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This is the original BBC production of Max Headroom: 20 Minutes Into The Future which served as inspiration for a BBC Channel Four/Cinemax Television series of the same name also produced in 1985 which ran for three seasons. It subsequently became a 14 episode ABC Network show which was broadcast for one season in 1987-1988.
The film introduces Edison Carter (Matt Frewer), a television reporter trying to expose corruption and greed. In the movie, reporter Carter discovers that his employer, Network 23, has created a new form of subliminal advertising – termed “blipverts” -that can be fatal to certain viewers.
While attempting to flee the network headquarters with proof, Edison suffers a serious head injury, caused by striking a low-clearance sign labelled Max Headroom.
Bryce Lynch, an adolescent genius working as a scientist for Network 23, suggests to the network’s chief executive that they keep Carter on ice and digitally record Carter’s mind and generate a computerized version of his face. The recording will then be used to create a computer-based replacement for Carter in order to hide his disappearance.
However, Bryce’s virtual Carter program is flawed and develops a glitch — burbling “Max Headroom” over and over again from the last object Carter saw before being knocked out, and morphs into a CGI avatar of Carter’s face, albeit with the reporter’s digitized voice.