Is Halt and Catch Fire just the combination of Breaking Bad and Mad Men?


A few years ago AMC announced the scheduled end dates for two of their flagship TV shows; Mad Men and Breaking Bad. At that time they started work on their next round of hopefully great dramas.  True they did still have The Walking Dead as a monster hit, and Hell on Wheels was picking up steam… I don’t know enough about the types of trains they use on the show to know if that was a pun or not. Anyways, they also were working on a pair of spin offs, one of which we already know is excellent, but they still needed some new blood.

It started with Low Winter Sun which was universally hated, which I attribute more to an antihero fatigue than an actual reflection on the show itself.  Two other shows were launched, Turn and Halt and Catch Fire. I only watched half of the first episode of Turn, but I assume it is perfectly fine. Halt and Catch Fire on the other hand was one of my favorite new shows last year.

I am a computer nerd, and although I was just a little kid when most of the show takes place, I do remember a lot of the technology that is featured in the show. I had a commodore 64. I remember using modems. I remember how pants shittingly game changing the original Nintendo was. I knew how to use DOS. I did tons of Cocaine as I tried to solve over heating issues on the portable CPU I was designing. Ok Maybe not that last one.

It seems like more and more people are warming up to season two of the show, and as I have been watching it I came to a possibly startling, partially accurate revelation. This show is basically just an amalgamation of Mad Men and Breaking Bad.


Setting: 60’s NYC Advertising = 80’s Silicon Prarie

Let’s start with some of the obvious parallels. It’s a show set in the not too distant past like Mad Men where the setting is almost a character in and of itself.  Like Mad Men a big part of the driving force of the plot is the characters trying to make their business successful. Ok maybe you could draw those parallels with a lot of shows but what about this.  In both Mad Men and HaCF (that’s how I am going to abbreviate it from here on out) they spend a lot of time scratching and clawing to make their business succeed and then after they do, they get bought out, and then everyone jumps ship and starts a new company where they have to scratch and claw again.

Let’s go a little deeper. In Mad Men the industry they are in, advertising, is dominated by old white men. In HaCF we once again have a good old boy’s club that is adjusting to the new reality of having women entering a male dominated environment.  There’s … ok, maybe I thought I had more for this category than I did.

Joe MacMillian = Don Draper

images (7)

Now let’s look at the characters.  Mad Men’s leading man was a handsome smooth talker whose arrogance was forgiven because he delivered when it counted. Want more?  Both Don Draper and Joe MacMillan have a past they are trying to keep from the public eye.  Don isn’t actually Don Draper, and Joe has a bunch of scars on his body that he never truthfully explains.  Not enough for you?  Both characters sabotage their success.  Don with drinking and crying in front of the fine folks at Hershey’s Chocolate. Joe with setting a truck full of PCs on fire. Both characters make business deals without any approval of anyone before hand.  They both would rather ask for forgiveness than seek permission.

Gordon Clark = Walter White

images (2)

Ok, maybe we won’t ever get the total transformation from Mr. Rogers into Scarface like we had in BB, but Gordon Clark is the brilliant egg head who is under valued despite creating something innovative in the past.  Walter White got a Nobel for whatever the hell he did with Grey Mater, and Gordon had his musical computer contraption that he buried in the back yard or something.  Look they never explicitly state the back story in either of these cases, but that’s a good thing.  The mystery is way more satisfying than the truth could ever be.

Seems like kind of a weak comparison until you add in some additional details. Both Walter and Gordon have hot wives.  Both wives kind of have sexual tension with their boss or former Boss.  Walter and Gordon both turn to their wives to help them with their particular area of expertise.  With Skyler it was accounting/money laundering. with Donna it is the layout of the circuit board in season 1.  Both Gordon and Walter get into drugs in the early seasons. Gordon does some coke for a few episodes in season 2, mostly as a misdirect, and Walter smokes pot once in season 1.

Still doesn’t seem like that big of a deal right.  I would agree with you until the latest bombshell hit the Clark family in the past few episodes of HaCF.  Gordon Clark, just like Walter White, has a debilitating disease that will probably kill him that was possibly caused by the work he had done over the years (Gordon with soldering and circuit boards, and Walter with chemicals). Boom!!!!! that is parallel as fuck now.  Oh, Gordon and Walter both adjust their facial hair as a way of changing up their attitude towards life. So there is that too.

Seems like I have hit the major points and am in the home stretch of proving my thesis. But lets look at a few more characters.

Donna Clark = Joan Holloway

images (3)

Are both super hot readheads? Check.  Did both have unplanned pregnancies and go to an abortion clinic? yes.. although with different results. Are both initially under appreciated, taken for granted, but end up forming their own business? Yes.. although Donna does it in season 2 with mutiny and Joan waits till the end of the series in mad men. Do both have close minded mothers that think they are passive aggressive but too snarky to pull it off and in general just stuck in a bygone era’s mindset? yep. Are both super hot read heads? Yes. A thousand times yes.

Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks) - Mad Men - Season 6, Episode 4 - Photo Credit: Michael Yarish/AMC

Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks) – Mad Men – Season 6, Episode 4 – Photo Credit: Michael Yarish/AMC

Cameron = Jesse Pinkman

images (6)

Ok, I might be stretching things here a little bit, but I think there is still some good stuff.  While Cameron isn’t a partner to Gordon the way Jesse was to Walter, they do have a similar initial dynamic where Gordon is straight laced and doesn’t take Cameron seriously because of her attitude which is non conformist to say the least.  Like Jesse Cameron has some loyal yet unmotivated friends/colleagues/business partners who kind of unintentionally take advantage of her as she tries to make something more of herself. Like Jesse she passes up on money when there is principle at stake. Granted Cameron never drove around tossing stacks of cash onto people’s lawns. She did turn down 5 mil this past episode though.

Both Jesse and Cameron let their emotions get the better of them, and have no problem standing up to authority or those in positions of power when the time is right.. or when it isn’t right actually.  Both are constantly under dressed.  Both are constantly in a new relationship that adversely affects their business life.  Both have short yet shaggy un combed hair in the first two seasons of the show. Ok that last one is kind of a reach, but i think I still made my point.

John Boswoth = Roger Sterling


ughhhhhh no. This one doesn’t really work.  I guess you could maybe draw a parellel that they are both salesmen, and have estranged wives, and kids that get married during the show, and are used at times for comedic relief, and are the ones to come through in a pinch when you might not have expected it, and can be kind of a mentor or voice of wisdom at times despite not having the classical appearance of that type of person, and also are kind of the boss even though there is a bigger richer boss above him.  Still those are pretty broad stokes, so lets give HaCF a few more seasons before we decide who he really should be compared to if anyone.

Debbie = Meredith

Bianca Malinowski as Debbie - Halt and Catch Fire _ Season 1, Episode 8 - Photo Credit: Quantrell Colbert/AMC

Bianca Malinowski as Debbie – Halt and Catch Fire _ Season 1, Episode 8 – Photo Credit: Quantrell Colbert/AMC


Ok, so Debbie hasn’t appeared in season 2 yet I don’t think, and odds are good we wont ever see her again, but she does have the almost cliche air head secretary role down pat similar to Meredith. Granted Meredith was a favorite of just about everyone, and even those she was dumb as a bag of rocks, she more than compensated with her up beat personality, never say die attitude, and total devotion to her boss.  It should also be noted that she wasn’t stupid dumb where you would tell her to do something and she wouldn’t understand and just ignore it. Meredith would either just flat out say she doesn’t understand in a cheerful voice and ask for more simplistic directions or she would think she understands and then do something hilarious like actually translate one of Roger’s memos into pig latin.  Debbie didn’t have enough time to shine, but in her few brief moments she was like Meredith Lite. Like a Diet Meredith if that makes sense.


If I am looking at it on balance it looks like the show is more Mad Men than Breaking Bad.  Mad Men was all about the relationships between the characters with the goals of their job nudging them along.  In both shows, if they fail to reach their goal at their job, whether it be landing a new account with a great pitch, or build a new piece of revolutionary technology, nothing is life or death.  There is no good and evil at play here like there was in Breaking Bad.  Can that change?  Maybe, but I don’t see how at least not on a large scale.

Compared to Mad Men HaCF might wade into more of the criminal element in certain story lines (such as with stolen computer parts, or the gay programmer getting jumped) but at no point do I think it will feature a shoot out or blown up nursing homes.  The violence and death will never even come close to Breaking Bad levels unless there is some kind of cultural event that takes place around them.  I think they are about a decade away from the Branch Davidians siege in Waco, and I don’t know of any other major events in Texas that could impact the show like that.


Still, I think all of these comparisons might not be fair. It really is it’s own show. Gordon isn’t as brilliant as Walter but he will never turn evil and put his life before that of children. Jesse, while more capable and gifted than he first appears, will never be as brilliant as Cameron.  Joe is more slick and transparent than Don, but he seems to retain more respect in difficult times for those around him and is much more respectful of women. The stakes aren’t as high as they were in Breaking Bad, but unlike Mad Men you still feel like everything the character sin HaCF have worked to build may crumble to dust if the wrong domino falls.

Maybe the parallels with Breaking Bad and Mad Men aren’t a result of trying to imitate a great product, but instead the natural result of the creation of a great product.

Could Marvel make their own suicide squad?

I know there are probably some comic book book equivalents in the marvel universe of DC’s suicide squad, but for the purposes of this post I am referring to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, mostly how it stands now. What characters currently exists and which characters would need to be introduced or created in order to make a suicide squad knock off?

I wish I cared enough to photoshop in the faces of random Marvel characters.

Ok a couple things we should probably review first, what movies comprise the current Marvel cinematic universe, what bad guys from those movies could be in this movie, and what would the name of the group be?

Ok lets answer that last question first, although there isn’t an exact equivalent already in the marvel comics universe, the Dark Avengers or Thunderbolts come closest, with the latter being the most likely incarnation we would ever see.  Athough you could make a case that guardians of the galaxy are really the closest equivalent as long as you ignore the whole planet earth based vs. space adventure based missions.

How about the movies? Well it all started with Iron Man 1, and of course all the other Iron man and Avenger movies are part of the MCU as well.  Then there is the two Thor movies as well as the two Captain America Movies.  Only the later Hulk movie with Edward Norton is part of the MCU since that Ang Lee crap happened pre Iron Man and isn’t considered cannon.

Aside from the movies, you also have to remember that all of the Marvel oneshots as well as the TV shows all count as part of the shared MCU.  This means Agents of Shield, Agent Carter, Daredevil, and all the other Netflix Marvel movies that are coming down the pipe.

There is also the Spiderman issue that we would need to sort out when discussing this team of villians and Anti Heroes. Spiderman will be joining the MCU with a new movie and will probably make a cameo in the next Captain America movie. So do we possibly consider any of the Spiderman villains for this team?  While Venom is an obvious choice for a team like this, I don’t think we can count on any of his rouges gallery since we don’t know when or if they are going to be used in a spidey movie.  So for the purposes of this blog post, lets just ignore all the spiderman stuff.

no thanks guys, you and your goofy ass costumes can sit this one out. Especially you vulture. you are like 90 years old.

Let’s get the lone Hulk movie out of the way since it would have two of what I think are the most logical choices for this squad.  General Thunderbolt Ross and the Abomination. In the comic books, Ross like in the movie is the father of Betty Ross and a general tasked with bringing down the hulk. Unlike the movies Ross at some point turns himself into the Red Hulk.  I don’t know how, cause Incredible Hulk comics were never that interesting for me to read and the red hulk never showed up on the TV show with Bill Bixbie.

The Abomination is also in the comic books from what I understand and in the movie he is that ass hat of a military guy that takes some Captain America Juice and becomes a super soldier but then later goes all out and asks for Hulk Stuff.  Maybe in this Thunderbolt Movie the Red hulk could show up as part of the third act, but for most of the movie the Abomination would play the role of the big bruiser. The question is, does he hulk up when angry or is he just always a giant monster. I vote always a giant monster.

So General Ross is the leader, with blonsky as the heavy. Who else can we add from the movies?  We have all the Iron Man movies, but the main bad guys actually die in that franchise normally. Still Justin Hammer could be used as a consultant on the team to supply them with weapons and tech to help in whatever mission they got going on.  I guess you could have him create some kind of bad guy robot, but I don’t think we really need that. From the Thor movies you can use pretty much no one. Same goes for Guardians of the Galaxie since using cosmic bad guys would probably make it too hard to root for them.

The first Captain America movie doesn’t really offer much in the way of a character we can use since it all took place 70 years ago. The second movie does feature cross bones and that french leaper guy that fought cap on the boat.  It is hard to think of a situation where the Leaper and his accent fit in under a US military operation, but cross bones has promise although… he really didn’t have a lot of redeeming qualities at the end of the Winter Soldier.  Speaking of Which. Could the Winter Soldier be part of this team?  Maybe if it was a comic, but as a movie it is hard to accept a continuity where Bucky is all messed up in the head and is a viable option for this team. On the other hand, you would have a character most people would root for.

Are… are they just having a yelling match?

So there weren’t any real ancillary heroes or villians in the avenger movies that would work as part of this MCU Suicide Squad that I can think of. That leaves the TV series as the last place to get more bad guy heroes. The problem with that is that TV series are not usually planed out long in advance like movies are. Many shows start filming with only half the season written.  This means it would be hard to use a character from a TV show since it would really hamstring the TV show and force them to write a character out of the show for a whole season more than likely.

So that is the analysis of current and past characters but what about future characters. We have Ant-Man and Daredevil season 2 in the future.  From Ant-Man we could possible use yellow jacket and depending on how they end thing in season 2, maybe the Punisher could be brought in to lead this team since he is a pretty good anti-hero.

I wonder if this version of the punisher on netflix is going to do the Shane from the Walking Dead head rub thing constantly.

So I see a few problems so far. The biggest is there’s no women.  Yeah you could bring in Black Widow but I think Scar Jo is all about the Avengers for the near and far future. Elektra is probably going to be even more integral to Daredevil than the punisher is. So who are the other notable anti-hero / quasi villainous women in the marvel universe? I have no idea.  I’m sure there are lots but I can’t think of any at the moment that aren’t Mutants, or part of the TV series. I mean you could go with Lodestone, but I guess that means you would also have to brink Darkhawk along, which, if I’m being honest I am kind of ok with.

Moving on – The next problem is that this anti hero team has to exist in the MCU which begs the question, what kind of mission are they on. Why would we root for them. My guess is that if the Military is involved, they are looking for some kind of safety in place in case shield or the avengers get out of control again. Balancing the scales.  That is maybe the public reasoning for having the team but the shady side of things is that they are used for some covert missions.

So who could the bad guy be?  Maybe them selves, or at least one of them.  Maybe one of them has a sinister plan that not even the other bad guys can live with.  I don’t know. I am about to take a nap and don’t feel like thinking about this anymore right now.

Batman V Superman trailer from SDCC had me at…

… running.

I try not to watch trailers for movies that I am going to see since I don’t like the best moments to be ruined for me, but I couldn’t resist watching this trailer.

I liked the first trailer that came out several months back, but there was a moment in this trailer that totally got me hooked, and it is so random.  Btw, you get that I am referencing Jerry McGuire above right? “You had me at hello” but this movie had me at running? Like someone running… had me.., ok let me get right into it.

First of all, if you are like me and don’t like to get things spoiled, maybe don’t watch the trailer, but I don’t think it gives away anything major that most people don’t already know by this point.

If you do want to watch the trailer then, go and watch the trailer. It’s good.

If you did watch the trailer, let me talk a little bit about the part that got me hyped.

At about the 30 second mark we see Bruce Wayne apparently in Metropolis the day Superman is fighting General Zod.  A building is cut in half by I think heat ray vision and starts to topple over. Everyone is fleeing the fighting, but you see Bruce Wayne sprinting directly at the falling building and into the cloud of concrete dust.

It’s hard to explain why this part got me hooked but I think it has something to do with that image getting rid of any reservations I might have had about Ben Afleck playing Batman. Granted I thought he was always a good choice, I think I was more worried about them making the character of batman/ Bruce Wayne too mopey and not … uhhh.. Batman enough.  Seeing Bruce Wayne sprinting directly into the fray, presumably to save lives, with no notion of the situation being bigger than him.  That is a big part of what makes batman, batman to me.

Look at the justice league. People always shit on Aquaman for being a lame ass pussy, even though the dude is wonder woman level strong.  But it is actually batman that has always been the weakest member of the league physically. In a street fight with none of his gadgets, batman doesn’t stand a chance against any of the other members.

Still it is always batman that comes across as the team bad ass.  Part of the reason for this is that he is able to fight along side and against, basically, gods and never look out of place.  This scene gave me this same feeling. While every other mere mortal would either run in terror or look on in horror as they succumb to the realization that this moment is beyond their control.  They have as little influence over events as does a butterfly over a tornado.

This actually has a pretty cool back story if you care to read about it or any of batman’s other most badas moments:

Not batman though. When he runs straight at a falling building, you know he isn’t going to be able to lift it up like super man, and will probably get injured, but he is still going to do what ever needs to be done to win the day, and whatever he does is far above what any other mortal can do.

The rest of the trailer was ok too I guess.  There was a really cool moment when Batman is in the batcave and takes a look over at the suit that Jason Todd was presumably wearing when the Joker killed him.  There was a couple of cameos from a pretty famous Amazonian as well as a formerly alive former member of the krypton military.

I’m not sure how I feel about Lex Luthor based on the trailer.  It really seems like there is enough plot going on that you might not even need him.  My guess is that they use him to set up the next movie.

Of course the real question is how does this compare to the other big movie trailer that just came out?

Idk, that one got me pretty hyped too.

2015 Pops FFL Draft Order

I am a fan of the FX show (well FXX show now) The League.  It is basically “Seinfeld” and “Sports Center” had a baby.  Like many fantasy football leagues across the country, the League that my friends and I run every year have shamelessly ripped off parts of the show for the betterment of our FFL. We have a trophy that we named after a sexual conquest of one of our members. We all uniformally hate one member of our league more than any other. We also have a few team managers that are almost never seen.

One aspect of the show I have tried to adopt is to have a fun and unique way of determining the draft order each year.  A couple years we used a nascar race to determine the draft order. One year I used a naked Ukrainian webcam model to pull names from a hat.

This year I want to do something more exciting and special.  I have a few ideas I am kicking around

series of 50 / 50 sporting prop bets

This scenario works well in my head, but is difficult to explain.  The basic idea is to have a August Madness type bracket for the 14 people in the league… well, ok that doesnt really work since the number of teams needs to be divisble by 4, but… hmmm.  ok, why don’t I  give a concrete example of how this would work.

We have 14 teams in our league. Let’s say we use this weekend’s golf event for the first round of are draft position tournament.  Today Jordan Spieth shot a 64 to move into the top 10 at John Deere PGA event.  We could say that there is about a 50/50 chance he will finish in the 3 by the end of this tournament. So we take 7 of our 14 teams and say that if Jordan finishes in the top 3, they will be guaranteed a top 7 draft position, but if he doesn’t finish in the top 3, the other 7 members of the Pops FFL now get that guaranteed top 7 draft position.

So that would be the first round, and the second round would work the same way but with this time a 50 / 50 type bet being used to determine who out of the top 7 would now get a top 3 or 4 pick and also which out of that bottom 7 group would be guaranteed a bottom 3 or 4 pick.  It is a little clunky in round two since you are working with odd numbers and can’t evenly split the top half of seven or the bottom half of seven.

This is making sense right? Well just in case its not lets use another example. So let’s say that I was part of the group hoping Spieth finished in the top 3, and he did.  I and 6 other pops FFL members are now guaranteed a top 7 pick in our draft in September. This group will be split into two groups, one with three teams and the other with 4.  So the next 50 / 50 prop is based around the all star game.  3 of the 7 teams in my group (guaranteed at top 7 spot) are going to be assigned to root for the NL and I am in the group of 4 that are rooting for the AL.  If the AL wins those three teams get a guaranteed top 3 pick. If the NL wins then I would be in the group of four that is now guaranteed a top 4 pick.   All this would also be mirrored with the bottom 7 draft picks as well.

So now we are at the third round where we have 4 distinct groups that know approximately where they are going to draft within three to four positions. Here we could have the final draft order decided by a nascar event, where every Pops FFL team is assigned a nascar driver.  How well your driver does compared to the drivers assigned to the teams in your group determines the final draft order.

As an example; lets say I was on the loosing end of the Spieth bet meaning I was relegated to a bottom 7 draft pick. Next I was part of a group of 3 that had been on the winning end of the NL vs AL bet.  Now I am guaranteed to get either pick number 8, 9, or 10.  Drivers names are drawn out of a hat for each team. I get Jimmy Johnson, and the other two teams that are also locked into getting either the 8, 9, or 10 draft slot get Jeff Gordon and Buckshot Jones.  They race… a race, I don’t know when Talladega is but I think that is later in the year so I will make up a fictitious race.  They race the Incest 300 at the Tuscaloosa International Speedway with Jeff Gordon coming in 5th, Jimmy Johnson 12th, and Buckshot Jones finishing 18th.  So now the team member who had Gordon would be drafting 8th, I would draft 9th, and the guy with buckshot would draft 10th.

Simple right?  I think so.  I’m sure there are some Pros and Cons that I could list out here, but instead I will let the reader do that in their head or in the comments section.

Series of 50 / 50 non sporting events

Same set up as above but this time instead of specific sporting events, we would use cultural events as the basis.  This could be geo-political, cultural, or entertainment focused utilizing prop bets that had a set date for an expected out come, or a time frame for an even to occur.  As an example you could use something like Will Marvel’s Ant Man make more than 200 million at the US box office in its first full week?  Will the Fantastic Four movie have a stinger at the end of the credits?  Will the animated DC movie coming out at the end of July have a reference to the Bruce Tim Verse? Will I come up with a prop that doesn’t involve comic book movies?

Twitter shoutouts

This is an idea I had that seemed fun in my mind but in application would be impossible.  I thought it would be cool to tweet at a bunch of sports talk shows or sports personalities or really just anyone famous who would respond and ask them which they though was a better fantasy football team name. I would ask them to choose between two of the team member’s FFL names and the team they picked would then move on in a similar fashion to the ncaa bracket.  The problem is that after the first round you immediately have a 7 way tie for last which means to get a definitive draft order using this method I would have to get a minimum of 21 responses by my calculations with two respondents needing to rank a three person group. hmmmm I think that number might need to be higher actually. Well whatever.

I just wanted to be able to put together a little video or slide show with screen caps or audio recordings of people liking or shitting on team names.  The only problem, well aside from getting people to actually respond is that, the draft order would be less about chance and more about how good your team name is. So something lame like Bonka might have no chance of getting a good draft pick…..wait.. maybe this is a good idea.

Webcam babe again

One year I found a completely bored, partially naked, possibly eastern european woman on myfreecams who agreed to draw the names from the hat, and i’m not sure why.  The way that site works is basically just like a strip club.  A girl is on her web cam in a public chat room where anyone can see her.  People tip her money (“coins”) and she does stuff, sometimes via request or just at random depending on how much tipping is going on. Like a real strip club you don’t have to tip at all and can just hang out and enjoy the show and hope the other patrons keep making it rain.

There is something akin to a lap dance where you can pay a per second fee to take a model into a private chat room but where other people can pay a lower amount per second to spy on it. So kind of like peeking around the corner to check out your buddy getting a lap dance I guess.  Then there is an exclusive or true private where no one can spy and i think it costs more, and is the equivalent to the champagne room at a strip club.

Just like a real strip club, if you spend too much time on myfreecams, you probably have made some bad decisions in your life, and if you are spending any money there it better be a one time thing like for a bachelor party.  So, do I want to try and find another random somewhat hottie to draw the names (which I tried last year and failed miserably) or do I pony up some dough to get someone to do it by tipping coins?

I am going to vote no. First of all, why do the same thing that we basically did before? Second, how much would it cost?  A lot of the models have an itemized breakdown on their profile of how much you have to tip for them to do something, but most of those line items are sexual in nature and not often related to fantasy football.   Another problem is that I don’t feel like doing the conversion of coins to us dollars to figure how much actual cash money something might cost.

Porn star 

Same thing as above but on some of the webcam sites there are legit pornstars hanging out there making bank.  From what I’ve seen a lot of those models are a little… or a lot, past their prime, so I don’t know how awesome it would really be.  Plus having any kind of porn star cred makes their online tipping coin per minute private exclusive whatever rate jump up substantially I think.

Secret Idea

So when I first started typing all this I was toying with a few ideas, but by the end of the blog post I had narrowed it down to one very specific, and potential awesome idea that really combines many of the cooler aspects from the other ideas listed above.  I think I am going to keep this a secret so that I can reveal it at the draft for everyone’s enjoyment.  Still I think I should at least give a hint as to what I have planned.

“Whooooooooo!!!!!! gonna get me some cold cuts.”