Well, apparently computers celebrate Christmas too.
Max Headroom’s Giant Christmas Turkey aired on Boxing Day in 1986. Not to be confused with the follow-up sci-fi adventure series adapted for Cinemax, this holiday special was from the original British programme. The cheeky, glitching computer-host first came to life after a fatal traffic accident in the 1985 cyberpunk TV-movie, Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future. Now living inside a television set in a world dominated by the networks, Max personifies the sleek and vain talk-show host of our eventual dystopia. With the success of the film came The Max Headroom Show, an MTV-style variety show hosted by the smart-talking Siri of the 80’s.
Max Headroom’s Giant Christmas Turkey was pretty bad. Not even cameos by Robin Williams or Tina Turner could’ve saved it. For some reason, producers thought it would be a good idea to have Max perform several jolly ballads throughout the episode. In “Children,” our renegade cyberhost serenades two young boys in the back of a horse-drawn carriage. Strangely enough, the lyrics very nonchalantly mention killing children, something that Max “would never do.” Another tune “Gimme Shades” is a bizarre Western-style tribute to sunglasses. It really has nothing to do with the holidays, except that maybe shades are on Max’s Christmas list. Tina Turner gets him golf clubs.
Headroom takes all the gigabytes home with “Merry Christmas Santa Claus (You’re a Lovely Guy),” the climactic finale to the holiday special. Playing a grand piano from his television set, Max describes Santa as an under-appreciated and selfless soul, one who could use a song to show him we care. The passionate jingle builds momentum as we transition to a snowy winter exterior, where Max is joined by the Southwark Cathedral Choir for one hell of a conclusion. The takeaway? Santa Claus, you are one helluva guy!
“Merry Christmas Santa Claus” was released on a 7-inch record shortly after the premiere of the Giant Christmas Turkey. The single is paired with “Gimme Shades” on side B, making the two a festive addition to this year’s h-h-holiday playlist. Listen for yourself below.
Music video for “Merry Christmas Santa Claus (You’re a Lovely Guy)”
The unforgettable “Gimme Shades”
‘Max Headroom’s Giant Christmas Turkey’ holiday special
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Talking Heads: Max Headroom interviews Sting and David Byrne
‘Pee Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special’
Shit gets weird: ‘The Everything Is Terrible! Holiday Special’ (NSFW)