Now that's more like it. "Body Banks" is what "Rakers" should have been: a gripping science fiction yarn with a cautionary twist, unexpected surprises and convincing supporting actors. It's easy to forgive that the episode actually recycles an idea from the pilot to introduce an element missing from the US show so far: Big Time Television and its owner, Blank Reg -- both crucial elements from the original British television movie.
Max Headroom Episode 3: "Body Banks"
"Body Banks" does everything right which "Rakers" did wrong. It meaningfully fleshes out the world which the pilot could only hint at. A TV report running in the background hints at a sentient orbital space cannon going haywire. "According to a government spokesman, 'I guess it fired before clearing it holster.' The rogue cannon is also suspected of being responsible last week for the loss of two network TV satellites. Quipped the spokesman: 'Maybe it just got... bored.'" Skynet, anyone?
Most of the episode's action is believably propelled by the characters' conflicting motivations. If you wanted to give Max Headroom a miss after seeing its poorly-plotted sophomore episode, "Body Banks" should get you back on board.
The episode starts with, gasp, a new introductory sequence. The music is still the same awful guitar vs. synths assault as before, but the title sequence spends its first half setting up the show's basic concept which, given its absurdity, is both painfully necessary and yet impossible to sum up meaningfully the allotted time. (There's also a cheat where some Grossberg dialogue is voiced by Cheviot instead.)
For 30 seconds, we are bombarded with facts: Jump cuts inform us that Edison Carter is a star reporter, that his boss wanted him dead, that he had an accident, that his mind was transferred to a computer, that Edison's computer pendant has a minds of its own and that it calls itself "Max Headroom." The intro ends with Max grinning; "Two minds but with one single memory." Yes, but who are all these other people in the credits? Never mind the guy with the moustache, but that fetching black-haired woman... does she do anything beyond being gorgeous?
This episode is good enough to deconstruct in more detail than "Rakers", so here's the play-by-play. A warning to nit-pcierks: This play-by-play takes a few minor liberties in the time line to minimize reading confusion.
We start with a ragged couple fleeing a van with a cyclopic single front light. They try to hide in the city slums called "The Fringes". In the background, we hear an Edison Carter report regarding his investigation whether the city was built on top of nuclear and chemical waste piles (spoiler: it was). Ominous mechanical breaths are mixed into the soundtrack, probably sourced from an iron lung.