To be honest Silicon Valley isn't a series we were familiar with, primarily as we don't waste money paying for Foxtel (PayTV) here. Working in the IT industry it didn't take too long for me to get interested in the series by the title alone (which is of course based on the San Franciso area known for the hundreds of technology based companies. This series has something else going for it - it was created Mike Judge (creator of Beavis and Butt-head and Office Space).
Silicon Valley is set in the high-tech gold rush of modern Silicon Valley, where the people most qualified to succeed are the least capable of handling success. The series charts the rising fortunes of Richard, an introverted computer programmer who lives in a “Hacker Hostel” start-up incubator along with his friends Big Head, Gilfoyle, and Dinesh. But when a mid-level Hooli executive named Jared is apprised of the value of the site’s novel compression algorithm, Richard finds himself caught in the middle of an extreme bidding war between Hooli founder Gavin Belson and independent billionaire venture capitalist Peter Gregory.
As someone who works in the IT industry this series, much like the more comedic and silly UK show The IT Crowd, is a perfect fit and there was plenty here to enjoy. Fortunately if you're not in the IT industry - much like my wife - there is still plenty here to enjoy with a range of characters having their own kwerks and idiosyncracies to create a great, fun, mix of people. While the series is made up of eight 30-minute episodes, each is a distinct storyline which progresses to a fantastic final epsiode which has some of the funniest moments we've ever seen in a TV comedy.
While the cast is primarily made up of relative unknowns there is a good mixture of personalities and cultures here. Many of the actors in the series are stand-up comedians including Thomas Middleditch, T.J. Miller, Kumail Nanjiani and Josh Brener with T.J. Miller being a standout for us. Finally a shout out must go to actor Christopher Evan Welch who plays the billionaire Peter Gregory in the series, but who sadly passed away from lung cancer during the filming of the series. It's a fitting farewell to an actor that has appeared in numerous films and TV shows.
Silcon Valley is a sharply written, witty, comedy about working in a tech upstart an competing with the big boys in the industry. While the comedy isn't as outlandish as that in The IT Crowd, this is a more realistic interpretation of working in the IT industry (and I should know). Still, I'm waiting for someone to say "have you tried turning it off and on again". Even if you don't work in the IT industry there is still enough here to make this worth your time.
In terms of issues the biggest is that the interlaced format results in the image having some "shimmering" in particular when looking at things like trees, some clothing, and larger flat coloured areas such as walls. We also encountered a small issue in Episode 3 when the image skips from 13:04 to 13:10. It's possibly a layer change error, or more likely an error with our review test disc, but just check your retail versions.
One thing we weren't expecting, but were pleasantly surprised to see was the primary audio track being a lossless English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 experience. As such a dialogue driven show the audio is quite front heavy with little use of the surround sound channels. Speech is crystal clear at all times while the soundfield does liven up on rare occasions when music kicks in.
There are a couple of other audio tracks on the disc including French and German DTS 5.1 at 768kbps as well as Spanish DTS 2.0 also encoded at 768kbps. Each of these tracks sounded pretty good from our brief samples although the 2 channel Spanish track is an interesting choice as it loses the surround sound, but the full bitrate is dedicated to the two channels. Subtitles are provide in English SDH, French, Spanish, German, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish.
Audio Commentaries: Each of the eight episodes comes with an audio commentary with various participants and for the most part they are worth a listen with some amusing anecdotes from the set as well as information about the storyline.
Making Silicon Valley (12:32/HD): Not as in-depth as we would have liked this is still an entertaining look at the making of, and premise, of this TV series including a look at Techcrunch and how it was incorporated into the series.
Techcrunch: Disrupt! (3:42/HD): As the title suggests this focuses on recrating the real-life conference for inclusion in the TV series. It's impressive just how accurately the TV producers re-created the real event, right down to the bins and types of food being served!
The Hacker Hostel (6:18/HD): This is a look around the house in which the Pied Piper company runs from, and where the guys all live. Pretty light hearted but a nice look at some of the set which isn't seen much in the show.
Review By: Dave Warner