22nd Mar2015

‘Silicon Valley: The Complete First Season’ Blu-ray Review

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Thomas Middleditch, Martin Starr, Kumail Nanjiani, Zach Woods, T.J. Miller, Christopher Evan Welch, Matt Ross | Created by Alec Berg, Mike Judge


I’m a fan of The Big Bang Theory and I always will be, but the criticism it often gets for mocking “nerds” is something hard to defend it from, because a lot of the humour is obviously doing just that.  What we need is a comedy with a little more intelligence where it’s not just about the geeks being awkward around women, but actually smartly satirises a culture that is now seen as the new “cool”.  Step forward Alec Berg and Mike Judge’s Silicon Valley: The Complete First Season.

Silicon Valley is the heart of the gold rush in the technological world.  Everybody dreams of having that startup company that will make them the next Facebook, Google or Twitter (but hopefully not Myspace).  When Richard’s (Thomas Middleditch) new compression algorithm gets him noticed he finds himself caught up in a world where rich billionaires battle against each other to either buy it from him or help him start his own company to develop it, and keep it away from the others who want it.  Deciding to take the option of investment instead of selling, he soon finds himself out of his element.  With rivals de-compiling and stealing his code, he and his friends have to act fast to finish line and release a finished product before they do.

Mike Judge called upon his own personal experiences to inspire Silicon Valley: The Complete First Season and that realism shows, especially for anybody who has worked in software development.  When programming, especially in a small start-up company you tend to want to concentrate on the code and forget the world around you.  This is the problem Richard and his friends Gilfoyle (Martin Starr), Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani), Jared (Zach Woods) and Erlich (T.J. Miller) experience, they are now in a different world where the code is not the only thing that matters.

As with pretty much all television shows the characters that are created have to be believable and most of all you have to connect with them, especially if they are the focus of the show.  I found myself liking Gilfoyle the most with his more dry sense of humour.  Erlich is a very close second with T.J. Miller managing to steal many scenes with his outlandish actions.  The comedy on show in Silicon Valley is laugh out loud funny, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that some of the jokes may be a little too geeky at times.  Thankfully this was somewhat fixed by the script smartly being written to at least add some explanations to some of the more cryptic names and companies mentioned.

What works most impressively with Silicon Valley: The Complete First Season is the way that the satire on show focuses on real world events and companies that people can relate to, and the show isn’t afraid to poke fun at anybody, even people that are idolised by many.  The two Billionaires at war Peter Gregory (Christopher Evan Welch) and Gavin Belson (Matt Ross) both have character traits comparable to Steve Jobs and Bill Gates as well as other people from the technological world with the observations being pretty much spot on.  There is a certain eccentric nature to these people, especially the ones who have so much money that they can afford to do such ridiculous things.

As a software developer, Silicon Valley knew just what buttons to hit to make me laugh, and I have to admit that I did enjoy the satirical evaluation of an industry I’ve had experience in (unfortunately not in Silicon Valley).  Never going too outrageous but still managing to show the eccentricities of what to some is a dream job, the show risks being just a little too nerdy at times, but if you can keep up with all the technological nonsense on show then Silicon Valley: The Complete First Season is the perfect way to catch up with a show that is off to a very promising start.

**** 4/5

Silicon Valley: The Complete First Season is out on DVD and Blu-ray from March 23rd.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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