When done well, satire works on multiple levels. Which is what you get with HBO’s Silicon Valley, a funny, insightful, and rather spot-on spoof of the modern tech industry. But whether you want to watch the eight episodes again or for the first time, the best way is clearly on the Silicon Valley The Complete First Season Blu-ray…or DVD if you don’t haven’t upgraded to HD yet.
For those who didn’t see it on TV, their computers, or their tablets, Silicon Valley is a sitcom about a bunch of geeky computer coders who start their own tech company, and make something that could be worth millions. Co-eweated by Mike Judge (Beavis & Butt-Head, Office Space) — who also co-wrote the first episode and directed it and three others — the show pairs a ridiculous sensibility with wry observations in a way that may remind you of 30 Rock. Or Office Space, for that matter.
That said, while Silicon Valley has its moments, and a lot of them, it’s never laugh out loud funny like 30 Rock. Or Beavis & Butt-Head, for that matter. Though it does get progressively weirder and thus funnier as it goes, as each character is given more and more layers, and their problems become more outrageous.
Silicon Valley also benefits from having a great cast. Thomas Middleditch (Richard), Martin Starr (Bertram), T.J. Miller (Erlich), and Kumail Nanjiani (Dinesh) all have a great mix of awkwardness, arrogance, and disbelief; Zach Woods (Jared) is quietly impressive as someone who’s not as button down as he initially seems; while Matt Ross and the late Christopher Evan Welch are spot on as the petty rivals Gavin Belson and Peter Gregory. Though I do wish that Amanda Crew, who’s as likeable here as she was in Sex Drive, was given more to do.
It’s also not hard to think that Silicon Valley would be funnier if you worked in the tech sector. Which isn’t to say luddites won’t enjoy the silliness, just that Wired subscribers will enjoy it more.
Granted, because Silicon Valley is an HBO show, the versions on Blu-ray and DVD aren’t any different than what you might’ve seen on TV or whatever you watch HBO on. Though that’s only because HBO doesn’t interrupt its shows with commercials, nor do they run those annoying pop-ups in the middle telling you to watch some other HBO show.
Instead, what the Silicon Valley The Complete First Season has that other versions didn’t are a handful of fun extras.
For starters, every episode on Silicon Valley The Complete First Season comes with a running commentary by various members of the cast and crew, including Judge, Middleditch, Woods, Starr, Miller, Nanjiani, and writer/director Alec Berg. Like the best commentary tracks, these work well, in part, because they’re recorded with everyone in the room together, which fosters both interaction and a light-hearted, conversational tone. Though it also helps that the cast are involved, since commentaries with just crew members tend to get a bit too film school-ish.
Next on the Silicon Valley Blu-ray and DVD is “Making Silicon Valley,” a twelve-and-a-half-minute-long making-of featurette that includes interviews with the cast and crew. But while it’s fairly straight-forward, it’s still informative, and even gets a little funny when the cast start talking about Judge.
Going a bit deeper, “The Hacker Hostel” spends six minutes looking at the house where the guys all live and work. Consisting of a fun tour conducted by the cast, we get to see what the set is really like, including many of the weird little knick-knacks that you may not have noticed.
Finally, the Silicon Valley Blu-ray and DVD has “Techcrunch: Disrupt!,” a nearly four-minute look at the tech conference the guys go to in the last two episodes. Which is actually a real event. Though, as you see from this featurette, they didn’t shoot during the real one, but instead made up a set to look like it instead. All of which would be a lot more interesting…had they not already most of this in “Making Silicon Valley.”
In the end, Silicon Valley is a funny show, and unless you’re content with just the episodes and nothing else, the Silicon Valley The Complete First Season is the best way to watch it.