• Network:
  • Series Premiere Date: Jun 1, 2014
Season #: 1, 2
Metascore
69

Generally favorable reviews - based on 30 Critics What's this?

User Score
8.4

Universal acclaim- based on 138 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: Former IBM sales executive Joe MacMillan (Lee Pace) recruits reluctant Cardiff Electric engineer Gordon Clark (Scoot McNairy) and programming prodigy Cameron Howe (Mackenzie Davis) to reverse engineer IBM's BIOS system, setting up the PC revolution.
  • Genre(s): Drama
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 30
  2. Negative: 0 out of 30
  1. Reviewed by: Jeff Korbelik
    Jun 2, 2014
    83
    The thrill comes not from the actual computer building, but the people doing the building. These characters are complex and well-developed, especially Pace’s fiery exec, who is a mesmerizing manipulator.
  2. Reviewed by: Tim Goodman
    May 27, 2014
    80
    The good news is that Halt and Catch Fire is a triumphant pilot with excellent writing, impressive acting and a noteworthy cinematic visual style. ... But ultimately that means nothing until we see the next episode. And the one after that. And the one after that. So take this early praise with that caveat.
  3. Reviewed by: David Hinckley
    May 30, 2014
    80
    It all adds up to a promising, surprisingly lively and fast-paced drama that humanizes those early computer geeks.
  4. Reviewed by: Matt Roush
    May 30, 2014
    70
    First impression is that Halt is fresh and fraught with calculated promise, but whether that's enough to catch fire remains to be seen.
  5. Reviewed by: Ellen Gray
    May 30, 2014
    70
    You don't need to speak geek to watch Halt and Catch Fire, any more than you need to know corporate law to love "Suits."
  6. Reviewed by: Chris Cabin
    Jun 23, 2014
    63
    With little exception, MacMillan is the sole character given scenes that seek to bring out his antic inner life, the most memorable of which being his meltdown in an electronics store, where he tries to find a hold of his ambition in a torrent of comingled rhythms emanating from various speakers.
  7. Reviewed by: David Wiegand
    May 28, 2014
    50
    At least in the one episode sent to critics--Halt doesn't offer up complicated, three-dimensional characters. Instead, we get versions of familiar types pulled from the character storage room by the writers.

See all 30 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 29
  2. Negative: 3 out of 29
  1. Jun 1, 2014
    10
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. While the comparisons to Mad Men aren't exactly there, this show seems determined to make it's own path by exploring the early days of the personal computer boom in 1980's texas and by showing these three desperate characters making it much more personal.
    Joe Macmillan seems to be the lead star with the almost Patrick Bateman-esque bad boy charisma.

    The only real fault of the show so far is rushing through some of the technical details like in the montage in Gordon Clark's house when they are taking apart an IMB computer.
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  2. Jun 7, 2015
    10
    I absolutely love this show. I was literally addicted to it! 5 of 5 stars! Great cast. Lee Pace as Joe is amazing! You will love all theI absolutely love this show. I was literally addicted to it! 5 of 5 stars! Great cast. Lee Pace as Joe is amazing! You will love all the characters and the plot. They are now on season 2 and episode 2 comes out every Sunday at 9:00 pm. Expand
  3. Jul 22, 2014
    10
    I wanted to wait until I have seen a few show to write a review on this series. I have seen 7 episodes. Going into the series not sure howI wanted to wait until I have seen a few show to write a review on this series. I have seen 7 episodes. Going into the series not sure how they were going to approach the topic. I thought this is an interesting time for PCs and the market.

    I will say that this show is wonderful. The acting is great and the story is intriguing and engaging. I did not watch Mad Men, but did watch Breaking Bad. Breaking bad is on a level all it's own and a handful of shows are on that level. I would say that this show is on the level right below that.

    The writing is great and the attention to detail to the technical side is spot on. They nailed the font style for the PCs for that era. I would recommend this to anyone who deals with computers and for anyone who is not tech savvy.
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  4. Jul 29, 2014
    9
    Halt and Catch Fire takes a small group of people who are all profoundly driven, obsessed, and passionate about the future potential ofHalt and Catch Fire takes a small group of people who are all profoundly driven, obsessed, and passionate about the future potential of computers, and sets them about the task of creating a machine from scratch - a goal, which, at the time, (early 80's) seemed impossible next to the market control of corporate giants like IBM.

    This setting is unusual for a television drama, and is engaging enough in its own terms, but its actually not the unusual setting that make this show so watchable; its the deeply interesting characters and the rich dynamics between them that really makes it great viewing.

    The core character is 'visionary', Joe, a man with absolutely no moral or ethical compass - only an unstoppable drive to succeed at any cost. The people unlucky enough to be caught up with him in his mission to make a new pc are consistently at various stages of dissolution, coping with the ongoing aftermath of his wholly egotistical and single-minded goal.

    The interplay between the people caught up as staff working under Joe is often subtle, but riveting viewing. Definitely worth a look, not only for its unique setting, but for the rich interplay between its dark, complex, and intriguing characters. Im up to ep 7 of season 1 and totally hooked. This one's a must-see IMO.
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  5. Jul 25, 2014
    9
    Show is really enjoyable. I think it just needed a few episodes to get the characters lined out Now that that's done, the show should takeShow is really enjoyable. I think it just needed a few episodes to get the characters lined out Now that that's done, the show should take right off. Better get a renewal! Expand
  6. May 14, 2015
    8
    My computer experience as a technical writer who had to document all those last-minute changes the software engineers kept coming up with goesMy computer experience as a technical writer who had to document all those last-minute changes the software engineers kept coming up with goes back to 1984. Not mentioned in 10 episodes of Halt and Catch Fire is the UNIX operating system, already widely in use in industry. Basic is the only operating system mentioned in the series, as well as Cameron’s (Mackenzie Davis) crazy idea to have an interactive operating system with questions that are more appropriate for a video game.

    When I worked for AT&T, by late 1988, we were hyped up for the Graphical User Interface race. Abbreviated as GUI, pronounced goo-ey, it was the interface between the operating system’s prompt and cryptic commands (in UNIX, ls meant “list files”). AT&T was going to market with OPEN LOOK, hoping to beat IBM’s bid for the GUI market with Motif. If you never heard of either of these, there’s a good reason. They both failed miserably because the GUI race was won by a product now a household name, i.e., Microsoft Windows.

    Ah, yes, remember when emailing someone outside the building meant you had to list every computer the email would pass through? Each computer name was separated by an exclamation mark, called a “bang.” And every company had a different system for naming their computers; it could be anything—fruits, cars, or cartoons. So an email address read out loud was something like cadillac-bang-banana-bang-pebbles-bang, and finally the login name.

    It’s all history now. Some of this history is faithfully recorded in Halt and Catch Fire, and some of it is slightly exaggerated. Product managers have power but not as much as Joe MacMillan (Lee Pace). And genius programmers like Cameron could write their own ticket to some extent, but if they tried to take over with an idea that did not have VP approval, they would get fired. Young talent was everywhere. It was a conservative industry; no one was having highly public affairs such as the one between Joe and Cameron. They were mostly married. But depicting the blood, sweat and tears of programming deadlines, innovative feats of hardware construction, shipping dates, sales conferences, and finally the reviews in Byte can only produce so much drama. When you lived it, it was still a fairly ho-hum corporate world, so Joe, Cameron, Gordon (Scoot McNairy) and Donna (Kerry Bishé) have to have other crises and dilemmas—affairs, betrayals, crimes, traumatic childhoods, maverick tendencies, and daddy issues—it makes everything more interesting.

    But as a purist, I find it most interesting when Halt and Catch Fire faithfully depicts the history of an industry that changed the world after breakfast, over lunch, and between coffee breaks.
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  7. Jul 8, 2014
    1
    Show was hanging by a thread in the first three episodes. The baffling events of episode 3 made me literally turn it off 3/4 of the way intoShow was hanging by a thread in the first three episodes. The baffling events of episode 3 made me literally turn it off 3/4 of the way into it. Boring, uninteresting characters with almost no resemblance to reality. A shame considering how much I really wanted to like this show. Expand

See all 29 User Reviews

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