Blu-ray Review: Silicon Valley: The Complete Fourth Season

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All ten episodes from the fourth season of Silicon Valley are available on HBO Home Entertainment's The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray release. The ensemble cast, led by Thomas Middleditch as the supremely neurotic Richard Hendricks, continues to mine every line of dialogue for laughs—but a bit of the series' fresh sheen has noticeably worn off for this go-round. The plotting is as dense as ever, but unfortunately there are a few episodes that feel like one long piece of exposition ("The Keenan Vortex" for example). Still, when the writing is "on" the laughs flow fast and furious.

The evolution of Richard, as he continues to lose his smart-but-na├»ve facade and slowly slide into a more corruptible figure, continues throughout season four. A reunion between Gavin Belson (Matt Ross) and Richard occurs, which leads to some hilarity involving Gavin's "blood boy" (don't ask—some of this stuff just shouldn't be explained in advance). Richard has a brainstorm to leave PiperChat, the video streaming app that Pied Piper has morphed into, behind in favor of boldly creating a new, decentralized internet powered by mobile devices. As always, the techno jargon is easy to follow even if you don't really know much (if anything) about the stuff they're talking about.

Series co-creator Mike Judge continues to take an active role in Silicon, directing no less than four of the season's ten episodes (including its opener and closer). That number is matched this season by Jamie Babbit (frequent Gilmore Girls director, among many other varied credits), a season three returnee. Both she and Judge were Emmy-nominated this season (among a total of eight nominations). Again, when the writing is on-point the show is golden. But when the jokes just aren't there, even clearheaded direction by Judge, Babbit, and others can't quite maintain the laugh-out-loud vibe that has dominated for three previous seasons.

As has been the case with HBO Home Entertainment's previous three Silicon Valley complete season Blu-ray releases, The Complete Fourth Season looks and sounds pretty darn solid. Surprisingly, unlike any previous season, this one is packed onto a single disc. Each episode is presented in DTS-HD MA 5.1. The one area that is sorely lacking here is bonus supplements. Just a few deleted scenes running under three minutes? That's it. The first couple seasons included a number of commentaries and more, but between the third and now fourth seasons there's almost nothing.

In an era of continuously diminishing demand for physical product, it's somewhat surprising HBO wouldn't throw a bigger bone to potential Blu-ray (or DVD) buyers. It's tempting to suggest that perhaps the near lack of features is due to everything being on one disc, but The Complete Third Season skimped on features and it had two discs to fill. At any rate, despite a hint of 'been there, done that' creeping in during the show's weaker moments, Silicon Valley remains one of the funniest comedies currently on TV. If you've been collecting the series so far, no reason to stop now.

 
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Chaz Lipp is a Seattle-based freelance writer whose focus is film and music. His new jazz album Good Merlin is now available.

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