Our Sunday Reviews

Silicon Valley – A

0620siliconbox“Daily Active Users” opens with a parody (of sorts) of sweeping metaphorical — and stock video heavy — tech ads, of the brand Better Off Ted used to begin many of its episodes, although for Silicon Valley, the faux ad holds no overt satirical bite. Well, there is one line about sharing images of “weird countries,” but other than the overall vapidity of it all, it’s a believable spot (much better than their off-kilter “box” spec) and fades into a series of awkward conversations at the world’s most sterile launch party — from Lori and Erlich’s halting Aspbergersy crashes (“is that a picture of your dog” “that’s A dog?” “we never had a rapport, did we?”) to Guilfoyle’s sinister interrogation of every one of Jared’s sunshiny white lies. The theme of the day is honesty — and it’s Monica and Richard’s tete a tete that hits the sweet (if sour to them) spot when he confesses that she was right about the cold interface of the Pied Piper app, and as the title implies, the company is not attracting the sought-after DAU’s.

As the program pretty well telegraphed, Richard and the gang beta tested it with their engineer friends, and the average user sees the innovations as flaws. At a focus group, Richard busts into the frustrated guinea pigs, and they get it…a couple hours, multiple metaphors, one busy whiteboard, and a few assurances Terminator won’t happen later. Pied Piper continues to get great press, but nothing works to explain how Pied Piper works. With their last dollars, two designers of variety Action Jack favors designs Pipey — essentially Clippy, but, hey, they did get Bill Hader to voice it (I think). Practically broke, Richard is ready to liquidate — until just before he announces, there’s a huge uptick in those pesky DAU’s and the day is yet again saved. But, as it’s Silicon Valley, they come with a hidden (to everyone but Jared) cost, setting up one brilliant silent ending and credits…and what reckons to be one heck of a season finale next week (where, if the previews don’t mislead, Richard makes about zero friends). Meanwhile, Action Jack is back in town, and Gavin Belson is back on top — and in top animal-toting form.
– Jason Thurston

Veep – A-

0620veepboxGutsy move, Veep, putting Catherine’s background thesis film center stage at the very moment most viewers want to damn well know what happens in the House vote to decide if Selina Meyer remains Prez. And there’s a few halting moments at the beginning: first off, the premise that any of this damning footage ever gets anywhere near the public is absurd, but perhaps we’re just privy to video which will eventually be destroyed. Second, and this may just be my inability to separate worlds, but Veep‘s universe — and the states within — tend to reflect the real world and the notion of Alabama voting for the Democrat, no matter how convincing the Prez’s threats were, strains credulity, but I’ll pick that nit another day. “Kissing Your Sister” amps up the tension, while juggling a mind-boggling number of plots — from Jonah’s Keystone Kops stumble with Richard from an underage affair to the dark alleys of the Capitol Building to cast his New Hampshire vote (and ultimately, of course, screw it up for our “hero”) to Catherine’s building love for her mom’s body double. As it turns out, Catherine has a keen eye for everything that’s going on, and has created a work of art of a film as she fills in some mysteries from the other side of doors; it’s all pretty ugly, especially for poor Mike. Poor, poor Mike. It’s madcap, it’s sad, it’s thrilling, it’s sweet, it’s jam-packed with Jonah Ryan commercial outtakes and Richard obliviousness, and it sets up a season finale which hints at leaving Selina Meyer right back where she started — in that titular role.
– Jason Thurston

Game of Thrones – A

0620throneboxFinally! The whole season had lead to this and it was worth the wait. The armies of Jon Snow and Ramsey Bolton faced off in one of the most brutal, realistic battle scenes ever put to film. When I say you haven’t seen anything like this, I mean it. This episode  is a high point in a series that has already had so many.

– Brad Filicky

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