'Halt and Catch Fire' First Look: The Battle for Control (and CTRL) Begins






Yahoo TV has the exclusive first look at the poster for AMC's new drama "Halt and Catch Fire" (premieres Sunday, June 1 at 10 p.m. on AMC), and it's equal parts '80s goodness and classic computer geekery.

"We wanted a bold, really graphic poster to suggest the cockiness and the swagger of the era," showrunner Jonathan Lisco told us, also pointing out that the iconic Paul Rand-designed IBM logo font immediately evokes that. "I was a kid in the '80s and lived through it, and I remember the excesses of it fairly well. And yet we didn't want to do the Scorsese thing — we wanted a color palette that would be brighter and not so dark. There's certainly going to be dark moments in store for viewers ... but the reds and oranges and yellows, kind of at an instinctive level, evoke the dawn of a new idea on the horizon for our characters."

The 10-episode series is set in Texas in 1983, about one year after IBM released its first major product, the IBM PC. Former IBM executive Joe MacMillan ("Pushing Daisies" alum Lee Pace) sees a fatal flaw in their computer and sets out to beat them at their own game with the help of an engineer (Scoot McNairy) and a prodigy (Mackenzie Davis).

The title "Halt and Catch Fire" is a term that not everyone is totally familiar with, not unlike when Vince Gilligan titled his AMC show "Breaking Bad." So what does it mean exactly? "It derives its name from an early computer command that would spark a race condition in the machine in which all the commands were fired at once and they had to contend for superiority," Lisco explained. "But then they were unable to achieve priority over one another, and these warring commands would cause the machine to shut down and overheat — to literally halt and catch fire. It's a fun term from tech history, but thematically too: If these character stop or if they run too fast, they may self-destruct."

"Even with the copy on the poster — In 1983, personal computing was anyone's game. — not only was that utterly true, historically speaking, it sets the stage and establishes the stakes. The stakes are not just the cutthroat computer business of the early '80s ... it's about people kind of at war with themselves. The battle for control begins: In the larger corporate landscape of our show, that's what's happening, but it's also happening among and between our character as they jockey for position in this universe. Who's gonna be the visionary? Who's going to be a footnote swept away in the trash bin of history?"

1 2