Halt and Catch Fire: Close to the Metal
June 24, 2014 9:13 AM - Season 1, Episode 4 - Subscribe

This fanfare post would have been up earlier if "someone" wouldn't have left their floppies too close to their speakers. Or did they?
posted by drezdn (17 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Hmmm. Looks like those of us who said we were done watching HaCF really meant it!

(Yeah, I skipped it and took off my series recording queue.)
posted by The Deej at 11:58 AM on June 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


I was shocked, SHOCKED that Lee Pace (see, I don't even know his damn character name) would engage in shenanigans.

The one thing I did like was showing Gordon's wife as not just a sympathetic but CAPABLE female character... to the point that she was almost more interesting than Cameron, Ms. "I'm punk and I'm upset so I'm gonna flounce out" which is a writing problem.

I actually wanted to start calling Cameron "Peggy" for no good reason, since Lee Pace was meandering increasingly into Magic Don Draper Carousel Whatever.
posted by Madamina at 12:26 PM on June 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


"My Machiavellian plan worked! By faking Cameron's data loss, I convinced a reporter that we're a shambling group of incompetents!"
posted by Ian A.T. at 12:35 PM on June 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


I only made it halfway into the first episode but couldn't see a reason to keep up with it. Is this show worth watching at all?
posted by Catblack at 12:45 PM on June 24, 2014


In another HCF thread, I made the point that I suspect all the actors have marching orders to choose the most unlikely and awkward way to do anything and everything... from a full conversation to just leaning on a wall, every movement and syllable has to include a bizarre hesitation as though they are actually going through 4 or 5 micro-choices and choosing the wrong one. This is proven by Cameron eating a sandwich at the end of this episode.

She picks it up as though she has never seen one before, tears the end off of the wrapper as though she only has one functioning hook of a finger, sniffs it, then mooshes the whole thing into her face at the exactly the kind of angle no human would ever choose. It is like a tiny little faberge egg of physical inelegance. I was afraid you wouldn't believe me so I made these terrible looking gifs.

A while back, I read this pretty awesome article about the show 'Til Death which apparently was getting such dismal ratings that they just decided to get real weird and experimental since they had nothing to lose. I honestly wonder if the makers of HCF didn't read the same article and get super inspired.
posted by SharkParty at 2:40 PM on June 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


There probably would have been a better series made about Gordon's wife, or maybe a show about her and Cameron's experiences as women in a male-dominant field. This show is failing ever-so-hard to be another Mad Men. Lee Pace is no Jon Hamm.
posted by fuse theorem at 2:47 PM on June 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


I had it playing but didn't pay much attention. All I have to say is that I never thought I'd want Lee Pace to be beaten up so much, then it happened. Maybe those scars aren't so mysterious after all. The only mystery left is how someone ends up named Scoot.
posted by provoliminal at 3:15 PM on June 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


This show has just become unpleasant to watch. I'm grimly determined to persevere however as I'm pretty sure it'll be cancelled before long. I actually hesitated before favoriting the thread even though I'm just using it as a bookmark not an endorsement.
posted by scalefree at 5:37 PM on June 24, 2014


She picks it up as though she has never seen one before, tears the end off of the wrapper as though she only has one functioning hook of a finger, sniffs it, then mooshes the whole thing into her face at the exactly the kind of angle no human would ever choose. It is like a tiny little faberge egg of physical inelegance. I was afraid you wouldn't believe me so I made these terrible looking gifs.

I am failing miserably at finding it, but back in the 80's (and 90's?) Taco Bell soft tacos used to come in wrappers that had instructions on how to eat them. She's opening and eating that sandwich in that exact way, so I figured it was a soft taco.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:01 PM on June 24, 2014


I figured it was her first sandwich, which is as close to her eating "real food" or whatever Competent Woman said as she had ever done. Competent Woman is going to aid her to be more human, while "Punk Chick" will facilitate hijinks like shoplifting and arson. I'm waiting for when they discover the truck they took joyriding is filled with semi-automatic weapons and cocaine just before their headlights reveal Scoot giving Lee Pace the business. The butt business. Then they all take "I BM" far too literally, but it magically spells out the necessary algorithm that saves the day!
posted by provoliminal at 6:21 PM on June 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


fuse theorem: There probably would have been a better series made about Gordon's wife, or maybe a show about her and Cameron's experiences as women in a male-dominant field. This show is failing ever-so-hard to be another Mad Men.

There are things I really like about Halt And Catch Fire, and this is one of them. It doesn't hold the tunnel-vision bias that the Past was all one universal unchanging shithole of Oppression until the current generation discovered feminism/ free-markets/ sex/ psychotherapy etc. etc. The boring big-business side of tech has been a pretty non-sexist (for its time) place for decades. (IBM had female machine-language hackers in the early '60s.) By 1983 in a company like Texas Instruments, an engineer like Donna Clark would simply be an engineer. Honestly, I think the whiz-bang side of the tech industry which grew out of microcomputer hobbyist hackers is more sexist than the button-down Data Processing tradition. The world of HCF isn't the one depicted at the beginning of Mad Men, where there are "men's roles" versus "girls' roles" as a structural property of the way the whole social system works. Although there's still individual sexism in the former -- even Gordon, who's a model egalitarian husband in a lot of ways, slips under stress into expecting Donna to manage the kids.

When I read people's comments here I sometimes wonder if I'm just determined to like this show. When stupid stuff happens I mentally rewrite it into "this is what they were trying to say." Even so, I have a dream that the series will end with Cameron (fired after writing the BIOS) and Gordon (homeless after his wife kicks him out) finally bonding over a nice barbeque dinner of Joe's eviscerated internal organs.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 8:48 PM on June 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


When I read people's comments here I sometimes wonder if I'm just determined to like this show. When stupid stuff happens I mentally rewrite it into "this is what they were trying to say."

I'm impressed! Because this is the kind of show that sees you suspending your disbelief, rolls up its sleeves and goes "oh yeah??!"
posted by SharkParty at 9:12 PM on June 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


The world of HCF isn't the one depicted at the beginning of Mad Men, where there are "men's roles" versus "girls' roles" as a structural property of the way the whole social system works.

True but I never thought the H&CF was trying to be about that. I saw the attempted Mad Men vibe specifically with Lee Pace's character. The esoteric speechifying, the mysterious aura, the Machiavellian use of sex as means to other ends. I think the show desperately wants the character to be viewed in the same league as Don Draper. However, IMO, there's no "there" there with him and he reeks of trying too hard.

Although there's still individual sexism in the former -- even Gordon, who's a model egalitarian husband in a lot of ways, slips under stress into expecting Donna to manage the kids.

I thought the scenes where Gordon's wife had to lie about her name and then sit quietly while the men took credit for her work spoke volumes. If she and Gordon ever break up and divorce, and the PC project succeeds, that stuff is probably going to come back to haunt them in an expensive way.
posted by fuse theorem at 10:35 PM on June 24, 2014


I saw the attempted Mad Men vibe specifically with Lee Pace's character. The esoteric speechifying, the mysterious aura, the Machiavellian use of sex as means to other ends.

I took all of that to be Lee Pace's character being a poor imitation of Steve Jobs.
posted by gyc at 12:09 AM on June 25, 2014


I like this show, mostly because I want to like it, but it's missing the 'comfy factor' or whatever you want to call the counterpoint to all of this horrible stress that everyone's constantly dumping onto each other's shoulders. We never get to see the characters actually being comfortable with each other and revealing anything of about themselves really, except to people who already know them. Pace's character doesn't count, of course, because the show makes it very clear that he's incapable of telling the truth, which is boring in and of itself.
posted by destructive cactus at 9:35 AM on June 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


The first paragraph of the Onion AV Club's review of this episode does a pretty good job of summing up the feeling I've been getting from the show since the second episode:

"Halt And Catch Fire is revealing itself to be two shows, neither of which is well-realized. On one hand, it’s the story of a handful of disparate players in the early days of the PC business trying to create new technology. On the other, it’s the tale of a secretive, manipulative mystery man playing those people as pawns in a long game whose rules are unknown to all but him. Either narrative could be compelling if the show committed to telling it. Neither story is convincing as Halt And Catch Fire tumbles them both together in a pile and fits pieces of each together to form each new episode. "

http://www.avclub.com/tvclub/halt-and-catch-fire-close-metal-206109
posted by The Legit Republic of Blanketsburg at 11:49 AM on June 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


H&CF definitely needs a lot of work. Parts of it are good, for sure — the Donna/Gordon marriage is excellent, Donna in particular, and even the storytelling shortcuts taken work well in her hands. I especially liked the scene where the two of them argued briefly outside their kid's school. The back and forth between them is rapid and he realises she's right very quickly. That neither of them have to go through some epic song and dance of sidelong glances and misunderstanding makes their marriage feel real. I'd disagree with the AV Club's assertion that theirs is 'intermittent chemistry' — he's so wrapped up in what he's doing that when he switches off and engages with her properly you can see how much he genuinely loves her both as an individual and for her obvious intelligence, which incidentally comes across much more organically than Cameron's mirror scrawling.

Most everything else is a mess. As much as I enjoy the show to a point, it just doesn't seem well thought out, and the writing is all over the place. Half the time the words coming out the character's mouths seem designed for nothing more than maximum argument potential.

I honestly think they're in way too much of a rush. Almost everything in the show in one way or another serves to either advance the plot or communicate some sort of clumsy metaphor. They're also blasting through plot at a rate of knots. If they just took their time with this, we could have avoided the aftereffects of the pilot's rapid pace, where he carried out a backdoor takeover of Cardiff Electric, recruited Gordon and Cameron, had sex and killed an armadillo inside of an hour. Does anyone know who the showrunners of this are? Maybe it's an experience thing. Again, though, I am enjoying quite a few elements of it, but yeah, the Lee Pace Manipulation + Cameron Angry Grarr Hour isn't super working for me.
posted by jaffacakerhubarb at 11:40 AM on June 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


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