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Home > Sci-Fi > Max Headroom M-m-mondays #6: Blanks

Max Headroom M-m-mondays #6: Blanks

October 11th, 2010

Continuing my weekly look back at 1987’s Max Headroom series.

“Blanks”

Written by Steve Roberts

“We’re going to have riots out there. We should distribute emergency video players immediately!”  –Edwards

The Story: “Blanks” are being jailed thanks to Network 23’s overreaching politician, Simon Peller. In retaliation, Blank Bruno threaten to overload every computer and video screen, plunging the city into a nightmare world without television.

It’s everyone on deck to stop this existential threat. Max is offered up as a Trojan Horse to penetrate Bruno’s security. Theora vamps to get close to Peller. And Blank Reg–who has been aiding Bruno in his effort to free the imprisoned Blanks– becomes a reluctant hero, using a flashlight to keep the needlessly elaborate “solar trigger” from bringing down the system at sunset.

Behind the Screens: “Blanks” are those who have contrived to have their identities erased from the central computer. While it appears that many of them inhabit the Fringes, the female Blank arrested at the start of the episode lives in a nice apartment in a relatively normal urban neighborhood.

Janie Crane–the kidnapped Network 23 reporter from last week’s episode–assists with the investigation of the incarcerated Blanks. She is horrified when she realizes that the recently apprehended woman has done the unthinkable: installed an off-switch on her television!

Justice is swift in the future. The prosecuting and defending attorneys load their arguments–stored on 3 1/2″ floppy discs–into the court computer, which renders an instant verdict.

Panicky, TV-deprived citizens swarm out into the streets, buying tapes and huddling around “Video Vu” kiosks.

We learn a bit more about the videocracy that rules the world. Elections are handled via the two-way sampler, and the vote totals are “computer-enhanced.” Peller says that he negotiated the election results with his opponent several weeks ago.

Beyond that, the government is vaguely defined. We know neither what office Peller holds nor the nature of the governing body. The Metrocops do his bidding, so it may be something equivalent to a mayor.

The Ratings Report:

Theora’s Level of Concern

How Minutes Into the Future Is This Now?

When Theora strides into Peller’s suite video camera in hand, she’s glammed up with an absurd ’80s hairdo. Because being a gorgeous woman with a British accent and a very biteable lower lip isn’t quite enough.

Edison’s solution to the stand-off between Peller and Blank Bruno is to have Bryce selectively edit the footage shot by Theora so that the politician appears to be willingly releasing the prisoners. As I sit here typing this, a never-ending string of political ads blares in the background, most of which feature sound bites being taken wildly out of context.

Theora’s spiky bangs  -2 minutes
3 1/2″ floppies?  -3 minutes
video/audio/image manipulation seems so quaint now  -5 minutes
government by the networks, for the networks  +6 minutes

=16 Minutes Into the Future

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