Halt and Catch Fire – Mad Men of 80’s Tech?

Whenever there is a show or movie based on a technology plot, I get worried. Many times these shows are done poorly. Either they dumb everything down so the regular non-geek viewer can understand and they usually get many things wrong or they dump in too much technical jargon to seem cool. So, when I learned about the new AMC show Halt and Catch Fire, I thought, oh, boy, here we go again.

The show is based in the 80’s at the dawn of the PC computing revolution. It certainly is a good time period to depict and it reminds me of what AMC has done with Mad Men in depicting 60’s era advertising. The show premieres June 1 but you can watch the first episode on the AMC website; smart move. I have watched the first episode and I can tell you this, it doesn’t suck, and that’s an accomplishment. Is it going to be the next great show on AMC, another classic? It’s way to early to tell.

The primary characters are Joe MacMillan played by Lee Pace, Gordon Clark played by Scoot McNairy, Cameron Howe  played by Mackenzie Davis and Donna Clarke played by Kerry Bishe. Pace somehow reminds me of John Cusack which make we wish they had cast Cusack in the role because I am a big fan. Davis’s Cameron Howe is a nearly stereotypical cyber punk girl that stays just on the right side of the line. Most intriguing is the Donna Clarke character. She is the wife of Gordon and is an engineer herself. She’s smart and they have history creating a computer together. Gordon won’t be able to hide anything from her. In general, the writing an acting is adequate but nothing blew me away in this first episode. What I do appreciate is that the show dumbs nothing down yet doesn’t hit us with an embarrassment of technical jargon.  The show doesn’t seem lame or like it’s trying to hard which, as I have said, is typical with this kind of show.

I recommend checking this show out and I am interested to see where they take the plot. I hope we dive deeper into the characters lives while also plumbing the depths of the computer revolution of the 80’s. This is a period of time that I grew up in and have fond memories of. Mad Men was my dads era, Halt and Catch Fire is mine.

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