Since rebranding itself as a prestige TV showcase with the launch of Mad Men in 2007, AMC has hosted its share of critical gems (Breaking Bad), popular hits (The Walking Dead), and forgettable duds (Low Winter Sun). But its most recent series — The Killing, Hell on Wheels, and Turn — have failed to break out — so there’s some additional pressure on Halt and Catch Fire, which premiered Sunday night.
Set in 1983, the show revolves around Lee Pace’s Joe MacMillan, a dynamic former IBM executive who wants to build a fledgling Dallas-based computer company into an outfit that can go toe to toe with Big Blue. One of the drones in the Dallas office is Gordon Clark (Scoot McNairy), a “misunderstood genius” whose brilliant vision has earned him nothing but a cubicle and a drinking problem. Together, with the help of Cameron (Mackenzie Davis), a pretty programming punk, they set out to reverse-engineer the IBM PC and mass-produce their own rival product.
The premiere had a lot of information to sift through, characters to establish, and techno-speak to spoon-feed, so it might take a few episodes to determine whether Halt is a keeper. But it’s clear that creators Christopher Cantwell and Christopher C. Rogers have studied what works and what doesn’t, and at first glance, they’ve borrowed generously from proven winners. In fact, it didn’t take me long after seeing Joe and Gordon at work to think, “They’re Don Draper and Walter White, right?” READ FULL STORY