Is 'Halt and Catch Fire' The Next Big Thing for AMC?

Halt and Catch Fire - AMC's new drama that airs on Sunday (June 1)  - may be a tough sell to Breaking Bad, Walking Dead and Mad Men fans. It tells a fictionalized story of the early days of the personal computer boom, with former IBM employee Joe MacMillan (Lee Pace) turns up at Cardiff Electric in Texas. There, he enlists the help of sales executive Gordon (Scoot McNairy) to help him reverse engineer an IBM computer.

Scoot McNairy Lee Pace Halt and Catch FireScoot McNairy [L], MacKenzie Davis [Centre] and Lee Pace [R] in 'Halt and Catch Fire'

Elsewhere, there's Cameron (Mackenzie Davis) is a college student who's far smarter than any of the guys in her classic. She offers up a prescient comment about the internet within the few minutes of the pilot. 

Early critic reaction has been positive.

"While Halt and Catch Fire captures the professional and financial excitement and mystery of those days, before we knew computers would change the world, it also takes on the complex personalities involved," said Matthew Gilbert of the Boston Globe.

"The good news is that Halt and Catch Fire is a triumphant pilot with excellent writing, impressive acting and a noteworthy cinematic visual style...But ultimately that means nothing until we see the next episode. And the one after that. And the one after that. So take this early praise with that caveat," said Tim Goodman of the Hollywood Reporter. 

Scoot McnairyScoot McNairy in 'Halt and Catch Fire'

"The plot takes a few satisfyingly clever twists, some of them possibly even fact-based. The period touches seem well-observed, and the acting is fine throughout--with Pace a standout for the way he allows anger and doubt to be just barely visible below a calm, confident shell. Yet too often the writing lets the actors down," said Robert Bianco of USA Today.

"There are certainly enough moving parts here (pardon the expression) to merit further attention, but there's also a feeling that the whole thing is running in mud (or at least sand)," warned Brian Lowry of Variety.

"[An] entertaining, engaging start," said Verne Gay of Newsday.

Lee Pace Halt and Catch FireLee Pace in 'Halt and Catch Fire'

There's a feeling that should Halt and Catch Fire get stronger within its first season, then AMC could have hit the jackpot again. As Erin Carson of TechRepublic observed, "If Halt and Catch Fire can please the Sunday night drama crowd (and avoid getting too cute with the future gazing), as well as those harboring fond memories of their IBM PC clones, Joe MacMillan might end up being our new Don Draper - complicated, ethically confused, and a staple of the weekend viewing schedule."

Halt and Catch Fire will air on Sundays at 10pm ET on AMC. 


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Tags: Scoot McNairy - Lee Pace - Mackenzie Davis

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