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Josh Reviews Silicon Valley Season Three

I really loved the first two seasons of Silicon Valley, a show chronicling the long road that a young engineer Richard Hendricks and his team of co-workers and friends face in trying to successfully navigate the business and technological challenges of creating and successfully releasing their new platform. (Click here for my review of season one, and here for my review of season two.)  Season three sees the show continuing to operate in peak form.  (Yes, I know I am still behind — season four aired this past spring — but I am working to get caught up!)  If anything, Silicon Valley has gotten even better as we have spent more time with Ricard and the Pied Piper team. The show remains extremely funny and clever, and with a short season of only ten half-hour episodes, it never overstays its welcome.

Once again this season puts Richard and his friends and co-workers through a roller-coaster ride of small successes and huge failures.  It’s always one step forward and two steps back with this crew and this show.  It can be a bit frustrating at times for the audience, since by this point we’ve grown to love these characters and want to see them succeed.  But the show is so consistently funny that it’s hard to complain.  Plus, watching these bumbling nerds on their Sisyphian journey is what this show is all about!

Stephen Tobolowsky’s “Action” Jack Barker was a phenomenal addition to the show’s cast this season.  Jack provided a great new foil for Richard.  I loved seeing how the show tweaked its own status quo by installing Jack as the new C.E.O. and nemesis for Richard; briefly moving the gang out of Ehrlich’s house and into spacious new offices; and setting up Jack’s “box” scheme as something for the Pied Piper folks to struggle against.  These were great story-lines that kept the Piep Piper team as underdogs while allowing the show to explore some different situations.

The show’s main ensemble was running on all cylinders at this point.  Thomas Middleditch, T.J. Miller, Martin Starr, Kumail Nanjiani and Zach Woods are a murderers row of incredible actors and comedians.  They own these characters at this point, and each had plenty of opportunities to shine in season three.  I was a little disappointed that season 2 seemed to sideline Amanda Crew’s character Monica, and so I was glad that she was a little more involved here in season three.  (Though I am intrigued as to why the show’s creators seem to have dropped any hint of a romantic attraction between Richard and Monica.  I thought that was a sweet aspect of season one, but it’s vanished from season two and three.)  I enjoyed the story-line this season gave Monica as a member of the board of Pied Piper, struggling between her loyalty to Richard and her desire to do right by her boss Laurie.

I loved that “Big Head” was more involved in season two, and glad that continued here in season three.  The idea that this moron stumbled into wealth (when Gavin gave him a $20 million severance package) is a genius notion and was mined for a lot of laughs this season.  I also loved the pairing of Big Head and Ehrlich.  The lunacy of their joint venture “Bachmanity” is a high point of the series so far.

Although Jack Barker stepped into the fore at the start of this season as the main obstacle for Richard and co., I was glad that Gavin Belson continued to be centrally involved in the show’s stories.  Watching his own struggles to maintain control of Hooli were funny and interesting (the running gag of his use of animals as props for his presentations was phenomenal), and Matt Ross continues to be so great in the role.  Also, Jack was just as much fun as a nemesis for Gavin, in the second half of the season when he wound up working at Hooli, as he was as a foil for Richard!

Clearly the show does not ever want Richard and the Pied Piper crew to ever become a success, which means the writers need to keep figuring out ways to keep these guys basically at a standstill.  This can be the death of a TV show, but I was impressed by how this season found ways to keep tweaking the status quo without ever really changing it.  Richard is replaced as C.E.O. by Jack Barker, but then Jack leaves.  The gang gets fancy new offices, and then lose them.  The Pied Piper app is a huge success in the testing phase, but few of the people who install the app actually use it.  And on and on.  There’s a lot of story crammed into these ten episodes, and a lot of ups and downs for the gang, but it’s all so fun and entertaining that it works beautifully.  This is a great show.  I can’t wait to move on to season four and to finally be all caught up!  I’ll be back soon with my thoughts on season four.

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