Collateral attractions: Halt and Catch Fire “is the best drama on television”

High praise for Lee Pace’s series at the very mainstream Atlantic. I’d planned to watch the premiere of season 3 tonight but I’m not going to get control of the remote. Will definitely make time for it, though.

re: Pace, the reviewer writes:

Halt and Catch Fire uses MacMillan to satirize the Jobsian cult of personality that defines so much of the tech world. He began his time on the show as its brooding anti-hero, the renegade who brought everyone else together to try and take on computer giants like Apple and IBM. That’s why Halt’s first season felt like such a Mad Men knock-off, and why it has since struggled to gain ground with viewers after its slow start. But over three years, Cantwell and Rogers have turned MacMillan into a parody of the Don Draper-esque mercurial “idea man,” one who doesn’t know how to follow through on his big thinking and is constantly chasing the next revolution in an industry full of them. By 1985, MacMillan has become a millionaire by putting his name on anti-virus software, attracting new PC users with by stoking fears of hacking and privacy threats.

It wouldn’t work if Pace, clad in linen pants and designer aviators, couldn’t find his character’s humanity amid all his peacocking. But Pace makes MacMillan’s search for the next big idea feels like an unquenchable addiction, rather than a lame effort to seem cool. As he becomes the kingpin of online privacy, MacMillan comes back into conflict with his old partners at Mutiny. If last season is anything to go by, Halt and Catch Fire will lay an impressive amount of narrative groundwork before building to an appropriately soapy climax. This is a show that merges a gorgeous aesthetic with grounded storytelling, that talks about big-picture ideas while never betraying its core characters. Not enough people are watching, but they should be: Halt and Catch Fire is the best drama on television.

~ by Servetus on August 24, 2016.

20 Responses to “Collateral attractions: Halt and Catch Fire “is the best drama on television””

  1. Great read, Servetus. This made me smile: the resignation exhaled through “…but I’m not going to get control of the remote.”

    HACF has been on my list; preoccupied binge watching Endeavour when I caught TV time.

    • Dad needed to watch a PBS special about Carol Burnett’s favorite sketches. Since there isn’t that much tv he enjoys …

      I did see the replay later, though. I really enjoyed the first season and have been on the waiting list for the second season for about a month at the library. I ended up reading a plot synposis of season 2 on wikipedia for the purposes of last night.

  2. I have only seen this but I can’t wait to meet Joe, Cam, Donna and Gordon again!

    • It’s pretty good — although the level of tech you have to understand to “get” the show is rising. I was thinking last night that they are now starting to talk about things that I don’t know all that much about, lol …

  3. Das macht er richtig gut, der Lee.
    Hast du den Film “The Fall” gesehen? In den Anhängen des Hobbits kommt ein Ausschnitt daraus vor, nämlich als erklärt wird, warum man Lee für die Rolle des Thranduril ausgesucht hat. Ich hab mal nachgesehen und finde die Ausschnitte, die ich bisher gefunden habe, sehr beeindruckend. (Ein wahrer Bilder-und Farbenrausch und zwei sehr besondere Hauptdarsteller… Ich bin fasziniert, obwohl ich normalerweise ein Problem mit so jungen Kindern beim Film habe.) Jetzt überlege ich, die DVD zu kaufen. Solche Filmprojekte unterstütze ich gerne.

    • I love ‘The Fall’, Elanor – such a visual feast – and both LP and the child actor are excellent. There was a time when you could see the lot on YT but they might have taken it down by now.

    • I’ve heard a lot of positive things about it, but I haven’t seen it.

  4. What they said about Joe’s (Lee’s character) search feeling like an “unquenchable addiction” is the vibe I have had since he first showed up on screen. He HAS to do what comes next, whatever the consequences. I didn’t get to watch last night, either. But that’s what next-day streaming is for, hmmm? 😉

    • agree — and the parallels to Steve Jobs last night were unavoidable. I haven’t read all the publicity for HACF by any minds, but I’ve never had the “feeling” that Pace is all that excited about this role — but however he feels about it, he’s really good in it. Magnetic. In the episode I finally saw, Gordon is talking to the Mutiny team about his relationship / lawsuit with Joe, and he says that Joe has a way (paraphrasing) of making you feel like you’re the only person in the room — it’s really true.

      • I would love to know what happend re Lee Pace and the feelings about the role. During the promotion for the first season he seemed to me excited and proud about the whole thing but that changed somehow for season 2 and 3….

        • I still haven’t seen season 2, but I wonder if it was that his character seems to be getting a lot less screen time?

          • Yes, this plus the development of Joes character? I feel a bit sad about this. Maybe Lee Pace isn’t really happy with his career at the moment?😦

            • he, like Armitage, seems to have done a lot of things that haven’t made it to distribution yet.

              • Yes, that’s true. After the Hobbit and Guardians of the Galaxy I predicted a high-flying US career for him but it seems I was wrong

                • I was always less convinced in that case that he really wanted one. He’s spent his professional life living in NYC, not LA, which tends to suggest he isn’t interested in superstardom. But who knows.

  5. I have inhaled the first and second season and was totally fascinated by the actors (esp. Lee and Scott McNairy) and also the plot. This is a time travel back to my own youth, I can remember those times all too well.
    Even the supporting actors are well chosen and convincing and the story is gripping. My favourite TV show at the moment!
    And The Fall is really extraordinary, one HAS to watch it!

    • I’m still not sold on the actor who plays Cameron, but the rest of the cast is really good.

      The verisimiltude is mind-blowing (but they took that lesson from Mad Men). Donna was wearing an outfit last night that I had as well in 1986. And all the food labels are period accurate. It’s a bit surreal.

  6. […] great storytelling and favorable reviews, Halt and Catch Fire still doesn’t really feel like appointment television. I think the plots […]

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