"Viewers were dumped back into the pedestrian world of Doctor Who as though the bizarre buttocks-swatting incident had never happened."

Friday Fun Link: Damn Interesting takes us back to November 22, 1987, when a clandestine broadcaster in a Max Headroom mask broke into two TV shows in Chicago: a sports report on WGN and a Doctor Who rerun on public television. During the latter he uttered various profundities ("Catch the wave," "I stole CBS," "He's a freaky nerd!") before pulling his pants down and allowing a confederate to spank him with a flyswatter.

See the footage here. See a newscast about the incidents here. Remind yourself who Max Headroom was here. Relive the low point in the history of Doonesbury, a Headroom/Reagan mash-up called Ron Headrest, here.

The Doctor Who serial was called The Horror of Fang Rock. Earlier this month BBC radio transmitted a new Doctor Who story called The Horror of Glam Rock.

[Via Bryan Alexander, who also links to what is framed as another illicit broadcast but is probably just an Internet hoax. Writes Alexander: "If it's not true, even better - a hoax about a prank."]

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  • ||

    How bad is it that I didn't need the link to remind me who Max Headroom was?

  • ||

    That whole clip looks like a game segment from Sabado Gigante. All you need is Don Fransisco laughing in the background.

  • ||

    Has any other character that started out in a commercial been expanded into a television show or movie?

    The Joe Toyota guy kept a lot of the same speech patterns and mannerisms, but he was not named Joe Toyota on Empty Nest.

    Ah, I thought of another one. Ernest P. Worrell. As in Ernest Goes To Camp, Ernest Goes to Jail, Ernest Goes to Buchenwald, etc. He started out as a commercial character.

  • VM||

    "Has any other character that started out in a commercial been expanded into a television show or movie?"

    Bill Clinton, 1988?

    I guess he went on to star in a circus, but that's close enough...

  • ||

    "Bill Clinton, 1988? I guess he went on to star in a circus, but that's close enough..."

    That's right! I think it was called the "Budget Surplus and Global Credibility Big Top." No Cirque du Soleil to be sure, but it was pretty amazing and had quite a long run.

  • ||

    Joe Isuzu not Joe Toyota.

  • ||

    If you are talking about Max Headroom, the british TV movie by that name aired looooong before if was remade in the US. And he wasn't used in commercials until after the ABC series ended (I think).

    Ronald McDonald was the true star of Mac and Me.

  • Highway||

    Hey, I just saw that episode of Doctor Who!

  • VM||

    "No Cirque du Soleil to be sure, but it was pretty amazing and had quite a long run."

    But definitely very entertaining. :)

    (actually it was called: a bunch of sawdust-farting old southern men with mistresses busting on a young, better-looking southern man who also had a mistress)

    and Clinton's video at the end of his tenure was awesome :)

  • ed||

    I miss the Clinton Economic Bubble.
    Irrational exuberance. Good times.

  • ||

    I remember the Max Headroom Pepsi ads running before the TV movie and series were on. My memory should be pretty accurate because I was such a fan that I even bought "his" book, Max Headroom's Guide to Life.
    I still have it.

  • ||

    Has any other character that started out in a commercial been expanded into a television show or movie?

    There's Baby Bob who hawked NetZero for a while before getting his own sitcom

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baby_Bob

  • ||

    "While actual infants played Bob, the effect to make him look like he was talking was achieved through computer editing."

    LOL! Good to know.

  • Larry A||

    the pedestrian world of Doctor Who



    ROFL.

  • ||

    Highnumber: There series did reair on MTV shortly after the talk show wrapped its first season. By that time Max was doing ads. Could that be where you saw it?

    If you follow the Max link in Jesse's post, it has a brief timeline.

    The Max Headroom series also starred Amanda Pays, who is yummy.

  • ||

    Jeff P.,

    I remember watching the series on ABC.
    The ads were for Coke, not Pepsi. I was mistaken.
    I have a vague memory that they ran, maybe were introduced, during the '86 Superbowl. Heady times for a Chicago boy, those were, so to speak.

  • ||

    I remember when this happened -- it was a brief national sensation (in my mind, anyway).

    And kudos to Jesse for picking up the slack on free-associating pop culture posts now that Cavanaugh has moved on.

  • ||

    So, I've been trying to track down when these New Coke ads premiered. (I can be obsessive.) The Wikipedia entry on New Coke says that the ads started early in 1986, so possibly my Superbowl XX memories are accurate. Also interesting to a nut like myself:

    ...ultimately Coke itself found that some viewers thought they were Pepsi ads.

    I am not alone.

    Hello?
    Anyone?
    Hello?

    Maybe I am.

  • Nigel Powers||

    What's kinda sad is that the first thing I thought of was Ron Headrest.

  • Jack Harkness||

    Baby Bob then starred in Quizno's commercials after his show got cancelled, thus creating commercials with a higher WTF content than the spongemonkeys.

  • ||

    Jack Harkness,

    Baby Bob had a sort of Flowers for Algernon career trajectory. Net Zero ads to prime-time network sitcom, and then poignantly back to the 30 second ghetto.

    Hey, don't dis the spongemonkeys! That was my favorite ad campaign until the Honda "Pinchy" crab commercials.

  • ||

    Hey, don't dis the spongemonkeys! That was my favorite ad campaign until the Honda "Pinchy" crab commercials.

    was that the Crab of Ineffable Wisdom?

  • ||

    You know, I think I may have seen this when I was a small boy - not the incident itself, since I lived in Massachusetts, but a newscast about it. I always had a vague memory of Max Headroom as a frightening character with dark sunglasses and a sinister voice, but I looked at the clips of his authorized commercials on YouTube, and they show him with no sunglasses and a voice that is rather pleasant, even genteel. I think I must have been remembering the incident described here, since that guy did have a sinister voice and the mask had dark eye sockets that I mistook for sunglasses. Thanks for clearing up a bizarre childhood memory.

  • ||

    That was my cousin . . . his career tanked after the *Dr. Who* hijacking. He couldn't live down the fact that some guy dressed as him interrupted one of the only good shows on TV (The Tom Baker Dr. Who -- with Leela as a companion!).

  • Deus ex Machina||

    Seems the perfect place to post the Max Headroom/Art of Noise music video.

  • Andrew Ian Dodge||

    I was so annoyed when they killed off the TV show because no one "got it". It was the best cyberpunk TV series ever and its a shame its not out on DVD...er wait a sec. its finally being released this year.

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