Halt and Catch Fire and the slow burn

Halt and Catch Fire is currently my favourite thing on TV (well, internet). Yes, I know Game of Thrones is amazing, there’s tits and dragons, Westworld is great (tits and horses), I will definitely watch Mr. Robot at some point, and The Walking Dead is still enjoyable I guess, sometimes, if you’ve got nothing better to do…

But, Halt and Catch Fire isn’t particularly like any of those shows. Set around tech in the 80’s it’s closer to AMC’s hit Mad Men than most of the most popular shows of today. Like Halt and Catch FireMad Men was a costume drama set within a particular industry and within a particular time period. Like Mad Men, Halt builds very slowly, focussing on character development and dialogue, no decapitations, nudity, or dragons. Boring, right?

But unlike Mad MenHalt is not a hit. Having just finished its third season, numbers have actually fallen. Hovering at about 300,000 for the third season, which is pretty low. Other slow dramas may start off with low ratings, but generally slowly build over time as they gain more views, like Mad Men or Breaking Bad (another incredibly slow show, not that you’d know it for the phenomenon it became).

Amazingly however it has survived, and even been renewed. You could speculate the reasons for this, AMC may have more than enough money that they’re happy to support something without the high ratings usually required for renewal. The third season has been critically applauded, I’ve see several articles knocking around that suggest people should binge it immediately.

I was always amazed Mad Men did as well as it did, excellent although it was, simply because of the speed it moved. If you think about Game of Thrones as well you make think it incredible that it’s the international obsession it is considering how slow the first couple of episodes are.

For whatever reason, Halt hasn’t captured the hearts of swathes of viewers like other slow moving dramas have managed to before it. I still think the four main characters, their relationships with each other, and their development over the three seasons is the best thing on TV.