What are you doing this summer?
Did you answer "Watching the first two seasons of AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire, in preparation for the third season to debut on Tuesday, August 23!"? Because if you didn’t, you’re wrong.
Yes, Vox’s favorite drama about the '80s tech boom and the people whose lives it changed received an unlikely season three renewal, and now we’ve exclusively learned season three premieres on, as previously mentioned, Tuesday, August 23.
Here, we’ll say that again. Tuesday, August 23.
The season premiere will run for two hours and air at 9 pm Eastern on AMC. After that, episodes will run weekly on Tuesdays at 10 pm Eastern. The season three order is for 10 episodes total, which will air over nine weeks.
Should you want to catch up on the first two seasons, they’re both streaming on Netflix. Alternatively, season one is currently available on DVD, and season two comes out on DVD on August 9. (You can also purchase the series via digital download.)
I visited the Halt and Catch Fire set during the filming of season three, and without spoiling anything, I’m pleased to report that the series is on track to continue the second season’s terrific dissection of the internet’s earliest days.
Clearly, I’m a huge fan of this show. But I think I can make you one, too. Here’s my pitch for why you should catch up, in 300 words or less.
Why you need to watch Halt and Catch Fire
In short, Halt and Catch Fire is filling the void in my life that The West Wing left behind when it went off the air in 2006. Like The West Wing, Halt and Catch Fire is fundamentally optimistic about its characters being able to solve big problems. Also like that show, it’s got lots of smaller problems for the characters to tackle with an optimistic sense of can-do gusto, plus lots of fun, zippy dialogue and an energetic tone. They're not the same show, but they scratch similar itches.
But Halt and Catch Fire is also really smart about how the world of yesterday created the world we live in today. Its four central characters, all outliers in the 1980s Texas tech scene, have very different ideas about what the future of computing looks like, and they argue those very different ideas passionately. We viewers know what’s to come, so we can easily side with whoever’s got the most realistic plans. But you always understand why everybody feels the way they do.
And while Halt and Catch Fire mainly focuses on characters who are pioneers in their field, it also tells stories about people who realize, slowly, that they’re not geniuses. (Late in season one, there’s a great reveal of the original Apple Macintosh that is surprisingly gutting in the moment.) The show is about two men voluntarily stepping aside to let the women in their lives take the wheel, and then struggling with that decision. And it’s about the the idea that a "community" could form between people just typing away on their computers.
Admittedly, it takes a few episodes to really get going, but by the end of season one, it’s a rarity in the modern TV landscape: a show filled with invigorating conflict that’s, nonetheless, bright, optimistic, and hopeful.
So how should you watch? Here are three ways.
Three ways to catch up on Halt and Catch Fire
Method 1: Just watch season two. Season one fills in some backstory, but it’s nothing you can’t get from Wikipedia or by reading recaps of the show. Season two is where the story really gets going, and where the show best highlights its terrific female cast members, Kerry Bishé and Mackenzie Davis.
Method 2: Start with season one, episode six: You’ll again miss some backstory, but you’ll get the most important bits of season one while still avoiding the early episodes where the show is trying to figure out its voice and storytelling methods. It also gets you that aforementioned Macintosh reveal.
Method 3: Just watch the whole thing: Yes, there are some clumsy early episodes, but not that many. And on Netflix, they’ll just fly by.
But whatever you choose to do, make sure you catch up on the show. I am declaring it not optional. Thank you, everyone. Have a good summer (of catching up on Halt and Catch Fire).
Halt and Catch Fire returns Tuesday, August 23, at 9 pm Eastern on AMC, for season three. That’s my wedding anniversary. Are you really going to let me down on my wedding anniversary? Seasons one and two are available to stream on Netflix, or for digital download. Season one is already available on DVD; season two comes out on DVD on Tuesday, August 9.