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TV Review: AMC’s ‘Halt and Catch Fire’

AMC premieres Halt and Catch Fire—starring Lee Pace and Mackenzie Davis—on Sunday, June 1, 10 p.m. ET. The following are reviews from TV critics around the web, compiled by B&C.

“Seeking to wed the birth of the personal-computer era to a Mad Men vibe, AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire takes a 30-year leap back to the early days of the business, pairing a fast-talking salesman/wheeler-dealer with a buttoned-up, family-man tech genius. If that sounds a bit like The Social Network meets Pirates of Silicon Valley, that’s the intent, with Lee Pace (Pushing Daisies) a welcome and convincing presence in the former role. Despite its assets, though, the series still feels more like a programmatic reboot of familiar themes than anything shiny, new and next-gen.”
—Brian Lowry, Variety

“Halt And Catch Fire has a great cast, a neat title, a solid pilot script from Chris Cantwell and Chris Rogers, and some intriguing direction from Juan José Campanella that turns both the human face and circuit boards into things to be broken down into component parts and understood. But it lacks a suggestion that it will reassemble the parts of better dramas that it has gathered into something uniquely its own, instead of a mostly functional knockoff.”
—Todd VanDerWerff, A.V. Club

“It's a bright idea, well acted and well written, but with only the pilot to judge, all positives come with a huge caveat.”
—Tim Goodman, The Hollywood Reporter

“Yet too often the writing lets the actors down. Both main female characters — the tough girl who feels more than she shows and the bitter wife who eventually relents — are at least initially empty vessels. And much of the dialogue, particularly for the women and for the snarling bosses at Cardiff, makes you wonder whether co-creators Christopher Cantwell and Christopher Rogers have ever actually listened to people talk in real life, as opposed to other people's films and TV shows.”
—Robert Bianco, USA Today

"Halt is an example of television desperate to cash in on the current mania for all things tech, but still tethered to the tried and true. That may win the show an audience of traditional viewers, but no matter how many times you use the term ROM BIOS, younger, tech-savvy viewers are going to see Halt as a history lesson and they have little interest in yesterday.”
 —David Wiegand,San Francisco Chronicle