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Featured TV on DVD Review: Silicon Valley: Season 2

April 16th, 2016

Silicon Valley: Season 2 - Buy from Amazon: DVD and Blu-ray
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Silicon Valley: Season 2

Silicon Valley started in 2014 with an eight-episode first season. I didn't get a chance to review the first season, but I did see a few of the episodes and liked what I saw. Does it get better in season two? And is the DVD or Blu-ray worth picking up?

The Show

While Silicon Valley is a 30-minute sitcom, it is not as easy to review as most in the genre, as there is an over-arcing story and before we get too far into the season, we start to run into spoilers. Usually with sitcoms, you can talk about every episode, right up to and including the season finale.

The show's main character is Richard Hendricks, a coder who used to work on Hooli, a souless tech company. At the end of the first season, he created a compression algorithm and his new company, Pied Piper, became the next big thing and venture capitalists started throwing themselves at Pied Piper. In the end, he went with Raviga Capital, run by Peter Gregory, not that this stops other venture capitalists from trying. However, they learn that Peter died, so Richard and Erlich Bachman head over to Raviga and are told by Monica what happened. Richard wants to stick with Raviga, but Erlich wants to bail, fast. He's convinced that without Peter, the investors will bail on Raviga, so they should bail on Raviga first and find other investors. There should be a lot of them, right?

Well, not really. Two things happen. Firstly, Richard's old boss, Gavin Belson sues Richard for patent infringement. Gavin knows the lawsuit is crap, but he also knows Pied Piper is beating his own compression software, Nucleus, and this is the easiest way to crush the competition. Once the lawsuit hits, the new head of Raviga, Laurie Bream, decides to drop Pied Piper, as Peter made some odd investments, like a $30 million ostrich farm, and the company is not on as strong a footing as outward appearances suggest. Gavin reaches out to Richard and offers to "help". He will drop the lawsuit and in exchange, Hooli will buy Pied Piper. Richard goes to the rest of his team with this offer. The two Chief Technology Officers, Dinesh Chugtai and Bertram Gilfoyle, don't agree on much, but they both think this is a bad deal. On the other hand, the Chief Financial Officer, Donald "Jared" Dunn, who used to work for Hooli, thinks it is a good deal, even if he's not willing to go back to his old soulless corporate job.

Without enough money to pay for the retainer for his legal team, Richard goes to Hooli to accept Gavin's offer, only to be stopped at the last minute by Russ Hanneman, an eccentric billionaire who earned his riches when he put radio on the internet. His infusion of cash saves the company and even allows them to hire another programmer, Carla Walton. However, Russ has a reputation for being difficult to work with, a reputation Richard didn't know about until after agreeing to the money. Is this decision going to save Pied Piper? Or will it lead to its ruination?

There's a lot to love about Silicon Valley, especially if you are nerdier than average, like myself. The overall story of Pied Piper is engaging, as seeing how a tech company tries to survive in such a competitive industry is interesting. The acting is great and chemistry between the characters is strong. The overall story does feel a little padded out at times. The first season was only eight episodes, while season two had ten, so maybe that's the root of that problem. I like that they added some more diversity to the cast, with the addition of Carla Walton and Laurie Bream to the list of regular characters. Also, I might be the only one who likes Jared as a character.

Before we go to the extras, I do want to talk about the ending of the second season, so hold on, there are major spoilers here. ... In the end of the season, Raviga buys out Russ Hanneman's shares in Pied Piper, as a result, they have three of the five seats on the board of directors. Laurie Bream uses this power to fire Richard as CEO of Pied Piper, because she thinks the technology is sound, but also thinks Richard doesn't have good leadership skills. ... She's right. The scene plays out like this is a disaster, but I think in the real world, a change like this would strengthen Pied Piper. How the writers handle this could be different.

The Extras

There are audio commentary tracks on six of the ten episodes. Likewise, there are deleted scenes from six of the ten episodes. Finally, there's a three-minute featurette on the technology the show deals with and how it is connected with the real world. They have consultants to make sure it is as realistic as they can be.

The Verdict

Silicon Valley: Season 2 is better than first season is some ways, but adding a couple of extra episodes might have resulted in padding out the overall plot. The DVD and Blu-ray doesn't have a huge number of extras, but audio commentary tracks on six of the ten episodes is fantastic. It is absolutely worth picking up.

Filed under: Video Review, Amanda Crew, Suzanne Cryer, T.J. Miller, Matt Ross, Martin Starr, Chris Diamantopoulos, Zach Woods, Thomas Middleditch, Christopher Evan Welch, Kumail Nanjiani, Alice Wetterlund