My latest stalking victim

Yesterday I finally wrapped up my trip back through the entirety of Arrested Development. It’s actually much, much better the second time around, and I hope that someday I can write something half as clever as the average episode of the show. Anyway, with that completed, the next series in my queue was Max Headroom, which I’ve been waiting to see hit DVD for more than a decade now. I eagerly started up the first episode, and… promptly nearly fell of my elliptical machine when one of the first people to show up on the screen was none other than a younger version of George Bluth. Or maybe it was Oliver?

Whatever. The point is, I had no idea Jeffrey Tambor was in Max Headroom. So that was an unexpected connection.

An even more unexpected connection is that Max Headroom is pretty much the basis for Battle Angel Alita. Sure, Alita draws from lots of important cyberpunk works — Blade Runner, Gibson’s Sprawl trilogy, etc. — and sci-fi in general, but I’m seriously struck by just how much of Max Headroom is evident in the manga. I almost fell over again when the second episode started playing and turned out to be the template for the manga’s Motorball arc. The bloodsport in the TV series is called Raking, and it’s a lot less violent and intense than Motorball, but the connection is absolutely there.

Also present: A thin, bald, black man who wears small, circular shades and works as an underworld information broker!

A brutal older man with a thick build, an Old Snake mustache, a receding hairline, and futuristic shades!

And now I’m part way through the third episode, which appears to be about people being abducted so their body parts can be hacked off and sold for cash. So, seriously, Yukito Kushiro really loved him some Max Headroom. That’s cool, I did too. Even if I was entirely too young in 1985 to really get how sophisticated and ahead of its time the show was. It definitely explains why I fell immediately for Alita, lo those many years ago: It tapped right into my primal memory of Max Headroom.

17 thoughts on “My latest stalking victim

  1. as a dude whose memory of headroom is limited to that appearance in back to the future 2, i’m surprised at how…cyberpunk it seems to be. worth watching?

  2. Heck yeah, Arrested Development. So great. I was sold when Joe was stabbed in the back by Michael at the same time he was stabbed in the back by that prisoner.

    I’ve not experienced Max Headroom or Alita, but I’m a tad afraid of trying—it’s that thrill when you’re before a water slide, water roaring at your toes, and you know that if you step forward you’ll be sucked in.

  3. Tiphares and Ketheres are Jeru and Zalem/Salem in the Japanese.

    Max Headroom is incredibly cyberpunk. It’s dead center between Robocop and Neuromancer in terms of sociopolitical orientation and technology.

  4. I’ve found that Arrested Development gets better with each viewing up to the fifth. By then you have realized that every line is at least one joke, if not more.

  5. When I watched Max Headroom for the first time in 2003 or so, I cracked up when Jeffrey Tambor appeared on screen. Just the sight of him was enough to make me remember how funny Arrested Developement was.

  6. Jeru/Salem, huh? Oh Kishiro, you so subtle. I still love him though. Now if we could just finish off this tournament arc…

  7. Interesting you bring up Max Headroom. One of my friends from high school who is now an actress is married to Bryce Lynch himself, Chris Young.

  8. Wait, wait, wait, who’s the analogous character in Max Headroom for the 2nd character pic (a guy from Tiphares in the first book or so of Last Order)? The ‘coach’ from the Raking episode? That’s the only one I can think of. He’s not really very Blank Reg.

    This is bizzare, i just finished watching Max Headroom the other day and have recently started re-reading Alita (i need about 6 more books in the Last Order series apparently).

  9. Isn’t Battle Angel Alita’s Motorball based on Rollerball? You know, the James Caan movie that’s about a decade older than Max Headroom? It pretty much laid down the template for futuristic, hyperviolent sports that reflect dystopian morals and blah blah blah.

  10. Did Max Headroom even get play in Japan? All I see is on the Japanese Amazon is an R2 DVD of the movie. Anyway, now I’m just curious to hear what Parish would say about Johnny Mnemonic or A Scanner Darkly.

  11. Yeah, yeah, prior influences, blah blah blah. I like my little self-contained universe just fine, thanks.

    I don’t know how big Max Headroom was in Japan, but Kishiro strikes me as the type to have gone to great lengths to import cult material like that.

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