Originally Posted by cwilson
I was also involved in that exciting age of new computers so I found the program really interesting, but if the ratings were bad, maybe the time period was a little too early for most of today's viewers.
I have trouble buying this.
We've had plenty of well received shows that take place during the 60's, the Revolutionary War, the 1800's, the 70's and other eras well before the current Facebook and Twitter crowd was born. Heck, another show that takes place in the 80's (the Americans) is doing fine.
Perhaps the problem with Halt is people saw it for what it really is: a lesser version of Mad Men.
It wants to have all the drama with the main character that seems to disappear from work more than he's there, the female struggling to find her place in "a man's world" and the under appreciated main character that just can't seem to break out from the shadow of "the star" of the operation (and is unsatisfied with his home life). Heck, we even have the boss that seems to be a relic from the past and is slowly being pushed out by the young stars. Finally, we have another female genius (living in the shadow of her parents) who tries to prove herself to her boss, only to end up changing companies to get where she wants to be.
The problem is, Joe is no Don Draper. Gordon isn't Pete. Cameron isn't Joan and John Bosworth isn't Roger Sterling. Donna isn't Peggy. Their characters feel like the minor league versions of them.
Further, unlike with Mad Men, there's very little in the way of an immersive environment that cleary stamps the era the show takes place in. Sure, they throw us a few bones here and there, but the complete lack of pop culture and noteworthy events from the era makes me think these people need to get out more. Apparently nobody on the show watches TV or listens to music. Nobody goes to the movies. Nobody keeps up on current events. I say this because nobody discusses anything related to those things at all.
Sure, toward the end, they started getting more of that stuff in there and they did a respectable job at giving us a feel for the trade show, but most of the references felt like someone read the script and realized they ought to have something in there to remind the audience it takes place in the 80's.
On a show that ties itself so closely with computers, the early episodes felt like the hired Hollywood "computer experts" instead of actual computer experts. Otherwise, how would they have come up with something as stupid as the "manually spinning the platters" method of file recovery. With stuff like that, they likely turned off a lot of geeks that felt like it was going to be yet another "people typing fake commands into computers" show that relied on Soap Opera antics to fill in the blanks.
Finally, the cast was too constrained. You can't build a show around 4 people and make them interesting enough to care about them each week. This show needed an ensemble of performeres and what we got was a barber shop quartet where nobody seems to be singing the right tune.
As I noted earlier in the thread, I think a better show would have surrounded a business software company that Joe convinces to become a game company. That would allow for more people to be hands on and have more memorable references. Aside from a few exceptions, people remember games - they don't remember computers. We could see the games race from the point of view of not just computers, but consoles and arcades. At the same time, we could see a parade of computer hardware rolling through as the team ports their wares to various platforms.
At the same time, Donna at TI could represent the struggles of developing hardware.