Those summer cable drama renewals just keep on coming, folks. A day after Sundance ordered a third season of “Rectify” and FX ordered a second of “The Strain,” AMC belatedly announced a second season order for “Halt and Catch Fire.”
The drama set at the dawn of the personal computing era had drawn very low ratings, and mixed early reviews. But it got better as it went along, particularly after it started shifting the spotlight off of Lee Pace’s Don Draper clone Joe MacMillan and shining it on the central ensemble, and as it got more into the struggle to balance creativity and commerce in the computer field.
The season finale felt in many ways like creators Chris Cantwell and Chris Rogers knew the show was ending, but it did set up a promising new direction for this second season (which will debut next summer): frustrated coder Cameron (Mackenzie Davis) and frustrated hardware expert Donna (Kerry Bishé, the series’ MVP) team up on a company focusing on networked gaming and other interactive concepts in the primitive days of the Internet. It also sent Joe off to the desert in search of his mother after he childishly burned a truck filled with the first shipment of his company’s IBM clone laptops, leaving Donna’s husband Gordon (Scoot McNairy) in charge of the company, but the idea of the two spouses following the computer revolution in two very different directions could be a lot of fun.
Given AMC’s struggles to develop new hits and/or critical darlings to follow the early trinity of “Mad Men,” “The Walking Dead” and the departed “Breaking Bad,” plus the poor ratings for “Halt,” it seemed very unlikely to return. Instead, AMC is sticking with it, just like the channel did in its early days when few people were watching the fledgling adventures of Walt and Jesse.
The first season of “Halt” had many flaws, but if it turns out to be (to borrow one of Joe’s better lines) the thing that gets us to the thing, then AMC’s patience will have been well worth it.