Silicon Valley is a TV show that takes a byte out of life in that American, computer wonderland, showing various male geeks working at large technological companies. The series is by Mike Judge (Beavis & Butt-head, King of The Hill) who actually worked as an engineer in Silicon Valley in the 1980s. This TV show is a satirical comedy-drama that is subtle, energetic and authentic.
The show stars Thomas Middleditch as Richard Hendrix. He is a shy computer programmer who gets easily flustered, especially in social situations where he is rather awkward. He designs a system called Pied Piper which allows users to check whether the music they’ve created has infringed on an existing copyright. That is a rather dull idea but what is more appealing is the data compression algorithm he designed as part of this because it has far greater possibilities.
This algorithm manages to fuel a bidding war between Hendrix’s boss Gavin Belson (Matt Ross) at Hooli (a company not unlike Google) and a venture capitalist named Peter Gregory (the late Christopher Evan Welch). Hendrix has no business acumen but he does have dreams of being the next Steve Jobs or Bill Gates so he decides to start a company with the latter’s money and he recruits his quirky roommates along for the ride. They are the Satanist, Gilfoyle (Martin Starr (Freaks & Geeks), the acid-tongued Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani) and the well-meaning, Big Head (Josh Brener).
This group all live in a house that is owned by the arrogant and outspoken, Erlich (T.J. Miller) who sold his start-up company for some money a few years ago. But these days he’s quite happy to sit on his laurels and exploit his tenants by taking 10% of the earnings made from their passion projects. As these techno-geeks have no business plan or experience, they also recruit the worldly, Jared (Zach Woods (The Office (US))) to help. The episodes look at everything from having to make a deal with another company in order to retain their organisation’s name to dull parties by large corporate entities (which Kid Rock and Flo Rida make cameos and perform at) to designing a company logo that won’t offend people.
Silicon Valley is a funny and vibrant show. Like Frontline and The Office, it satirises the work environment and makes some very clever observations. Across the eight episodes in season one we see these young whiz kids wanting to succeed like other geeks have even though they’re only starting out and things are never simple. In short, this is an insightful and smart character-driven comedy that will appeal to wider audiences than just that select few who can program in five different languages.
This DVD contained no special features.
Review score: THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Silicon Valley is out now on DVD and Blu-ray through HBO and Warner Bros Home Entertainment.