TV - Halt and Catch Fire

Halt and Catch Fire

Nate McKenzie starts spreading the television love again with his thoughts on Halt and Catch Fire. There may be mild spoilers, eighties computer references and Nate's egoless commentary contained within...

Last year, I spent countless hours on my soapbox spreading the gospel of Mr. Robot to every person within earshot. The second season of the USA Network's underground hit show has garnered far more devoted followers and I assume that at least 75% of those people watch because of my words of praise. I'm a trendsetter like that.

Not one to rest on my accomplishments as an unpaid promoter of great television, I have taken up a new worthy cause.

Over on AMC, there resides a show that mingles attributes of Mad Men, Grey's Anatomy and Mr. Robot, without reminding you too much of any of the three, or anything else on television for that matter.

Halt and Catch Fire is one of the best programmes on television right now and, yet, no one is talking about it.

When espousing about the quality of HCF, the detraction I most often run into is, "I just couldn't get into it." Which I understand. I mean, it can be difficult to "get into" brilliant displays of acting and smart writing that weaves emotionally complex plots that feel less like a fictional story and more like a dramatic representation of real life events set during the 80s personal computing boom. Yawn inducing, amiright?

If you have miraculously somehow been able to "get into" HCF in the first two seasons, you're familiar with what has transpired so far and are aware of what everyone else is missing out on.

Halt began as a male led inspirational story about the little guy scrabbling to compete with the tech giants of the early 80s. Joe MacMillan (Lee Pace) and Gordon Clark (Scoot McNairy) began as the narcissistic visionary and the neurotic engineer that drove the development of the storyline. Both fit into their roles like html code fits into brackets, as if the characters were written specifically for each actor.

Although the success and struggles of fledgling Cardiff Electric were depicted as a direct result of Joe and Gordon's strengths and shortcomings, Cameron Howe (Mackenzie Davis) was the indispensable programmer behind the screen while Gordon's wife, Donna (Kerry Bishe) offered invaluable input that was instrumental to the direction of the company. Recognising the strengths of their female leads, the series creators Christopher Cantwell and Christopher C. Rogers smartly pivoted the narrative's focus somewhere in the process of Season 2.

In doing so, they made Cameron and Donna the headliners of Season 3 as they attempt to grow their online gaming company Mutiny into something more robust and innovative.

The first few episodes of this current season, with Cameron and Donna in the limelight, have elevated Halt and Catch Fire above the where-does-it-belong fog that surrounded the show, helping to firmly establish its place among televisions great shows. While Lee Pace and Scoot McNairy should be heavily praised for their contributions to HCF's excellence (along with the perfectly cultivated supporting cast) Mackenzie Davis and Kerry Bishe are the heart and soul of the show - the genius code and the complex wiring within the shiny casing that make the machine whirr and hum.

They say behind every great man is a great woman.

In the case of Halt and Catch Fire, the great women are no longer relegated to the shadows behind the towering, flawed men standing in their way; they aren't even simply beside those men as attractively packaged support systems. Cam and Donna are now out in front where they belong, navigating the perils that a woman in the tech industry is forced to deal with (specifically, sexism) while leading the way as the powerful forces that they are.

Image - IMDb.

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