Sex, lies and PCs in '80s computer world drama

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 30, 2014 at 3:42 pm •  Published: May 30, 2014
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — AMC, home of "Mad Men" and newcomer "Halt and Catch Fire," aired a recent promo that cleverly played connect-the-dots between its landmark series and the intriguingly titled drama.

The spot opened with a 1969 "Mad Men" character railing against a behemoth computer, then shifted to scenes of 1983 PC pioneers. "Once the future was hard to see," a narrator intones, "Then three rebels ... got with the program."

"Halt and Catch Fire" debuts Sunday (10 p.m. EDT), and AMC understandably would like to cast its new series as heir apparent to "Mad Men," which is poised to depart next year. Or how about invoking former channel star "Breaking Bad"?

Creators and executive producers Christopher Cantwell and Christopher C. Rogers will have none of it. Or almost none.

Their series, set in Texas' "Silicon Prairie" during the frenzy to strike it rich in the burgeoning personal computer industry, hired "Mad Men" art decorator Chris Brown as its production designer.

Mark Johnson and Melissa Bernstein, who were producers on "Breaking Bad," are now at work on the new series.

But "there's no way to follow a show like that," Cantwell said of AMC's unlikely hit about a teacher-turned-drug king, and the same goes for "Mad Men."

"The only thing we can do is ... to focus on the world we're telling and make it as good as possible," he said.

Rogers said the drama is influenced by the recent TV past but strives to be part of a "new wave."

Rather than focus on one difficult antihero like a Tony Soprano or Don Draper, "this is a show about three people and has a pace and other elements" all its own, including its visual style and voice, he said.

The show's 1980s look, for example, is historically accurate but not as dominant an element as the 1960s have been for "Mad Men" — likely a wise move given how the style-challenged '80s stack up against the impossibly cool '60s.

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