Thursday, June 12, 2014

Television: Halt and Catch Fire

I wanted to like this. I really did. AMC's advertising tried to tie it emotionally to Mad Men, and I think that was a mistake. Because Mad Men has the alien vibe of being truly in the past. People think and do things that seem inconceivable or unforgivable ("Do you belong to someone else?") but we're convinced. And we even like those people. Eventually.

Sure, I've only seen two episodes of Halt and Catch Fire. But it doesn't have that feel of a foreign country, of alien beings built from the inside out. There's a self-conscious awareness of the contrast between the past and the present. The outrageous statements seem to know they're outrageous. The predictions of the future are far too accurate. The pretty characters choose clothes that we could wear today, while the unpretty ones look as if they dressed out of their own parents' closets.

I wondered if I was being unfair, demanding too much. But Mad Men isn't the only recent-past period drama that works. The original British Life on Mars, for example,  was entirely convincing, despite having a character who knows all about our present right in the middle of it.

Maybe it'll get better.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

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