Saturday 30 April 2016

Silicon Valley: Season 2

When Mike Judge’s Silicon Valley started in 2014, I had no interest in it. I’ve never been much of a ‘techie’, and something about it just didn’t grab me – maybe it was the technology theme, maybe it was the cast, or maybe I was just too busy with other things at the time. In any case, it went right past me. But late last year, I decided to stop judging it by its cover and give it a go. A few days later, I had binged the entire first two seasons and was desperate for the sweet fix of more episodes – something that is finally with us on the 24th of April, in the form of the long-awaited season three. To usher that in, HBO has released Season Two on Blu-ray and DVD.

Picking up directly where the first season left off, Season Two opens with our Pied Piper heroes finally having some success in the Valley with their compression software. Richard (Thomas Middleditch), Bachman (T.J. Miller), Gilfoyle (Martin Starr), Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani) and ‘Jared’ (Zach Woods) find themselves being wined and dined by those desperate to get in on some of their action, now that their company has won the TechCrunch Disrupt. But due to the upsetting real-life death of actor Christopher Evan Welch (Season One’s Peter Gregory) which is written into the show, everything changes for our heroes. Add into that a lawsuit that threatens to destroy everything the guys have worked for, and Season Two has a pretty solid narrative – despite frequently treading familiar ground. There are moments of déjà vu when it looks like it’s all over for our heroes, but then they manage to win at the last second against all odds, before meeting another threat. Rinse, lather, repeat. But hey, if it ain’t broke – don’t fix it.

It’s hard to think how this season might have differed if it hadn’t been for Christopher Evan Welch’s untimely death during production of the first season, but from reading interviews online it’s clear he would have continued to have an integral part. His character is quite crudely replaced by Laurie Bream (Suzanne Cryer) who seems to be doing an impression of Welch in an attempt to fill the hole he left, but it just doesn’t seem right – or respectful, for that matter. This was a big issue with this season. Of course, Welch’s death was truly unfortunate but the show should’ve left the memory of Peter Gregory alone. Replacing him like this just seemed nasty. It wasn’t a subtle attempt to compensate for the loss of Welch, it was rammed in the viewer’s face. 

Thank goodness for the rest of the cast then, who continue to make the series hilariously entertaining. Sadly, Thomas Middleditch continues to be given the weakest jokes and story despite arguably being the protagonist, while the best material is again split between the characters Bachman, Gilfoyle and Dinesh. Matt Ross returns as the scheming founder of Pied Piper’s rival Hooli, playing the most unlikeable character in the show…that is until you meet Russ Hanneman (Chris Diamantopoulos), an obnoxious playboy millionaire looking to get in on Pied Piper. He’s tediously overused and another low point of this otherwise great second season.

On the whole, Silicon Valley: Season Two does suffer second-season-blues in its struggle to match the superb first, but it’s still gold. The main cast are all on fine form, the majority of the jokes land, and the closing cliff-hanger is enough to leave you desperate for another 10 episodes from the gang. But nothing will ever top the first season’s sequence of Bachman beating the shit out of a child while threatening his parents. Nothing.

Silicon Valley’s second season isn’t quite as good as its first, but there are still a lot of laughs here. Recommended. 4/5.


Sam Love

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