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'Silicon Valley' recap: 'Sand Hill Shuffle'

A discussion of the season premiere—and Peter Gregory tribute—with ‘Silicon’ standout T.J. Miller.

Posted on

Frank Masi

Silicon Valley

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
run date:
Thomas Middleditch, Aly Mawji, T.J. Miller

Finally—something to do besides rewatching “Optimal Tip-to-Tip Efficiency” and double-checking all the math to make sure that 800 guys can indeed be pleasured in under 10 minutes! The long, boring off-season ended on Sunday night as HBO kicked off season 2 of Silicon Valley, the audacious tech comedy about the little start-up that could. “Sand Hill Shuffle” was a winning welcome-back episode, jacking up the stakes for our Pied Piper crew—the glow from their $50,000 win over Hooli’s Nucleus at TechCrunch Disrupt is fading fast—while paying proper tribute to Peter Gregory, played superbly by the late Christopher Evan Welch. Instead of a traditional recap this season, we are going to discuss each episode—and perhaps a few semi-related topics —with someone who knows a thing or three about the show: actor/comedian/DMV subversive T.J. Miller, the man behind offbeat stoner/soliloquist/landlord/Pied Piper minority shareholder/presumably great lover Erlich Bachman. With that introduction out of the way, let’s welcome T.J. to the conversation.

T.J., thanks for signing on as an EW special guest blogger/critical thinker. This is so exciting. I’ve been wanting to do this ever since the February when I was ten years old. 

That is a while. By the way, there’s one thing I’ve always wondered but was too scared to ask. What do the dots in your name stand for? Periods in between being myself.

It makes sense. Now, for our first conversation about season 2, you and I are having this conversation long distance. Like super long distance. Like, you’re-all-the-way-in-Japan long distance. (A) What are you doing there? And (B) are people on the street recognizing you as Erlich and asking you to slap their drug-dealing children? (A) I came here because my wife, Kate, had work and is here for a wedding. And (B) the latter not the former. A couple people have come up and said, “Hey, are you T.J. Miller?” They’ll recognize me from She’s Out of My League but Silicon Valley hasn’t really caught on in Japan yet. Or I haven’t caught on in Japan.

I like to think it’s the former. What’s the Yogi Bear recognition factor over there? Through the roof. So much that no one mentions it. It’s sort of a quiet veneration from afar. It’s adoration but at a distance. Sometimes they’ll mumble Japanese versions of lines that I’ve done, but I don’t speak Japanese. But I feel it.

Okay, so the episode opens in AT&T Park, with the Pied Piper gang getting wooed by the first of several VC firms. It’s appropriately absurd and larger than life way to open the season, with Richard playing in the big leagues, literally up to bat. If you had to ballpark it for us, would you say that everything is a bit bigger and more dramatic this year? Oh, yeah, because there’s more money. And it’s also equally strange that it’s the reason that I might meet up with one of the founders of Dropbox, Drew Houston [who makes a cameo]. He said he was going to be in Tokyo for the weekend, so it all actually is true to life that when you get to a certain point, you rent out Giants stadium and you rent out a couple of the Giants, and everything becomes more gigantic. The problems are more gigantic. The fun is more gigantic. I think the thing that Erlich is the most ecstatic about is that everybody has got their eyes on him finally. He feels like he’s that much closer to being a Silicon Valley player. The stakes are higher. It’s like me doing Deadpool. At a certain point, visibility is so high that if you f— it up, people are going to know that and talk about it and you can really screw yourself over.

I’m sure you’ll crush it in Deadpool. Thanks, dude. I’m positive it’s going to be the best two-and-a-half scenes of your life.

Did any of the cast members actually take batting practice at AT&T Park after the scene was finished? No, that was in real life also. We practiced not wanting to bat.

Erlich has a great line about the Winklevii, who make a cameo: “They’re like two genetically enhanced Ken dolls. Do you know how much bitcoin they’re worth?” Do you have a Winkledote to share with us? A Winkledobra?

A Winkledote. A winklejoke?

No, a Winkledote. Like an anecdote. Oh, a Winkledote. I thought you said Winklejoke or a Winkle GoPro, which I have both of. There is a Winkle GoPro where they put two GoPros on the Winklevii and they show you life from their perspective. It’s very expensive. It costs, like, 300,000 bitcoin.

Wow. Yeah, no one knows how much that is. So, my Winkledote is that unfortunately—emphasis on unfortunately—they were really nice. You wanted them to be some weird, evil twins, Facebook-settling-out-of-court couple of guys, but they were very nice. They enjoyed the satire the most. They really both identify with it and have a good sense of humor about themselves. They’re much bigger than I am—that is one thing that is uncomfortable. They’re every handsome and very athletic but the real thing is they’re much larger than me. They’re both a couple inches taller and about, I don’t know, 100 pounds lighter. So it’s strange to look up at two perfect specimens of people. Also, you don’t know which one to look at because you don’t want to make the other one feel bad, but you don’t know which is which, so you can’t tell whose feelings you’re hurting. It’s a win-lose situation. Or a lose-win.

But to your advantage, you’re 6’1’’, about 250 pounds, and there’s one of you. Yeah, but Erlich feels that he doesn’t need more than one of himself.

The world can’t handle more than one Erlich. No, certainly not. Erlich is two Erlich twins already. It would be quadruplets if there were two of him.

Dropbox CEO Drew Houston and Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel are among the cameos in this episode. Executive producers Mike Judge and Alec Berg said that it was hard to lock down actual Silicon Valley power players for guest spots last year because people didn’t know the show and were nervous. But this year it was much easier. Who was the best actor of the bunch? The best actor was [venture capital investor] David Cowan because he was so meticulous about his silent part where he speaks to the Winklevoss twins and then walks away. He was very specific in what he was going to be talking about, what his approach was going to be. I was very, very proud of him. But I almost loved it too much when I found out that the Dropbox guys were wearing clothing that wasn’t a costume. It wasn’t wardrobe. And I found that out by telling one of them, “Oh my god, that sweatshirt is hilarious!” And he’s like, ‘Thanks!’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah, that’s perfect, right? I’m going to totally wear that.” And they’re like, “Oh, these are our real clothes.” And I said, “Oh, I’m really embarrassed.” And they said, ‘No, really don’t be. We think it’s a weird sweatshirt.” And the guy’s like, “Wait, what?” He wasn’t party to the fact that everyone else thought it was a funny, weird sweatshirt that no one would wear unless they were on a show making fun of themselves.

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