“A Clockwork Hammer”
(Airdate: Sept 17, 1987). A demented television programmer schemes to brainwash witnesses in the trial of a notorious mobster. Hammer pretends that he has damaging evidence against the gangster, resulting in his being abducted. Under brainwashing he is convinced to kill the district attorney during a televised trial.

Guest Cast: Nicholas Guest as Landon Smartikoff, Sal Viscuso as Marc Rinsler, Dan Lauria as Chris Raker, Ken Letner as Myles Theiss, Eugene Robert Glazer as Johnny "Red Shoes" Haggis.

Writer: Chris Ruppenthal.

Director: Reza Badiyi.

Trivia: This second season opener featured the satirical “cop out” to the last season’s cliffhanger. While some people got the joke, others were outraged… pointing out the obvious continuity lapses. (Duh!)

The character of Smartikoff was a parody of the then current NBC programming chief, Brandon Tartikoff.

The original title of this episode was “Max Sledgeroom” since it featured a riff on the virtual character “Max Headroom”, who spawned his own ABC series during the same period, but there were objections and the title was changed. (Incidentally, David Rasche reportedly was one of the early actors considered to portray the original “Max Headroom”.)

While there are a few similarities to the brainwashing techniques depicted in “Clockwork Orange”, the real inspiration for the sequence came from the sixties film “The Ipcress File” featuring Michael Caine as workaday spy Harry Palmer, a favorite of the producer.