Tuesday, August 19, 2014
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'Silicon Valley' clever, claustrophobic

"Silicon Valley" on HBO stars Thomas Middleditch (left) and Josh Brener. (Jaime Trueblood/HBO)
"Silicon Valley" on HBO stars Thomas Middleditch (left) and Josh Brener. (Jaime Trueblood/HBO)
"Silicon Valley" on HBO stars Thomas Middleditch (left) and Josh Brener. (Jaime Trueblood/HBO) Gallery: 'Silicon Valley' clever, claustrophobic
It's hard to fathom HBO's thinking in pairing up the medieval maelstrom of Game of Thrones on Sundays with this new compu-comedy.

Unless the whole point of Silicon Valley (10 p.m.) is that this show's geek freaks wouldn't play well with others - of any era.

Erlich - T.J. Miller, late of The Goodwin Games - lords it over the boarders in his "incubator," a shared house for programmers in Palo Alto, Calif. If any of them comes up with the next killer app, he gets 10 percent.

And then, miraculously, that's what happens when shy, self-effacing Richard (Thomas Middleditch) creates a compression algorithm that has applications he hadn't intended.

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  • Suddenly, the five losers in the house have a shot at the Jobs-Zuckerberg lottery: to form their own company and start stacking crazy Monopoly money.

    Except, because this is a comedy from Mike Judge, creator of one of the great workplace satires of all time, Office Space, their ride is a bit turbulent. One minute they're can't-miss billionaires, the next, they can't afford Arby's.

    Some things never change for these socially challenged guys: They don't know how to dress or how to talk to women. As soon as a female enters the house, they all cluster in the kitchen, quaking.

    There are some zany performances here, including Christopher Evan Welch (Rubicon) as a singularly detached CEO/savant.

    Even in today's world in which everyone lives online, the milieu of Silicon Valley makes for a rather small target. But Judge and his colleagues manage to hit it smartly.

    The humor is clever if a little claustrophobic. The tone is so deeply post-ironic it feels almost morose. It's a binary show. You will end up either binge watching Silicon Valley or turning it off halfway through the first episode.


    TV REVIEW

    Silicon Valley

    10 p.m. Sunday on HBO.


    dhiltbrand@phillynews.com

    215-854-4552

    @daveondemand_tv

    David Hiltbrand Inquirer TV Critic
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