Cast: Thomas Middleditch, T.J. Miller, Martin Starr, Kumail Nanjiani, Zach Woods, Suzanne Cryer
Ender’s Game Review
Newly released on DVD, salve
the second season of Silicon Valley — HBO’s Emmy-winning comedy about a group of developers and computer geniuses— combines a quirky blend of smart comedy with technological vernacular that brings viewers into its political and sometimes-cutthroat world. This is a show made for this age of Silicon Valley sensations and technological trends.
The second season opens with the demise of tech guru Peter Gregory (Christopher Evan Welch). The actor had passed away late during filming of the show’s first season and his passing leaves the leaders of a compression app called Pied Piper searching for a new investor who can support their small enterprise.
Richard Hendricks (Thomas Middleditch) is the founder and creator of Pied Piper and his crew consists of four young men who support his venture. Erlich Bachman (T.J. Miller) is the homeowner who houses the venture — and this development team — while Gilfoyle (Martin Starr) oversees the system and the servers while developer Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani) helps write the code. Jared (Zach Woods) serves as the caustic group manager, visit this
who is always trying to maintain order in the politically-incorrect workplace.
The second season’s early episodes focus on the plight of this team as they struggle to find an investor and true to life in Silicon Valley, their fortunes change dramatically from moment to moment. Their sarcastic quips to one another spark a few laughs and it’s always fun to watch Middleditch as an in-over-his-head leader who is stymied time after time by larger companies that want to slow down his success story. Some of the more outrageous moments — especially Bachman’s behavior during meetings with possible investors — seem a bit too outlandish and crass though, detracting from some of the show’s smart writing.
The latter half of season two really takes off though, letting the show both explore its set-up as a workplace comedy while embracing its premise. In episode six, for instance, Jared introduces the SWOT concept (which stands for Strengths, Weaknesses Opportunities and Threats) as a way to discuss making business decisions. Gilfoyle and Dinesh mock it. Only later do they decide to use this system to decide whether or not they should warn an obnoxious daredevil motorcyclist that the algorithm he’s using to determine if he can survive a jump is based on a false premise. With hilarious results, these tech geniuses use the SWOT concept to determine whether or not they should save the daredevil’s life.
The season’s final episodes though are the best yet, providing the show with some of its most memorable moments. From Dinesh noting (about a live stream that captures a zoo employee in mortal danger) “This guy falling off a cliff is the first good luck we’ve had” to Jared noting nonchalantly “I’ve always wanted to be part of a suicide pact,” these episodes brilliantly capture these characters and this situation.
As a whole, the second season is smart and oftentimes very funny but there are a few stumbles along the way. One hopes that the show’s creators can build off the great success they find in the latter episodes here in future seasons. Zach Woods, as the naïve and idealistic manager, is the real stand-out here alongside Suzanne Cryer, who plays the awkward Laurie Bream who takes over Gregory’s company. Even in the show’s forgettable episodes, these two help make this uneven comedy worth watching.
Review by: John Hanlon