Watch This: Max Headroom: The wiseass AI who hacked his way into America’s heart
One week a month, Watch This offers staff recommendations inspired by a new show coming out that week. This week: The return of Black Mirror has us thinking about TV’s other visions of ominous futures.
Max Headroom, “Security Systems” (season one, episode four; originally aired 4/21/1987)
Not long after C-3PO and R2-D2’s scene-stealing turns as the Bert and Ernie of the Star Wars universe, wise-cracking artificial intelligence became a standard feature of science-fiction film and television. Short Circuit had El DeBarge-loving military ’bot Johnny Five, Knight Rider introduced droll Trans Am KITT, and who can forget Rutger Hauer as that barrel of laughs who saw attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion, Roy Batty? (Okay, maybe not that last one.) But they all paled in comparison to Max Headroom (Matt Frewer), a chattering combination of prosthetics, post-production monkeying, and screen-saver-worthy animations. In the mid-to-late …