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Silicon Valley: The Complete First
HBO Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 3/31/2015
All Rating out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 3/20/2015
Many years ago, HBO began producing their own television shows and a revolution in cable broadcasting was created. While they've had their share of misses, many HBO shows became part of the zeitgeist, such as Sex and the City, True Blood, The Sopranos, Game of Thrones and Girls. In fact, it almost seems like any HBO show is destined to become a hit and something which is the topic of water cooler conversation on Monday mornings. So, when a really good show from the network somehow manages to fly under the radar, one has to wonder exactly what is going on. That is certainly the case with Silicon Valley, a hilarious show which deserves its place in HBO lore.
Silicon Valley focuses on a group of guys who have big high tech dreams. Erlich (T.J. Miller) sold his start-up and purchased a house in Silicon Valley, which houses young programmers working on various projects. Richard (Thomas Milddletich), Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani), Gilfoyle (Martin Starr), and Bighead (Josh Brener) spend their time in the dining room of the house working, while Richard and Bighead also work at Hooli, a Google-like company run by Gavin Belson (Matt Ross). Richard is working on an app which will help musicians avoid copying the music of others, when it is discovered that he's actually created an algorithm which compresses data with loss. A bidding war breaks out between Belson and investor Peter Gregory (Christopher Evan Welch) for the rights to the program, and Richard decides to go with Gregory, as heís offering creative freedom. Now, this once simple programmer finds himself overseeing his own start-up and heís under a deadline to deliver a working prototype. Utilizing the many talents of his friends, Richard attempts to become a businessman while not going crazy.
Silicon Valley comes from Mike Judge and if you lump this in with Office Space, it becomes clear that this man really hates big business. The show covers all of the classic caveats of this genre: money rules everything, the people at the top are often crazy, and luck often supersedes talent. However, Silicon Valley also brings in a new wrinkle which helps to give the show a much-needed dose of reality. Richard is clearly brilliant when it comes to computers. But, when heís faced with the duty of creating a business plan and understanding the economics of business, heís completely lost. The show makes an excellent point about how being a genius doesnít mean that you understand everything in the universe. The characters on this show are very fallible and Richardís need to turn to Jared (Zach Woods) to run this business portion of the company makes him much more human and appealing. If Richard could do everything, the show would be quite boring.
With this notion, Silicon Valley places as a great ensemble piece, as each of the main characters brings their own unique touches to the story. Richard is a bundle of nerves and we can relate to how his newfound attention drives him crazy. On the flipside of this, Erlich is a narcissist who takes control of every situation. Dinesh and Gilfoyle are two sides of the same coin, as both is very confident in their computer skills and the often compete. Gilfoyle is a rebel, while Dinesh is the voice of reason. Jared is a sycophant who simply wants to please everyone. This group, along with the supporting cast of boosters and villains, creates a show which allows each episode to focus on the same characters, but never feel redundant.
However, the most important thing about Silicon Valley is that the show is hilarious. HBO has made plenty of comedies in the past, but most were simply ďchuckleĒ funny. Silicon Valley is the funniest show since Eastbound and Down and each episode offers at least one belly laugh, if not more. The humor comes from jokes which range from clever to shockingly crude. There are some physical and visual jokes here, but the bulk of the humor comes from the dialogue. Judge has proven that he can do clever in the past and there is some incredibly sharp writing here. While every character gets their shot at a joke, itís T.J. Miller who really carries the comedic side of the show, as heís awarded the best lines (at least two of which are instant classics) and his ability to play someone who doesnít care what others think is worth seeing.
Iíve seen Silicon Valley compared to The Big Bang Theory, but thatís not quite accurate. Yes, both show young men who work in the fields of science, but thatís where the similarities end. While The Big Bang Theory more about celebrating nerd culture, Silicon Valley is a look at the tech world and the struggles to succeed therein. While the show is a comedy (and a very funny one at that), this is an unflinching look at the amount of money which is thrown around the world of computers and how quickly the mighty can fall. This offers a view of the world which few of us truly know, while offering laugh-out-loud comedy at the same time. Iím not sure why Silicon Valley hasnít joined its HBO brethren by being on magazine covers and inspiring merchandising bonanzas, but itís my new favorite HBO show and I canít wait for Season Two.
Silicon Valley: The Complete First Season will change your view on dealing with fund-raisers on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of HBO Home Entertainment. The two Disc set contains all eight episodes of the showís first season. The show has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 35 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is good and the depth is appropriate. This rivals HD broadcast quality. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects show good separation. A few party and crowd scenes produce noticeable surround and subwoofer effects.
The Silicon Valley: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Disc contains a variety of extras. Disc 1 is loaded with AUDIO COMMENTARIES: "Minimum Viable Product" with Thomas Middletich and Creator/Executive Producer/Director Mike Judge; "The Cap Table" with Middletich, Zach Woods, T.J. Miller, Martin Starr, & Judge; "Articles of Incorporation" with Kumail Nanjiani, Executive Producer/Director/Writer Alec Berg, and Judge; "Fiduciary Duties" with Woods, Miller, Nanjiani, Berg, and Judge; and "Signaling Risk" with Middletich, Woods, Miller, Nanjiani, Berg, and Judge. Disc 2 sees the COMMENTARIES continue: "Third Party Insourcing" with Middletich, Woods, Miller, Nanjiani, Starr, Berg, and Judge; "Proof of Concept" with Middletich and Judge; and "Optimal Tip-to-Tip Efficiency" with Middletich, Woods, Miller, Nanjiani, Starr, Berg, and Judge. "Making Silicon Valley" (13 minutes) features interviews with the cast and crew who discuss the characters and the show's themes. Judge chimes in with his views and goals of the show, but there's only a minimum of on-set footage here. "Techcrunch: Disrupt!" (4 minutes) takes us behind the scenes to see the work which went into recreating this real event. "The Hacker Hostel" (6 minutes) has Miller giving us a tour of the house set.
Review Copyright 2015 by Mike Long