Halt and Catch Fire (AMC)

No thread about this show yet? Hmm.

I watched the first episode tonight and it was OK, but did anyone else think the female lead’s hair was sort of anachronistic? Was that a hair style back then? I should know, as I’m old enough, but somehow it was bugging me. Or maybe her clothes looked too modern, I don’t know.

That title sounds like a terrible set of directions.

No, you don’t get it: SHE’S anachronistic, which is why she’s so awesomely incredibly amazing and the perfect person to bring computing into the future (present). [/being silly]

Anyway, I recall seeing a variant of that style back in the 80’s. However, what I think they’re really trying to do is hint at a blonde Angelina Jolie from Hackers (still a different hair style, but whatever)

One recap pointed out that they were sort of going for a Mary Stuart Masterson look from Some Kind of Wonderful (IIRC, that’s the one where she-as a tomboyish limo driver or something-pines for some guy who’s obsessed with the Lea Thompson character, but of course by the end he sees the error of his ways and realizes he really loves MSM’s character). The hairstyle isn’t exactly the same–this one is a bit more sculpted, the bangs are longer etc.: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Bo2tFCfIUAAkCO0.jpg:large

It’s just so confusing. So am I halting the fire? Or am I the one being instructed to halt? In which case, I presume it’s not instructions, but a warning that if I halt, I will catch fire, right? In which case, why don’t you just tell me to keep going? Should this show be called “Keep Going!”?

Oh, hey, it has Lee Pace and Scoot McNairy. Now I’m interested.


That’s the one. As soon as I saw her in a commercial I thought “and then Eric Stolz will come into focus and give her a pair of diamond earrings.”

That is, in fact, what I thought the first moment I saw the character. But I’m outing myself for knowing Some Kind of Wonderful too well.

I’m also nerdy enough to be annoyed that they used HCF and then gave a bad definition for it at the start of the show. It’s not a “race condition” or any other real thing. It’s a joke. An assembly language joke. Back when machine language was the only meaningful one.

Also, if you can read hexadecimal in the early 80’s - 81? - like MacMillan (Pace) can, you fucking well know the binary representations of hex. And rigging a proper hex display is trivial. A straight binary display is mid-70’s Altair shit.

EDIT: I looked it up. TI’s standard 74-series hex display IC, cost about $1 and available at every Radio Shack at the time, came out in 1976.

It’s a perfectly cromulent early 80s women’s punky/New Wavy hairstyle, at least within the show’s hazy margin of error. This is a show that would have you believe Return of the Jedi came out in 1981, after all.

What’s harder to swallow is Mr. Entrpeneur finding his hardware prodigy in a hawt punky grrrl. 95% of hardware engineers at the time were like the other engineer protagonist - i.e. male, and conventionally pocket-protector nerdy. I could have readily accepted a woman hardware prodigy or a punky hardware prodigy, just not both at the same time. (It’s one improbability too far, like the big bad in a movie turning out to be a werewolf and a vampire at the same time.)

I’m not quite sure where the series is headed. The tone of the show makes it sound like something revolutionary is in the offing - but in '81 the actual pioneering days of PC computing are already ending (mentioned on the show) and the days when computers and software would so common as to revolutionize the lives of ordinary people are still far in the future. It seems like their company is going to mimic the arc of Dell Computers - but in the end that’s basically selling a shitton of very expensive PC clones to businesses and the well-to-do. That kind of mundane success is a great business case study, but not necessarily great drama.

The characters are going to have to be very interesting to keep me hooked. Otherwise the cringe-worthy moments like hawt punky grrrl boldly predicting the Internet will drive me away. (For those of tender years: the Internet already existed in 1981, and everyone in that classroom of advanced students would have known about it.)

Good point about Hawt Punk Engineer Girl Who Doesn’t Use Birth Control

Also a good point about the changing PC landscape. Build a better machine was a mantra for the passing era, before everything was about software that could run on a single OS. Atari, Commodore, Radio Shack’s TRS 80, etc were about to fade in favor of generic IBM clones.

Why does everyone think it’s supposed to be '81? If they mention Return of the Jedi, it’s clearly '83.

Because Compaq was a major player by 1983, and the BIOS they emphasize so much had been already been worked around.

Perhaps it’s supposed to mean if you stop moving, you’ll be able to catch the fire, as in a bottle maybe, or other such container. Probably something fireproof. What do you then do with the fire? Tune in to find out!

I know, right? Ronan the Accuser and one of the Mandarin’s servants! I’m excited to see how it ties into Avengers 2.

Yeah, but I thought this whole thing was essentially a fictionalization of the Compaq story, so maybe they’re just playing with the timeline a bit and making the reverse-engineered BIOS thing happen later.

It seems the season finale is titled ‘1984’, if that helps.

I assumed they were fictionalizing Compaq with the names changed. But you’re right, they’ve probably shifted the dates later as well.

The question then becomes: why should we find the Compaq story the least bit interesting? They’re trying to depict reverse engineering as “innovation,” instead of its polar opposite. The Nebbish Computer Engineer failed project - the Symbion? - sounds like it might have been innovative. Make a PC clone isn’t.

Millennials writing a show about shit they don’t know.

Or not-millennials writing about a culture they had no idea existed whilst they were hoovering coke in the bathroom of some north LA Hardee’s bathroom, on their lunch breaks.

I like the idea of a show about the home computer industry, but the time-frame and subject matter of “Halt And Catch” fire are not appealing to me in the least. It feels like it is set 3-5 years too late. It’s like someone said “let’s make a combination of Mad Men (period piece with charismatic/mysterious business man) and Breaking Bad (nerd in his underwear doing illegal things in his garage that his wife does not approve of) and set it in the 80’s”
What I’d like to see Mad Men style series about Atari in the 70’s. THAT would be something to see.

Not sure if serious.

Just make Steven Levy’s Hackers: The Series and they’d be golden.

Compaq was founded in 1982, so not that far off date wise. But I agree it isn’t that interesting story and this is from somebody who spent much of 1984/85 working with Compaq engineers on their next generation product. I’m sorry that Compaq didn’t bring the hot blonde engineer to the meetings.

The first episode wasn’t bad, it just was nearly as good as I hoped from AMC.