TV Recap: Silicon Valley, ‘Sand Hill Shuffle’

Written by Marley Ghizzone

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Silicon Valley, Season 2 Premiere Plot Summary:

After the death of Peter Gregory (Christopher Welch); Monica (Amanda Crew) must get used to the quircks of her new boss. Richard (Thomas Middleditch) has to decide what company is going to fund Pied Piper.

We left Season One with Richard and Pied Piper hitting the highest score ever on the Weissman Scale guaranteeing them the win at TechCrunch Disrupt. The first episode of season two is all about set up. Now that they have triumphed over Hooli, new obstacles and roadblocks have to be added. We also get a new player, Peter Gregory’s (Welch) replacement Laurie (Suzanne Cryer) who has new quirks to get used to.

Photo credit: Frank Masi/HBO
Photo credit: Frank Masi/HBO

The season premiere for this sophomore comedy was not all that strong. It took a simple problem and strung it out for thirty minutes padded with dick jokes and awkward eye twitches to prove just how socially inept Richard (Middleditch) is. He hates parties! Sports are scary! Women make him ramble! Yes okay thank you I understand what you are shoving down my throat. The jokes are soft and easy.

The episode, and seemingly the season, is surrounded around who Richard was going to get to fund Pied Piper. Math terms and computer terms and economics terms were flown around which means I cannot authoritatively tell you the specific details. But what I can tell you is that Sand Hill Shuffle started with Richard wanting to stay with Raviga. Erlich (T.J. Miller) convinces him to check out other offers because Raviga’s funding may be nonexistent after the death of Peter (Welch.) They go to meetings where Erlich (Miller) is rude which makes the companies offer more. Then Raviga offers the highest bid. Richard stays with Raviga. The episode didn’t have much in the way of tension. It feels like it is on a hamster wheel circling back around to the beginning.

Similarly, between the seasons we have the same issue. The plot points are staying the same at the core with tiny tweaks, trying make it seem different and new. As Gob Bluth would remind us, “It’s an illusion, Michael.” Season 1’s arc was Hooli trying to redo Richard’s algorithm. Season 2’s arc (so far) is Hooli suing them for infringement. The core of both plots is Hooli CEO Gavin Belson (Matt Ross) is out to get them. There isn’t enough change up and it feels stale.

Photo credit: Frank Masi/HBO
Photo credit: Frank Masi/HBO

The problems lies with, ultimately, with the core idea. With shows centered around a profession, the characters are shown doing that thing. Lawyers cross examine. Doctors perform surgeries. Cops arrest criminals. Computer nerds type. Typing is boring and not suitable to center a storyline around. But even that could be saved if you had good characters. However we are in Silicon Valley (the place not the show) where everyone is socially awkward apparently. So your characters can’t do their profession and they can’t have too many cohesive conversations. The idea fizzles and can’t sustain itself.

My one favorite part about the episode made me actually laugh out loud though. Richard wants to take a turn being rude in a meeting to up the bid. He gives his presentation, ending with “and if you don’t fund us, you’re a fucking slut.” He then stutters and stammers and the hilarity and simplicity of his one liner is lost. But that line on it’s own is a diamond in the ruff. The ruff of course being this episode.

Rating: 3 out of 10


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Marley Ghizzone is the current music editor and former Breaking News Editor for The Pop Break. Aside from writing news, Marley reviews television shows and the odd film. Pop culture is her drug of choice and her talents include binge watching entire seasons of TV shows obsessively fast and crying over fictional characters. Marley is a graduate of Rowan University. Follow her on twitter: @marleyveee