Tom Gliatto and Aili Nahas
June 09, 2014 12:00 PM

HALT AND CATCH FIRE

AMC, June 1, 10 p.m. ET/PT |

DRAMA

Of the many conceptually striking and morally bleak shows AMC has rolled out in the past few years, this is the first to feel like a knockoff of the breakout classic Mad Men—it doesn’t feel wholly imagined. Lee Pace (Pushing Daisies), as a salesman who’s just arrived in Texas, has more than a little of that Don Draper/Jon Hamm magnetism. He’s as tall, lean and imposing as an old-fashioned oil rig – but it’s 1983, when the state is home to the new tech frontier, and Joe MacMillan is pushing computers. Joe starts work at Cardiff Electric after making a dodgy exit from IBM (like Don, he imposes a scaffold of external cool over an emotionally wobbly infrastructure). He’s a visionary (quel Don! Again!) who knows that electronics is on the verge of changing the world: “Computers aren’t the thing,” he tells Gordon Clark (Scoot McNairy), an engineer. “They’re the thing that gets us to the thing.” Then he practically shanghais the company, putting it on a path to create a PC to top IBM’s. Pace is terrific: I wouldn’t bother with all those comparisons to Jon Hamm only to conclude that he’s the new Jon Cryer. The drawback to Catch Fire—the title refers to a code that would send a PC into overdrive—is that we aren’t yet interested enough in the backup characters. For now, Pace is reason enough to watch this on whatever TV, laptop or mobile screen you prefer in the digital age.

THE NIGHT SHIFT

NBC, Tuesdays, 10 p.m. ET/PT |

DRAMA

Set at a money-strapped hospital in San Antonio, Night Shift focuses on the doctors who start work after sundown. They’re a gonzo, rough-and-tumble group—that’s true especially of TC Callahan (Eoin Macken), who saw bad days during a military tour of Afghanistan and now cuts a brooding, romantic figure. He’s like McDreamy in the wrong stage of REM sleep. Shift is competent but useful mostly as a reminder to stay healthy at all costs and avoid this sort of place.

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