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Home > Sci-Fi > Max Headroom M-m-mondays #10: Dream Thieves

Max Headroom M-m-mondays #10: Dream Thieves

November 15th, 2010

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

“Dream Thieves”

Written by Steve Roberts and Charles Grant Craig

“People love to pay. It massages their self-esteem.”  –Greig

The Story: Edison reconnects with Paddy Ashton, a former colleague whose life went decidedly downhill after Carter beat him for the promotion to network telejournalist. Guilt turns to fury when Paddy dies during an experimental dream recording technique producing content for the launch of a new pay TV channel.

Behind the Screens: As I watched this episode, it struck me that they must’ve spent a small fortune on the scenes set in the Fringes. Nighttime exteriors, dozens of extras and a junkyard’s worth of grungy set dressing…for a anarchic hellscape, it looks pretty awesome.

For all of Edison’s righteous wrath, the eponymous “dream thieves” don’t seem all that villainous. Okay, they don’t tell their subjects that their dreams will be televised to millions. And sure, they cover up the occasional death-by-nightmare. But compared to organ traffickers or Charles Rocket, they’re pretty small potatoes.

Once again, Breughel is your go-to guy when it’s time to get rid of a body. However, this time he’s a got a new “Mahler,” having sacrificed his former partner one night during a shortage of fresh corpses.

There are a couple of odd things about this outing. It’s the first episode to have no scenes in the Network 23 boardroom. It also sees Dominique serving as Theora’s surrogate when Edison leaves behind his vidcam and has to make do with Blank Reg’s infrared surveillance camera.

Meanwhile, Max Headroom–who, being either “off” or “on,” cannot himself dream–replays some of Edison’s dreams to distract the bad guys. He chooses an erotic encounter with Theora which turns out to be a creative reuse of footage from the pilot episode.

The Ratings Report:

Theora’s Level of Concern

How Minutes Into the Future Is This Now?

Movie theaters no longer exist. Edison rhapsodizes about these lost “dream palaces” and the forgotten experience of hundreds of people watching the same screen at the same time.

The dream-recording device is weirdly low-tech. For reasons unexplained, video cameras are unable to capture the images being projected onto the eyeball from the pineal gland, so it uses good, ol’-fashioned film reels.

Carter pays off Breughel to deliver Paddy’s body to a cemetery rather than a body bank. The final scene of the episode has Edison and Murray remembering their friend in the midst of a field of tombstones which appear to have TV monitors mounted atop them.

video cemeteries  +2 minutes
the demise of the movie industry  +2 minutes
canine video jockeys  +2 minutes

= more than 20 Minutes Into the Future

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