New Silicon Prairie Drama for SoHo

Fans of the HBO comedy Silicon Valley can look forward to a dramatic treatment of the PC revolution when SoHo premieres Halt and Catch Fire on September 17.

The AMC (Mad Men, The Walking Dead) series, which will air 9.30 Wednesdays after Ray Donovan, is set in the Silicon Prairie of Texas in the 1980s, when IBM was the PC champ.

It imagines what might have happened had an ex-IBM employee (Lee Pace) tried to reverse engineer the company’s flagship to make his start-up the next PC sensation.

The Los Angeles Times thought it “provocative and promising“, the Wall Street Journal “immensely seductive” and the New York Daily News “a promising, surprisingly lively and fast-paced drama that humanises those early computer geeks”.

The Hollywood Reporter, too, was won over — “a triumphant pilot with excellent writing, impressive acting and a noteworthy cinematic visual style” but warned: “Ultimately that means nothing until we see the next episode.

“And the one after that. And the one after that. So take this early praise with that caveat.”

But trade paper rival Variety thought it felt “more like a programmatic reboot of familiar themes than anything shiny, new and next-gen” while New York magazine said: “Kudos to Halt and Catch Fire for telling an original story, but I wish it would tell it in a more original way.”

Also new on SoHo in September are seasons four of Hell on Wheels (8.30 Tuesdays, from September 2) and Queer as Folk (10.30 Saturdays, from September 13), and season five of Boardwalk Empire (8.30 Mondays, from September 15).

Its premiere follows a month-long showcasing of seasons 1-4 on a pop-up channel and a box set Saturday re-run of S4 on September 6, ahead of Episodes (S3) and Line of Duty (S2) on September 13, Silicon Valley (S1) and The Killing (S4) on September 20, and Penny Dreadful (S1) and The Escape Artist on September 27.

Says the publicity for Empire’s final season:

Season 5 begins in 1931, a full six years after the end of Season 4. In stark contrast with the Roaring ‘20s, the country is in the throes of the Great Depression, and with the end of Prohibition in sight, Nucky is looking to legitimize himself by forging alliances with liquor producers, including Bacardi in Cuba.

Arnold Rothstein has been killed, leaving Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky to wrest control from crime kingpins like Joe Masseria and Salvatore Maranzano – and eliminate competitors like Nucky.

Rothstein’s death also complicates matters for Nucky’s estranged wife Margaret, whose fragile job on Wall Street is threatened when her boss kills himself, leaving her with a file full of incriminating documents.

Chalky White, whose fortunes hit rock bottom after the death of his daughter in the season 4 finale, seizes an opportunity to escape from a chain gang and return to Atlantic City toexact revenge at last on Valentin Narcisse.

Finally, Eli Thompson, who went underground and moved to Chicago after killing federal agent Tolliver (a.k.a. Knox), is now working with Nelson Van Alden under Al Capone, who is being set up for a downfall through an infiltrator in his high-profile organisation.

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