10 Things To Know About AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire


1. The ever-present technology in our lives? This is how it all started.
This drama traces the origins of the wired, uber-connected, computer-dependent way we live now. Set in 1980s Dallas, Texas (a.k.a the Silicon Prairie), the series focuses on a group of computer prodigies attempting to engineer a cheap PC and therefore wrestle the product away from big tech like IBM. Basically, it dramatizes the moment computers became truly personal.

2. The cast features two of our favourite (hot) character actors.
Stars Lee Pace (The Hobbit and the beloved cult series Pushing Daisies) and Scoot McNairy (Non-Stop, Argo) work steadily but don’t garner attention from the major glossies. That will definitely change when audiences see their excellent performances as the play visionary entrepreneur Joel McMillan (Pace) and down-on-his-luck engineer Gordon Clark (McNairy), respectively.

3. Canadian actress MacKenzie Davis (That Awkward Moment) rocks killer punk-inspired ’80s looks
The Vancouver-born actress plays the smart-ass, rebellious computer genius Cameron Howe. With her tall-girl slouch and blasé teenage boy scowl, Howe comes off like a cross between Agyness Deyn and Mary Stuart Masterson in Some Kind of Wonderful. Her platinum crop, white Ts, and camo jackets are totally covetable.

4. The showrunners have serious cred
Showrunner Jonathan Lisco already has one fan favourite series under his belt, TNT’s underrated cop drama Southland. Executive producers Melissa Bernstein and Mark Johnson come via the AMC modern classic Breaking Bad.

5. The soundtrack will send you scrambling for Shazam
Did we mention it’s set in 1983? The show’s composer Paul Haslinger told 8Dio.com that he’s been given the greenlight to go electronic with the score. The series’ pulsating opening music takes that mandate to heart.  And while you won’t be inundated with Flock of Seagulls—the producers are aiming to subtly recreate the era rather than channeling a classic rock station—you will get to hear some vintage tunes in the background, including CCR!

6. Female characters on the show are well-written and wonderfully performed
The aforementioned Cameron Howe isn’t just a sexy plaything for the boys; she’s a fully realized character and an important member of the crack computing team. And she’s not the only one. Gordon Clark’s wife, Donna Clark (played by Kerry Bishe) is a computer engineer, too. Lisco promises she’s going to be more than an accessory: “She’s one of the most dynamic characters on the entire show, and we’re deeply focused on that,” he told Fast Company.

7. Don’t be scared off by all the tech
There are a few nerdy terms to digest (or simply ignore) in the first episode but the series aims to entertain without feeling like a slog through Comp Sci 101. Even the computer circuit boards are interesting to look at, reminiscent of that great ’80s toy, Lite Brite.

8. It’s got all the bells and whistles of a cable drama
Cable TV production values, subtle art direction and a strong aesthetic, the series also possesses the thoughtful, theme-advancing monologues, sex and conflict that AMC fans have come to expect from the network that brought us Mad Men and Breaking Bad.

9. The title isn’t just catchy; it’s meaningful
Halt and Catch Fire (HCF), as the first few seconds of the series makes clear, is an old school computer command. In a way it’s an anarchistic command. Once initiated, the computer goes into “race condition” and operates on its own. There’s no way to regain control of the computer once it’s in HCF mode. Get it?

10. You don’t have to wait to watch it
Even the show’s roll-out is tech-savvy: Halt and Catch Fire was the first-ever series to debut on Tumblr, where viewers can check out the series pilot ahead of the June 1 show premiere. (You can also watch here.)

Halt & Catch Fire premieres June 1 on AMC.