I haven't been doing episodic coverage of Silicon Valley's first season, so here's a quick summary of my thoughts on the show since it debuted in April: It's currently one of my favorite TV comedies. Its serialized nature makes it feel more like a long movie than a sitcom that presses the reset button at the end of each episode, and I dig that. It's the kind of comedy that can only really work on a network that's willing to throw away syndication sales, and HBO (which also airs the similarly structured Veep) is the perfect fit.
Silicon Valley's Season 1 story came to an end in "Optimal Tip-to-Tip Efficiency," an episode that was both predictable and incredibly satisfying. We knew the guys would get into trouble, that they'd be on the verge of losing it all, and that Richard would save the day. We probably could've guessed that there'd be a lot of talk about how to jerk guys off—this is a Mike Judge comedy after all—and it was a very safe bet that the episode would set the stage for Pied Piper to move up in the tech world in Season 2, adding a whole corporation's worth of problems to the list of things that make Richard stress-vomit. This ending was visible all the from the Yosemite Valley (or whatever valley is closest to you but totally far from Silicon Valley), and that's totally okay.
Comedy is all about the characters, and—I'll go ahead speak for us all—we've come to really love the code jockeys of Pied Piper. They're a lovable bunch of awkward underdogs, especially Richard, and we want to see them succeed. So that's all I wanted out of "Optimal Tip-to-Tip Efficiency," and that's what I got, with a feel-good win for the little guys when Richard dazzled the judges at TechCrunch Disrupt with an 11th-hour "pivot." Well, it more of a nudge, really, but it led to a dramatic upgrade of the Pied Piper compression algorithm that'd been duplicated by those asshats at Hooli. Hooray for small-business perseverance and ingenuity beating mega-corporate espionage and thievery!
I can see how some folks might gripe about the way Richard beat the competition, though. I won't pretend that all the tech speak is anything but sorcery to me; I can't repeat 99 percent of the jargon they were throwing around, and if I could, I'd be a well-paid software engineer buying fancy two-ply toilet paper instead of hoarding old Taco Bell napkins. Viewers with actual technical knowhow may've been throwing their mouse pads and flash drives at the screen in disgust over the ridiculous nature of Richard's last-minute save. But for a dummy like me, all that mattered was they won.
"Optimal Tip-to-Tip Efficiency" could've been one long TED Talk about optimizing data transfer via the Cloud (ZZZzzzzzzzzzz....) and it still would've been amazing, as long as it had that incredible joke about how Erlich could possibly jerk off—to rousing nerd climax—800 guys in an auditorium in 10 minutes. I was literally LOLing as the guys sincerely attacked the problem, taking into account a four-penis approach (from the middle out), the distance between each guy's penis and the ground, whether inevitable differences in girth would affect efficiency, "complementary shaft angles" to keep Erlich's strokes smooth, hot-swapping penises in and out to accommodate multiple "orgasm thresholds," and a whole lot more. I'm wondering why there wasn't more of discussion about lubrication or the possibility of Erlich using his feet (that's allowed, right?), because if Erlich is as skilled at curving his arches as a ballerina, that could've knocked out about a tenth of those guys. Hmmm.... maybe I've found my calling and should move to Silicon Valley and work as a consultant to make use of my innovative thinking. Shoot, I could have Erlich done in nine minutes.
But while I ponder that possible career path, let's quickly address the question of what's next for Silicon Valley. Monica essentially laid everything out for Richard when she told him to prepare for an inundation of investment offers, growing the company and hiring staff, getting sued by imitators, and competing with Gavin. Winning Disrupt with a revolutionary new compression algorithm was just the beginning for Richard, Pied Piper, and Silicon Valley. Now the real fun begins.
– I've always thought of Richard as an early version of Peter Gregory, so it would make sense for the duration of Silicon Valley to focus on Richard's transformation from nervous tech newbie to eccentric billionaire.
– It's a long shot, but Thomas Middleditch deserves serious consideration for an award of some sort, and he'd probably get my vote. His performance as Richard has been brilliant, a combination of anxious physical humor and reserved demeanor that yields a character who's more than just an out-of-place geek. He's a savant. His confusion over how to hold the microphone during Pied Piper's Disrupt presentation was too funny. His ticks are comedy treasures.
– The Monica-Richard romance that's brewing still needs a lot of work. Or maybe it's Peter Gregory's way of trying to control Richard using all his resources?
– Dinesh on Erlich getting the guys a sweet suite: "I was just happy you got punched in the face, Erlich, now I'm super happy. I feel like I won twice."
What'd you think of Silicon Valley's finale? How about the first season overall?
AIRED ON 6/26/2016
Season 3 : Episode 10