'Halt and Catch Fire' Boss Defends Show Title

"We have a geeky love affair with it," said Jonathan Lisco

Raise your hand if you know what what term "Halt and Catch Fire" means.

No? Exactly. So it's no wonder why there was some confusion last year surrounding the launch of AMC's tech series of the same name. It wasn't anything like the revolutionary war drama the cable network had premiered just months earlier (see Turn). It's a period piece that explores the personal computer boom of the 1980s. (For the record, "Halt and Catch Fire" was an early computer command that ceased the machine's function.)

Read more AMC's 'Halt and Catch Fire': Producers, Cast on the Tech Show Boom

But when The Hollywood Reporter asked showrunner Jonathan Lisco about the title Saturday morning at the Television Critics Association press tour, he only defended the name — even though many cite it as one of the reasons the show pulled such a modest audience. "There was a lot of discussion about the title, let’s face it. We love the metaphor," he said on stage. "Are we being too writerly? Are we being too actorly? Perhaps, but we’re really hoping that once people know what the title means, they can invest in all the metaphorical significance of it."

Lisco insisted that viewers will pick up on a deeper meaning beyond the technical computer term if they stick with the show. "Sure, it's a little opaque, but if you really dig in after you’ve watched season one and hopefully watch season two, you find that these people must keep running, they must keep striving, and they must keep grasping at the future, lest they catch fire. If they stand still and halt, they catch fire also," he continued. "So there’s really no choice for them except for to move forward in life. So we love the title. We have a geeky love affair with it, but we understand why some people might find it a little difficult to grasp at first. 

Read more 'Halt and Catch Fire' Renewed at AMC

The second season renewal came as a bit of a surprise last year, as Halt averaged a mere 1.2 million viewers. But network president Charlie Collier insisted on giving the show time to grow, despite that ratings disappointment. The upcoming season, which bows this spring, will take place 15 months later in March of 1985 and will center on "the fragility of human connectivity."