Halt and Catch Fire

Started by Chris L, Apr 19, 2018, 06:48 am

Previous topic - Next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Chris L

@AmyG and I binged this over the last few weeks, all four seasons of it (there won't be any more), and finished it a couple of nights ago. It's clearly AMCs attempt to replicate what they had with Mad Men, but over time it takes on a life of its own, separate from its inspiration. Like Mad Men, it sets characters in a business millieu at a time when that business was changing, where in this case the business involves microcomputers and later the Internet rather than the advertising industry. The business, though, is largely an excuse for getting these characters together and letting the viewer see how they, and their relationships with one another, grow over time. As with Mad Men, the characters are far more interesting than the millieu in which they've been placed.

Lee Pace, the most notable actor on the show, is clearly positioned as the Don Draper character, the man who inspires with eloquence and ideas. But Pace is no Jon Hamm and gradually the other characters emerge as in many ways more interesting Pace's character, Joe MacMillan. There's really not a lot in the way of plot, just stressful deadlines, promotional pitches and glimpses of the consumer tech industry that are fascinating mostly for someone like me who followed that industry closely as it emerged. (The period depicted on the show is roughly 1983 to 1994, from PC clones to Internet search engines.)

I was surprised at the end by how much I realized I'd miss these people when they were gone -- the cast is flawless and their performances keep the show interesting even when the story isn't -- but the conclusion is satisfying on a number of levels, as the characters deal with what they've learned about themselves over those 11 years. The show isn't a revisionist history of the period as Mad Men in some ways was. (Don Draper didn't actually invent the slogan for Camel cigarettes or for Coke.) It's about the also-rans of the tech boom, the people who were there just a few seconds too late with their brilliant and prescient ideas. It's about the process and excitement of innovation more than the success of that innovation. For the most part the characters end up in the places they belong and you can  see the writers setting up just the glimmer of a spin-off about a couple of the characters, but the ending that the show reached is satisfactory enough that a spin-off isn't really necessary (or likely); your imagination can do a better job of telling you where these characters went after the show ends.

Do I recommend that you watch it? Only if the sort of character-driven show that Mad Men represented appeals to you, minus Jon Hamm. But I'm happy that we watched and I'm finding that the characters are staying with me long after our nightly viewings have ended.
But us, old friend,
What's to discuss, old friend?