Halt and Catch Fire: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray Review)

Halt and Catch FireAnchor Bay Entertainment will release AMC’s compelling drama Halt and Catch Fire: The Complete First Season on Blu-ray + Digital HD and DVD on Cinco de Mayo, May 5th.  Available as a 3-disc set, Halt and Catch Fire: The Complete First Season contains all 10 episodes of the series that presents a fictionalized account of the early days of the personal computer creation and the tech heads who would soon go on to create a revolution.  The set also includes bonus features that give a behind-the-scenes look at the making of this smart series.  Find out below why our favorite marketer in the world loves this show so much.  Show me some love by reading on…

Halt and Catch Fire


Let’s get the peculiar title out of the way shall we? Taken from Wikipedia:

  • Halt and Catch Fire, known by the assembly mnemonic HCF, refers to several computer machine code instructions that cause a computer’s CPU to cease meaningful operation. The expression “catch fire” is intended as a joke; the CPU does not literally catch fire, but it does stop functioning.

Okay, now we can continue. AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire is the story of three people that need some direction in life. They come from different paths but are all on one to join forces. Joe MacMillan (Lee Pace) defected from IBM to start his own company and just to see where the world takes him. It has taken him to Texas, where it’s considered “Silicon Prairie.” He’s a smooth talking no-nonsense type of guy and failure is not an option. Gordon Clark (Scoot McNairy) is a very talented computer engineer who feels like a relic from a long lost era (the 1970’s) in which he had major control over what he created and worked on. The 1980’s have not been kind to him and his marriage. Gordon needs to get out of the rut he’s in fast. Cameron Howe (Mackenzie Davis) is a software engineer and she is very good at what she does but she has a bit of that old non-conformist attitude. She does things her way and for a cause or she doesn’t do them at all. She holds various jobs to get by, which is sort of ironic considering that she’s brilliant.

The meat and potatoes of Halt and Catch Fire are that Joe, Gordon, and Cameron team up to reverse engineer an existing IBM machine and clone it. Once the clone is made then they can start their own company and be filthy rich. It’s all easier said than done of course, because there is variables set in place that will derail their ultimate outcome. Lee Pace as Joe really shines as the ultimate badass alpha male but he is a bit self-destructive when it come s to failure. Gordon is likable enough but he’s wrought with insecurities and not being good enough for his wife and children. His drinking problem only serves to make things worse. And for the trifecta – Cameron may be super smart and pretty but only wants to be appreciated for her talents. She does indulge in questionable behavior that may or may not bite her in the ass but it’s an outlet that she desperately needs to stay sane.

Seeing some of the fully re-created technology of the 1980’s made me chuckle a bit, because we have certainly come a long way. The show gets the 1980’s scene just right – the clothes, hair, cars, garish household interiors with wood paneling patterns, etc. It’s all here and we’re just tourists. Another show out there that has also made a big impression for its humor and storytelling has been Silicon ValleyHalt and Catch Fire is the opposite of that show due to it being a drama instead of a comedy but you can watch both shows side by side and see the some parallels. They’re the perfect compliment to each other in this day of serialized tech related programming.

Halt and Catch Fire is a well-written and directed show. I had a good time watching the show and reliving the 1980’s. Okay, not really reliving the 80’s, but it was fun nonetheless. Halt and Catch Fire is now available on Blu-ray and DVD. It’s well worth your time. You’re also going to need to catch, because season two is set to premiere very soon.


Halt and Catch Fire


Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Clarity/DetailHalt and Catch Fire looks terrific. Contrast and sharpness levels are pristine. The level of detail will blow your mind and normally I would not say that’s a good thing due to the time period that the film takes place in but the 1980’s have never looked so good.

Depth: The show will really pop out at you – it’s clean yet very cold all at once. I really do think that’s what the creators had in mind. Good thing the Blu-ray preserves those levels adequately.

Black Levels: Crush was not a problem during playback.

Color Reproduction:  The color palette is great and very reflective of the time period that it takes place in. Check out Cameron’s various outfits to see how she tends to break up monotony.

Flesh Tones: Everyone looks great.

Noise/Artifacts: This Blu-ray set is absent of noise, artifacts, and debris.

Halt and Catch Fire


Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

DynamicsHalt and Catch Fire is a drama therefore we will not have action scenes involving martial arts and other perils. I cannot say that there won’t be an explosion or two but what is presented in handled expertly by the lossless TrueHD 5.1 track.

Low Frequency Extension: The LFE is primed to handle the synth music score and it does so wonderfully. Check out the bass levels during the opening and closing credits – the LFE gives it a subtle kick in the pants.

Surround Sound Presentation: The rear channels handle ambience really well, with the occasional 360 effects going by.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is crystal clear even during scenes of Cameron blasting her punk rock tunes.

Halt and Catch Fire


I really wanted this special features package to be fully loaded but we only get a small fragment of what could have been a better set of extras. It’s a very basic set of supplemental features when it boils down to it.

  • Inside Episodes (HD) – These are very small re-cap segments of episodes 1-10.
  • Re-Making The 80s (HD) – This featurette covers the production design of Halt and Catch Fire and what went into creating this world of the early 1980’s.
  • Rise Of The Digital Cowboys (HD) – This short featurette covers the area in which our main protagonist come from and also covers their arcs and highlights their motivations.
  • Setting The Fire: Research And Technology (HD) – The key is authenticity and the show actually used someone who was knee-deep in code and everything else “computer” in those days and he discusses his training of the actors in all things related to early PC technology.

Halt and Catch Fire


Halt and Catch Fire: The Complete First Season is a breath of fresh air in the world of early consumer technology. It takes no prisoners and makes no apologies during its cutthroat exposition. The primary cast is likable enough in their respective roles and production values soar. I’m happy that the show was renewed for a second season, because it has me in its grasp and I want to know where it goes from here. The Blu-ray set has some great video and audio specifications but the special features drag it down a bit. It’s a great set overall and highly recommended!




Halt and Catch Fire: The Complete First Season




Halt and Catch Fire


Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

2 Responses to “Halt and Catch Fire: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Brian White

    We just finished Bloodline, EXCELLENT show! This is NEXT on my MUST-SEE watch. Only made it to episode 6 of Daredevil.

  2. Brian White

    Binged watched this on Netflix!
    Phenomenal show!!!