WHEN | WHERE Season 3 starts Sunday at 10 p.m. on HBO
WHAT IT’S ABOUT Save the world, or make billions? Still hoping to do both are our intrepid live-together tech nerds. Led by idealistic coding king Richard (Thomas Middleditch), they’ve been through the corporate thing at Hooli, the incubator thing with pothead entrepreneur/landlord Erlich (T.J. Miller), the acquired startup at Raviga Capital (under Suzanne Cryer’s bloodless chief), and the post-visionary growth era. That last one just saw Richard sacked as CEO.
Should he stay, or should he go? That’s the question in Sunday’s return, when he meets the new boss, played with effortless smarm by Stephen Tobolowsky. The guys’ world-changing project soon gets a sleek new logo, cool new digs, super salespeople, and “good feng shui” — all bestowed by the boss vowing “I will never compromise the product.” Yet the office poster boasting his famed “conjoined triangles of success” has the central word “compromise” streaking diagonally to the top.
MY SAY Series director/co-creator Mike Judge knows people. Witness “Office Space,” “Beavis and Butt-Head,” “King of the Hill.” Like guest star Tobolowsky, his supporting casters here are gold in their niches — darkly dry Martin Starr, bitter eager beaver Kumail Nanjiani, sad drone Zach Woods. Sterling, too, are the “outsiders” — Matt Ross as the Hooli mogul trying to thwart/steal their every innovation, Josh Brener as Richard’s old bud stuck under Hooli control.
It’s easy enough for new viewers to join this Emmy-nominated gem, as its third season reshuffles everyone’s deck at least once. Think we’ve already seen whose-product-is-it-anyway? Think again. Downsizing in the wake of project “failure” proves to have peculiar causes, and unexpected consequences.
The guys remain gung-ho, though, still popping off on ill-fated presumptions, still loopily crafting strategies to outsmart situations they don’t begin to grasp. Ironies abound (“You have created a company that is too valuable for you to run”). Sight gags (robotic deer) crash into hilariously awkward metaphors. Horses mate. Bongs burn. An imprisoned lawyer ponders the upside of putting mustaches on snakes. (Yes, really.)
BOTTOM LINE Giving business the business is outrageous fun.