Now, I usually won’t or don’t talk about television on my blog unless I have an opinion of an important piece of programming. And yes, I’m a few days late, but before it’s next episode I’d like to talk about Halt And Catch Fire.
If I could best sum up Halt And Catch Fire to a friend it would be Mad Men meets The Social Network and filmed like Breaking Bad.
The three main members of the cast Lee Pace, Scott McNairy and Mackenzie Davis all do a terrific job with their roles and that’s something that has to be commended.
Pace’s Joe Macmillan is like a cross between Don Draper and Andrew Garfield’s take on Eduardo Saverin in The Social Network with a touch of Frank Underwood from House of Cards.
Like Draper and Saverin, Macmillan is the business head of the group, pushing them forward and doing most of the negotiating. And like Frank, Joe is always planning something, thinking one step ahead of everybody else.
At least that is what I’m gathering from just this first episode.
Like anyone else who has watched the episode, you may feel slightly more drawn to the straight laced MacMillan than the other two characters.
But it’s not in a bad reflection of them.
It’s because the history of the character is shrouded in a lot of mystery and we haven’t seen him at his lowest yet. It’ll be interesting to see who he really is when we get there.
Lee Pace portrays the character with such enigmatic grace that you can’t help but be intrigued and drawn to him.
Hell even on the Breaking Bad part, the character of Gordon Clark draws some parallels to Walter White. Both are brilliant in their field. Both are not content with how their lives have turned out. Both want to reach their true potential.
Not to mention, he has to make the choice of balancing being a committed family man or being devoted to his work. That’ll be choice I see Gordon having to make on a regular basis. And it’ll be something that could make or break him.
Scott McNairy does great portraying a man discontented with his current situation so well it feels like McNairy has experienced that situation before and has drawn from that experience.
Going back to the point I made about how MacMillan was the character most would be drawn to the most, another reason why I say this is because everything we need to see about Gordon, we’ve seen. And the same applies to Mackenzie Davis’ Cameron Howe.
You already have the character of Cameron figured out.
She’s about to finish college. She’s too smart to be amongst her peers. She doesn’t act the way society her wants to. What’s more is that Cameron is always cheating the arcade machine and when she turns up to her first day at Cardiff Electric she isn’t dressed like every other woman working there.
She’s the wild card of the three and every group, especially for a series like this, needs one to add to the drama. She’s essentially a female mix of Jesse Pinkman and Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network (I keep referring to the film because I obviously don’t know Zuckerberg so I wouldn’t know if that’s how he really is in real life).
The fact that Gordon is skeptical about working with Cameron and is slightly dismissive of her reminds me of the Walt/Jesse dynamic. When they started working together Walt was always so impatient with Jesse because he looked down on Jesse and believed he didn’t need him.
And for all we know, further on the same will apply to the Cameron/Gordon aspect, or they’ll actually find common ground. Luckily Joe’s the glue that will hold them together.
Gordon and Cameron are there because Joe dragged them into this, so in order to get somewhere they have to both put their faith in Joe, in each other and work together.
But overall the dynamic between the cast looks like it’s one that will work because you can sense that the chemistry is there, and they bounce off each other in the final scene of the episode.
A lot of people probably know the history of the computing industry and there are others that don’t. What’s more is that everyone knows how computers have ended up today. We don’t just have computers, but now our phones act as a mobile personal computer, we have tablets, the internet, mobile internet.
But I like films or TV shows that show us the beginnings of something that revolutionised human society. Especially when it’s done right.
For example, The Social Network. We all knew how and where Facebook has ended up. But watching it’s birth and early beginnings was intriguing. Not to mention the other underlying matters surrounding it’s spawn.
We had Zuckerberg who is being taken to court because he was being accused of stealing the idea of Facebook from somebody else. He’s being sued by his best friend for diluting shares that were rightfully his.
All of those ingredients added to Facebook’s origins made the story compelling and it’s what we have with Halt And Catch Fire.
We have three characters, Joe MacMillan, Cameron Howe and Gordon Clark who might be on the brink of something revolutionary.
When something as successful or revolutionary like Facebook exists, you are bound to have rivals. Or there are those who will want a piece of your pie. Not to mention there will always be tension at some point within the team.
My money’s on Gordon Clark to cause the tension.
Everyone will expect it to be Cameron, but I’d go for Gordon because not only have we seen him at the beginning of the episode in trouble for getting into a drunk fight, but he had to tell his wife that he was drinking Dr Pepper instead of beer. I also see that if the three are successful with their machine, Gordon’s ego is the one that will increase tenfold.
Not only is he back in the field he belongs at and is good at it, but when he ends up with that much success it will go to his head.
And If anything I bet Cameron will be the one to change sides. Because she can’t be controlled or manipulated, not even by Joe. But then Joe might be the anchor that keeps her coming back.
But that’s not to say that MacMillan is going to be the outright level headed member of the team. For all we know, the more about Joe and his past that gets revealed may change our perspective on him.
What I also really love is because of the era it’s set it in, it’s gonna have a great soundtrack. People tend to think of the silly, camp side of the 80’s, but it was a decade that brought a lot to arts and culture.
I wasn’t born in the 80’s. I was born in the 90’s. But when I look back on the 80’s I become interested in it because with it came the uprise of punk, neo-pop, neo-punk and electronic music. That area in itself fascinates me about an era I was never a part of.
I’d say my biggest problem with it is that, like a lot of TV shows or films that deal with a groundbreaking moment in any particular field, be it IT or music, the situation at hand is always over dramatised.
It’s always the whole “Our time is now” thing in which there is so much emphasis on making every moment count. That everything they do now is of the utmost importance and nothing else in the world absolutely matters.
Especially when Joe says stuff to Gordon like “Everyone thinks computers are the thing. But what people don’t realise is that computers are the thing that get us to the thing”.
I’m sure in reality not everyone will have that gung-ho spirit to their work. A lot of the time when people make important landmarks in their fields it’s not because they are forcing themselves to redefine their field but in some cases it happens to be a successful accident.
But I guess maybe that’s a point Halt And Catch Fire is trying to make. Gordon’s article was just seen as a thesis or just an article, but Joe was smart enough to realise that Gordon mapped the future in computing and hence the emphasis on the “Our time is now thing”.
It’s been a while since I watched the first ever episode of a television show and genuinely got excited for it’s future. The first episode of Breaking Bad didn’t excite me that much. And neither did the first ever episode of Game Of Thrones.
I really loved the scene at the end of this episode when Joe, Gordon and Cameron are all looking into Cardiff Electric’s office as IBM’s army of lawyers come marching in one by one to Bonobo’s track Cirrus.
What I liked especially with this scene is when Gordon asks a question on everyone’s mind; “What are you trying to prove with all this?”
And that’s why I really can’t wait for the next episode, to see what Joe is up to.
It’s interesting to see where they take the show. I’m fascinated by it, and even if you weren’t as impressed as I was by the opening episode, you can”t help but admit that it does show a lot of promise.
So I’m urging you guys to give this series a watch and stick with it.