In the wake of Mad Men’s impending departure, it only makes sense that AMC would want to find a replacement for its freshman sleeper hit that launched a network. It also makes sense that some may see Halt and Catch Fire as that replacement.
Like Mad Men, Halt and Catch Fire is a slow paced office centric drama filled with pretty people and obsessive attention to genre specific detail. But the aspect of Mad Men Halt and Catch Fire failed to replicate was a stellar pilot.
In all fairness, it’s difficult to replicate the success of the Mad Men pilot. Only a handful of quality television shows have pilots that live up to its later standards. It’s not fair to expect Halt and Catch Fire to pull off what so many television shows cannot.
The major problem with the pilot was its urgency to get to the hook. Halt and Catch Fire is the story of three unlikely allies banding together to change the future of personal computers. It’s an interesting premise, but in its haste to explain that premise it glossed over some fairly important aspects, such as logical characterization.
Our three main characters were introduced in such broad strokes they might as well have been John Hughes characters. Joe MacMillan (Lee Pace) is the douche-y yuppie with the plan and an arsenal of motivational phrases worthy of a cat poster; Gordon Clark (Scoot McNairy) is the depressed father who needs to rediscover his passion in order to find his purpose; and Cameron Howe (Mackenzie Davis) is angry.
But once you get past the clichéd characters its clear that there is a story here that the writers are passionate about telling. And that’s more than a lot of television shows can say. Does all the computer jargon and nerd speak get confusing? Yes, but I trust that its all accurate and since the central conflict was told in the same broad strokes as the characterization, it all made sense at the end.
Halt and Catch Fire isn’t the next Mad Men or Breaking Bad or even The Killing, but it has the potential to be something all its own.
Halt and Catch Fire airs at 10/9c Sundays on AMC.
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