Help, I've Been Peak TV'd!

Peak TV Treasure: Halt and Catch Fire

Are you overwhelmed by how much television is available right now? Is life getting in the way of keeping up with the shows you wanna try out? We feel your tube-related pain. Here’s a handy feature that’ll help you locate the hidden gems in this era of Peak TV.



CREATED BY | Christopher Cantwell and Christopher C. Rogers

NUMBER OF EPISODES | 30 over the first three seasons


PREMISE | This 1980s-set drama focuses on four tech visionaries who try to make their mark at the dawn of the PC revolution. It stars Lee Pace (Pushing Daisies) as the troubled Joe MacMillan, a former IBM exec who talks a good game, but doesn’t possess his colleagues’ technological expertise. Those co-workers include Gordon Clark (Scoot McNairy, soon to be in Fargo Season 3), a once-promising computer engineer who has all the makings of greatness, and Cameron Howe (Black Mirror‘s Mackenzie Davis), a prodigy who at the onset of the series drops out of college to work with Joe and Gordon on reverse-engineering IBM’s PC to come up with the first true competitor. There’s also Gordon’s wife, Donna (Scrubs‘ Kerry Bishé), a fellow engineer whose dreams were put on hold to raise a family.

By the end of Season 1, Donna and Cameron team up to launch one of the first online gaming communities, which serves as the basis not just for Season 2, but the series moving forward. Joining them is John Bosworth (Carnivàle‘s Toby Huss), who serves as the menacing boss to Joe and Gordon in Season 1 but eventually mellows out and becomes something of a father figure to Cameron while also helping oversee her burgeoning start-up with Donna.

WORTH YOUR TIME IF YOU ENJOY… | Dense dramas heavy on dialogue. Shows that put emphasis on character over plot (see also: Better Call Saul and Mad Men). All things tech — assuming you aren’t bothered by the show writing some of its own history. And, of course, shows about the 1980s and all that comes with that, including the hair, the fashions and the music. The show also touches on the sociopolitical issues of the time once everyone relocates to San Francisco amid the growing AIDS epidemic in Season 3.

YOU SHOULD PROBABLY ALSO KNOW… | What was clearly meant to be a vehicle for Pace quickly morphed into a true ensemble effort, with Bishé and Davis at the forefront in Season 2. This in turn took a very good series and made it great, with its leading ladies giving two of the best performances on TV, eventually earning them TVLine’s highest honor as Performers of the Week.

It’s also worth nothing that while this isn’t just a show for “nerds,” you’re more than likely to geek out whenever you realize these characters are on the verge of creating something revolutionary, such as chatrooms, anti-virus software or the ability to sell and trade goods online longggg before the days of eBay. By the end of Season 3, the show jumps ahead to the advent of the World Wide Web, setting the stage for Season 4.

Oh, and it also has the best opening title sequence on TV. (Suck it, Stranger Things!)

IS IT COMING BACK? | Yes. A fourth and final season has been ordered by AMC. (Premiere date TBA.)

WHERE CAN I WATCH IT? | All aired episodes are available on Netflix; Seasons 1 and 2 are also available on betamax DVD, while all episodes are on sale through the iTunes store.

Boot up the following video to get a taste of how AMC initially promoted Halt and Catch Fire, then hit the comments: Do you intend to binge-watch the critically acclaimed tech drama ahead of its Season 4 return?

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. webly3 says:

    To anyone putting it on their watch list, know that the first season is pretty terrible and even skippabl . The second and third seasons are great and feature some of the greatest performances on television.

  2. Cate says:

    I agree, season 1 was quite average a lot of the time. For me, the guys were kind of annoying and highly slappable! I really enjoyed season 2 and the rise of Mutiny, Donna and Cameron’s company. The 3rd season brought together the characters really well, but the disintegration of Cam and Donna’s business and personal relationship was brutal and painful!
    I like that the show isn’t afraid to change, indeed each season has been very different to the others and after the events of the S3 finale, the 4th – and I think final – season is likely to switch focus again.
    I love Lee Pace but Joe is insufferable! But then again, all the characters are pretty flawed.

  3. Joey Padron says:

    Such a great show. Can’t wait for the final season!

  4. Drew says:

    I’ve been in since the beginning, and still think it’s one of the worst names for a TV series, but I’ve loved it and will hopefully love S4 just as much. I’m glad this will have a planned ending.

  5. ekolint48 says:

    Excited for season 4!

  6. drhenning says:

    Halt and Catch Fire Credit music is my cell phone ringer… I agree that seasons 2 and 3 are better but this guy liked season 1 because of what I was doing at that time and understanding the early PC business…

  7. LAwoman says:

    I’m looking forward the season 4, whenever that is.

  8. cc says:

    Honestly, it is probably the most underrated show on TV right now. And, thank to the writer of this article for mentioning the intro. I completely agree. Whilst the intro of Stranger Things is good, is kind of irks me that it gets all the praise. The intro of HACF is much better.

  9. Judy Garcia says:

    Love the series. It’s techy but relatable by the way computers were born. Can’t wait until the finale. Love all geeks.