HBO’s new comedy series “Silicon Valley” had two things in its favor: its concept and Mike Judge. In this age where being on the bleeding edge is necessary to be successful, a look at a group of young programmers trying to make it big in Silicon Valley is something that begs attention. Its creator, Mike Judge, is best known for bringing us the genius that is “Office Space” and the long-running FOX series “King of the Hill.”
However, a concept and name do not make a show. “Silicon Valley” is yet another case of this. It is clear this show has a lot of potential and that is what must be focused on here. The pilot of any show tends to be one of the worst representations of a show, especially for comedies. Comedies usually take a few episodes to hit their strides, but “Silicon Valley” has the disadvantage of airing only eight episodes in its first season. Only time will tell whether the creative team is able to pull the series together before the season’s end.
The first 10 minutes of the series were not terribly inspired. The first scene of the series was Kid Rock performing in front of a less-than-enthusiastic crowd. The scene seemed a bit gimmicky, but it was not a disastrous opening scene.
What surprised me is the absolute lack of wit in the script from the scene following it. The characters are introduced with expositional dialogue to remind the viewer of how hard it is to be successful in the industry, while also pointing out the perks of reaching that success. It felt unnecessary and weighed down the episode.
To make matters worse, the same expositional dialogue returned in a later scene. The amount of time the writers took to set up the world that seems so familiar to us was taxing. But when the actual plot began to move forward, the show began to display its promise.
Following being bullied by two programmers at the company he works for over a website that he created, Richard Hendricks is called by Gavin Belson, who is looking to acquire the website, which contains an algorithm that will revolutionize the industry. Then, Peter Gregory (Christopher Evan Welch) offers Richard an investment in the company and his mentorship.
Thomas Middleditch as Richard is a surprisingly competent lead. Not to take away from his ability, but he had to contend with a less-than-developed character. Instead of falling into the endless pit of awkward but extremely talented geeks, Middleditch pulls the character out into something endearing.
The premise is incredibly interesting and has a lot of potential for an extremely fast-moving forward show, but what is lacking is a clear comedic approach. There is some dry humor mixed with the ridiculous, with some witty one-liners. This inconsistent writing is difficult to pin down and does not allow the viewer to find a way to watch the show.
One of the better scenes of the episode comes in a doctor’s office where Richard is being examined after suffering a panic attack following the bidding war between Gavin and Peter. The doctor offers Richard the use of an app to monitor his vitals and then asks for an investment, reminding us that everyone wants to be an innovator.
The show knows its world. However, it does not really know how to populate that world. The characters are not anything to marvel at. There is no comedic performance that exudes greatness. The writing is not particularly smart or innovative, but with its strong concept, “Silicon Valley” still has the potential to be great.