Halt And Catch Fire’s freshman season was decent but its season 2 soft reboot helped make it a show really worth watching. Created by Christopher Cantwell and Christopher C. Rogers, Halt And Catch Fire chronicled the rise of consumer tech and aired for four seasons on AMC. In its first season, the show mostly focused on entrepreneur and salesman Joe MacMillan (Lee Pace) and engineer Gordon Clark (Scoot McNairy) as they tried to build a personal computer to rival IBM’s in Texas’ Silicon Prairie in the early 1980s.
To give Halt And Catch Fire credit it's due, the first season was perfectly fine, but it felt like AMC was trying to repeat the success of Mad Men with Joe MacMillan seeming like a Don Draper duplicate transported to the tech boom of the 1980s. Not to mention the fact that there’s already a glut of shows and movies focusing on men in the tech world like HBO’s Silicon Valley, Jobs, and The Social Network.
But then something wonderful happened in Halt And Catch Fire season 2. The show fast-forwarded to 1985 and shifted focus to punk tech wunderkind Cameron Howe (Mackenzie Davis, Terminator: Dark Fate) and Gordon’s wife Donna (Kerry Bishé) and their work at Mutiny, the online gaming startup Cameron founded at the end of season 1. With the renewed focus on Cameron and Donna, Joe and Gordon took a backseat as did the bland corporate setting of the first season, replaced with the chaotic energy of a tech startup that was innovating rather than imitating.
The soft reboot that was season 2 was just what Halt And Catch Fire needed. Of course, it helped Cameron and Donna were the most interesting characters on the show and that Mackenzie Davis and Kerry Bishé have amazing chemistry. The best part about Halt And Catch Fire’s soft reboot, however, is its focus on the role women played in the 1980s tech revolution – a subject not often explored on television.
Halt And Catch Fire continued its successful soft reboot formula for the next two seasons too. In season 3, the action moved to California’s Silicon Valley and in the show’s fourth and final season, the focus shifted to the fledgling World Wide Web of the early 1990s. Those later soft reboots proved another wise move and season 4 became show’s most highly rated season, but its second season is the season that saved Halt And Catch Fire.