With the departure of “Breaking Bad” and the winding-down of “Mad Men”, AMC has lined up a bunch of replacements to fill the dramatic void. Back in the spring, “TURN” premiered, a show about America’s first spy ring during the Revolutionary War. I have not seen that show as I’m not a big fan of that era. Earlier this month featured the premiere of the subject of this review, “Halt and Catch Fire”, a fictional series set in the wild-west era of the personal computer age.
This series is centered around Joe MacMillan (Lee Pace), a former IBM employee who has decided to offer his services to John Bosworth (Toby Huss), the head of Cardiff Electric. The company only produces parts for other companies and MacMillan convinces Bosworth to go all-in on creating a personal computer division. He recruits Gordon Clark (Scoot McNairy) after reading a visionary article he wrote in a computer magazine.
I feel as though the show’s creators are borrowing from a few different places here. First and foremost is the character of Joe MacMillan, which feels like a dime-store ripoff of Don Draper. He is a marketing man with a mysterious background who manages to convince people to do things through obtuse yet inspiring speeches. Sound familiar? The subject matter feels like one that has been told quite a bit recently with all of the Steve Jobs biopics that came out in the last year or so. The difference with this show is that the stories are almost wholly fictional, similar to the ad campaign storylines in Mad Men.
This show is a solid period piece for the early 1980s. It is great to see all of the old vintage electronics used on the show. The computer terminology seems pretty accurate and the information is not dumbed down at all, though a lot of the dialogue feels as though it was written with current knowledge at hand (i.e. predictions of the internet). The soundtrack is pretty solid, especially whenever the scene features punk-rock programmer Cameron (who looks like she could be Daryl Hannah’s 1980s cousin).
I have watched the first four episodes and I will definitely keep with it, but it isn’t the greatest show ever. I would recommend it if you like technology or the 1980s.