."

In Consequence

As a follow up to the previous post on Truth and Justice in the Max Headroom world, I wanted to reflect on the consequences for crimes and misdeeds as portrayed in the series.  One of the tropes in cyberpunk (of which Max Headroom is an example[1]), is the subversion of justice in favor of the wealthy.  I’ve already explored briefly the fact that justice is outside of the means of the have-nots dwelling in the Fringes and beyond[2].
But on the other side of the equation, it appears that the Haves in the world of Max Headroom don’t have a problem securing sufficient cash to avoid much of the consequences of their actions.  In the pilot episode, “Blipverts,” Ned Grossberg is the chairman of the number one television network, Network 23.  Edison Carter is the largest ratings producer though his investigative journalism program[3]. Edison stumbles upon a conspiracy to roll out a revolutionary advertising system that has the unfortunate side effect of causing sedentary viewers to spontane…

Truth, Justice and the MetroCity Way

There was once a disparaging comment about believing in something simply because “I saw it on TV.”  Max Headroom takes that tension and makes it a central theme.  Many episodes deal with what people see and how easily they can be duped and the cavalier attitude that people in power have toward the truth.

In a media and corporate-driven society, ratings are cash and cash is power.  If one has enough cash, one has enough power to shape truth to whatever form is most expedient to increase ratings and thereby increase revenue.
In this world, network executives realize that they are playing fast and loose with the truth, but that knowledge is of no concern. One board member of Network 23 accuses Network 66 of theft by “falsifying ratings,” to which Network 23 Chairman Ben Cheviot responds “Nonsense, its merely ethically dubious, perfectly normal practice.” [1]
The same episode focuses tightly on the role of media and its manipulation of the truth.  Theora Jones, controller for ace reporte…