Tonight, AMC is launching a show in “Halt and Catch Fire” in hopes of getting something that they really have not had in years now: A series launch that could turn into the next big thing. The last thing that they had that was close was “The Killing,” but it ran out of steam somewhere early in season 2.
Luckily, this show appears to have some of the early groundwork to be a spiritual successor to “Mad Men,” especially since there are many similarities that will be obvious from one show to the next. Both are set in the past, with “Halt and Catch Fire” set in the Dallas area in the early 1980s as the computer revolution is really going strong. Lee Pace stars as Joe MacMillan, a smart, shrewd computer man who is so desperate to build and challenge IBM that he is willing to break any and every rule to make it happen. Without giving too much away since this is an advance review, he also shows himself to be quite the game-player.
By the end of the pilot, you get an idea of how Joe is going to stick around, and who his new team is that will work with him moving forward. You also meet another standout in Gordon Clark, who, to use another analogy for “Mad Men,” could be the Pete Campbell to this show’s Joe. These two characters are already strong, and the writing makes their relationship interesting and complex.
Now, we get to the tough part of the show:It took about five our so minutes too long to really get going, and the female characters in particular need some work. We’re sure there will be some think-piece out there trying to over-analyze the Donna Clark character, but to us, our problem with her is just that she is too focused on just family without any depth. The Cameron character right now feels too much like a classic movie rebel from the era.
Still, “Halt and Catch Fire” does so much well, in between Pace’s performances, the directing, and the overall feel, that we are already desperately excited to see what else may help. This is one rise of the machines that we are excited about. Grade: B+.
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