Tuesday, February 09, 2021

TV Tuesday: Halt and Catch Fire

Looking for something to watch on Netflix? My husband and I just finished the four-season TV show Halt and Catch Fire that originally aired on AMC from 2014-17, and it was excellent. I'd heard years ago that it was really well-done, and we finally got around to watching it and really enjoyed it. 

Halt and Catch Fire is a drama set in the computer industry, covering about ten years from 1983 through the early 90's, from the development of the first IBM clones to the birth of the internet and search engines. If that sounds boring, it's not! The show is really about the people, a small group that started out together in Texas and ended up in California, and the characters are at the heart of the show. Gordon Clark, played by Scoot McNairy, works as an engineer for an electronics company in Texas called Cardiff. His wife, Donna, is played by Kerry Bishé and works for Texas Instruments as a software engineer. They have two little girls and dream of starting their own business together someday. When Joe MacMillan, played by Lee Pace, a tall, confident man, leaves IBM to come to Cardiff, he shakes things up in a big way. He has big dreams of leaving behind his father's company (IBM) to create computer products that can compete with them, insisting that personal computing is the future. Cardiff manager Tom Bosworth, played by Toby Huss, also hires a young, inexperienced but brilliant programmer named Cameron Howe, played by Mackenzie Davis, to round out the team. And they're off! This ragtag team in this Texas company sets out to set the world on fire with the first IBM clone, to break up that company's monopoly on the business, ... and then to develop the world's first portable computer, which seems like a crazy idea at the time. From there, the series follows this core group through about a decade, during which time both the computing world and the people in it change dramatically. There are new ideas, company start-ups, partnerships, and plenty of both wins and losses.

It's hard to accurately describe this excellent show because while the plot is interesting, the people are at the heart of it. The actors are all outstanding in their roles, and their characters have real depth and go through all kinds of highs and lows, both personally and professionally. They are each very flawed, real-feeling people who gradually become a team and need each other. Meanwhile, it's fascinating to peek inside the history (fictionalized) of how we went from hulking single machines on desks to a world where everyone is connected by small devices to the rest of the world instantly. Even the Clark kids, who go from little girls to independent teens during the course of the story, are excellent actors and fully fleshed-out characters. It's a fascinating and engrossing show, and we were sad when we realized we were watching the final episode. Definitely worth your time.

Halt and Catch Fire originally aired on AMC and is now available on Netflix. It is also available for streaming on Amazon, starting at $1.99 an episode or $16.99 for the first season (all seasons available). And it is available on DVD - season one is $11.99 (all seasons are on DVD, but, alas, I don't see any box sets of the entire series).


1 comment:

  1. Always looking for something good on Netflix. Thanks for the suggestion.