There's a great college humor video about the basic plot breakdown for every season of Entourage. The video does an excellent job of making fun of the fact that each week the show boiled down to one of two pretty predictable outcomes "we're making the movie!" or "we're not making the movie!". As much as I loved and still love the series (I hated the movie), I've always felt that this assessment was dead on.
Silicon Valley can be broken down similarly, and I think Thomas Middleditch might even agree - he happens to play the Eric Murphy character in the college humor Entourage spoof :-) The basic formula for Silicon Valley seems to work out to either "the company is going to make it/the company isn't going to make it" each week. I'm guessing there's probably a coin toss at the end of the season to decide whether they want to go out on an up or down note, but these are essentially the basic outcomes that each episode revolves around. For this type of show, I'm fine with that because like Entourage, the stuff that happens each episode is what makes it great. The structure and outcome may be simple and somewhat predictable, but great writing and characters make it all work.
Overall, I think the show has improved quite a bit from season one. Like most good shows, this one took a season or two to find its feet. The characters are well drawn, its voice and style is well established and it does a really amazing job of what it always had down out of the gate which is lampooning the hell out of startup and tech culture.
In case anyone missed it, one thing that Silicon Valley did really well was lampoon all the stupid names that people come up with for their companies. I love this clip about names from the show but what's missing is the goof on names ending in the letter "r" like "Grindr" "Jobr" or "Smlr" like they had fun with in the show.
People apparently don't seem to remember how woefully uncreative the "ly" name fad was and have become decided.ly less clevr by creating yet another name fad that drops the "e" when it comes before "r".
I'm betting the next fad will be dropping the "e" in words ending in "ive" which would really be quite inventiv.
Season finale was good but not amazing. What was an incredible start to a potentially fun series was plagued by a lot of plot missteps, weak character development and just overall weaker writing as it progressed. I was a little shocked by that.
Given the accomplishments of Judge and Berg, and the quality that HBO is famous for cranking out, I expected more. I know they've all signed on for another season, and I still like the concept, and the characters, so I'll stick with it for another round. I'm just hoping they raise the level of the writing and turn this back into the funny, intelligent show that showed so much promise early on.
OK - nice save on episode 7 as well. I feel as though everyone was in character and well portrayed and that the stories fit the group and weren't too out there. Feel like it's gaining momentum and finding a voice. Hoping they keep this up!
Episode 6 was a bit redemptive. Felt tighter, better B and C story lines, but only marginally. It feels like what started out as fun and clever parody is turning into something a little cliche and comic book in its feel. This was much better than episode 5.
The whole story with the self driving car taking Jared away felt like the writers were just giving up because they didn't have anything better to use.
I'm interested to see how the Jared story develops. If the next episode has him back at the house with only a cursory explanation for how he got back there, and that whole story line goes nowhere, I'll probably stop watching for a while. I don't have a huge problem when things are thrown in like that once in a while for comedic effect, but I was expecting this show to be smarter than that. Mike Judge and Alec Berg have done some really brilliant stuff, and while the show was off to a solid start, I feel let down that it's not maintained the strength that it came out of the gate with. It almost feels like the writers are still trying to find their voice.
I don't want to say that I think it's starting to suck, but I think it's come off the rails a bit from where it started and has turned, at least for me, mildly disappointing in places.
Not sure what's happening here, but it's feeling too soft or something structure wise. It almost feels as though the quality is degrading a little with each new episode. Last night did not feel as taught as the pilot at all.
One way to better deal with the Erlich/Richard situation in episode 4 may have been to have a scene where Big Head and Erlich meet - maybe under the premise that Big Head was looking for advice on how to deal with his situation at Hooli. Then have the meeting work to the reverse effect where Big Head offers up some honest advice or off beat pearl of wisdom that makes Erlich come around to helping Richard. That would have done a couple of things; it would have provided a little more motivation for Erlich's appearance at the Peter Gregory meeting. It would provide some insight as to where Big Head may offer value moving forward. His "unassigned" status at Hooli left him feeling like an almost useless character in this last episode.
Mixed feelings about last night's episode... I loved it, thought there were a lot of great moments. The douchebag lawyer meeting was pretty funny.
It did feel like there was a scene missing later in the show though. Erlich just showing up at Peter Gregory's office to help with the vision pitch at the end seemed a little too neat. I would have liked a scene that showed Erlich struggling with what he had to do, or with someone encouraging him to go to the meeting or something along those lines. I suppose it's OK to assume that he just had his own personal moment of reflection on it, but it would have been good to see him having to work a little more for a reason to go to the meeting to build the tension more so that the end was more satisfying.
Watching episode 4 of Veep immediately after was really interesting because the entire episode was based in silicon valley at a fictional company called Clovis. I thought the lampooning and comedic portrayal of SV that they did, while different, was almost as good as what Mike Judge and crew are doing.
Not sure why, but I laughed my ass off the couch and on to the floor at Erlich yelling "Who ate my fucking quinoa again?" in episode 1.
I wonder if they'll lampoon tea culture. I remember seeing a recruiting video a year or two ago for some company in the valley where they spent a least a minute of it talking about how they obsessed over the precision of the water temperature and steeping time. No one enjoys a good cup of tea as much as I do, but I don't think I've seen anything since that quite measures up to the lameness embodied in that segment.
If The Dude were an entrepreneur, he'd probably be like Erlich. But then again, if The Dude were an entrepreneur, he wouldn't be The Dude, would he?
I started to wonder if I should count myself among the old and not so hip for actually getting the Herb Cohen reference made by Jared in episode 3. I actually saw a presentation by Cohen in 1993 in Florida at a sales meeting for the company I was working for at the time. I thought the presentation that he gave was actually fun and informative. The lesson that I got from him about negotiation, which has served me well, was that one of the keys to it is to show the person that you're negotiating with that you care... but not THAT much.
It already felt a little like Entourage set in Silicon Valley, but in E03, Erlich's shrooming in the desert for answers to a problem the group was having seemed a little too reminiscent of the "Tree Trippers" episode from Entourage. Wasn't a huge liability for me. Still funny as hell. The thing that's great is that while there's a ton of stuff in there for people close to the industry to laugh at, it's still broad enough that anyone can really just enjoy the characters and the situations they get into.
"I'm an entrepreneur, much like yourself." -Erlich Bachman
It's the little touches... In episode 1 there's a coporate video of Gavin Belson playing in the background talking about the Hooli philosophy. I noticed the video has some of the hallmarks of the poorly produced corporate videos you see these days, mostly excessive cuts and cutting in the wrong places (going wide when they should have gone tight, etc.) which make it feel jarring. I thought that was one of those great little gems that someone took the time to put in, but that few people may notice.
The other thing that I think people forget when being overly critical of the show is that it is a scripted TV show, not a documentary. Yes, there are plenty of moments that won't represent a 100% accurate depiction of life in the valley, but the characters, writing, and the world they have created for the show makes for a fun ride.
The only thing I'm not crazy about with regard to the Erlich Bachman character is the way he asks people if they want to "smoke some weed". Feels a little too on the nose/gratuitous. Even Turtle from Entourage wasn't that in your face about his 420 related activities.
The reviews I've been reading seem mostly postive, though there are a few haters. I think the thing that people easily forget is that the writers for something like this have to balance the show with enough broad concept stuff to make it appeal to a big enough audience, while having enough inside references to give it credibility. Not an easy thing to do, but I think they've done an amazing job so far.
Sort of funny that I learned of the term "brogrammer" just a week or so before seeing the first episode of Silicon Valley. The joke is really subtle in episode 1, but a great example of how the writers are doing a great job skewering just about everything relating to startup culture.
I found elements of the meeting with Peter Gregory in episode 2 regarding the cap table pretty relatable. I remember when I was looking for funding for my first company, a then friend of mine had offered to introduce me to a VC friend of his in return for a 5% equity stake if something came of the meeting. I told him that while I appreciated the offer, if that were to happen, any subsequent business dealings for funding or M&A would prompt a review of the cap table at which time I'd have to justify why setting up a meeting with a VC resulted in my giving up 5% of the company. It wouldn't look like a sound business decision on my part. I even mentioned that his VC friend would probably look at me like I was high if I were to tell him about such an arrangement. I told him I was sure we could work something more reasonable out if a deal were to happen as a result of his introduction, but he didn't like that. We haven't spoken since.
Erlich Bachman is quickly becoming my favorite character on Silicon Valley.