If you’ve already seen this summer’s two best comedies (Neighbors and 22 Jump Street) or simply want to skip a trip to the theater, one of the funniest ‘films’ this year is available to binge-watch on HBOGo (as well as other streaming services). So Mike Judge’s Silicon Valley may not technically be a movie but its total runtime -- with only eight episodes in the first season -- is less than some of cinema’s longer efforts like Lawrence of Arabia or Gone with the Wind. Only 39 minutes longer than Martin Scorsese’s latest ‘comedy,’ The Wolf of Wall Street. And instead of one intermission (or none in the latter’s case), Silicon Valley has seven. Not that you’ll want to take them. I don’t think I would have.
Set in the titular tech world of Silicon Valley, Mike Judge’s latest comedy is about a group of programmers who all are living on the cheap in the same incubator (or ‘Hacker Hostel,’ as they call it) as they develop their own tech. A by-product of one of their applications is an unprecedented compression algorithm (something that makes your files smaller) which creates a billionaire bidding war and binds the roommates together into a single company called Pied Piper. Here’s a clip that sums up the predicament that Richard, our lead played by Thomas Middleditch, finds himself in once the bidding begins…
As you can see, Middleditch was perfectly cast as the weak-stomached programmer who stumbles across this algorithm and is then thrust into a world of million dollar deals. Andy Daly is in the clip as well and, although he doesn't have a big part in the comedy, it highlights Silicon Valley's commitment to casting the right, which often means funniest, person for every role. The rest of the residents of the incubator, T. J. Miller, Martin Starr, Kumail Nanjiani and Zach Woods, are also hilarious and equally well cast. The ongoing conflict between Starr and Nanjiani's characters is a highlight and an example of how the series apes a sitcom to work on a weekly basis while Middleditch's arc is stretched to provide the serialized storyline. And the late Christopher Evan Welch, delivering his final performance as one of the billionaires, is really wonderful. That sound.
Getting back to the binge viewing, I'm not only arguing that the HBO series makes for a excellent film substitute based soley on the run-time, the first season is written in a way that lends itself to viewing in one sitting. Creator Mike Judge crafted a comedy that is enjoyable when consumed episodically but it's really serialized storytelling with the vomit based bookends making the eight installments play as one cohesive package. Silicon Valley isn't finished; yet this chapter came to a satisfying conclusion that also makes it work as a standalone story. Like I said, one long movie. And one that's definitely worth your time. Judge's new show started strong and kept on delivering right through the wonderful finale.
So instead of the lengthy process that is going to the cinema - leaving the house, driving there, parking, being early enough to get seats, commercials, trailers and then return journey - stay in and use that time to watch a critically acclaimed comedy. And this way, you can choose what to eat and drink, not to mention who is in the audience watching with you. Here’s the trailer for HBO's Silicon Valley…
Silicon Valley will be back for Season 2 next spring on HBO. Created by Mike Judge, the comedy stars Thomas Middleditch, T. J. Miller, Josh Brener, Martin Starr, Kumail Nanjiani, Zach Woods and Amanda Crew.