We’re a fortunate bunch, we TV viewers of today. We don’t have to suffer through endless summer reruns anymore. We can actually discover excellent new series and enjoy them when it rains or it’s too cool or buggy to be outside.
Halt and Catch Fire returned for a second season Sunday night on AMC. We binge-watched the first season on Netflix and we’re ready for more. It’s set in 1980’s Dallas, a sort of mini Silicon Valley in the making, where pioneers in the computer world are racing to create the technology of tomorrow. That unmistakable sound of a modem firing up a dial-up connection, like a donkey trying to cough up a furball, is the hallmark of the era’s latest geeky breakthrough. It sounds so quaint today. In season one, renegade former IBM employee Joe MacMillan manipulates software firm Cardiff Electric into entering the race to make the first laptop. Actor Lee Pace is apparently known for being in the Lord of the Rings movies. I watched only one of those films and that was under protest. He’s one of those rare performers whose on-screen presence comes on like a hand reaching out of the screen and grabbing your throat, commanding you to look at him. The guy has presence.
I’m told that season two centres more on Cameron and Donna, whose sort of splinter company is attempting to make must-have computer games. Cameron is a programming genius and well as Joe’s protege and lover, and Donna is the brilliant wife of Joe’s hand-picked tech geek Gordon from Cardiff.
In the former wasteland where Better Call Saul, Big Bang Theory and whatever else you watch is between seasons, Halt and Catch Fire is worth your time. The 80s music and the high-waisted jeans provide amusing moments, too.