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Silicon Valley: The Complete Second Season (2015)

HBO Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 4/19/2016

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Review by Mike Long, Posted on 4/26/2016

I was rocking out in the car the other day to one of my favorite bands, when my daughter (who is a music snob, just like her dad) stated that, to her, all of the songs sounded the same. I countered that argument by saying that the band did indeed have a signature sound, but there are subtle difference. This point can be made about a lot of things. At first glance, they seem repetitive or lacking in variety, but there are some differences there. This is especially true in television shows, where a plot point can transform into an overriding theme for a show. HBO's Silicon Valley can appear this way, but the show has much more going for it.

Season One of Silicon Valley introduce us to Richard Hendricks (Thomas Middleditch), an anxious computer whiz who invented a new way to compress data. Calling his invention Pied Piper and taking up residence in a house owned by Erlich Bachman (T.J. Miller), Richard and his team -- Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani), Gilfoyle (Martin Starr), and Jared (Zach Woods) -- began working on the project, going on to win the TechCruch Disrupt event.

As Season Two opens, Richard is attempting to remain as optimistic as possible. But, that bright-side is short-lived when two things happen. One, his primary financer dies and the very eccentric Laurie Bream (Suzanne Cryer) takes over the moneyflow for Pied Piper. At first. Then, insane billionaire Russ Hanneman (Chris Diamantopoulos), immediately breaking his promise to be hands-off. Following this, Richard's old boss, Gavin Belson (Matt Ross), sues Richard, claiming that Pied Piper was developed on his equipment. While Richard and his team are dealing with these issues and the fact that competitors are attempting to copy Pied Piper, they must also attempt to find an appropriate outlet to demonstrate Pied Piper's power.

Just like that band that supposedly plays the same song over and over, Silicon Valley is just a series of unfortunate events for perpetual sad sack Richard. Every time something goes his way and things are looking up for Pied Piper, something else goes wrong, and he always seems to be spinning his wheels. Now, we've all seen shows which pile on the misery -- as I always say, "Without the drama, there would be no drama." On most TV dramas, just as a storyline is ending, something (typically bad) will happen to kick off the next story. With Silicon Valley, it's almost like Richard is sitting in a dunking booth and a Major League pitch just keeps knocking him into the water. At certain points, it gets to be too much for the viewer and the show can go from cringe-worthy to simply exhausting.

Thankfully, Silicon Valley is also one of the funniest shows on TV at the moment, and this really helps to soften the blows. While there is plenty of ribald humor here (this is HBO after all), the show is also incredibly clever and sly. Co-creator Mike Judge has always shown a proficiency for skewering the American workplace and this continues with Silicon Valley. You don't have to work in tech to get the jokes here (although I'm sure that it helps) and anyone who has ever worked for a large company will appreciate the jabs here. (The SWOT scene really hit home for me.) While most every character has their moments, Dinesh and Gilfoyle really prove themselves to be the funniest part of the show, as their constant barbs are one another are often hilarious. (Again, they make the SWOT thing their own and I loved it.)

The most interesting thing about Silicon Valley is that while the stories revolve around the characters (they sort of have to), the show isn't really about the characters. Each character is still just about who they were when the show began and they all remain stereotypes. Instead, this is one of the few shows on TV which allows the story to dominate, just as it would in real life. Things happen to you everyday, but do you often change as a person? No, so it's refreshing to see a show which doesn't really fool with character development and backstory and simply allows things to happen...even if they are bad. Imagine The Big Bang Theory but only much, much crazier and you'll get an idea of what Silicon Valley is like. It's very smart, it's very modern, and most of all, it's very funny.

Silicon Valley: The Complete Second Season educates us on ferret laws on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of HBO Home Entertainment. The two-disc set contains all ten episodes from the show's second 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 25 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no notable 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 and the depth are notable. The picture rivals HD broadcast quality. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The show's theme song provides some nice bass and surround effects. Otherwise, the majority of the show relies on the front and center channels to deliver the dialogue and some off-screens sounds.

The Silicon Valley: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray Disc set contains a handful of extra features. Disc 1 offers AUDIO COMMENTARIES for the episodes "Sand Hill Shuffle" with Thomas Middleditch, Amanda Crew, Kumail Nanjiani, Martin Starr & Mike Judge, and also one "Runaway Devaluation" with Middleditch, Suzanne Cryer, Nanjiani, T.J. Miller, and Judge. The Disc also contains DELETED SCENES from Episode 1 (2), Episode 2 (1), and Episode 5 (2). Disc 2 delivers AUDIO COMMENTARIES on "White Hat/Black Hat" with Middleditch, Chris Diamantopoulos, Zach Woods, Crew, Jimmy O. Yang, & Executive Producer Alec Berg and then on "Binding Arbitration" featuring Matt McCoy, Miller, Josh Brenner, & Judge. There are DELETED SCENES from Episode 6 (1), Episode 8 (1) and Episode (1). "Reality Bytes: The Art & Science Behind Silicon Valley" (3 minutes) examines the technology which is involved in the show and the lengths which are gone to in order to ensure that the computers and lingo are as authentic as possible.

Review Copyright 2016 by Mike Long