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'Silicon Valley' review: Mike Judge's latest is highly amusing

Kumail Nanjiani, Martin Starr, Thomas Middleditch, Zach Woods

Kumail Nanjiani, Martin Starr, Thomas Middleditch, Zach Woods and T.J. Miller star in HBO's new series "Silicon Valley." Credit: MCT

THE SHOW "Silicon Valley"

WHEN|WHERE Premieres Sunday at 10 p.m. on HBO

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Four young guys in Silicon Valley are trying to strike it rich -- with a compression technology app no one seems to fully understand. They are Richard (Thomas Middleditch), Big Head (Josh Brener), Gilfoyle (Martin Starr) and Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani). To make ends meet, they live with Erlich (T.J. Miller), who has a piece of the action (such as it is). He's a dot-com millionaire who contributes his own wildly unorthodox -- except for Silicon Valley -- ideas for this venture. Jared (Zach Woods) -- from an established valley firm -- is there to provide "executive" support, or at least a little adult supervision. Meanwhile, billionaire venture capitalists like Gavin Belson (Matt Ross) and his archrival, Peter Gregory (Christopher Evan Welch), are interested in this start-up -- but why? This series is produced by Mike Judge and Alec Berg ("Seinfeld," "Curb Your Enthusiasm").

MY SAY Hard to believe no one's done a Silicon-Valley-tech-world satire until now -- except that someone sort of has. "The Big Bang Theory" is in a sense a broader (much broader) laugh-track-based version. Some of Judge's own "Office Space" is here, too.

There have been plenty of others out there with a slash-and-burn satirical sensibility ("The Office," "30 Rock," "Portlandia") -- informed with the same notion that average people doing (or saying) ridiculous things can be an almost perfect formula for character-based TV comedy.

Judge is a master of this, Berg, too, so no one should be surprised to learn "Silicon Valley" is funny. The surprise is just how funny it can be -- wait around a few episodes for Belson's Hologram adventure to see what I mean. But you never have to wait long.

Judge has a keen eye for the absurdities of human behavior and speech, but he's not the kind of guy to waste that on subtle inside jokes or wordplay. He's not someone to waste it on farce, either: "Silicon Valley" also happens to be sly and smart.

BOTTOM LINE Highly amusing. Another Mike Judge winner.


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