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Can “Silicon Valley” be the Comedy that HBO so Desperately Needs?

Since the end of the cult classic “Entourage” HBO has struggled greatly to find a new show that stands tall against the many phenomenal comedies that are bringing in the best ratings.   It is here that we venture to “Silicon Valley.” We find ourselves in the middle of the high-tech gold rush that is the land of modern Silicon Valley. Creator Mike Judge brings a show that brilliantly satirizes tech boom culture that is sure to create quite the audience. Amongst the power houses like Google, Facebook, and Twitter is the fictional tech company Hooli run by billionaire Gavin Belson (Matt Ross).

A simple, low level employee of Hooli is our main character Richard (Thomas Middleditch). Richard speaks to all of the tech geeks and computer nerds of the world with his painfully shy and awkward approach to basically everything in his life. This is what makes us like him from his very first moments. As Richard gets picked on by the other Hooli dorks that reside higher up the food chain, he spends his spare time creating an application of his own called Pied Piper. This is a music based app that allows artists to search a database to see if any of their music or lyrics have been used before in previous material. While it doesn’t seem like an app that would change the foundation of the tech world, the algorithm that Richard has developed for it might be.

Once this is discovered, Richard is immediately approached by Gavin with an offer to buy the algorithm from him for millions of dollars. However at the same time he is also propositioned with an offer by billionaire venture capitalist Peter Gregory (Christopher Evan Welch, who sadly passed away during filming). While Peter’s offer is for far less money, it comes with the opportunity for Richard to continue to own a majority stake in his company and be his own boss. After a panic attack, overwhelming , and even some vomiting, Richard decides to turn down the money and go with Peter.

Poor Richard is then faced with building his team, the components of which absolutely make the show. Erlich (TJ Miller) the stand alone best character on the show joins the company by default as he already owns 10% of Pied Piper as an agreement for Richard to live in his house. The rest of the team are fellow roommates, Gilfoyle (Martin Starr), Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani) and also Gavin Belson’s former assistant Jared (Zach Woods) who left Hooli after being so impressed with Richard for turning down the money.

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The pilot does everything that it needs to do by presenting the audience with a lovable group of tech geeks with a relatable struggle in front of them. There is a great mix of crude jokes and awkward situations that keep us laughing throughout. With a topic that could easily be too advanced for most people, Silicon Valley does a wonderful job of not making things too complicated to follow. Judge delivers a perfect set up that leaves us wanting more, and keeps us excited for the next episode.

Arguably the most important episode of a show’s first season is the second and HBO must have let out a great sigh of relief when SV delivered. Episode 2 dives right into the gang getting Pied Piper off of the ground. We get to know Richard’s team which looks like a great collection of characters that play off of each other brilliantly. The dynamic between the always competing Gilfoyle and Dinesh promises to provide sharp one liners and hysterical arguments all season. More importantly the show delivers a believable and worrisome conflict when a team at Hooli attempts to deconstruct Richard’s app to get his algorithm.

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Episodes 3 through 5 lack a solid punch unfortunately. There are too many forced problems that seem to be resolved almost immediately and without sense. After Richard finds that another company already has claim to the name Pied Piper he manages to obtain it with almost no effort at all. Episode 5 is focused on an issue over a company mural that ends up being outrageously graphic and nonsensical. The highlight of the episode introduced a program competition that Richard accidentally entered Pied Piper into, that puts a timeline on the company’s release. This will inevitably lead to some much desired progress in coming episodes.

Overall Silicon Valley seems to be exactly what HBO has been looking for. A quality comedy with a very likable cast. It delivers of variety of jokes that are both genuine and new to the game which is exactly what is going to keep people watching. I expect big things from episode six and hope for the direction of the show to get back on track.

-Dan Powers

About The Author

Contributing Writer

Dan graduated from Babson College with a BS in Marketing and Business Management. Since graduating from college, he has moved to Los Angeles where he works as a writer and actor. Dan is working on numerous screen plays and shorts for both TV and film. Some of my work can be seen on Funny Or Die.