HBO is airing the season premier of “Silicon Valley” on Sunday (April 23).
Wednesday evening, series co-creator Mike Judge joined actors Martin Starr (the terminally acid Gilfoyle) and Zach Woods (the doe-eyed Jared Dunn) for a brief red carpet at the Alamo Drafthouse South. This was followed by a screening of the first two episodes and a 30-minute Q and A session.
Here is what we learned:
It is weird to see Judge laugh and Starr smile
Judge is notoriously press shy and always looks very business as usual at press events, somewhere between a kind of Zen offensive coordinator and maybe a guy giving you bad legal news. He also talks very softly.
So it was genuinely awesome to see him laugh long and hard at his actors cracking wise during the Q and A afterwards. It was similarly cool to see Starr — best known for his career-making performance as Bill in “Freaks and Geeks” (17 years ago!) and for Gilfoyle’s brutal, dead-eyed sarcasm — bust out a wide smile (not pictured) when talking to reporters. Woods, on the other hand, seems very much like Jared, with maybe more penis jokes.
Women are rumored for later in the year, but not on these episodes
HBO and the Alamo Drafthouse screened two episodes. The first one sets the table: Everyone is still in the house owned by Erlich Bachman (T.J. Miller), the company has pivoted a bit into a video chat app largely invented by Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani), which is driving Richard (Thomas Middleditch) nuts. He hates being the CEO of a video chat company, especially one essentially co-owned by Big Head’s father.
So he quits. Plot ensues.
The second episode (mild spoilers) develops the video chat plot kind of ingeniously and features some of the most (intentionally) obnoxious hair Kumail Nanjiani has ever worn, anywhere.
This was about 60 minutes of filmed entertainment, much of it sharp and funny and canny. There was a woman on-screen for less than five of those minutes, a conversation between Richard and Monica Hall (Amanda Crew). Unless I am misremembering something, and I don’t think I am, that was IT.
Now, according to this piece, the show is finally adding women coders, so perhaps it will improve.
Woods is the most like his character, though all of them are apparently sweet people
“When it’s a lot of young comedy guys, it can kind of be a sort of feral environment,” Woods said during the Q and A. “But everyone’s really kind to each other, it’s not competitive. People pitch each other jokes. It’s nice to be with other people that are equally delicate flowers.”
That said, when Woods was discussing the first time he met Miller, he (Woods) was sitting “on a yoga mat reading a journal of reassuring quotes with a bunch of scented candles lit” while Indigo Girls was on in the background.
Which seems awfully Jared.
A time in the Dinesh/Gilfoyle relationship that stands out for Starr
“The jacket episode,” Starr says. “I had a lot of fun berating him in front of strangers at that Starbucks. I don’t know why, but I really enjoyed it. It went a little off the rails sometimes.”
There isn’t a lot of improvisation on set that makes it into the final product. However….
The line “Sizzler buffet for the sexually deranged” (nope, not giving you the context) was all Woods.
The show is famous enough that hip-hop acts will debut tracks as end credits music
Look for Nas and DJ Shadow’s “Systematic” to close out the first episode.
What makes Mike Judge lose it
The “creepy extra” in the back of the room at the very end of episode two. You’ll know it when you see it (on April 30). “The way it works is you get a bunch of extras and they line ’em up, and I picked that guy,” Judge said. “And I said, ‘Put him in a sweater,’ and when he came out in that sweater and sat him down, I couldn’t stop laughing. Luckily there was no dialogue in the scene. It was good to see (the audience) laughing at it because me and Tim Suhrstedt, the DP, could not stop laughing.”
“Silicon Valley” airs Sundays on HBO.