Halt and Catch Fire Series Premiere-Review


By: Haylee Fisher (@haylee_fisher)

Television shows are often released online before they premiere on broadcast or cable so as to build interest, but in an unprecedented move last week, AMC debuted its newest show on Tumblr. Partnering with the growing social media platform is an appropriate move since the show, Halt and Catch Fire, is about the emerging computer world of the 1980s and AMC sees the parallel. Before its June 1 premiere on the network, viewers can catch the show on amctv.com and video on demand as well.

The cast is led by Lee Pace, whom audiences may remember from the gone-too-soon Pushing Daisies or as Thranduil from The Hobbit films. He stars as Joe MacMillan, a jackass tech guy with ulterior motives behind going to work at a software distribution firm in the early 1980s. He first meets Cameron Howe (Mackenzie Davis), a coding genius, and later seeks out fellow employee Gordon Clark (Scoot McNairy) to help him with his (illegal) plan. Gordon and his wife Donna (Kerry Bishe) built their own computer in the 70s but Gordon has never fully recovered, both financially and personally, from its failure. But the ingenuity behind the computer is just why Joe thinks Gordon is the right man for the job. And what is that job? To reverse-engineer an IBM PC by stealing the technology, improving upon it, and making a name for themselves.

The real test of quality will come with episode two and beyond, but if the first is any indication, Halt and Catch Fire is a perfect addition to AMC’s lineup.

Its success will be very telling for the network. While The Walking Dead rules the ratings, the network’s last few dramas haven’t done as well as they would have hoped. But the cast of Halt and Catch Fire puts forth some stellar performances in less than an hour. They give a sense of who the characters really are, which is also thanks to great writing. Furthermore, the direction is almost movie-like, with beautifully framed shots and close-ups capturing Pace’s nuanced performance. With all that working for it, Halt and Catch Fire should not and will not become a disappointment like The Killing and Low Winter Sun. The pilot is an excellent episode and there should be no reason for that trend not to continue.

Even those not computer-savvy will appreciate this show; it’s more about the culture surrounding their invention than the actual technology. Through the music and the lighting, it becomes an 80s dreamworld in which viewers really believe Joe’s plans will succeed. If AMC plays their cards right, they just might have a hit on their hands.

Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars

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